Q: May I ask your opinion? Is three masks in a row (glycolic acid, clarifying clay, brightening) too much for acne-prone 28-year-old skin? —@meanclones
A: Dear @meanclones, Every beauty editor has been there, and the answer is yes. Too many products—particularly ones claiming to be active on the skin—are irritating. Irritation is one of the prime causes of acne. The other thing with acne prevention: You need the same routine, day in and day out, for your whole face, even when you are not broken out. When your skin is clear, you think, I no longer have acne. And you are wrong, wrong, wrong. Establish a system—buy one, like ProActiv, which is fantastic, or create one: cleanser; treatment with salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide or both; and sunscreen that doesn’t break you out. Add noncomedogenic moisturizer if you like. Episodic treatments—masks, spot solutions—are extras, to use (one of each) only when necessary. All acne sufferers should try Fresh Umbrian Clay Mattifying Mask ($49, fresh.com), which works as cleanser and spot treatment and mask all at once. Sunscreen: Pick a mineral one, as titanium dioxide is so skin-soothing it’s what they use for diaper rash cream. It’s harder to rub in, but it will soothe instead of irritate. Chemical sunscreens—which feel less breakout-causing because they sink right in—are known irritants, as any dermatologist will tell you.