21 Ways To Deal With Acne


In honor of Acne Awareness Month, ITG is beefing up its acne coverage this week. Journey with us as we approach breaking out from every angle.

You—you’re just like stars! You stress out, break out, stress out about breaking out, eat some ice cream, feel amazing, stomach that one bite between feeling amazing and feeling terrible, feel terrible, break out again, and ultimately get over it. Sometimes your skin is completely clear, sometimes it's not. Sometimes you can’t be bothered to wear makeup, sometimes you do wear makeup, and sometimes you fall asleep without taking said makeup off… eh, c’est la vie. You’re human! And apart from those which are literal balls of burning gas in a limitless void, so are your favorite stars.

If there’s one takeaway from reading ITG, it’s that everyone has their own system for preventing, treating, and healing breakouts. So, think of this story as one of those celebrity Proactiv commercials, but better, because options! You may rely on facials like Lindsay, Fraxel like Jhene, or Accutane like Busy—whatever you choose to do (or not do!), you’re in good company. For more advice on dealing with acne, we’re handing the mic to some of our favorite people we’ve interviewed. Here’s everything they had to say:

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On living with it:

“For me, self-care is not what skincare is about. I had cystic acne my whole life. I've used Retin-A since I was 19, I did Accutane, I did lasers.” —April Gargiulo

“My skin is really in-between and when I am not looking out after myself, I can breakout. I just got a breakout today. This week I had a gazillion things going on, and I didn’t sleep much or eat well—it’s just that simple. I was like, 'Great, I have a photoshoot and a zit.'” —Dee Poku

“I text Shani [Darden, aesthetician] pictures of my zits all the time like, ‘Help meee!’” —Laura Harrier

“If I was not doing this routine, my skin would not look like this—I have acne, eczema, and hyperpigmentation in my family. I’ve always struggled, and this is the first time I haven’t needed medication for my skin to feel normal.” —Erica Chidi Cohen

“I’ve struggled with acne throughout my life—and a big part of that is stress. When you have hormonal, cystic acne, the dermatologist will just tell you to reduce your stress, and you’re like “How can I do that?!” [Laughs] You get stressed out about being broken out, and it’s just this catch-22.” —Mari Kussman

"She told me, ‘You have horrible skin, if you keep this up you’re gonna look like trash on your wedding day’"

“My main priority is dealing with zits. Before going out, I used to put toothpaste on them, before realizing it made them much, much worse. Luckily, the cameras on Grace and Frankie are very forgiving.” —Brooklyn Decker

“If I eat the wrong food, I notice it immediately in my skin. It’s so annoying… I think if I had perfect skin, I would probably just not care [what I ate].” —Tess Ward

“Before my diet changed I used to have massive breakouts. I had cystic acne all over the place, and it was embarrassing. Once we had to re-shoot an entire scene because of my skin.” —Alicia Silverstone

“I guess my beauty journey started because I always had acne on and off. My skin’s crazy—she’s crazy. I definitely have to stick to a regimen of certain things or my face will freak out. I will never have perfect skin—it’s just not for me.” —Lindsay Peoples Wagner


Treating it:

“I go to Joanna [Vargas] for facials once a month. It was the first place that made me feel like I have control over my skin. And the LED treatments, with the red and blue light, changed everything. I mean, I went to them with cystic acne, and now it's gone.” —Betty Gilpin

“I've dealt with really bad cystic acne. I had been really struggling with it when I was on Dawson’s Creek and it was horrible, listening to lighting guys conferring about how to change shots so that they can work around the giant zit on your forehead. Then I went on Accutane and it changed my life.” —Busy Philipps

“I did a lot of research before I went on [spironolactone]—I actually read the article you guys did on it. The comments were really interesting. I took a quarter of the dosage that they told me to, but when I forgot to take it the acne would come back. When I started using Biologique it helped.” —Pia Arrobio

"Once we had to re-shoot an entire scene because of my skin."

“Yeah, I get Fraxel. I was really broken out at the time and had a lot of acne scars... It does 'micro-scabbing'—from far away you kind of just look brown, but when you look up close it’s a tiny graph of scabs. And you have to keep your face covered for seven days while it heals… As soon as it starts flaking off, you see the new skin underneath—it’s definitely worth it.” —Jhene Aiko

“I had good skin when I was younger, and then I started breaking out all the time hormonally… It would stop, and it would start, then it would clear up and I’d have beautiful skin, and then it would get worse and worse… So then in March, I started taking Spironolactone prescribed by my dermatologist, and now it’s finally working.” —Summer Dawn Miller

“I started wearing makeup in my 20s… It wasn’t until this year that I scaled back a ton. I needed to—I was getting pimples, acne, acne scars, not washing my face. If I came back from a party, I’d go straight to bed because I was tired, and I’d wash my face in the morning. And I had really bad dark spots all over my face. My skin has healed so much.” —Folasade Adeoso

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Covering it up:

“When I was a teenager I didn’t have acne, but one year ago I quit the pill… For the first time in my life, I had acne. Like, real acne, on my jawline. I thought, oh my God, what is this, and I went to a dermatologist. I started to take care of my skin more, and I got a concealer from Glossier, and now I can’t live without it.” —Jeanne Damas

“I use Nars Soft Matte Concealer. I like it—you don’t have to blend it a lot, it doesn’t look super fake. I just use it on zits.” —Perfume Genius

“I don’t wear any concealer or foundation in my real life. Not even for meetings. I’ll even go out with pimple cream on my face, I really don’t care.” —Gillian Jacobs


And just embracing it:

“[At the first spa I went to] the lady made me cry! She told me, ‘You have horrible skin, if you keep this up you’re gonna look like trash on your wedding day,’ and I called my now-husband and was like, ‘Dre, I can’t marry you because this lady said I’m gonna look like trash!’ [Laughs] He was like, ‘What? I can’t even hear you.’ And I was yelling ‘I CAN’T GET’—on the street in Soho! I was just crying, she was so mean. A friend of mine was like, ‘This place Rescue Spa is opening in New York, I’m sure they’ll be nice to you.’ I loved it there because it was the perfect medium—everybody was super nice, but Danuta was like, ‘Look, your skin isn’t great, but here’s what we’re gonna do and how we’re gonna progress this.’” —Lindsay Peoples Wagner

“I’ve never been a makeup person. Even when I had acne, I wasn’t covering it up really—I was like, yes I hate this, but whatever, moving on.” —April Gargiulo

“I’m OK with the spots, if they show, because I know they’re healing, I’m working on it. And it was also just a kind reminder that it’s OK.” —Folasade Adeoso

Photo via ITG