It’s 2020—humanity has robots, deepfakes, and plans to colonise Mars. So surely we’d have invented a simple way to cure acne in the blink of an eye, right?
Unfortunately, we don’t quite have that technology yet. But there are some really interesting new treatments being developed for acne that could become real game changers in the world of skin care.
We researched a few of them to find out what’s behind the hype, and whether these treatments are something that could be coming to your dermatologist’s office this year.
READ MORE: The Dermatologist-Approved Guide to Acne.
Having bright blue lights directed at your face to cure acne might sound like something you’d see on a wellness influencer’s Instagram account rather than in a doctor’s office, but there might just be scientific proof that light therapy can work.
Some blue light therapies are already used to reduce jaundice in newborns1, and new research has suggested they may be able to reduce acne as well.
The blue light in question is a specific kind of light that can have anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory effects on the skin. It’s theorised that directing this light at active acne lesions can kill the p. acnes bacteria that lives on skin and can exacerbate acne.
Studies have shown that some patients who underwent blue light therapy reported that it was moderately successful in reducing acne lesions2,3, although reports also say that one in five people may actually see their acne worsen after treatment1.
There is little to no information on the long-term effects of exposure to blue light therapy, and the studies done on short-term effects haven’t yet proven that it’s a definite cure for acne. But we think this treatment method is really interesting, and we’re excited to see what future research can reveal.
Microcurrent technology devices are hand-held pieces of equipment that send tiny electrical currents into your skin to kill acne bacteria, plump up the skin, and lift the face—or so they say.
This technology may have been inspired by electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) devices, which are said to help strengthen and exercise muscles of the body using electricity. Microcurrent technology promises to do that too, only on the face.
While microcurrent technology devices are popular in skincare and beauty communities online, with many users swearing that they have a positive effect on the skin, we couldn’t find a lot of research or studies to back up the claims that these products make.
We won’t recommend that you rush out and spend a few hundred dollars on a microcurrent device to try it out yourself—but with a bit more research and evidence, that could change.
Micro-needling devices are small, hand-held wheels covered with tiny little spikes. They’re made to roll slowly over your face, with each spike penetrating the skin to create a small wound. To heal the wound, your body is said to send new collagen to the area, plumping and smoothing the face in the process and stimulating the healing of any existing acne scars4.
It might sound a bit weird, but studies have shown it actually works quite well to reduce acne scarring5,6. While there’s room for more research to be done, one study even said microneedling was preferred over other scar-reduction methods because it had few side effects and little recovery time7.
We do think, however, that micro-needling is something best left to the experts—doing it at home could lead to injury if you push too hard, or roll over active acne lesions. A trained dermatologist or doctor is always the best person to administer any invasive treatments.
Many of us have used pore strips in the past to get rid of our blackheads. Pore strips don’t prevent new blackheads from forming, but it can be really satisfying to get rid of a few annoying blackheads in one go and see all of the goop that comes out of our pores after using a well-placed strip.
Enter pore vacuums, which are exactly what you’re probably imagining right now: a little hand-held vacuum that promises to suck out blackheads and leave your skin looking fresh and clear. They’re super popular online, with videos popping up everywhere of people using them and being amazed at what comes out of their pores.
But we’re a little bit cynical.
While they do seem to work, we worry that the sucking motion the vacuum uses to empty the pores might actually do more harm than good to our skin. While blackheads could be removed, too much pulling and pressure on facial skin can cause broken capillaries and even bruising. The vacuum could also tug on pores and sebaceous filaments—tiny structures that allow sebum to exit the skin—which could potentially increase, rather than decrease, the size of our pores.
When it comes to pore vacuums, we have to say that we don’t recommend them.
Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide may take longer to clear pores, but we think these tried-and-true ingredients are a much safer choice than using a mini-vacuum on our faces.