I often compare my skin to a teenage girl: hormonal and easily irritated. Though I’m in my late 20s, my skin’s oil production is in overdrive, and I’m prone to pimples, especially in the days leading up to my period. Wrinkles and blemishes as a grown-ass woman? So not fair. While adult acne is often associated with hormones, we can also blame stress, alcohol intake, and intense sweat sessions (in my case, a crazy obsession with Flywheel).
Working as a beauty editor for many years, I have tested countless creams that promise to shrink pores (which, btw, is scientifically impossible), slow oil production, and clear the complexion all while fighting off signs of aging. Many of them did a fine job of maintaining the condition of my skin at the time, while others were tossed to the back of a bathroom drawer where they were left to expire. None of them, however, have ever impressed when it comes to preventing pimples.
That is until I got my hands (er, face really) on the Derm Institute Anti-Oxidant Hydration Blemish Rescue Cream ($120; diskincare.com). I don’t know what’s in it—okay, that’s a lie; more on the ingredients later—but this stuff works. I’m currently scraping the last of the cream from its pot and can honestly say that I have noticed fewer blemishes and blackheads over these last couple of months, which have put up a really good fight. Hormones? I changed up my birth control. Stress? I started a new job and helped launch this website. Alcohol? Yes, please. Sweatiness? Summer in NYC—need I say more?
Inside, you’ll find a slew of ingredients known to target acne. Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid with the ability to penetrate deep into pores and dissolve dead skin cells, dirt, and the bacteria responsible for blemishes. It also provides gentle surface exfoliation and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. Also key is niacinamide, or vitamin B3, which is a powerful skin-repairing antioxidant. Studies demonstrate its anti-inflammatory effects in acne, reducing lesions and severity. Clinical trials have also shown that topical application can reduce the excretion rate of sebum.
Many acne sufferers or oily types make the mistake of thinking they don’t need to add more moisture, but the skin’s water content and production of sebum are different factors. Maintaining a healthy moisture barrier is key, and that’s where the brand’s proprietary Moisture Complex comes in. It features noncomedogenic ceramides, which are especially effective for blemish-prone skin. What’s more, one study shows a moisturizer with ceramides can even enhance adherence of other acne treatments, such as retinol.
The cream itself is lightweight and comfortably hydrating. It absorbs quickly, and there is no discernible scent. There’s nothing worse, in my opinion, than a floral fragrance lingering on the tip of your nose all day. The best part, though, is that I have actually found it keeps breakouts at bay. I know this is an objective claim, but take my word for it. When it comes to skin care, I’m not about to bullsh*t you.