man with acne
A 19-year-old (not pictured) turned to Reddit to crowdsource skin-care tips for her younger brother with autism.

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  • On Wednesday, Callie Ross-Smith turned to the subreddit r/SkincareAddiction to find a skin-care routine for her brother Alec, a teenager with autism.
  • According to Callie, Alec takes medications that make his skin “dry and acne prone.”
  • He has already tried topical ointments like benzoyl peroxide to no avail and oral antibiotics, which interfered with his seizure medications.
  • Reddit users were quick to offer thoughtful suggestions tailored to Alec’s skin concerns, as described by Callie, and other preferences he may have.
  • After dozens of responses, Callie ended up with a simple routine, which her mom has shared with Alec’s behavioral team.

A group of strangers on Reddit recently worked together to help a teenager with autism find an effective skin-care routine.

On Wednesday, Callie Ross-Smith turned to the subreddit r/SkincareAddiction to crowdsource product recommendations for her younger brother Alec, who has autism, Yahoo! Lifestyle reported.

In her post, Callie, 19, shared two photos of Alec, 16, and asked for help creating a “simple routine” that her brother could use to clear his acne. According to Callie, Alec takes medication that makes his skin “dry and acne prone.” After seeing a dermatologist, he tried topical ointments like benzoyl peroxide to no avail and oral antibiotics, which interfered with his seizure medications.

“I just want him to have the highest quality of life that is possible,” Callie wrote. “He’s a good kid, he deserves the best.”

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Reddit users were quick to offer thoughtful suggestions tailored to Alec’s skin concerns, as described by Callie, and other preferences he may have. For example, after Callie revealed that her brother does not like rinsing products off his face, several users recommended cleansing wipes instead of a foaming or creamy cleanser.

Others shared recommendations based on personal experiences, like Reddit user earosenz, who is also autistic. “I have a lot of sensory issues with products,” she wrote. “The key is to stay with products that are very mild…and have a good cosmetic finish.” According to earosenz, she avoids anything containing fragrances and dyes and uses products like CeraVe Moisturizing Cream.

Many recommended cleansing wipes instead of heavy facial cleansers.
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After dozens of responses, Callie ended up with the following routine, which her mom has shared with Alec’s behavioral team: In the morning, he’ll wash his face in the shower with water, use Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes, and moisturize with either CeraVe Moisturizing Cream or First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Face Moisturizer. At night, he’ll use the facial wipes and moisturizer again.

After a period of time, Callie said they will try to transition Alec into using a gentle jelly cleanser that he can remove with a washcloth, which he has previously done successfully with his therapist. And in about one and a half months, they’ll add Stridex Medicated Pads into his routine and may even consider mixing a serum into his moisturizer.

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“My family and I are deeply touched from all of your suggestions,” Callie wrote. “This community is really capable of beautiful things when we put our heads together. I’ve never seen a better example of human kindness.”

Speaking to INSIDER, Callie said that she loves the SkincareAddiction subreddit because “it’s a place made for education and positivity.” Since she said she had seen some people find near miraculous skin-care routines on the forum, she hoped she could do the same for Alec.

Still, Callie said she was surprised by both the number and variety of responses she received.

“I had parents sharing their journeys finding a routine for their kids with disabilities, and other siblings, therapists, and people on the autism spectrum responding to the thread,” she said. “All of the different perspectives were AMAZING, and it creates such an open conversation.”

“I really hope that this thread will help other caregivers,” the 19-year-old continued. “Most of all though, I really hope people get a glimpse into Alec’s world.” Speaking of her brother, Callie added: “He has a lot of the same struggles as other teenagers, and just like any teenager, he still wants to be seen and respected as an individual.”

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