Acne is never a good time. From tiny whiteheads to painful cysts, we’ve yet to meet someone who isn’t opposed to pimples. Luckily enough, there are a multitude of ways to treat and heal your complexion.
To determine what actually works when it comes to treating acne, we enlisted the help of skin therapist Kate Somerville. While she’s known as a celebrity skin guru, Somerville also has a product line that does amazing things for ordinary folk (like us). We asked all the pressing questions—from acne triggers, to cures, and the truth about home-care versus salon treatments.
Keep scrolling for the full Q&A.
Byrdie Australia: What’s the one thing you wish all women knew about skincare?
Kate Somerville: That it’s important to get to know your skin as it changes over time. What you need in your 20s may not be what you need in your 30s. Think about your age, your skin type, and what kind of climate you live in and go from there. And your diet! Diet is huge. Once you start doing that, you really can turn back the clock. Or if you have acne, you can clear up your skin. You’re not helpless—you can change these things these days.
B: How important is diet for healthy skin?
KS: It’s so important. It’s funny when I hear doctors say: “Oh, it doesn’t matter.” I have seen skin change. When my clients move off coffee and start drinking green tea, there is often a huge difference. If I have a client that eats badly and they clean up their diet and start incorporating greens, protein, and good fats, plus consuming less sugar, everything gets better. When a client comes in to me, especially those who deal with acne or eczema, we go to diet almost right away.
B: What is your advice for acne and eczema clients—is it more tailored to diet?
KS: It’s a combination. For acne, I suggest a green smoothie with spinach, pear, apple, and lemon. The pear and apple are just for taste, but the lemon and greens alkalize the body and help with healing. Chlorophyll in your water can also really help with breakouts. I get my acne clients off sugar, wheat, and dairy. And then, we go to skincare. I start with three basic things—exfoliating twice a week, and hydrating with hyaluronic acid, not oils. I’m also a huge believer in LED lights, both blue and red. For acne, if you add those three elements together, you will be clear.
B: Is it actually possible to clear your pores at home?
KS: I’m always going to suggest a good cleansing facial monthly, but you can still get results if you don’t do that. I’m a big believer in steam, as that really helps. If you have congested skin, I suggest using a Clarisonic in conjunction with an exfoliating cleanser like ExfoliKate ($88). Or you can extract yourself—just make sure you do it right. I’ll never say, “Don’t pop,” because it’s unrealistic. I’d rather teach you how. You have to wrap your fingers, and you only squeeze lightly.
B: What is the most common mistake people are making with their skincare?
KS: Treating their skin as a single ecosystem. For example, a lot of times we will break out in just one place, but start using acne products all over. And then we over-dry, which causes more issues. So with breakouts, you should only use acne treatments where you need them. It’s the same for anti-aging products—use them where you need them.
Check out our favorite acne products below.