Curing the College Acne Blues

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

From the WebMD Archives


Hydrate and Protect Every morning, year-round, smooth on a lotion with a sun protection factor (SPF). "Damaging rays come through clouds and even glass," says Levine. "When you make using sunscreen every morning part of your routine, it becomes a habit so you don't have to think about it."

While your skin is still damp, apply a broad-spectrum, moisturizing sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher. You want a broad-spectrum product because it protects against both UVA radiation (the aging rays) and UVB (the burning rays) as well as skin cancer. Make sure the label says "noncomedogenic," which means it won't clog pores.

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."