This Entire Acne Routine Is Under $75


Courtesy of Walgreens and Ulta

Clear skin can sometimes feel like a myth. What works for one person may not work for the next, and, in a truly infuriating twist, what works for your skin at one point in your life may not work at another. It doesn’t help that many acne-fighting products are priced so high you practically need an installment plan. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Consider the six steps below a starter routine. No one product is more than $20, so if one is not right for you, you won’t have the dreaded pressure to finish the bottle. Most are available at your local Walgreens, and if you open and use a myWalgreens™ Credit Card, you can instantly earn Walgreens Cash rewards every time you shop (i.e., 10 percent on Walgreens branded products and 5 percent for other in-store items and pharmacy purchases, although exclusions apply.* And if approved for a myWalgreens™ Mastercard®, you’ll be eligible for 3 percent at grocery stores and 1 percent anywhere Mastercard is accepted**).

By the time you’re done, the only thing that may be happier than your wallet is your clear, clear skin.


*Must be a myWalgreens™ member. Walgreens Cash rewards are not legal tender. No cash back. Walgreens Cash rewards good on future purchases. Exclusions apply. Reward on prescriptions and other pharmacy items and services cannot be earned in AR, NJ, or NY. Only prescriptions picked up in store are eligible to earn rewards. Complete details, including Walgreens Cash rewards expiration dates, at myWalgreens™ Terms and Conditions. Purchases with a myWalgreens credit card are subject to credit approval. See credit card reward program terms for program details.

**If approved for a myWalgreens™ Mastercard®, it can be used at any Walgreens, Duane Reade store owned by Walgreen, Walgreens.com and anywhere else Mastercard is accepted and will earn Walgreens Cash rewards on all eligible purchases. The myWalgreens™ Mastercard® is issued by Synchrony Bank pursuant to a license by Mastercard International.


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1

Cleanse

Clean skin is absorbent skin. So if you want your face to fully absorb all the acne-fighting goodness you’re about to lay on it, you want to start with a good face wash. This benzoyl peroxide-based one by PanOxyl ($12) is an incredibly useful tool in the war on acne. With 10 percent active benzoyl peroxide, the most amount available over the counter, this cleanser promises to help unclog pores and kill acne-causing bacteria.

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2

Tone

An often overlooked step, toning helps balance the pH of skin, something that’s important because an out-of-whack pH balance can lead to dryness, redness, and—you guessed it—acne. Thayers witch hazel toner ($11) is a gentle, nondrying formula that works wonders post-cleanse while your face is still wet. This helps prep skin to absorb any serums, moisturizers, and spot treatments coming its way.

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3

Moisturize

When it comes to acne-prone skin, under-moisturizing is a common error (many of us mistake oily skin for over-moisturized skin). The myth that oily skin doesn’t need to hydrate is just that, though—a myth: All skin types need this step. A lightweight, non-greasy moisturizer for oily, acne-prone skin, The Ordinary’s Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA ($8) has hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and amino acids to moisturize skin without weighing it down.

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4

Apply retinol

Retinol is a vitamin A–based derivative that plumps skin and boosts cell turnover (aka exfoliation)—it’s a less-aggressive version of a retinoid.

If you’ve never used either, start with a retinol like CeraVe Retinol Serum ($20). Created with the sole purpose of eradicating post-acne marks and smoothing out damaged skin texture, this drugstore classic is a lighter, less-intrusive option. If you prefer something stronger, try Differin Adapalene Gel, a retinoid specifically formulated to clear acne at the source—your pores—and reduce redness. Previously a prescription-only, it’s a powerful product: Use no more than a pea-size amount on clean, dry skin.

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5

Spot treat

Deeply satisfying yet incredibly disgusting, these pimple patches ($8) will suck all the gunk out of any open sores or whiteheads (you know they’re working when they turn from clear to white) and help heal lesions. They won’t, however, do anything for blackheads or under-skin cysts.

Pimple patches work by absorbing the secretions zits produce, sealing them away from your face and effectively creating a barrier between your skin and bacteria. Plus, if you’re someone who can’t resist picking at a pimple, they’re also a great way to keep your fingers off your face without attracting a ton of attention.

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6

Finish with oil

Face oils are a great last step in any skincare routine, not because they’re such great moisturizers on their own but because they help seal all the ingredients you’ve just applied. Always apply oil last—yes, go around the pimple patches, if you’re using them—because no moisturizer or serum can penetrate oil. A great option for acne-prone skin whether it’s dry, oily, or irritated is Botanics facial oil ($13). It’s non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog your pores. Plus, it contains rosehip, which can help minimize excess oil often found in skin that’s acne-prone.

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