La Roche-Posay Effaclar System ($30)
After moisturizing, hold off for a few minutes before moving onto the next step. (While you wait, you can brush your teeth or do your hair.) Clinical studies show that waiting for your moisturizer to sink in can decrease the irritability of the acne medications you’ll be applying next, says Casquejo.
After a few minutes, apply a coat of benzoyl peroxide gel to the skin (look for one with a concentration of 2% to 5%) as well as 2% salicylic acid lotion. (It doesn’t matter which you apply first, says Casquejo.) These are the active ingredients that fight acne, and you’ll apply them after moisturizing both day and night. Though it sounds counterintuitive to treat aftermoisturizing, Casquejo says this is the most effective way to target acne sans irritation.
Still worried about side effects of these treatments? “Dryness and irritation are the worst of them,” says Casquejo. “If you find you are having trouble, adjust the routine.” For example, if you find the ingredients irritating, try using the benzoyl peroxide only once a day or every other day until you feel like it’s tolerable, he advises. Then, for best results, gradually increase your usage to at least once a day.
The La Roche-Posay kit above contains a 2% salicylic acid cleanser, a 0.5% salicylic acid gel, and a 5.5% benzoyl peroxide treatment, which align closely with the products Casquejo recommends. And with all three products for $30, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better deal.