Acne seems like a never-ending battle, doesn't it? If pimples on your face are a regular affair, you need to correct your skincare routine.
With the right information and guidance, you can regulate your breakouts and decrease the signs of a flare-up. Remember, with acne, knowledge is power. So, keep reading.
Know Your Skin
Though products for "acne-prone skin" are currently available in the market, skincare products cannot be one-size-fits-all magic potions.
It is important to know and understand what type of skin you’re working with; it’s the first step in discovering an effective way to take care of your skin.
When you misdiagnose your skin type and use the wrong products, it can cause excess oil, irritation, dry skin and breakouts.
Although everyone’s skin is unique, there are five main types:
There’s a difference between skin type and skin concerns. Skin concerns can be temporary dryness, aging, or wrinkles and span across all skin types. The environment can affect skin concerns, which change with time. For instance, in summer your skin can be more oily while it requires dollops of lotion in winter. Keep this distinction in mind when you choose skin care products.
What Determines Your Skin Type?
How To Identify Your Skin Type?
With just a few simple tests, you can determine your skin type.
Use a gentle cleanser to wash your face and get rid of all the dirt, oil and makeup
Pat your face dry and leave your skin bare. Leave it like this for an hour and resist the temptation of touching your face with your hands.
After an hour, closely observe your skin’s quality. What do you see?
Feels good and even, not too dry or oily
Is shiny and feels greasy, especially in the T-zone
Feels tight and itchy and has some flaky patches
Sometimes gets red, irritated, inflamed or itchy
Dry or normal on the jawline and cheeks, but oily in the T-zone
Now that you’ve determined your skin type, deep dive a little more and learn what you can do to keep your skin on the right track.
Know Your Acne Type
All acne is not created equally. Simply knowing the different types of acne and a plan of attack for each puts you way ahead in the clear-skin curve. 
1. Hormonal Acne (Non-Inflammatory)
What You See
An unexpected number of zits around the jawline and chin.
Do those pesky zits appear around the same time every month, just before you get your period? If yes, your acne is the work of see-sawing hormones. Your oil production can go into an overdrive, thanks to the hormones. With this, the odds of an overabundance of oil settling in your pores and causing zits are high.
2. Whiteheads (Non-Inflammatory)
What You See
A regular zit, except it has a white dot in the middle.
Whiteheads are a combination of dead skin cells and sebum in one tiny, white package. You can safely blame your clogged pores for them. Whiteheads form when your skin cells stick together and block the opening of the pore. It’s called a whitehead because of the white you see on top, which is the blocked pore.
Whiteheads typically show up on oily skin types. When the oil mixes with the bacteria and grime, it causes inflammation, which ultimately turns into a swollen, red bump (pimple). 
However tempting it might be to pop whiteheads, don’t! Picking at your skin is one of the major reasons for acne-related scarring.
3. Papules (Inflammatory)
What You See
Patches of tiny, red-colored pimples.
Technically, any small, raised bump on the skin is known as papule. In terms of acne, they’re actually an inflammatory acne caused because of bacteria.
When the bacteria on your skin grows, it causes inflammation and results in red, tender acne bumps. These bumps tend to be quite painful. 
4. Pustules (Inflammatory)
What You See
Inflamed red zits filled with yellow or white liquid.
While they vaguely resemble whiteheads, they’re a bigger, more inflamed version. It's a zit that has come to a head, forming a bubble on top, filled with pus. Unlike a whitehead that is a plugged hair follicle, this is a zit caused by bacteria. 
5. Cystic Acne (Inflammatory)
What You See
Multiple, large, infuriated pimples.
You’re probably experiencing cystic acne if your pimples are big, red and painful. It’s one of the more severe types which typically arise due to hormones or genetics.
Typically, they may be worse than other types of acne, simply because they lie deep within the skin and the blocked pores cause an infection, making them painful and slow-healing.
A few things you can do to keep it under control is to keep the area clean, use chemical exfoliators and fight the infection. It’s best to seek the help of a dermatologist who’ll give you proper guidance. 
6. Blackheads (Non-Inflammatory)
What You See
Small, dark-colored spots that plug your pores.
Akin to whiteheads, blackheads are caused by blocked pores due to the buildup of bacteria, skin cells and sebum.
Blackheads have a larger opening which means air can enter and oxidize the oil that sits inside the pore, making it even darker and hence the name blackhead. 
If you’re experiencing blackheads, don’t skip out on exfoliation.
7. Blind Pimples (Non-Inflammatory)
What You See
Subtle bumps under your skin which are painful.
As the name suggests, blind pimples aren’t visible to the eye, but you can feel them. This kind of pimple lies under the skin, it’s like a tiny balloon with nowhere to go. The pressure continues to build up, making it painful or sensitive to touch.
Don’t squeeze or pick them, this will only make them worse. They usually disappear by themselves in a few days.
Skin Care Routine For Acne Prone Skin
Step 1 - Cleanse away the impurities with a cleanser (Morning And Night)
Regardless of your skin type, cleansing should be the first step in every skincare regimen.
It’s essential to effectively cleanse your skin twice a day, especially if you have acne prone skin. This helps eliminate all the impurities, oil and dirt which may clog pores and result in blemishes, whiteheads or blackheads.
You don't actually need to use an acne-fighting face wash to cleanse your face. Typically, acne cleansers are drying and harsh, so instead of healing your face, it makes your skin more susceptible to breakouts.
Sloughing layers of skin off won't save you from zits. You need to wage a very gentle war with the help of a sulfate-free, mild cleanser which does the job of dissolving bacteria, dirt and excess oil without stripping your skin or leaving it irritated.
Don’t massage or rub any product onto your skin. This will aggravate the acne.
Step 2 - Toner (Morning And Night)
The next step after cleansing is applying a toner to open up your pores. Toners help prep the skin for the next step, so it can fully absorb the products.
Toners also aid in removing excess oil, fighting blemishes, blackheads and hydrating your skin. Take a ball of cotton and apply a few drops of toner. Gently apply over your face and neck.
Astringents are best for an oily acne prone skin care routine as they’re designed to remove excess oil. The best skin care routine for dry acne prone skin is to include a hydrating toner. Including alcohol-free products in your skin care routine for sensitive acne prone skin is the ideal choice.
Regardless of your skin type, if astringents or toners with alcohol irritate or over dry your skin, don’t use them.
Step 3 - Moisturize (Morning And Night)
Hydrated skin is happy skin. A moisturizer helps restore, hydrate and protect your skin.
It may seem counterintuitive to moisturize already oily skin. On the contrary, all skin types, including a skin care routine for acne, need daily hydration. You must not neglect this step.
Without a moisturizer, the glands go into an overdrive to compensate and land up producing excess oil, resulting in clogged pores and overly shiny skin.
After acne treatment, your skin is thirsty for moisture. A light moisturizer, once in the morning and once at night, reduces dry and peeling skin.
And no, before you ask, you don't need a separate night cream. Your morning moisturizer will contain all the ingredients you need. Mixing and matching too many active ingredients may make the products ineffective if the ingredients don’t play well with one another or worse, cause severe irritation.
At night, wait for a minute or two for the moisturizer to sink in before you continue onto the next step of spot treatment.
Step 4 - Protect with SPF (Morning and evening)
Applying SPF every single day is non-negotiable, irrespective of your skin type. While you don’t need this step at night, it’s a must during the day.
Sunscreen and acne-prone skin types don’t have a history of playing nice. Many people skip on sunscreen because thick SPF generally clogs pores and causes more breakouts. If this is one reason you steer clear from this product, please reconsider.
Sunscreens should be an essential part of your acne skin care routine because many acne treatment medications make your skin vulnerable to sun damage. Furthermore, you’re susceptible to signs of premature aging, skin damage, development of skin cancers, etc.
Sunscreens have come a long way from the thick, greasy stuff. There are plenty of lightweight options available.
If your moisturizer contains SPF, you don’t need an additional SPF product. You should consider a separate product if your moisturizer doesn’t contain SPF.
Pick a moisturizer that’s designed for the face rather than your whole body. Facial sunscreens are less oily.
Step 5 - Treatment Product (night)
Treatment products formulated with active ingredients are the powerhouse of any skin-care routine, and this is the step where the magic truly happens.
Pair your night skin care routine for acne prone skin with targeted acne medication like spot treatments to expedite your acne’s demise.
Acne treatments contain potent ingredients that reduce pimples and lighten scars.
It’s best to use a prescription product from your dermatologist.
Remember, with acne, less is more. Using too many topical products will make your skin dry and irritate it. Also, acne is not something that will go away overnight. It’s a process which requires immense patience.
Give your skin ample time to adjust to the skin care routine for acne prone skin before you see results. When in doubt please make an appointment with your dermatologist who can help you determine what your skin needs.
To notice a difference, you need to use a product for at least six weeks and once or twice a day daily.
Other Recommended Tips
- Keep your hands off your face
- Stay out of the sun as much as possible
- Exercise daily
- Learn to be less stressed
- Hydrate yourself
- Follow a healthy diet
- Don't pick or pop your pimples
- Change your sheets at least weekly
Great skin doesn’t revolve around genetics alone, your daily habits play a significant role in what you see in the mirror. You know the basics - follow a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep and use the right products as per your skin type. Unfortunately, there’s no instant fix; you need patience and time to reap the benefits.
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