Real Ways to Get Rid of Red Marks From Breakouts!

Airdate: 3/31/11

Find out how to fade red marks left over from a blemish and what you can do to treat other types of acne scars.

Paula Begoun: Good evening, I'm Paula Begoun, the Cosmetics Cop. Well, it is evening here in Seattle. I always get a little confused. I just got back from Thailand last week. I was traveling and wasn't here and now I'm back. So, I am a little jet-lagged so I am a little ditzy. I'm not getting much sleep.
00:00:29 But I am dedicated to keeping you beautifully informed whenever I can live, Pacific Coast time in the United States at 6 o'clock. And of course you are or could be listening to archives to any of our shows. I have my team with me, my Paula's Choice team – Desiree Stordahl who was in Thailand with me, helping and enjoying. Hi, Desiree.
Desiree Stordahl: Hello. You know it is kind of funny that we bring up Thailand because it ties into tonight's show.
00:01:02 So, I too have had some jet-lag problems and because of it I was falling asleep at weird times and just being super tired. So, I slept in my makeup a couple of nights which is horrible and now I have had breakouts and has left me with red marks. So, tonight's topic couldn't be more perfect for me.
Paula Begoun: I did too! I feel asleep in my makeup. You know, I hate when I do that. I just hate it.
00:01:29 I know what is going to happen. But I don't know; I just know I need to get up and wash my face. I know I am going to have breakouts the next morning. You get an irritant response for some reason. Nobody quite knows why this happens. And you are going to get a pimple more so than you normally would, especially if you took good care of your face and was treating your skin with acne products that work and didn't make it worse.
00:01:57 But, yeah, I did it too! Twice! I did. And I did. I struggled with red marks. But we will talk about that. That is the topic du jour. We are talking about real ways to get rid of red marks, and some of the crazy insanity that you see on the Internet or even that dermatologists recommend that is just silly. And of course we have – I have, we have – Desiree and I have Bryan Barron, the old married man that he is now. Hi Bryan.
Bryan Barron: Good evening.
Paula Begoun: Good evening. Bryan has been writing books with me for 11 years, co-authoring "Don't go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me," and just about anything else I have written since we started working together. And Bryan, finally the wedding is over. We can stop talking about Bryan's wedding. But it was wonderful. Everything I said about leading up to it, it really was one of the most amazingly perfect, better than anything you've seen on television weddings ever.
00:03:09 It was charming. It was creatively done. I mean, I just can't say enough. I'm not going to belabor it because I could go on and on, but you know Bryan you should have done a wedding blog because women all over the world should learn from you how to do a really elegant, simple, clever, fun, romantic wedding.
00:03:34 Really, you covered all the bases. It was wonderful. Desiree was there, too. Well, you are not going to say you don't agree, but don't you think?
Desiree Stordahl: Yes, it was.
Paula Begoun: It really was. I want that kind of wedding.
Bryan Barron: Thank you.
Paula Begoun: You have to find a guy who knows how to do all of that. But unfortunately I am not going to marry a gay man, so I am not going to have all of that wonderful – but you have to just hire – never mind.
00:04:01 I won't go there. But it was wonderful. It was wonderful. Congratulations Bryan.
Bryan Barron: Thank you very much. It was a long time planning and I was incredibly pleased with how well it turned out and it was just honestly…I haven't had many occasions throughout my 37 years to say that was a profound experience in many ways and that day was just that – so I will always remember it.
00:04:30 And I'm so glad that you guys were there, too.
Paula Begoun: And you know the makeup on the bridesmaids was really spectacular. So, appropriate. Beautifully done. Beautifully blended. Neutral eye design with soft but dramatic black liner. Rich colored lipstick to go with the dramatic gowns and soft blush where the emphasis was on the liner and the lashes and the shape of the eye and the lips were a color deep enough so that you didn't look washed out or just wearing a sheer gloss that disappeared in three seconds.
00:05:10 It was wonderful. It was wonderful. But on that note, I want to get to talking about our topic: Real ways to get rid of red marks from breakouts. Separate from the fact that both Desiree and I slept in our makeup and had breakouts and then had to struggle with taking care of the red marks that happened afterwards or for darker skin tones –
00:05:40 Women or men with darker skin tones get brown discolorations; lighter skin tones, Caucasian skin get reddish discolorations. Whatever skin color you have, when you have those marks left over from a blemish it is just…the blemish was bad enough as it is, right?
00:06:02 I mean that was ugly, yuck, and you struggled with that and sometimes that lasted for a long time if you didn't know how to take care of it. And then it is still there after it is gone because you have this red mark or brown mark left over, almost like "Here, I'm still here – I haven't gone away yet. I'm going to drive you crazy for another period of time."
00:06:29 And any time I talk about acne and blemishes and breaking out, it's always very painful; I get very emotional. I struggled with acne most of my life. As some of you have heard me say before, from the day I got my period at the age of 11 I started breaking out. And even after menopause now, and I'm pretty solidly menopausal, I still struggle with blemishes.
00:07:02 It isn't actually all that unusual for menopausal women to struggle with acne, but you hope, you hope at some point, some milestone it will go away. But to one degree or another I have struggled with acne my whole life. And what I am going to tell you, what I'm going to share with you tonight – I don't know how to say this in any clearer terms, but I mean this with my heart and all of my research is that what I'm going to tell you is going to change how you deal with acne in general and how you deal with the red marks left over from acne.
00:07:38 It really can be different. It really can heal faster. But if you don't know what to do, you will struggle with it forever. You will just keep going from web board to web board to chat room to chat room to store to store and you will still end up with not having your skin healed the way you want it to heal, or to reduce breakouts.
00:08:09 So, one of the things I am aware of when I talk…so the first…okay, let me start that over. One of the things that you have to do first in terms of dealing with red marks is you have to deal with acne in the first place. You have to deal with the blemish. Because anything you do when a blemish shows up, or if you are not treating your acne in a way that helps reduce the size of the pimple, reduce the frequency of the pimple –
00:08:39 Reduces the depth of the pimple, you are going to be left with a mark, whether it is a red mark or a brown mark that is worse and will take longer to heal no matter what I am about to recommend. I mean what I am about to recommend will make it heal faster than much of what we have found on the Internet.
00:08:59 But there is no way around it. If what you do first isn't in alignment with what is state of the art for reducing acne in the first place, the red marks and the brown marks left over from a pimple just will be very, very difficult to deal with. So, what do you do? So, what you do in the first place is treat your skin with three basic steps. You cannot leave out any of these three steps.
00:09:34 If you don't, you are just going to be running yourself around in circles, at least from a starting point. So, the starting point – well actually this isn't a starting point. This is for everybody. You have to use gentle products. You can't use irritating skin products. That is…while you are breaking out and heal the red marks or the brown discolorations from acne, you have to use products that don't irritate the skin.
00:09:58 That includes the cleanser. Your cleanser has to be gentle. No bar soaps. The ingredients that keep bar soaps in their bar form clog pores – it is not a good thing. So, you have to use water soluble cleansers that are gentle. Bar soaps and bar cleansers, the ingredients that keep them in their bar form clog pore. And they are just drying in general and irritating. Irritation hurts healing.
00:10:30 Now particularly if your skin is tingling it is telling you it is being irritated, but irritation sometimes is silent. You don't see it on the surface of skin. So, absolutely you can be irritating your skin and your skin won't tell you about it. But you are hurting the healing process anyway. So, gentle – nothing that irritates. And you absolutely have to use a salicylic acid exfoliant called BHA, or just the product might contain salicylic acid with no other – never irritants of any kind.
00:11:05 Preferably no fragrance. And hopefully it is in a gel or very light lotion or liquid form. Anything that [creates] a cream or a heavy lotion in that lotion cream form, what creates the texture can clog pores. Not to mention that is just more emollient than you need, waxier than you need, holds skin cells down and that can increase breakouts.
00:11:33 So, salicylic acid in a lightweight texture, either gel or liquid or very think lotion and a benzoyl peroxide product. Benzoyl peroxide can be incredible when combined with salicylic acid. Now some people can't use benzoyl peroxide – for example I can't, it causes irritation. But, it works beautifully by itself. Salicylic acid works beautifully by itself. And for some people that can't use salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide can work beautifully by itself or you can use an alpha hydroxy acid product.
00:12:13 The active ingredient in that situation would be glycolic acid or lactic acid. Now on our Web site at we have a few articles on acne that covers this very clearly and then on
00:12:30 You could take a look at the products we recommend that contain salicylic acid, that contain benzoyl peroxide and glycolic acid. Did I say that right – salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and glycolic acid, as well as gentle cleansers so you don't irritate your skin. So, that is how you treat acne. That is the starting point. If those groups of products don't work then you do want to talk to a dermatologist for dermatological options which would be great for your skin.
00:13:07 But the gold standard for the starting point for most acne conditions – gentle cleansers, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Then the issue is what do you do when you have a pimple? Even when you have taken the best care of your skin, you are doing everything right, no irritation, gentle, using a well-formulated salicylic acid product using a well-simulated benzoyl peroxide product, you can still get pimples.
00:13:34 That is just the way it is. You are struggling with it; it is hard to cure it. In fact it is impossible to cure it. Time either does it, your genetics does it. It you take oral isotretinoin that can actually to some extent cure it – it can at least really reduce it. Controversies around isotretinoin, used to be called Accutane; that is off the market the now but isotretinoin in its generic form is available.
00:14:02 But from there when you get a pimple, the big question is what do you do? Do you squeeze it, you don't squeeze it? My recommendation is leaving it alone just looks ugly. I would never leave a whitehead alone. And it doesn't help anything to leave it alone. But the problem is when you attack your skin and you go at it and you keep going at it – you keep going at it – and you damage the skin and cause a scab.
00:14:30 And that is going to make acne red marks or the dark discolorations that African American skin or darker skin tones can get, will make it worse. So, if you are going to squeeze a blemish you have to do it gently. You need to use a comedone extractor. You can look up a comedone extractor on the Internet and see what those look like. You can get them at any drugstore in the country pretty much around the world.
00:14:58 And use that – we have an article on our Web site of explaining exactly how to do it. So, those tips, how you treat blemishes and treat your skin on a daily basis and then how you remove a blemish – because when a blemish is on your face, well, anyplace on your body for that matter, because everything I'm saying is true whether it is on your face, your arms, your neck, your chest –
00:15:27 Everything I'm saying is true for any acne anywhere, breakouts anywhere on your body. And so when you leave a pimple to just keep growing and getting red and swollen and you don't remove the contents, you are just swelling and breaking down the skin around it, makes the depth of the wound of the blemish deeper. So, the redness and discoloration goes deeper, that makes it last longer and harder to treat.
00:16:00 So, for many, many reasons, removing the pressure from within a blemish is actually a good thing. It is just how you do it, it can make things first. Because if you attack it, it makes scabs – really bad news. So, once it is done, once you do breakout and there is going to be some amount of red marks or dark marks for darker skin tones left over, the first line of defense is exactly what I have just been talking about which is you have to be gentle.
00:16:33 No scrubbing – that hurts – well, gentle scrubbing as long as it is something like a washcloth or one of the scrubs that we recommend on that has just very soft granules, nothing that beats up the skin or rips into the skin, because that just makes healing take longer. Salicylic acid or a glycolic acid, topical daily exfoliant, will absolutely help healing.
00:17:02 Here at Paula's Choice we strongly recommend salicylic acid because it is an anti-inflammatory. Remember, part of what is causing acne in the first place is it is an inflammatory disorder. Inflammation is bad. Anything that reduces inflammation will make things better. So, a salicylic acid-based product used daily will absolutely reduce red marks.
00:17:28 Desiree and Bryan and I, separate from what we know what is true about the research, just anecdotally from all of us, all of us can say that if we didn't use a salicylic acid product over blemishes before or after they go away, the red mark heals faster than we ever thought it did before we found the product?
Desiree Stordahl: Absolutely. Yeah.
Paula Begoun: Bryan, are you there? Did we lose Bryan?
Bryan Barron: No, no, I'm here. I absolutely agree.
00:18:00 In fact, even though I am not breaking out as much now as I did five, six years ago, I do notice that if I get a little lazy about using that salicylic acid product and I go back and forth between several that Paula's Choice offers, I will break out. You know it is like sometimes it is either laziness or me just wanting to test the waters and see if, because of my age, I have finally beaten the breakouts.
00:18:29 Nope.
Paula Begoun: Nope, no, nah. For some of us it just goes on and on. And you know one of the things actually about red marks that is important to mention is really patience. If you are good about how you take care of your skin, and you are using an exfoliant, they do go away. By the way you can get around to getting a laser treatment or you can get around to going – meaning going to a dermatologist for an IPL or a Fraxel kind of treatment, they really should be gone by then.
00:19:06 Because these red marks are not about surface red capillaries that IPLs take care of. They are a very different type of lesion on the face. Now for darker skin tones, actually lasers and IPLs are very tricky for darker skin tones, and darker skin tones actually need to add separate from a salicylic acid exfoliant, they should consider using a Hydroquinone, a Hydroquinone type product which is a skin lightening product.
00:19:41 There are alternatives to Hydroquinone but in terms of skin discolorations, particularly the depth that can happen with those brownish discoloration is just Hydroquinone is pretty much state of the art for darker skin tones to get those brown marks as opposed to those red marks.
00:20:05 Retinol, products with Retinol, Retinol does help healing but some skin tones can't tolerate it because it is too irritating. But absolutely a well-formulated Retinol – Retinol is the whole Vitamin A molecule. You can see it very clearly on products that contain Retinol. And again on you can look at the products we recommend. Any product that contains anti-inflammatories and of course you should only be using products that are loaded with antioxidants that reduce inflammation is also wonderful.
00:20:34 Let me talk really quick about what not to do. Because there is a ton of stuff on the Internet saying what to do. And three of the things that Desiree found was using –
Bryan Barron: And they came up repeatedly.
Paula Begoun: Did they? Did lemon juice and vitamin E come up repeatedly?
Desiree Stordahl: Oh yeah.
Paula Begoun: Okay, don't do that. Don't do either of those.
00:20:58 The problem with vitamin E is vitamin E in a straight oil form onto the skin can be an irritant. Don't do that. There is no research about vitamin E over a scar, over redness, over anything, has any benefit in terms of healing. The other thing is lemon juice is an irritant. It hurts healing. Ever get lemon juice on a corner of a cuticle when you are cooking? It hurts, it burns, it is bad for skin – it isn't good for skin. There is nothing healing or bleaching about lemon juice. It is just this crazy notion.
00:21:35 In fact, in reality there is absolutely nothing you can mix up in your kitchen that is going to work like a gentle cleanser, like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. You know we have an interesting question here from, where did I see that, from Toni from Canada. She is asking – she has dry skin and acne and she used 2.5% benzoyl peroxide. That is probably from my line, but it completely dried out her skin.
00:22:00 Can you turn – Toni are you there?
Toni: Oh, hi there, yes I am. How are you?
Paula Begoun: I'm good, Toni, how are you?
Toni: I'm good. I'm so glad you took my call because I do use your products, the Skin Recovery line because I have dry skin and Rosacea, so I'm breaking up and called up your group and they said really rub in the BHA, right, at nighttime when you put it on – really rub it into the pimples.
Paula Begoun: Well, don't rub it in. I don't know what they meant by rubbing it in, but if you over-rub – we are not talking about friction rubbing, are we?
Toni: No, no, just almost spa-treating it. Well, maybe friction then, probably sure.
Paula Begoun: Yeah, I just worry that when I hear rubbing I think …
Toni: Maybe, but nevertheless I called back because it really wasn't working. And so they recommended that I could do spa treatments with the Clear line – 2.5% peroxide.
Paula Begoun: Yes, benzoyl peroxide.
Toni: Benzoyl peroxide. And so they sent me some samples of the 2.5% and the 5%, which was great. And I tried using them at nighttime because I didn't want any reactions in the daytime. And it completely dried out my skin. Like totally dried it out. Stopped using it but I really wanted to have some sort of a treatment for my blemishes.
Paula Begoun: So, the salicylic acid, which one of mine did you use?
Toni: It is BHA, correct? Is that salicylic acid?
Paula Begoun: Which texture product was it?
Toni: It's a lotion and it is 2%.
Paula Begoun: And that didn't work for you or it did work?
Toni: No, not for my blemishes. Like it is great for exfoliating. I have no dryness, no accumulation of dry skin, but it really did not help for my blemishes.
Paula Begoun: So, Toni, you have one of the worst types of acne – not the worst – but –
Toni: The most difficult to treat, I understand.
Paula Begoun: Right, dry skin and acne is just very, very difficult. I'm not surprised you can't use the benzoyl peroxide. That would be very typical for somebody with dry skin. So, here is what I want you to consider doing.
00:24:26 I do think salicylic acid is still the answer for you. But, that is with a big but, I think that the lotion may not be strong enough for the kind of acne you have. Lotions just in general when they have active ingredients generally don't allow as much penetration as some people need. So, I am going to send you our Paula's Choice 2% BHA…so we have…sorry –
00:24:57 I'm forgetting the name of my products. From the Clear line we have an extra-strength and a regular strength exfoliating toner. Both of them contain 2% salicylic acid but in different consistencies. I want you to try those and you absolutely can soak the blemish at night and in the morning before you put on your makeup and moisturizer with the benzoyl – sorry, I keep saying benzoyl peroxide – I mean salicylic acid.
00:25:28 So, I want you to try those two and experiment with them. I think you will get better results. If the salicylic acid doesn't work, what I can't send you, but I want to send you is my 10% -- Desiree, what is the name of our 10% exfoliating treatment?
Desiree Stordahl: From the Resist line?
Paula Begoun: From the Resist line.
Desiree Stordahl: The weekly resurfacing treatment.
Paula Begoun: Weekly resurfacing treatment.
00:25:57 We are out of it. I can't believe we are out of it. But Toni as soon as it comes in I am going to send it out to you. I want you to experiment with the salicylic acid-based Paula's Choice products and there are, you can always go to and see what else we recommend there. But I am going to send you mine. I like mine. I know how I formulated them. But if they don't work then the next step would be to try a higher concentration glycolic acid-based product.
00:26:27 And then if that doesn't work, then you do have to talk to a dermatologist for using other options. But let's try some different concentrations of the different textures of the salicylic acid. If that doesn't work, the 10% weekly resurfacing treatment. And then let's take it from there and see how you do.
Toni: Okay, thank you so much.
Paula Begoun: Okay, thank you Toni.
Toni: Have a great one.
Paula Begoun: Take care, dear. And then we had somebody else asking…what did I see here. I'm missing it. But we have so many great questions. So, I pretty much went over everything I think I want to go over, so Desiree you go for it. Let's take questions.
Desiree Stordahl: Okay, we have Valerie from Georgia on the line.
Paula Begoun: Hi Valerie.
Valerie: Hi, how are you?
Paula Begoun: Good, how are you?
Valerie: I'm great, thank you. I have a question about over exfoliating. I currently use your Skin Balancing products and I am using the 2% BHA liquid morning and evening.
00:27:36 It still feels like I am maybe –
Paula Begoun: You need more?
Valerie: Yeah, I don't know if I am just reacting too much, and if I should only do it once a day or if I am just – I have that kind of oily splotchy skin.
Paula Begoun: How is your skin doing using it twice a day?
Valerie: I'm not getting any flakiness or dryness.
Paula Begoun: So, how is it looking?
Valerie: It doesn't look great. I always have something on my face.
Paula Begoun: You are always going to have something on your face. I can't…I would love to say that I can do something about that. Believe me. I could buy Tahiti if I could do something about that, if anybody could do something about that on everyone's face. It is just an unrealistic goal. I can't promise you that.
00:28:29 But in comparison to not using it, in terms of keeping things under control, making your skin better than without it or with other things you have used, how are you doing?
Valerie: It's getting better. It is getting better.
Paula Begoun: Valerie, when did you start using the products?
Valerie: A year ago.
Paula Begoun: Oh, and it's taking…and you are not…okay, so here is what I need to know. You are not over exfoliating. A lot of people use AHAs, glycolic acid products or BHAs, salicylic acid products, twice a day.
00:29:04 I don't. I use it just at night, but when I sleep with my makeup I do use it twice a day. So, you are not over exfoliating as long as your skin is looking smooth and even and the red marks are going away, the blemishes are reducing and the blackheads are reducing, you are doing fine. What other…are you using all of my Skin Balancing products?
Valerie: Yes, the cleanser and the toner. Now I don't use the moisturizer. And then just the exfoliant.
Paula Begoun: So, you use the cleanser and the toner and the exfoliant and that is all that you do – you don't use anything else?
Valerie: No.
Paula Begoun: Okay and so do you do anything for oil absorption during the day? Are you wearing makeup and stuff like that?
Valerie: Yes, I am wearing makeup but I kind of just blot my face at the oil and it creeps up.
Paula Begoun: Right, so here is what I am going to do. I'm going to send you our oil blotting papers and I'm going to send you our new Shine Stopper. And I would like you to try that. I think that some of what happens during the day, because the oil is building up and we are not washing our face and we are not re-applying products, that oil building up during the day is really unpleasant and it is not best for skin. I think you can get some amount of improvement. I think you will be very surprised how much oil control you will get from it. But I also think some amount of oil control like that – what we are seeing from people who are using it that they get some amount of healing from it.
00:30:38 So, I am going to send you that. Bryan, do you have other ideas? I'm frustrated that her skin isn't doing better with exactly what I would recommend for Valerie to use. Oh, you know something, I'm sorry, I just asked Bryan a question and now I am interrupting him.
00:30:56 So, what about the 10% alpha hydroxy acid product? Do you think Bryan that would be too much exfoliation? Or should maybe she use it once a week and not use the BHA, the salicylic acid?
Bryan Barron: Yeah, that is what I would suggest. I think maybe using that weekly treatment once a week – it can be used up to four to five times a week for someone who has more advanced sun damage, but I was going to say something about that and then I was like, oh yeah, it is out of stock.
Paula Begoun: It is out of stock. But we will put it on the list to get it to Valerie. Bryan, you use the 10% exfoliating weekly treatment, once a week? How often do you use it?
Bryan Barron: You know I was using it once a week. I'm actually…I stopped using it because I…kind of a long story but to make a long story short I prefer the daily smoothing treatment because that has the 5% AHA along with the 0.5% salicylic acid. And I find that I can use that nightly and get –
Paula Begoun: You know something; I'm sorry Bryan, Desiree we need to send that to Toni. I forgot about the 5%.
Desiree Stordahl: Oh, the 5%.
Paula Begoun: Yes, the 5%. When we get her the 10%, let's send Toni the 10%, we will send her the 5% as well. Sorry, Valerie, I just left your problem for a second. Forgive me.
Valerie: I'm patient. I'm patient.
Paula Begoun: So, I am going to send you the…what Bryan is suggesting.
00:32:39 You don't have dry skin like Bryan does, so I am not going to recommend the 5%. I am going to send you the 10% from our Resist line for exfoliation and then, Valerie, how old are you?
Valerie: 43.
Paula Begoun: Are you using anything around your eyes?
Valerie: I'm not. I have had a couple of your sample products, but I just haven't been sure really which one to use.
Paula Begoun: Okay, so I am going to send you my favorite, my personal favorite. There are several that you could consider, but I am going to send you my Moisture Boost Hydrating Treatment cream. I want you to just use that around the eye area. So, experiment with the AHA I am going to send you. When you wash your face at night Valerie do you use a wash cloth?
Valerie: No, I don't.
Paula Begoun: So, here is what I am going to suggest you do. Tonight when you wash your face, I want you to use the Skin Balancing Cleanser from Paula's Choice with a wash cloth. And then I want you consider getting, Olay has and I know Desiree and Bryan are just going to roll their eyes –
Valerie: I think I heard you say this last week, about using that rotating brush.
Paula Begoun: I did. I think you should consider it. There is something about getting all of the makeup off of your face.
00:34:04 That makes a difference. It is not that makeup is bad, but makeup left on is an irritant when you sleep. So, the better you get your makeup off, the better your skin is going to be. I'm also going to send you my Paula's Choice Gentle Makeup Remover. But I don't want you to use that on your face. I don't want you to use that on your face. Mostly over your eye area.
00:34:30 But I think that brush, for some people I just think…start with the wash cloth…but for $29 it might be worth giving it a try. So, give those things a try. I think that just using the cleanser and not a wash cloth or a gentle brush like Olay's new one I think isn't enough for your skin and that might be some of the dull clogged pore thing you have going on.
Valerie: Right.
Paula Begoun: So, give that a try.
Valerie: So, one other thing, I notice when I wake up in the morning my face seems calm. But by the time I go to bed and use your products I am just completely splotchy again. Going through the day I get splotchy or things pop up.
Paula Begoun: Right, so that is why…some of it is that we want to make sure you are getting all of your makeup off. I think that Cleanser might help. I also think that using the Shine Stopper so your face isn't getting that built-up oily grit and…I think that might make a huge difference.
00:35:37 And I want you to let Desiree know how you are doing if the stuff we are recommending is helping you.
Valerie: I absolutely will.
Paula Begoun: Alright, thank you Valerie.
Valerie: Thank you so much, I appreciate all of the information.
Paula Begoun: You are welcome dear. Take care. Desiree, next caller.
Desiree Stordahl: Alright, forgive me caller if I pronounce your name wrong, but it is [Aprana] from New York.
Aprana: Close, it is Aprana.
Desiree Stordahl: There we go.
Paula Begoun: Aprana?
Aprana: Yes, Aprana.
Paula Begoun: Aprana. I will try to get that right. What can I do for you, Aprana?
Aprana: Well, first I just want to thank you for all of your hard work. I love everything you have ever done and I read your Web site religiously. So, I just wanted to thank you for taking my call as well.
Paula Begoun: You are welcome.
Aprana: I'm 34 but my dermatologist told me that I look like I am 24. And I survived adolescent acne where I didn't have it at all, but I started to get it in my 20's.
00:36:32 And I am wondering if at my age now if it is hormonal? But regardless I use a lot of your products. I use the Olay Gentle Facial Cleanser twice a day. I use your Hydralight Refreshing Toner twice a day. During the day, in the morning I use your 1% beta hydroxy acid lotion. And at night I have your Resist alpha hydroxy acid, the Daily Smoothing Treatment.
Paula Begoun: The 5%.
Aprana: Yes, the 5%. I use the Olay Regenerating Serum and then I also use Olay Completely Ageless for SPF. And then I use your Hydralight Moisture Infusing lotion at night. So, I feel like I am pretty covered. I follow all of your advice.
Paula Begoun: Wait one second, so you have dry skin acne?
Aprana: Well, actually I have combination skin, so normal-to-combination. And I have some marks on my cheek, the place where I almost never get acne at all.
00:37:32 I had a breakout in November and I have been sticking to the routine. And I still have some marks left on my cheek. And I'm getting married in a few months and I was just hoping that they would be done in time. And I just wondered if there was anything more I could do.
Paula Begoun: And how long have they been there?
Aprana: The breakout was November.
Paula Begoun: Oh wow. And what skin color are you Aprana?
Aprana: I have a South Asian background. So, I am Indian but I have very…I am sort of fair in my cheeks. So, it is like maybe just a little darker than olive.
00:38:04 So, you are Indian…so like medium skin tone, dark skin tone?
Aprana: No, maybe just lighter than medium.
Paula Begoun: Lighter than medium. So, they are red. They are not brown discolorations?
Aprana: They are kind of like a reddish brown.
Paula Begoun: Okay, I know your skin color. Okay, got it. So, skin color plays a big part. Okay, Aprana, let's work on this.
Aprana: Thank you.
Paula Begoun: So, first of all, all acne is hormonal. By definition it is hormonal and for some people it gets triggered by irritation. But still it is because they have the propensity, the hormonal propensity to break out. So, as a rule, almost all acne is hormonal. And I say that and of course there are drugs that can trigger acne and medications and there are other things, but primarily overwhelmingly it is hormones.
00:39:04 Which is why most kids get acne is because they get hormones. They literally start producing male hormones. Boys do, girls do, and when boys' hormones start leveling out after the age of 20, they stop breaking out. Unfortunately women's hormones never level out.
00:39:25 We see-saw between estrogen and androgens, female hormones and male hormones all of our life which is why some women genetically who…just because we see-saw they think they only get it when they are teenagers but they also get it older because our hormones stay kind of crazy most of our lives. So, it is hormonal. So, I think that the 1% lotion isn't enough for you. I think that…so I am going to send you our 2% lotion and I am also going to send you my 2% liquid from my Clear line.
00:40:03 I want you to experiment with that carefully. When I say carefully I mean…first of all I don't want you to do anything two to three weeks before your wedding. You can ask Bryan – you don't want to do anything too dramatic just before your wedding. Things can go wrong and that won't be good.
Aprana: So, when you say not to do anything, should I just stick to my regular routine?
Paula Begoun: Three to four weeks…sorry Bryan. What were you going to say?
Bryan Barron: Oh, I'm glad that you brought that up. I do think that you could definitely benefit if you have enough time before the wedding, because you said it was three or four months away, correct?
Aprana: Yes, June. I have three months.
Bryan Barron: Okay, so find a good cosmetic dermatologist in your area that is familiar with Intense Pulse Light, otherwise known as IPL or photo facials. And go in and see them for a consultation. Express your concerns. Show up without makeup so they can see what your skin really looks like.
00:41:03 They will probably ask you to wash your face anyway. And I think by the time you have that treatment done and then given the healing time, I think you would be in good shape along with your skincare routine.
Aprana: So, I should go in and have a dermatologist check it out?
Paula Begoun: I don't think that hurts. But what I am going to do and I am going to suggest that you try – Bryan is right – but what I am going to suggest you try for a couple of weeks before you make that derma appointment, I want you to up the kind of salicylic acid product you are using.
00:41:41 So, Desiree is going to send you the Clear 2% regular strength exfoliating liquid and the 2% gel, beta hydroxy acid salicylic acid product from Paula's Choice. The Resist 5% I think is fine to use. The Olay is good. The Olay SPF – by the way, I can't believe I forgot to say that you have got to wear sunscreens.
00:42:09 Even if you have oily, acne skin you have to find a way to get sunscreen to the face because you can't heal very well without sunscreen. By definition sun damage, sun exposure, unprotected sun exposure is causing your skin to break down. It is causing your skin – it is literally immune cells that can help your skin heal, break down, go away.
00:42:30 So, sun protection – so you are using Olay's SPF, that is wonderful, that's great. And their cleanser is good. So, that is fine. And then I am also going to send you one of my skin lightening – well, I will send you both of my skin lightening products. The Remarkable Skin Lightening gel and the Remarkable Skin Lightening lotion. Obviously one is in a gel and one is in a lotion. I want you to spot treat one of the skin discolorations and see how your skin does.
00:43:05 Or test it on the inside of your arm first. You have to spot test Hydroquinone before you put it on your face. But if they are brownish the way you are saying, sometimes the Hydroquinone products can be a lot of help. But only do that for a couple of weeks. If you don't see improvement with the products I am going to send you then I do think Bryan is right. I think you need a consultation for the kind of brown spots.
00:43:30 If it was just red, there is very little that a dermatologist can do with laser or Fraxel or IPL, Intense Pulse Light. But for brown spots, that is something a dermatologist can consider looking at treating. You definitely want to go to a dermatologist who knows about darker skin tones. So, give that a try. And you will have a wonderful wedding.
00:43:57 Don't do anything different three to four weeks before your wedding.
Aprana: Thank you. Just one other question based on the advice you have given, when would I use the lighteners and should I put the 2% BHA gel, I would replace that in the morning, but when would I use the liquid Clear line?
Paula Begoun: So, you use, you are replacing the 1% lotion – I'm giving you all of these products to experiment with.
Aprana: Okay.
Paula Begoun: So, you see if you like the gel; if you don't like the gel, try the liquid. For example, I don't like gels. I like liquids. So, I like my 2% BHA liquid. So, that I am doing more just to see which one your skin likes.
00:44:39 In terms of the skin lightener, you are only going to use to spot treat the skin lightener. You are only going to use that on the darker areas, you are not going to use it all over your face.
Aprana: And do I use that before or after the AHA, or not at all?
Paula Begoun: You use it before or after. That is really a personal preference. Most people use it after.
Aprana: Okay. Awesome. Thank you all so much. I really appreciate it.
00:45:04 Paula Begoun: Alright Aprana, have a gorgeous wedding.
Aprana: Thank you. Take care.
Paula Begoun: Take care. Next question, Desiree.
Desiree Stordahl: It's Christy from Georgia.
Paula Begoun: Hi Christy from Georgia.
Christy: Hi, Paula. How are you?
Paula Begoun; I'm good, how are you?
Christy: Doing good. My question was kind of along the lines of Toni from Canada. I'm having irritation from the benzoyl peroxide treatment but my skin is super, super oily.
00:45:31 It reacts so quickly to even a BHA or using the acne spot treatment. And my chin is constantly broken out, so I use the 2.5% benzoyl peroxide but within a day or two of using it just at night it completely, it is just dry and flaky. So, I talked to one of your customer service people and they suggested mixing it with the Skin Balancing Moisture gel and mixing the two together and putting it on.
00:46:03 But that hasn't really seemed to help, either. And I mean once it goes dry, oh, it is horrible. And makeup just makes it look worse.
Paula Begoun: Oh yeah, oh please, believe me. By the way, just to be clear, no pun intended, I can't use my own benzoyl peroxide product. I'm allergic to benzoyl peroxide. So, for some people who can use it, it is brilliant. I mean the research about it is very, very clear.
00:46:30 Benzoyl peroxide is not a miracle. It has been around a long time. We know a lot about it. And we know it works. But not everybody can use it. And I can't use it! But instead of the gel I would have mixed it with a lotion instead of a gel, but it sounds to me that you are just allergic to it. But I am going to send you my Hydralight Moisturizer just to see if you do mix it with that, just for the sake of experimenting.
00:47:01 You know one of the things about treating acne or treating red marks from acne is you have…well, not so much red marks. That is really about exfoliating, sun protection and gentle. But to treat the blemishes before, to prevent getting them, that really takes experimentation with products that contain the right ingredients. And then that is why you start with salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide.
00:47:30 If you can't use benzoyl peroxide you drop out the benzoyl peroxide and stay with the salicylic acid maybe increase the percentage from 1% to 2% of salicylic acid. If you can't use salicylic acid then you try alpha hydroxy acid, which is glycolic acid. That is Proactiv, their skincare routine is based on a benzoyl peroxide product and an alpha hydroxy acid, glycolic acid based exfoliant.
00:48:03 I don't think that is the preferred way. I would start always with salicylic acid because it is an anti-inflammatory, but if you can't use it then you move on to another combination and then if that doesn't work – if you can't use a topical exfoliant, either salicylic acid or glycolic acid or benzoyl peroxide for disinfection and anti-bacterial, then you can move on to a dermatologic treatment. And you see a dermatologist and you ask about products like prescription-strength azelaic acid, or Retin-A or Renova, adapalene.
00:48:41 Different types of treatment that can be used to treat acne. So, it takes experimentation, it just takes experimentation with the right products. So, you said you can't use the benzoyl peroxide so I am going to send you the Hydralight Moisturizer from Paula's Choice just to see how your skin does when you mix those.
00:49:04 Now I'm sorry, Christy, I don't remember. Did you say you are using one of my salicylic acid products?
Christy: Yes, I use all of your products. I use the Hydralight Cleanser and then I use the 2% BHA liquid just at night, because if I use it twice a day it just eats my skin up. So, I just use the 2% BHA at night and then I normally use the Moisture gel just around my eyes or I would put it on the spots where then it was now getting dry.
00:49:34 And then I just started using, of course I use your makeup, too, your foundation and I just ordered some and I got some of the oil absorbing Mattifying, the new product you just came out with.
Paula Begoun: Yes, the Shine Stopper.
Christy: Yes, I have been using that. My skin is so oily; it takes away the oil for probably about 3 hours or so and then it just comes back full force.
Paula Begoun: Well, you know you can even apply the Shine Stopper, as long as you dab it on, you can apply it over makeup by the way, just to let you know.
00:50:05 So, don't be afraid of using it over makeup. You just don't want to rub it on. You just want to really gently dab it on the oily areas. So, you can only use the 2% -- have you tried the 2% from the Clear line that is just the liquid that isn't the more gentle…never mind, I can't explain this, it is going to take too long.
Christy: That's actually…I'm using the one from the Clear line right now, the 2% from the Clear line.
Paula Begoun: The regular strength?
Christy: Let me look at the bottle here. It is the 2% Targeted Acne Relief Toner Extra Strength.
Paula Begoun: Okay, I'm going to send you the regular strength. I think it is too much for your skin type. You know it is one of the reasons my lines has…what do we have, 8, 9, 10, I can't even keep track…salicylic acid-based products because depending on your skin type, we have it in lotion form, gel form, liquid form, different types of liquids that are more penetrating depending on how much your skin can handle the depth of the problem.
00:51:09 So, I am going to send you the regular strength and see how you do. I'm going to send you the Hydralight Moisturizer. I am also going to send you my Moisture Boost Hydrating Treatment. I don't personally…I know my customer service love, and a lot of people love the Hydralight, the Skin Balancing gel around the eyes.
00:51:32 I prefer my Moisture Boost Treatment. I want you to give that a try. So, I am going to send that to you to play with. But stop using the benzoyl peroxide until you get the Hydralight lotion to mix it up with. And when you get the new…stay using the Clear extra strength that you have at night, and then I am going to send you the regular strength. I think that will be a lot better for your skin. And then start re-applying the Shine Stopper after those 3 hours is up.
00:52:02 Dab off the excess oil and then just put a little…oh, Desiree, let's make sure we send Christy the oil blotting papers. Dab off the excess oil, put a little bit more of the Shine Stopper on. Just a little bit goes a long way with that stuff. And I think you will be happy with the results. I hope I answered your questions, Christy.
Christy: Yes, you did. I do appreciate. And I have been to a dermatologist before for it, and I have tried the Tazorac and they put me also on the Retin-A and that stuff all…it's the same way.
00:52:32 Even though my skin is really oily, it just eats my face up and makes it extremely patchy and dry. So, I kind of gave up on the dermatologist route and have just tried to control it with using your products, the products you recommended, so.
Paula Begoun: I want you to know, I can't use Tazorac. I think we were twins separated at birth, Christy. I can't use those treatments either. I have experimented with stuff all of my life. But some people can which is why you have to experiment.
00:53:04 But I think we are on the right track. But you will call us back or you will email Desiree and let us know how you are doing.
Christy: Yes, ma'am, thank you for your help.
Paula Begoun: Thank you, Christy, take care. Do we have time…oh, we have time for another caller. Desiree?
Desiree Stordahl: Yes, we have Pamela from Michigan on the line.
Paula Begoun: Hi Pamela.
Pamela: Hi, Paula, how are you?
Paula Begoun: I'm good, how are you?
Pamela: I'm good, thank you. My question tonight is about kind of the differences between sunspots or dark spots and freckles, if they are kind of the same in a way?
00:53:38 And maybe treating those, especially on my chest and my arms, so larger areas like that. I don't know if using products with AHA or Hydroquinone would help? What do you think?
Paula Begoun: Pamela, how old are you?
Pamela: I'm 50.
Paula Begoun: You are 50. And have you been…are the places where you…did you grow up with freckles?
Pamela: A little bit on my face. And I notice that they would basically come out more when I would be in the sun. And of course being 50, when I was in my 20's or late teens, we didn't use SPF as much as we should.
Paula Begoun: And those freckles were cuter when we were younger. They got a lot less cute as we got older.
Pamela: Definitely.
Paula Begoun: So, the freckles, when you started noticing freckles as a young girl on your face, the way you are describing it from what I can tell is those brown freckles were indeed early sun damage. You just had the propensity for making them younger – if you had been good about sun protection they wouldn't have come. They just get worse. The damage increases and you get more and more brown spots. For somebody who has lots of freckles and sun damage, you get both.
00:55:00 And there isn't much difference between them except depth and the amount of them. And the way they look. But they are both about concentrations of melanin. One is genetically caused and the other is caused from sun damage. And some medications can cause some forms of brown patching from hormonal things like your birth control pills or pregnancy, but that is not what we are talking about.
00:55:30 We are talking about the brown little spots that show up on the parts of your body that have seen sun – you chest, your hands, your arms.
Pamela: And some are lighter than others. I mean there are definite darker spots than some of the lighter spots.
Paula Begoun: And that is just about the depths of damage, the random depths of damage from just how your body has reacted to damage. It is kind of like when you get a scratch – your skin gets scratched and different scratches, different wounds on your body heal differently.
00:56:04 Just genetically is just different parts of the body do different things. There is no rhyme or reason for it. And some of it is because that is the way your skin is producing, showing the damage. From what the research shows, the best you can do, definitely you can consider using a product that contains retinol which is a cosmetic version of vitamin A or a prescription version which is Retin-A or Renova.
00:56:35 I am going to send you my two Hydroquinone-based products – do spot test it before you use it. Make sure you don't have an irritant reaction from it. There is absolutely no way around it – Hydroquinone is state of the art from dermatologic research for lightening skin discolorations. I am going to send you –
00:56:57 Well, I don't have it in stock right now, but when it comes in you will get it. I am going to send you my weekly exfoliating treatment with 10% AHA as well as my daily 5% moisturizer with AHA from my Resist line. And I have to go but I think that will help you a lot. And sun protection. I'm going to send you my Skin Recovery Sunscreen as well as my new Resist Sunscreen when it comes out. It should be here any day now.
00:57:28 Thank you for calling Pamela. Good luck.
Pamela: Thank you so much, Paula. Thank you.
Paula Begoun: Take care, dear. So, I just, I always feel like there is so much more. Because there is always more we can talk about. But then we will be back next Thursday. Well, actually, I won't be back but Bryan and Desiree will be back and next week we will be talking to Ashley – Bryan is her last name Meacham? How do you…?
Bryan Barron: It is Meacham and she was just recently married, so I am still getting used to that name myself.
00:58:02 But it is Meacham.
Paula Begoun: Meacham. So, it is the secrets to get the best hair color at home or in the salon. If there was any way I could listen to the show I would, the neurotic woman I am about my gray hair. On the 7th we are talking about five cosmetic dermatology procedures you absolutely should consider. On the 14th, celebrity makeup artist tips revealed. We have some great shows coming up.
00:58:30 We are going to be talking about anti-aging hair – how to stop your hair from aging. Six ways to do your makeup better. Bryan and I sat down and talked about this and we thought, boy, this is stuff you absolutely don't read in a fashion magazine. You are going to love that. And, oh this show, this is going to be our most popular show – the best beauty finds under $10. We have a ton of great shows coming up. I'm Paula Begoun, the Cosmetics Cop, keeping you beautifully informed every Thursday evening live in Seattle, Washington when I am in town.
00:59:05 Different times around the world. And you can always listen to us archived. Come visit us at or where we have new articles up and new reviews up for products we have reviewed on Our goal here at Paula's Choice is to get you taking the best care of your skin possible, whether you are using my products or someone else's. We are dedicated to taking care of your skin.
00:59:35 So, until next Thursday, stay beautifully informed, stay listening to us. I'm Paula Begoun, the Cosmetics Cop. Desiree Stordahl, my assistant. Bryan Barron, my alter-ego. Take care. Until next week, good night.
Skip to Top of Page
[{"Key":"SpecialOffers","Name":"SpecialOffers","BrontoID":"0bbf03e9000000000000000000000000ead0","Label":"Web Specials & Daily Deals","DisplayDescription":"","DisplayRestrictions":"","Value":null},{"Key":"SpecialOffersLessFrequent","Name":"SpecialOffersLessFrequent","BrontoID":"0bbf03e90000000000000000000000012122","Label":"Web Specials","DisplayDescription":"","DisplayRestrictions":"Less Frequent","Value":null},{"Key":"BeautypediaExclusives","Name":"BeautypediaExclusives","BrontoID":"0bbf03e9000000000000000000000000eace","Label":"Beauty Exclusives","DisplayDescription":"Expert Advice Newsletter ","DisplayRestrictions":"twice a month","Value":null},{"Key":"BeautypediaUpdates","Name":"BeautypediaUpdates","BrontoID":"0bbf03e9000000000000000000000000ead1","Label":"Beautypedia Updates","DisplayDescription":"New reviews on Beautypedia ","DisplayRestrictions":"twice a month","Value":null}]


Paula’s Choice Auto Delivery is a quick and convenient way to make sure you never run out of your favorite products again. Just select the products you can’t live without, choose how often you’d like them delivered and we’ll take care of the rest.

Get 10% off your first order when you sign up today.