3 of the best acne-fighting tips we learned from dermatologists in 2021

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  • To prevent acne, dermatologists told Insider it's important to balance your skin's oil production. 
  • Acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid and retinol can reduce breakouts.  
  • A gentle cleanser and daily hydration can stop pimples before they start. 
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When it comes to oily skin and breakouts, your first instinct may be to keep your face as dry as possible, but that can actually cause more acne, dermatologists told Insider.

To get rid of pimples and reduce acne, work on balancing your skin's oil production. Acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid, gentle cleansers, and proper moisturiser can help. 

Gentle cleansers that leave your skin soft do more than abrasive soaps that leave your skin 'squeaky' 

Harsh soaps and cleansers that leave your skin dry and "squeaky" after use can irritate your skin which can lead to more acne. So dermatologists recommend using a gentle cleanser instead

To test if your cleanser is right for you, feel your skin after washing.

"If it's soft, then it's OK. If not, then I'd consider switching," Dr Heidi Waldorf, a cosmetic dermatologist, told Insider.

Acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid and retinol can reduce inflammation and acne 

Rather than using an irritating cleanser to treat your acne, a gentle wash that includes salicylic acid can reduce inflammation and irritation, dermatologists say. Salicylic acid also treats clogged pores and reduces the appearance of acne without burning the skin. 

Adding in retinol after you cleanse at night can also reduce your acne by increasing your skin's natural cell turnover. Retinol acts as a chemical exfoliator, which unclogs pores. 

"There are too many benefits of using retinol daily, that it is hard to justify skipping that step," Dr Corey L. Hartman, dermatologist and founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, Alabama, told Insider.

If you're looking to add retinol into your routine, it's important to start slow, as they can initially cause irritation and dryness, Dr Jeriel Weitz, a dermatologist for Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City, told Insider. 

"Be sure to only use a pea sized amount for your entire face and follow the retinoid with a good moisturiser," Weitz said.

Proper hydration can reduce your skin's oil production and prevent clogged pores

Finally, round out your skincare routine with proper moisturiser to balance your skin's oil production. 

"Dehydrating the skin may trigger the overproduction of oil to compensate for this dryness leading to challenging combination skin," Dr Carlos Charles, dermatologist and co-founder of 4.5.6 Skin, told Insider.

Waldorf recommends a gel-based moisturiser for oily skin types, like Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Gel Face Moisturiser.

"People with oily skin tend to like it," Waldorf said. "It is a gel and serum, so it does have some sealing power too.

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