Tips and tricks to keep your skin clear and blemish free

By Tiffany Khuu

(Jeannette Sosa/Flickr)

Being a college student is already stressful enough with midterms and papers, so the last thing you want to worry about is skin issues. Since we are in a seasonal transition from winter to spring, now is the perfect time to get your skincare regimen in order. To help you get started on looking your best as summer vacation approaches, I’ve compiled a list of useful tips and tricks on getting clear, blemish-free skin.


Acne is caused by bacteria, so cleansing your face is super important. We all like to hide our blemishes using concealer, but making sure you wash it off at the end of the day is extremely important. According to Joshua Zeichner, Mount Sinai Hospital’s director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology, makeup causes free radicals to get trapped underneath the skin’s surface, resulting in inflammation. To cleanse, I use the all-in-one facial cleanser with toner by Dr. Dennis Gross twice a day. A cheaper drugstore alternative is Aveeno’s “Positively Radiant Brightening Cleanser.”

Many women use makeup removing wipes to take off their makeup and possibly even as a substitute for washing their face at night. However, these wipes only remove a fraction of the total makeup on your face at any given time, and they often leave behind a filmy residue.

Substitute your makeup wipes for a makeup-removing cleanser or oil, such as Boscia’s MakeUp-BreakUp cool cleansing oil. The only acceptable instance for using makeup removing wipes is when it’s 3 a.m. and you’re in a difficult situation with no better alternatives.


Don’t pop your pimples! Yes, it’s tempting but try to resist. This can lead to even more acne, as the sebum from the original blemish spreads to other areas of the skin, not to mention that it can leave scars behind.

Instead, apply a spot treatment such as benzoyl peroxide conveniently sold at University Health Services here at the University of Massachusetts, Neutrogena’s On-the-Spot acne treatment, or some generic tea tree oil. If over-the-counter solutions don’t seem to be having an effect on your acne, consult your doctor or consider visiting a dermatologist. They can prescribe a stronger topical treatment or an antibiotic pill.

As I mentioned earlier, acne can result in scarring, especially when picked at in any way. Fortunately, there are many easily accessible products targeting dark spots. One of my favorites is a Sephora bestseller: Murad’s post-acne spot lightening gel. A less expensive alternative is Neutrogena’s “Rapid Tone Repair Dark Spot Corrector,” which includes brightening agents Vitamin C and Retinol. If you have an uneven skin tone which is not a result of acne, use toner once a day, or once every few days if it’s too drying to your skin.

Acne can also go hand-in-hand with excessively oily skin, especially as temperatures start rising. If this is an issue you struggle with, oil blotting sheets should be your go-to product. They come in small packages which can easily fit into your purse or backpack for daily use. I use Shiseido Pureness oil-control blotting paper, which contains 100 powdered sheets per package and will successfully remove all traces of oil from your face.


Moisturizer is the holy grail of skincare. This is especially true during the winter months—or this strangely cold spring—when the air is dry. A mistake I see so many people making is not using moisturizer because they have oily skin, because they’re under the impression that the moisturizer will exacerbate this oiliness. Contrary to this belief, not moisturizing will dry out skin and cause it to produce more oil to compensate. There is a moisturizer out there for everyone, regardless of what skin type you have.

There are four main skin types: dry, normal, combination and oily. Dry and oily are fairly straightforward, so I won’t waste your time with their definitions. Normal skin types are neither oily nor dry. Combination skin is skin that is dry in certain areas and oily in others. Typically, it’s the T-zone that is oily, with the cheeks and neck requiring extra moisture. I fall somewhere in the middle and have found great results from Peter Thomas Roth’s “Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream.” If you aren’t sure which of these skin types is yours, consult a skincare specialist at one of the counters in Macy’s or a Sephora.

There is a moisturizer suitable for each skin type, whether they are more high-end or typical drugstore products. For dry skin, you can try La Mer Crème de la Mer or Yes to Coconut Ultra Hydrating Facial Soufflé moisturizer. For normal skin, try Ole Henriksen’s Sheer Transformation perfecting moisturizer or e.l.f. daily hydration moisturizer. For combination skin, try Peter Thomas Roth’s Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream or Neutrogena’s Oil-Free acne moisturizer with pink grapefruit. Finally, for oily skin, try Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream or Cetaphil oil control moisturizer.

Tiffany Khuu can be reached at [email protected]