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It’s universally acknowledged that the proper begins with a cleanser and ends with a sunscreen. The rule of thumb is to go from the thinnest to the thickest consistency, which sounds easy enough to follow. But if you’re dealing with zits, you may find that your acne treatment has a similar texture to your face cream. Which comes first, then? Ahead, a board-certified dermatologist gives some pointers on layering spot treatment with moisturizer for optimal results.

Should You Apply Acne Treatment Before or After Moisturizer?

There are conflicting opinions. Some people believe that acne treatment comes first so that it can penetrate the skin without interference. However, according to , this argument lacks the support of scientific studies. “Applying moisturizer before acne cream will not reduce the efficacy or benefits of the active ingredients inside the topical treatment.”

Dr. Florensia is all for layering pimple treatment on top of moisturizer, especially if you have . “This order of application calms the skin down and prevents peeling,” she explains. The moisturizer acts as a buffer, protecting the skin from potential side effects caused by harsh acne-fighting ingredients.

Can You Mix Your Acne Treatment With Moisturizer?

It’s not a good idea to heedlessly combine skincare ingredients. Some don’t pair well and should be used at different times of the day or on different days. For example, mixing an acne solution containing with can lead to excessive dryness. 

If you want to streamline your skincare regimen, Dr. Florensia suggests asking your dermatologist to prescribe a single product that functions as both a moisturizer and acne treatment. She says, “Most dermatologists would give their patients this type of hybrid, easy-to-use formula for convenience.”

Additionally, the timing between each skincare routine step also matters. Wait a minute or two for each product to settle into your skin before applying the next one. This keeps the products from piling up or moving around on the skin.

How to Take Care of Acne-Prone Skin

Pimples are tricky. They can appear out of nowhere and multiply overnight. If you’re tired of battling breakouts, keep calm and try these strategies.

1. Figure out the triggers.

Acne is a multifactorial condition. While you may be genetically predisposed to it, numerous influences can cause them, including , , , and a buildup of . Pinpointing which factors trigger your breakouts can help you prevent and treat them.

If your face gets greasy throughout the day, wash it with POND'S Bright Miracle Ultimate Acne Control Facial Foam. It has to help fade dark spots and Thymo-BHA that helps fight acne-causing bacteria. You can also use POND'S Bright Miracle Ultimate Pore Clear Facial Scrub to gently exfoliate your skin and deeply cleanse your pores.

2. Handle with care.

You may be tempted to pile on as many acne treatments as possible, but Dr. Florensia advises against it. “Experimenting with various over-the-counter products without doctor supervision will only bring more stress to your already stressed skin.” In extreme cases, using multiple pimple solutions at once can cause . “Less is more when it comes to dealing with acne,” she adds.

3. Hands off your face.

Ignore the urge to pick or pop your zit. Remind yourself that doing so will widen the area of inflammation and create a nasty scar. If you have an upcoming event and need a quick fix, read our guide on . Alternatively, you can always cover the red bump with an acne patch and conceal it with makeup.

4. Consult a professional.

Stubborn, inflamed acne requires medical intervention. During your consultation, discuss your skincare habits, lifestyle, and any previous treatments. Your dermatologist may recommend topicals, oral medication, in-office procedures, or a combination of all three to improve your skin’s condition.

In general, acne treatment should be applied after cleansing, toning, and moisturizing your face. This order allows the active ingredients to work their magic without compromising your skin’s barrier function. However, it really depends on your skin’s condition, the kind of treatment you’re using, and what your doctor says. With the right knowledge and a little patience, you can achieve a clearer and happier complexion.