Oh, the joys of adult acne. One day you have clear skin, the next, your face resembles a sizzling pizza with all the toppings. If you’re one of the many women dealing with breakouts, you’re probably familiar with some of the recommended treatments for them.
Depending on the severity of your acne, you might be using over-the-counter stalwarts like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide—or you may have a prescribed cream (or three) from your dermatologist.
No matter what you’re using, just make sure to avoid this one mistake: Only using your spot treatments on existing breakouts. You actually want to apply your acne products to the entire affected area, meaning your full forehead or chin, and not just the two spots that have popped up.
That’s because the average skin cycle takes about 28 days (a number, by the way, that slows as we age), which means that the spots you are seeing today actually started forming weeks ago beneath the skin’s surface.
Also, stay consistent with your regimen. Yes, even when your skin is looking clear. By staying consistent with your treatments, you’ll prevent future pimples from forming, as opposed to chasing them. This is also why derms will tell you to be patient with using any new treatments. You want to give things a minimum of a month and up to 12 weeks (or three months) to see full results.
So, to recap: Use your acne treatments consistently, apply them wherever you tend to break out and be patient with results. Oh, and try to be kind to yourself during this time. It can be demoralizing to greet your spotted face day, after day, after yet another day (we know, we speak from personal experience) but remember that you’re not alone in this.