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What’s New In Acne Skin Care?

By Megan Griffith

Reviewed for medical accuracy by Dr. Jaggi Rao,
MD, FRCPC Double board-certified dermatologist

If you think you’ve heard everything about acne skin care, think again. New scientific facts are being uncovered and new treatments are being developed all the time. Here are some recent highlights.

Moisturizers and acne
Just using a moisturizer can reduce a woman’s acne by up to 70%.


  • There are developments in acne skin care nearly every day.
  • Increasing numbers of doctors report that using Juvederm to fill acne scars can trigger flare-ups of autoimmune diseases.
  • Doctors are being encouraged to recommend hydroquinone products for lightening brown spots left by acne. On certain skin types, however, hydroquinone can create worse disfigurement1 than it is used to treat.
  • Doctors are recognizing more and more cases of childhood acne, usually linked to stress.
  • Croatian scientists have found that just using a moisturizer can reduce the number of blemishes on women’s skin by up to 70% in just 60 days.

Juvederm Can Aggravate Autoimmune Disease

Juvederm is a filler used to erase ice pick scars and other indented areas of skin where pimples have left permanent disfigurement of the skin. Injected into the skin in the doctor’s office2, Juvederm is primarily hyalouronic acid, a naturally occurring compound that absorbs water and expands the contour of the skin. The hyalouronic acid used in Juvederm is collected from human cadavers. The product also contains albumin collected from human blood.

There are increasing numbers of reports of autoimmune reactions3 after people receive Juvederm for acne scars or wrinkles. Some people develop sinusitis, and others develop joint pain. Doctors do not believe that Juvederm causes the autoimmune disease itself, but it may trigger flareups of previously undiagnosed autoimmune disease (thus making the symptoms a “preexisting condition” for which insurance will not always pay).

Juvederm is expensive. A single injection into a single scar may cost as much as US $500. The effects are temporary. Some users of Juvederm report that acne scars became visible again in as little as 3 weeks.

There are no at-home methods for treating acne scars that will give you immediate results. Microdermabrasion cloths and crystals from companies like Exposed Skin Care may help smooth raised scars after several weeks of use, but the best you can do with ice pick scars is to gradually stimulate production of collagen4 by exfoliating the skin with alpha-hydroxy (glycolic) and beta-hydroxy (salicylic) acids.

Medical Journals Encourage Doctors To Prescribe Hydroquinone

Hydroquinone is a whitening and lightening agent used to remove brown pigmentation that accumulates in the skin as pimples heal. For many people, it’s a safe and effective way to lighten the skin. For some people, it can leave permanent black or blue mottling of the skin or remove so much pigment from the skin that blemished skin comes to resemble vitiligo.

Medical journals are telling doctors that they don’t have to be dermatologists to prescribe hydroquinone—and they don’t. The same articles, however, are not warning of permanent problems that hydroquinone can cause5, especially on non-white skin types.

Don’t let your doctor give you hydroquinone (Claripel, Alphaquin, Clarite, Eldopaque, Eldoquin, Esoterica, Melanex, Melquin, Melpaque, Lustra, or Solaquin) if:

  • You have Chinese, Japanese, or Korean heritage. Some East Asians lack an enzyme for processing hydroquinone that can cause the accumulation of black and blue pigments in the skin.
  • You have dark brown or black skin. Hydroquinone can remove so much pigment from your skin that you develop permanent white spots.

Many Murad cosmetics contain hydroquinone and should be used with extreme caution by people who have Asian or African skin types. Safe alternatives to hydroquinone include products that contain arbutin or kojic acid, such as Exuviance by Neo-Strata or Mela-D Dark Spots by La Roche-Posay.

Doctors Are Increasingly Recognizing Acne In Children

Most people associate acne with adolescence. The fact is, however, that acne can occur in newborns6 and in children who have not reached puberty. Acne in newborns is most commonly associated with testosterone accumulated while still in the womb, and resolves itself even without treatment by the fourth month of life. Acne in children is most commonly associated with stress. Injuries to the skin by pimples are much more likely to form scars on young, rapidly growing skin.

Just because the patient is a child does not mean the problem is not acne, but just because the problem is acne does not mean that the treatments used by adolescents and adults will work. No irritating treatment should ever be used7 on a baby’s or child’s skin, because of the high risk of transference to eyes, nose, and mouth. Gentle cleansing with warm water and baby shampoo are mainstays of childhood skin care. Make sure a physician evaluates acne to rule out glandular problems.

Recent Research Finds That Moisturizers Reduce Adult Acne

Dermatologists in Croatia recently reported the results of a study of using moisturizers as the only treatment for mild to moderate adult acne—no benzoyl peroxide, no antibiotics, no botanicals, no light therapy or laser therapy or skin peels. They found that women aged 18 to 35 using a moisturizer for 60 days:

  • Reduced the number of pimples on the forehead by an average of 41%.
  • Reduced the number of pimples on the cheeks by an average of 25%.
  • Reduced the number of pimples on the chin by an average of 25%.
  • Reduced the number of blackheads and whiteheads on the forehead by an average of 68%.
  • Reduced the number of blackheads and whiteheads on the cheeks by an average of 71%.
  • Reduced the number of blackheads and whiteheads on the chin by an average of 73%.

A few participants in the study actually had more pimples during the first month of treatment, as pores opened, but all participants in the study had better skin by the end of 60 days. Most of the women in the study reported that they were so pleased with the results of the moisturizer on the color and texture of their faces that they would use moisturizer even if they did not have acne.

An even better way to use moisturizer, however, is as part of a complete acne skin care program such as Exposed Skin Care.


  1. Schwartz C., Jan A. Hydroquinone. StatPearls. 2019.
  2. Hussain S.N., Goodman G.J., Rahman E. Treatment of a traumatic atrophic depressed scar with hyaluronic acid fillers: a case report. Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology. 2017;10:285-287.
  3. Bhojani-Lynch T. Late-Onset Inflammatory Response to Hyaluronic Acid Dermal Fillers. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 2017;5(12):e1532.
  4. Moghimipour E. Hydroxy Acids, the Most Widely Used Anti-aging Agents. Jundishapur Journal of Natural Pharmaceutical Products. 2012;7(1):9-10.
  5. Draelos Z.D. Skin lightening preparations and the hydroquinone controversy. Dermatologic Therapy. 2007;20(5):308-13.
  6. Serna-Tamayo C., Janniger C.K., Micali G., Schwartz R,A. Neonatal and infantile acne vulgaris: an update. Cutis. 2014;94(1):13-6.
  7. Canadian Paediatric Society. Skin care for your baby. Paediatrics and Child Health. 2007;12(3):245-51.
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