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Skin Care Tips

Protect Your Skin

Make-up, moisturisers, shaving and sunscreen

This step includes using makeup and/or sunscreen during the day and possibly a moisturiser at night to protect your skin against harmful environmental factors such as sunlight, wind and dryness.

Makeup, moisturisers and sunscreens should be applied only after, or on top of, your morning or evening acne medications.

Many moisturisers and cosmetic products can worsen or cause acne. Products labelled ‘oil free’ and suitable for acne prone skin are a good start, but even some of these will worsen acne in some people.

Products labelled non-comedogenic have been specially tested in acne prone individuals and have been proven not to clog pores and worsen acne. These are the best products for you to try. You may have to trial a few before finding one that suits you.

Most people with acne have overly oily facial skin so moisturisers are unnecessary. A light, oil-free and non-comedogenic moisturiser can be beneficial in those with combination, dry sensitive or irritated skin. It’s very important for people with acne not to over-use moisturisers, as this may worsen acne.

A gentle cleanser with a light moisturising action is all that is necessary in most people with acne.

In Australia, the harmful effects of sunlight far outweigh any minor benefits in treating acne. Good sun protection and sun avoidance practices will help reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. Sun protection and sun avoidance measures are even more important in those being treated for acne.

Most acne treatments (creams and tablets) increase the skin’s susceptibility to the harmful effects of sunlight including sunburn, pigment changes and photo ageing of the skin (lines and wrinkles, drooping sagging skin, blotchy pigmented spots and skin growths).

This is because they make the skin more sensitive to ultraviolet light and particularly ultraviolet A. This is the part of the sunlight spectrum most involved in skin ageing.

Acne scars are particularly sensitive and prone to the harmful effects of UVA. Without good UVA protection the scars can rapidly ‘photo’ age, losing their elasticity and collagen support resulting in loose, sagging facial skin making a person with acne scaring at risk of looking old, well before their peers.

Tips for moisturising

  • In the morning, apply a sunscreen to all exposed areas before spending major periods in direct sunlight. Consider applying a face cream or lotion with an SPF of 30 to the skin of your head and neck if you are likely to only spend brief periods in the sun.
  • In the evening, only apply a moisturiser to acne affected areas if they are dry or irritated (red, flaky, and/or itchy). You may also want to apply to sensitive skin areas not affected by acne such as around the eyes, sides of face, and the skin next to lips and nostrils, along with the neck.
  • For mildly irritated skin you should normally apply your oil-free, non-comedogenic moisturiser over the top of acne treatment creams. If irritation remains a problem or is causing you symptoms (e.g. skin that stings, burns or itches), try applying the moisturiser prior to applying your acne medication.

If you’re having trouble finding moisturisers, makeup and/or sunscreens suitable for your skin, a dermatologist is your best source of advice.

Tips for shaving

When acne involves the beard area, the harmful effects of shaving can be minimised by:

  • Hairs being made softer and easier to shave if they have been moistened for a few minutes prior to shaving.
  • Using a shaving cream or gel designed for sensitive or irritated skin.
  • Changing the blade regularly to ensure the blade is sharp.
  • Don’t shave too closely and don’t try to shave off pimples. You will only make things worse. Using only light pressure, make only one to two passes over the same area. Stick to single or double blade rather than triple blade razors.
  • Some find an electric razor better, while others prefer blades.


Last updated March 2016

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