How to Care for Acne Prone Skin
If you’ve got a spot or two it can be tempting to scrub your face with harsh ingredients or even apply toothpaste as a home remedy to dry out the skin. You may even avoid moisturisers for fear of making your face greasy, leading to more pimples. However, contrary to popular belief, harsh treatments like these do not benefit the skin, and can lead to more problems in the long term. The best way to care for acne prone skin is with a well-rounded, gentle routine that doesn’t damage the delicate skin barrier, while treating, and protecting the skin.
Step 1: Cleanse
Your acne routine should begin with a twice daily cleanse using a wash that not only gently cleanses the skin, but targets acne causing bacteria, helping to prevent secondary infections. Your cleanser should also be pH balanced to the skin to ensure you’re not changing the acidity of the skin which can disrupt your acid mantle (which we need to protect against microbial and fungal infections1). Studies have shown that cleansing with a product that is not pH balanced can lead to increased acne-causing bacteria1.
A good cleanser will leave your skin feeling soft, not stripped and tight. A tight feeling after cleansing means that you’re stripping the skin of natural oils and may lead to further skin irritation2.
Step 2: Treatment
It’s best to get a recommendation from your doctor, dermatologist, or pharmacist before pursuing any type of treatment. They will recommend the best product for your particular issues and skin type. In general, an acne treatment should contain a key ingredient, clinically proven to tackle both comedonal (regular acne) and papulopustular (pus-filled) acne, and blackheads. Some treatments work more quickly than others, but when treating acne you should look at it as a marathon, and not a sprint. Using a more gentle option that takes a little bit longer will help keep your skin healthy, while ultimately clearing your skin.
The best time to use your treatment product is directly after patting dry your face. Some people say that you should wait anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes after applying a product with an active ingredient (such as an acid) before following on with your next step. However, if your products are well formulated and ph balanced this is not an issue, so feel free to move from one step to the next as quickly as you like.
Step 3: Soothe
Those with acne prone skin can tend to feel that their face dry and exasperated, particularly when using strong treatments. Using a soothing lotion or gel can help to calm the skin and help stop uncomfortable feelings, while adding in much needed moisture. A good soothing option should contain ingredients such as witch hazel, oat kernel extracts, or menthol to cool the skin. If your skin is particularly upset you can try keeping this one in the fridge for an additional cooling benefit.
Step 4: Moisturise and Protect
Lastly, whether you have acne or not, you should always be using a moisturiser and sunscreen daily. We recommend SPF 30 or higher to ensure you’re getting proper sun protection. Regularly moisturising the skin can help to maintain normal skin barrier function (protecting your delicate facial skin), while an SPF helps to protect your skin from the sun, which helps to reduce pigmentation, and premature ageing. Look for a product that is non-comedogenic (it won’t clog pores) and is oil free.
Acne prone skin can seem difficult, but with a solid and consistent routine you should find yourself able to easily get your acne under control.
1. Yosipovitch G, Maibach HI. Skin Surface pH: A Protective Acid Mantle. Cosmetics & Toiletries. 1996;111:101–111.
2. Leyden J, Rawlings A. Skin moisturization. New York [u.a.]: Dekker; 2002.