How to get clear skin: the dermatologist-approved advice you need to hear

Time to get skincare savvy

How to get clear skin

by Emma White |
Updated on

If you’ve been frantically searching for 'how to get clear skin' and landed here, then you’re in the right place. We can personally attest that attempting to achieve clear skin can sometimes feel like searching for the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. But we promise you that following dermatologist-approved tips and tricks will have you fully on the road towards clearer and glowier skin.

First and foremost, all skin is beautiful. Our complexions and skincare routines are a very unique and personal journey. What works for one person, may not work for another. But there are skincare products like face serums and lifestyle habits, you can incorporate to help encourage and maintain clearer skin.

We’ve called in the big guns, Dr Mary Sommerlad, Consultant Dermatologist at L’Oréal and Dr Marisa Garshick, Certified Dermatologist and Skin Proud Consultant, to help us understand how to get clear skin.

What causes skin to be unclear?

Waking up to pesky blemishes staring us back in the mirror is a feeling we are all too familiar with – and can often leave us trying to figure out what we’ve done to cause them. Was it that wine and takeaway binge from last night or did I forget to wash my make-up brushes? Or maybe I over-exfoliated my skin with lactic acid? (We've all been there!)

Dr Garshick explains, “First off, it is normal for skin to not be clear and there are many things that can contribute to the skin not being clear.” This includes breakouts, clogged pores, blemishes, dark spots and discoloration. Some things may be genetic while other causes may be related to environmental factors including UV exposure.”

Factors that can throw your skin out of balance:

  • Hormones

  • Stress

  • Diet

  • Pollution

  • Sun exposure

  • Lack of sleep

  • Harsh ingredients and product over-load

How are different skin types affected?

All skin types can be affected by unclear skin. While oilier complexions may be more prone to clogged pores and breakouts, those with dry and sensitive skin can still experience blemishes and may struggle more with conditions such aseczemaandrosacea.

If you’re unsure which problem you’re facingDr Sommerland has come to our rescue with her expert information.

Acne

“Some people may get Acne (commonly referred to as blemishes). This is the most common reason for people to complain of not having clear skin in their teens onwards.”

Rosacea

“However, acne is not the only cause of unclear skin. For some people, they will get rosacea which typically causes redness and sometimes small spots that can be mistaken for acne.”

Eczema

“For others, their cause of unclear skin is eczema (dermatitis) causing dryness and a change in colour and texture.”

Periorifical dermatitis

“For others, it can be periorifical dermatitis causing painful spots around the eyes and mouth.”

Seborrhoeic dermatitis

“Seborrhoeic dermatitis – pale or red patches of skin at the hairline, eyebrows and skin at the nasolabial folds can also be a cause for unclear skin.”

How can I get clear skin naturally?

So, what can we do at home to get that holy grail ‘clear skin’?

Importantly, Dr. Garshick reminds us “There is no such thing as truly clear skin, as some texture is normal whether it’s pores, lines or other changes to the surface of the skin.” But “sticking with a skincare routine and maintaining consistency can help."

"It is important to cleanse the skin 1-2 times daily, using a cleanser that is good for your skin type, use a non-comedogenic moisturiser, especially if you have or are prone to oily skin and be sure to wear sunscreen, like the Skin Proud Serious Shade Spf 50+ Sunscreen, every day, not just when you are at the beach," says Dr Garshick.

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Dr Sommerland talks us through the basics of a morning and evening skincare routine. Listen up gals.

“The basics of the morning should involve a hydrating hyaluronic acid serum or an antioxidant serum such Vitamin C or azelaic acid and then a moisturiser. Seal off with sunscreen every day, this will reduce the onset of lines, wrinkles and sunspots."

She continues, “The evening routine should include a retinoid which helps repair damage to the skin. There are many different types of retinoid. The most widely available are 'retinol' – ideally start at a low concentration as they can be an irritant. Consistency is more important than concentration when it comes to seeing results.Vichy Liftactiv Retinol is a great introductory retinol as it is suitable even for those with sensitive skin.”

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A dermatologist’s top tips for getting clear skin

Dr Sommerland gives us the lowdown on her main tips and tricks for a clearer complexion.

  1. "Never sunbathe ever. Even for a bit on holiday. A deliberate tan not only accelerates ageing but can increase your risk of skin cancer."

  2. "Good quality sleep every single night. Night-time especially between 10pm and 4am is when our body repairs itself as we sleep."

  3. "Don’t smoke or vape. It accelerates the degradation of collagen making skin wrinkle quicker. It also worsens inflammatory skin diseases like acne or eczema."

  4. "Follow a good quality skincare routine every day, including an antioxidant serum and sunscreen in the morning and a retinol in the evening. These are the cornerstones of a good day-to-day skincare."

  5. "Use cleansers that do not scrub the skin."

  6. "Treat skin diseases appropriately. Do not allow them to spiral out of hand as it will be harder to treat."

  7. "Avoid ultra-processed foods."

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This Vitamin C serum brightens, hydrates and protects. The addition of niacinamide also helps to refine pores and skin texture.

What foods help clear skin?

“There are many factors that can contribute to acne and breakouts and while diet may be a component for some individuals, it is difficult to determine how much is related to diet and needs to be addressed. Additionally, while there are studies to suggest an association with diet, there are not enough studies to address if eliminating certain foods will treat acne," explains Dr Garshick.

“Foods rich in antioxidants can be helpful for overall complexion, skin tone and overall skin health and this includes certain fruits. Overall when it comes to diet, it is important to eat a well-balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, to maintain healthy-looking skin.”

How much water you should drink for clear skin?

We are all about staying hydrated hun, and while it is definitely important for overall health and happy skin, Dr Garshick explains that there isn't technically a link between drinking water and a clear complexion.

“While drinking water is good for you, it is not necessarily going to be the cure for clear skin. A small study showed that drinking water may improve the overall appearance of the skin in those with low daily water consumption. There is not enough evidence to suggest that drinking water beyond a certain level to maintain adequate levels of hydration will necessarily make a difference in skin health. For this reason, it is best to drink enough so you don’t feel dehydrated, and while the typical recommendation for 8 glasses of water a day won’t hurt your skin, there is not enough evidence to suggest it should be used as the only way to improve your skin health," says Dr Garshick.

So while hydration will always be important, factors such as a consistent skincare routine and a good night's sleep are going to have a much larger effect on getting clear skin. On that note, we're off to do a major skincare sesh and catch some beauty sleep Zzzzz.

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