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Curing the College Acne Blues

Why your skin can break out in college -- and what you can do about it.


Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer SPF 50 ($12.99) and Olay Complete Defense Daily UV Moisturizer SPF 30 ($14.99) are "light feeling... and have good coverage," says Levine. Eucerin Everyday Protection Face Lotion SPF 30 ($8.99) "is a little thicker but offers very good protection," she adds. And she likes EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46 ($29) because it "contains niacinamide, good for acne-prone skin."

Exfoliate If your skin likes to hoard dead skin cells -- a dull complexion is a telltale sign -- an exfoliating scrub can slough them off. Fruit or nut scrubs can be too abrasive, so choose a product with microbeads that don't feel rough against your skin. Clinique Exfoliating Scrub ($18.50) and Neutrogena Deep Clean Gentle Scrub ($6.29) are both effective and won't scrape your skin, says Friedman.

Body Skin Care

For good hygiene, all you really need is a daily shower or bath and a bar of soap. Believe it or not, on most days you only need to soap up your underarms and groin, says Friedman.

"Your skin is in a constant state of turnover, pushing off old skin cells, which are then replaced by newer ones," he says. "Overwashing with soap can limit your skin's ability to stay hydrated and protect you from bacteria. You can usually get away with using soap on your arms, body, and legs every other day and just use water in between. Areas more prone to sweating and oil production do require daily cleansing with soap."

Dove Body Wash ($8.99) is Levine's favorite. "It's very moisturizing," she says. If your skin is extremely dry, Friedman suggests soap-free Cetaphil RestoraDerm Skin Restoring Body Wash ($14.99).

As soon as you step out of the tub or shower, pat your skin lightly with a towel and apply a moisturizer, says Friedman. Look for occlusive agents like dimethicone, petrolatum, paraffin, and lanolin that block water from being lost when the skin is exposed to dry air, he says. You also want your moisturizer to contain humectants that hydrate by pulling water from the outside into your skin.

While the weather is still warm, try a light formulation with sunscreen, such as Yes to Carrots Hydrating Body Lotion with SPF 30 ($14.99). As soon as the cold hits, switch to CeraVe SA Renewing Lotion ($15.99), which blocks moisture loss and repairs the skin barrier, says Friedman. That makes it a good choice for the winter months, when low humidity and blasting heaters lead to parched skin.

Avoiding Acne

Here's what can worsen acne breakouts and how you can reduce the risk of bad flare-ups.

Processed food. "Sugary, starchy, highly processed foods all cause blood sugar to spike, and that leads your body to produce more insulin, insulin growth factor, and androgen," says dermatologist Jody Levine, MD. "We now know that it's these hormonal surges that lead to excess sebum or oil production and then to acne." Solution: Chart your skin eruptions. If you notice yourself breaking out after eating, say, dairy, eliminate it from your diet and see what happens.

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