The Ageless Problem of Acne:
Or…I’m too old for this zit!


By adulthood, we expect to outgrow the various intolerable indignities and awkward moments of adolescence so generously provides us. We pretend we never gossip; we aim to say nothing at all, if we have nothing nice to say; we entertain with wine and cheese.

Yet try as we might, many of us are still afflicted with a condition that’s supposed to be the domain of the teenager alone: acne. And it’s no less embarrassing to deal with the unsightly, uninvited little monsters now – even if we are older and wiser.

Happily, I’ve discovered options for the problem that are far more appealing than that tube of maximum strength tinted benzoyl peroxide I toted everywhere back in Junior High- not to mention, far gentler than the stinging, alcohol-based toner I’d abuse and overuse.

The Amala Purify Collection is made up of eight products that restore balance, clarify, and add radiance to oily, combination, and acne-prone skin. Amala (meaning “most pure” in Sanskrit) products are certified by NaTrue, the European authority for global natural and organic cosmetics standards. To qualify, products must meet stringent criteria, including being of 100% natural origin, and having no synthetic preservatives. The Purify collection is manufactured in Germany, but is inspired by the healing plants and flowers of Eastern Asia; these include wildcrafted Blue Lotus, a key ingredient that helps support a healthy complexion by infusing skin with vitamins and amino acids. I found the Amala Purifying Gel Moisturizer and Amala Purifying Toner did an excellent job of controlling excess oil and shine all day. The Amala Purifying Blemish Treatment disappeared into skin quickly, with no trace of irritation or burn. This gentle touch aroused a bit of my suspicion, as I’m not used to such behavior from skincare for acnegenic skin. But who can argue when your skin looks good? I guess nature knows what it’s doing.

Find the Amala Purify Collection at Barneys New York, 660 Madison Avenue and at The Spa at Mandarin Oriental New York. Purchase online at

Rodan & Fields, two dermatologists from California are the creators of the Proactive 3-Step System. Through the years, I’d seen snippets of the Proactiv infomercial at late-night moments, but I’d never dialed the number for a kit. Here was my chance! I tried the 1. Proactive Renewing Cleanser 2. Proactive Revitalizing Toner 3. Proactive Repairing Treatment, as well as the Proactive Refining Mask and Proactive Green Tea Moisturizer. While I really loved how the products felt, and how my face felt… and how my pimples quickly shrank…and how my pores DID seem smaller – a three step program that must be done twice a day might be tough for my personal crazy schedule – though I’m more than ready to order the Green Tea Moisturizer by the gallon!

Visit or call 1-877-217-3030 to order Proactiv.

Rubbing my face all over with a hot, vibrating wand twice a day? Now, that I could get into! The ZENO Heat Treat is ZENO’s first preventative acne clearing device system, complete with patent-pending ZENO Blemish Prevention Treatment ((with salicylic acid plus moisturizing agents to soothe, hydrate, and protect skin from the dryness, redness, and irritation common with many other acne treatments). Pair the treatment with the Heat Treat device, and you can prevent future breakouts by destroying 99.9% of acne-causing bacteria within one hour. It might sound gross, but after only my first try with ZENO, I saw blackheads that were virtually escaping my forehead all by themselves, just dying to be gutted!

Visit for more information and retailers.

I won’t say what happened next, as dermatologists like NYC-based Dr. Amy Wechsler (author of The Mind-Beauty Connection, Free Press, 2008) would be disappointed. I will tell you that Wechsler calls squashing, squeezing, and picking at pimples “The Number One Don’t.” She says fingernails are sharp and have bacteria under them, so you can damage skin’s deeper layers and create new pimples where you’re picking. Wechsler recommends applying a warm compress on a blemish to loosen its sebum plug (yum…lovely!) and then placing two clean cotton swabs on each side of the pimple, applying gentle, even inward pressure. “If something comes out, great; pat dry and put on a treatment, such as your acne product. If not, leave it alone – it’s not ready to budge,” Wechsler explains. She recommends benzoyl peroxide products as a spot treatment only, as she feels they can be too drying to use all over the face. Her preference is salicylic acid because it is both an exfoliant and an anti-inflammatory, and it is significantly less irritating.

Dr. Amy Wechsler Dermatology is located at 3 East 69th Street, New York, NY 10021
Telephone: 212.396.2500

Of course, every skin is different, and requires individual care – be patient until you find the regimen that works best for you. Maybe you won’t ever outgrow your acne – but with the right skincare, at least you may overpower and outsmart it.

Also try:

To control oil and shine throughout the day, start with Shiseido Pureness Deep Cleansing Foam and Shiseido Pureness Balancing Softener. Oh and take Shisedo Pureness Oil-Control Blotting Papers with you to go

Shisedo Pureness products are available at

SKIN by Monica Dead Sea Clay Masque reduces excess surface oil; SKIN by Monica Erase Acne Spot Gel aims to zap your zits while you catch your zzz’s.

SKIN by Monica Olsen products can be purchased online at or at Duane Reade locations.

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