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What is the Best Acne Treatment for Adult Men?

Acne is the most common skin condition that causes pimples, "zits," and other skin problems. About 70-90% of teens will have acne. Unfortunately, some men keep struggling with acne long after their teen years. One study found that 42.5 percent of men reported experiencing acne during their 20s, 20.1 percent during their 30s, and 12 percent reported experiencing acne in their 40s. The most common locations for men's acne are the face, back, and chest. Male acne can also appear on the neck, shoulders, upper arms, and buttocks.

The optimal men's skincare routine should include a few essential ingredients. The exact kind of product depends on the age and skin type of every individual. For example, younger men with oily skin would benefit from a more drying cleanser and more potent anti-acne products, while guys in their 20s and 30s or men with dry skin need more hydrating milder anti-acne products. Men with active acne or acne-prone skin would need medicated skincare customized to their acne severity.

What is the best skincare routine for adult men with acne-prone skin?

Essential skincare routine for every man, at any age, will include cleansing the face morning and evening, removing the oil, dirt, and dead skin cells that accumulate on the skin's surface. Removing this gunk is essential to the skin by opening pores and keeping the skin fresh and glowing. Cleaning the skin will also allow the other products to penetrate better into the skin and be more effective. The cleanser should be mild and hydrating. Avoid harsh drying, soaps, scrubs, and spinning brushes. Those will hurt the upper skin barrier and will damage the skin.

When the skin is clean, one should apply a moisturizer and sunscreen. When the skin is too oily, using sunscreen in the morning is enough. For sunscreens, look for an oil-free type that is water-resistant. SPF 30 is enough.

The evening routine will start with the same mild cleanser. After the cleanser, one can apply an active moisturizer with anti-aging ingredients as a good active night serum. The best ingredients are niacinamide and a low percentage (< 0.5% retinol). The addition of protein peptides is usually a good addition.

Shaving in men with acne-prone skin

Shaving is an integral part of every men's routine. Men who tend to get razor bumps should look for shaving cream (not gel), preferably for sensitive acne-prone skin. Glycerin and allantoin are excellent ingredients of sensitive skin oil-free shaving creams.

Exfoliators and scrubs are unnecessary for men with normal or dry skin. Men with very oily skin can exfoliate a mild peeling mask (not more than once a week). A better option for men with all skin types is a pink clay mask. These masks absorb oil and increase the skin's glow and freshness without damaging the skin's natural protective layer.

Men with beards should choose their beard oil wisely. Rosehip oil, jojoba oil, and sweet almond are good ingredients that would not clog the skin pores and trigger acne breakouts under the beards.

What are the best anti-acne medications for adult men?

Benzoyl Peroxide:

Benzoyl peroxide is the best medical-grade ingredient for men with acne—no need to use prescription benzoyl peroxide or strength of 5% or 10%. Instead, benzoyl peroxide 2.% will provide the maximal effect without irritating the skin and is the best choice for most men with acne.

Retinoid products:

Retinoids can be helpful for mild acne, especially for reducing whiteheads and blackheads; over-the-counter retinol products are usually as effective and less irritating than retinoids that require a doctor's prescription. Beware that when you use a retinol treatment cream, you must start gradually, twice a week, to let your skin adjust to the medication. Using retinol has an additional bonus – reducing and preventing fine wrinkles and improving skin texture. For optimal results, combine retinol with a morning oil-free moisturizer. Using a moisturizer will further help prevent future skin aging and reduce sun sensitivity caused by the retinoids.

Topical and oral antibiotics for men with acne

Topical antibiotics should never be used as a single acne treatment. They increase the risk of bacterial resistance. If used, oral antibiotics should combine with topical benzoyl peroxide.

Oral antibiotics can help with acne that did not improve with topical treatment alone. That said, the effect of oral antibiotics is limited in time. Therefore, combining oral antibiotics needs to be with an effective topical treatment that will maintain the results for the long term. In addition, oral antibiotics can have side effects. The more common are e hives, stomach pains, diarrhea, dizziness, and headaches.

What is the best treatment for men with severe cystic acne?

If your acne doesn't get better after a treatment of 6 months with topical anti-acne medications, your dermatologist may consider prescribing Accutane (Isotretinoin).

How can I improve my skin texture and reduces scars and fine wrinkles?

The MDacne Retinol 0.5% Treatment Cream can help prevent and reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation while also treating acne. Pure retinol unclogs pores and prevents acne blemishes and fine wrinkles without over-drying the skin.

If you are not currently using retinol or a retinoid, we recommend starting with the MDacne Retinol Treatment System, which includes two concentrations of retinol: 0.25% and 5%. Beginning with the lower percentage and working your way up will allow your skin to adjust with minimal irritation. MDacne's retinol treatment creams are combined with niacinamide (vitamin B3), a powerful anti-inflammatory ingredient, to help hydrate the skin, improve the skin's texture, and help fade post-acne dark spots.

If you decide to order it, we recommend using it only twice per week for the first week, then gradually increasing to alternating nights (On the nights you aren't using the retinol, you use your current cream). Once your retinol 0.25% is out, you can start using the 0.5%.

Here are a few more suggestions for men with acne:

  • Wash your face twice a day with a mild cleanser.
  • Shower immediately after work and exercise.
  • Working in a hot, humid environment? Use wet wipes to remove sweat and dirt from your face during the day.
  • Wash your hair every day. The hair collects oil that can cause acne on your foreheads and temple.
  • Avoid oily hair products. This will clog the skin pores and cause acne breakouts.
  • Are you spending time outdoors? Look for an "oil-free" water-resistant sunscreen that will stay longer on your skin when sweating.
  • Avoid harsh soaps and alcohol-based skincare products. These types of products can damage the natural protective layer of your skin and cause more acne breakouts.
  • Do not squeeze or pick on pimples. A better choice for calming single big pimples is with pimple patches.
  • Avoid baseball hats, headbands, helmets, or wool hats. This rub on your forehead and temples can cause acne breakouts in these skin areas.
  • The same holds for football helmet straps.


MDacne Shave Cream Trio
MDacne Cleanser Trio

More Info:

How to shave with acne - 8 dermatologist tips
The best acne treatment for teenage boys
More info on the effects of retinol and niacinamide.
More info on the Retinol Treatment System

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