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The Ultimate Acne Skincare Routine

woman with acne

We all hoped that, along with terrible fashion, embarrassing hair and a tendency to emotionally overreact to just about everything, we'd be able to leave acne where it belongs — in our teenage years. Unfortunately, very few people will go their whole lives without experiencing a breakout, even after those hormonal, tumultuous years are over.

If you struggle with regular breakouts — whether they're triggered by something in the environment, in your skincare routine, or as the result of normal hormonal fluctuations — tailoring your skincare routine to address your acne is the best way to keep your skin back on track.

While spot treatments and acne-busting ingredients can help once you have a breakout (more on this later!), it's important to have a consistent routine that's targeted at your acne-prone skin to help keep everything balanced. Over time, you'll be able to reduce instances of breakouts and get your skin back on track and ready to glow!

What Causes Acne in the First Place?

In general, acne is caused by the natural oils which your skin's sebaceous glands create. Your body is covered in pores or follicles which produce this oil — but sometimes, too much oil is produced, resulting in clogged pores and breakouts.

This is often caused by hormones. Periods of time that are tumultuous for hormones tend to be rife with breakouts — like your teenage years or when you start or stop taking birth control. Even if you don't have anything significant affecting your hormones, if you experience a menstrual cycle can cause you to be more prone to breakouts at certain periods in your cycle.

In addition to hormones exacerbating oil production, some people simply have oily skin! This is the result of genetics and has nothing to do with your skincare routine (although the right routine can help!) or your cleanliness — that's a myth spread by high school mean girls.

Acne can also be caused by irritation. That can come about due to friction or exposure to something that's less-than-clean, transferring bacteria and impurities to your pores (hello, mask-ne!) In addition to materials that expose your pores to impurities, your skin can also break out as a result of a negative reaction to something. If you've recently started struggling with breakouts and switched to a new scented laundry detergent, it's worth swapping that out to see if an ingredient in your detergent is causing your breakouts.

Certain medications, like corticosteroids, can also cause acne. It's also thought that a dairy-heavy diet can cause breakouts in some people. If your breakouts have come on suddenly without any discernible cause, it's worth speaking to your doctor to see if they could be related to something changeable or treatable as a first step.

What Is a Good Skincare Routine for Blemishes?

But what can you do about acne if your skin is prone to breakouts? Read on to find out!

1. Use a Gentle Cleanser

We've all been there… a bad breakout makes you want to reach for the face wash closest to whatever acid turned the Joker into the Joker to completely restart your complexion. But harsh, stripping cleansers can do more harm than good!

Our Clear Skin Cleansing Bar uses gentle, blemish-fighting ingredients like Sulfur to help absorb excess oil and exfoliate away dead skin cells that may be clogging your pores and contributing to breakouts. Classic breakout-buster Salicylic Acid can help to penetrate deep into your follicles to break down sebum and remove any impurities that are instigating your acne.

It also uses Safflower Seed Oil to help to soften and soothe your skin, preventing what can otherwise be drying ingredients from sucking all the life out of your skin and making your acne worse.

2. Use a Toner

While toner isn't a 100% necessary step in your skincare routine, it's a great addition if you struggle with breakouts. When it comes to the early steps of your regimen, the name of the game is deep-cleaning your skin without making it feel dry and stripped.

Our Witch Hazel Brightening & pH Balancing Toner is an essential step that will boost the results of your daily routine — which is key if you're working hard to bust those breakouts! Calming ingredients like Tumeric pair perfectly with cleansing and clarifying Witch Hazel and the gentle exfoliating power of Glycolic Acid, which can help remove dull surface cells and improve the appearance of blemishes.

Toner can also help remove other impurities lingering on your skin after washing your face, so you can be sure you're starting with a clean slate as you head into the rest of your skincare routine.

3. Apply an Acne Treatment or Serum

While there are almost too many serums out there to count, it's important to choose one that will address your specific skincare concerns. When it comes to fighting breakouts and assembling your ultimate acne skincare routine, it can be crucial to use an AHA or BHA solution at this point in your routine!

Our Clear & Even Tone Clarifying Glycolic Pads help to remove excess oil and improve the appearance of blemishes so you can get over your breakouts faster. They also can help minimize the appearance of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, so if you find yourself struggling with dark spots or scarring after your pimples, blackheads and whiteheads clear up, these babies will do the trick!

Another great option for this point in your routine is our Super C Brightening Serum. No matter what your skincare concern is, adding Vitamin C to your routine can help restore brighter, more even skin!

4. Find a Non-Comedogenic Moisturizer

The idea of slathering on a thick, hearty moisturizer when your skin breaks out can seem totally wrong, no matter your skin type. But often, acne and dry skin go hand in hand, so to have the perfect acne-conscious routine, you're going to want to ensure your skincare products are delivering on the hydration front. Especially if you're using acne medications or active ingredients like Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl Peroxide, which can be drying on their own.

Our HydraBalance Brightening Moisture Infusion is super lightweight, but it doesn't hold back when meeting your skin needs on the hydration front! With a killer combo of hydrating and smoothing Squalane and moisture-locking Hyaluronic Acid, this isn't your mother's drugstore moisturizer.

5. Protect Your Skin

Sometimes there's a rumor that circulates about the sun's ability to help acne by drying out your skin. It may, to a certain extent, be true that if you're spending time in a hot, dry climate, the heat may dry out excess oil and improve your breakouts. But it's important to still protect your skin daily.

Adding our ShineBlock™ Oil Control Moisturizer SPF 30 to your skincare routine won't clog your skin, because it's formulated specifically with your sensitive, breakout-prone complexion in mind. It's non-comedogenic and helps to absorb excess oil while it protects your skin with mineral sunscreen. When you have an SPF that works so well with your oily skin, there's no reason not to protect yourself!

6. Never Sleep in Your Makeup!

Even if you're more of a fresh-faced gal, you're wearing sunscreen during the day, and that's going to need to come off before you go to bed. Add to that all the dirt and impurities your skin is likely to gather as you go about your day, and making sure you cleanse fully before you settle in for the night is not an optional part of your skin-care regimen!

Sleeping without washing your face can lead to clogged pores and irritate sensitive skin. Having dirt and impurities on your skin and in your pores can also make topical products you apply later in your routine less effective.

7. Use a Pore De-Congesing Night Serum

Don't worry — if anti-aging products are a priority for you, you don't need to sacrifice anything to end breakouts for good! Our Retinol Rapid Repair & Dark Spot Treatment uses powerhouse antioxidant Retinol — a less intense, skin-friendly alternative to retinoids — to penetrate deep into your skin and soothe your complexion.

Retinol also has some of the properties of a chemical exfoliant and is thought to support regular cell turnover.

8. Moisturize Again!

It may seem like overkill, but making sure you're laying down to sleep with a serious lotion or moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated throughout the night is necessary to create the best skincare routine possible for your breakout-prone skin.

Our Mega Moisture Illuminating Night Cream is the perfect way to pamper your skin at the end of a long day. This rich, probiotic-infused moisturizer helps to rescue skin that's been made to feel dull and dehydrated as you try to treat your breakouts. The probiotic infusion helps balance your skin's delicate microbiome — which can be in trouble if you're using many pH-shifting active ingredients often recommended for breakouts — which is key to keeping your complexion healthy and your skin barrier strong.

It's also infused with a blend of oils and Shea Butter to provide intense moisture and long-lasting hydration. If that sentence made you panic, never fear — your moisturizer doesn't necessarily need to be oil-free to be good for your breakout-prone skin. Like your diet, some oils can be good for your skin because they lock in hydration and prevent your skin from drying out while you sleep.

In Conclusion

When it comes to breakouts — whether it's due to something in the environment, something genetic like cystic acne, or just good old hormonal acne that's outstayed its welcome — we can all agree that the faster you can get rid of it, the better. Sometimes acne can be stubborn. If you've been struggling with breakouts for a long time and can't seem to make any headway with a standard routine, it may be time to visit a dermatologist to help solve the problem.

That said, making some changes to your skincare routine can also help you clear breakouts and keep them from coming back.

By: Ivey Rogers Aesthetician Educator & Community
Engagement Manager