Acne-Prone Skincare Routines


Understanding The Various Types Of Acne

Acne breakouts are an inconvenient part of life for many individuals. Luckily, there are simple acne-prone skin care routines that can be applied to daily regimens and combat acne’s unwanted appearance.  

Six steps to an acne-prone skincare routine:

Step 1: Wash your face every morning with a hydrating cleanser followed by a toner

Step 2: Moisturize to keep skin from drying out, creating extra oil from over-productive oil glands

Step 3: Do not forget daily sunscreen with 30 SPF or higher

Step 4: Wash your face every night

Step 5: Use an acne treatment gel or serum

Step 6: Moisturize before bed

The fight against acne does not have to be complicated. Knowing the steps of a routine is a starting point. Knowing your skin type, what acne is, and what causes acne is the next part of building the foundation for your skincare routine.

Know Your Skin

Before starting a new acne skincare routine, it is vital to know your skin type to provide what is needed to support its health and structure. Using the wrong products can worsen the condition, create excess oil, lead to rough, dry skin, increase the number of breakouts, or cause other uncomfortable skin irritations.

There are five skin types: sensitive, dry, normal, oily, and combination. You may find that your skin will go between skin types or concerns during certain seasons or times of the year. This is normal and can be addressed with the right products for the problems at the time. Skin will react to different environments, climates, medications, diets, and hormone changes. The skin may be oily in the summer and dry in the winter. Wearing less makeup in a humid environment and more in a drier location will also affect specific skin concerns.

If you are unsure of your skin type or what kind of products to start using, there are skin typing quizzes online that are easily found with a Google search. Another option is a simple at-home skin test. The at-home test will take approximately one hour, so schedule this when you have time to spare.

Using a gentle cleanser, wash your face. Ensure all dirt, oil, and makeup have been removed to provide you with a clean and clear reflection. To dry your face, use a clean face towel and gently pat dry. Do not rub or use any rough fabrics that can be harsh to the skin. It is crucial during this time to refrain from touching your face for the next hour. Touching your face will add dirt, oil, and other particles back to the skin surface and give you a false result.

When the hour is done, it is time to look in the mirror and identify your skin type.

  • Sensitive skin: may be itchy, irritated, inflamed, have a red appearance
  • Dry skin: flaky patches will be visible while skin feels tight and itchy
  • Normal skin: has a general good feeling and does not look oily or dry
  • Oily skin: overall looks shiny and oily, with the T-zone more visibly more oily than other areas
  • Combination skin: shiny and oily T-zone, dry cheeks, and jawline

It is also essential to know your acne type after identifying your skin type. Acne is an inconvenience all around, but knowing what kind of acne to combat will make the fight that much easier.

What Is Acne?

Acne is a skin condition that occurs when hair follicles and oil glands become clogged. The oil glands, also known as sebaceous glands, secrete oil, which keeps the skin from drying out. When the glands are clogged, it can lead to zits, pimples, and cysts. It is common for people of all ages to be affected by acne. Ages 12 to 24 are the most affected of all groups, but acne can continue even beyond the 40s.

There are seven types of acne:

Whiteheads:  Whiteheads show up due to clogged pores, dead skin cells, and sebum. These are common among oily skin types. When bacteria get introduced to the whitehead, it will become inflamed and turn into a red pimple.

Blackheads: Blackheads are like whiteheads as they are also clogged pores. The difference between white and blackheads is that blackheads are clogged pores already containing bacteria. Blackheads are also larger, making it easier for air and contaminants to enter and oxidize the blocked oil. This will make the blackheads even darker in color.

Hormonal acne: Hormonal acne tends to appear around the same time every month, just before or during a female menstrual cycle. It is common to show up around the chin and jawline as unstable hormones create an overdrive in oil production. Due to all the excess oil, the probability of hormonal acne is high.

Nodules or Blind Pimples: This type of acne can be very painful and uncomfortable. The size can vary between small, medium, and large. They are not always visible right away but will appear as a bump under the skin once you can see them. Pressure builds up underneath the skin layers with nowhere to go and can be extra sensitive to touch. It is best to keep from picking or poking at these nodules to avoid any further irritation and allow the natural diminish over the next few days.

Cysts: Cysts are another painful kind of acne. They are a more severe condition that usually lies deep within the skin and causes an infection resulting in pus-filled, deep pimples. They are slower to heal than other types of acne. If cysts are common for you, it is best to see your dermatologist to get the right advice to find a treatment plan that works for your specific needs.

Papules: Papules are small pink or red bumps on the skin. Papules are caused by bacteria on the skin that grows and causes inflammation. These spots can be tender or painful. 

Pustules: Pustules are pimples filled with pus on top with red bases. Pustules may appear as whiteheads initially, but the whitehead will become larger and at times turn yellow as the pimple fills with pus. While whiteheads are clogged hair follicles and oil glands, pustules are caused by bacteria.

Know What Causes Acne

Acne can occur due to multiple situations and circumstances that are unique to each person. Acne can be inherited through genetics, resulting from a bacteria overgrowth, begin to show as hormones change throughout puberty, and even happen due to certain medications. For women, hormones play a significant role in acne. Menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and birth control are all contributing factors.

There are a few beliefs and misconceptions commonly shared about acne-prone skin; bad diets, makeup use, and popping habits are just a few of those circulating beliefs. A bad diet is not scientifically proven to be the cause of acne-prone skin. Still, applying a general understanding of harmful foods and healthy foods, the body performs best when it has a well-balanced diet limiting the consumption of sugary and greasy foods.

Makeup is not necessarily the cause of acne breakouts, but it might not be helping an acne condition either. Using cosmetics that are non-comedogenic and routinely replacing or thoroughly cleaning makeup applicators will help rather than worsen acne-prone skin.

Popping pimples to help them go away is the opposite of what you want to do. When squeezing pimples to pop them, the skin around the pimple becomes irritated and can result in more inflammation. The added inflammation can extend the natural healing time of the affected area. Practice a no-touch approach along with a daily skincare routine and see if it reduces the healing time you are currently familiar with.  

The location of acne can also help determine what is causing your breakouts:

Chin and jawline: hormonal imbalances typically cause acne breakouts in either of these areas. For females, menstrual cycles can play into this area. For everyone, not following a regular sleeping schedule or healthy diet can contribute to an imbalance within the body that results in chin acne.

Cheeks: our cheeks are one of the most touched places on our faces. Acne found in the upper cheek area has been associated with respiratory concerns. Acne in the lower area of the cheeks is linked to surface bacteria and poor dental hygiene. Making sure pillowcases, cell phones, makeup applicators, and other often-used items that come in contact with the cheeks are frequently cleaned is crucial to limit the bacteria introduced to the skin.

Forehead: forehead acne can be from hats, hair, stress, or poor digestion. Drinking plenty of water, limiting hat wear, maintaining clean hair, and following a healthy diet will reduce acne breakouts on the forehead.

T-zone: the t-zone is commonly affected by combination skin types. Other causes for T-zone breakouts are increased fast food consumption, high blood pressure, food allergens, and gastrointestinal imbalances. Reducing the amount of red meat and dairy in a diet and replacing it with leafy vegetables can improve this area.

Morning Routine

Step 1: Wash your face. Use a hydrating cleanser that is gentle on your skin. Avoid hot water and washcloths. Using your fingers, gently cleanse in a circular pattern to remove oil, dirt, sweat, and any other particles that attach to your face throughout the night. Unless instructed otherwise by your doctor or dermatologist, do not use cleansers with alcohol. The alcohol will dry your skin and worsen your condition. Pat your face dry.

Step 2: If you plan on using a toner, this is the time to do so. Toners work to open the pores and help the skin absorb the hydrating products. They also work to remove any excess dirt and oil that was missed in step one. When using a toner, find an alcohol-free product. If your skin is dry or normal, use a toner formulated specifically for hydrating.

Step 3: Moisturize. This is a vital step to healthy skin. To keep oil glands from overproducing and clogging pores, they require a moisturizer layer to stay hydrated. Whether your skin is dry, normal, oily, or a combination, a daily oil-free moisturizer will benefit your daily skincare routine.

Step 4: SPF. Sunscreen is our step for protection. Even if we stay inside for the day, we are still exposed to the sun’s UV rays through windows and doors. Some moisturizers are designed to include an SPF 30 component, combining steps three and four. Protection from the sun will not only help skin stay hydrated, but it also helps to prevent premature signs of aging and skin damage.  

Products will work best if at least thirty seconds has passed between steps and applications. Giving the skin time to absorb each product before applying the next will help maximize the overall results.

Nightly Routine

Step 1: Wash your face. You do not need a separate face wash for day and night. Follow the same process at night as you do in the morning, warm water, circular motion with fingers, and pat dry. If you wear makeup during the day, use an oil-free eye makeup remover before washing your face. This will ensure your skin is as clean as possible before moving on to the remaining nightly steps.

Step 2: If you are using a toner, you can apply it after washing your face just as you would in the morning.

Step 3: Treatment. Treatment products are formulated to fight any current or beginning acne. Spot treatments will work to reduce the appearance of pimples in less time than if left on their own. It does not take much to cover a blemish, so use sparingly to avoid drying out your skin. Dermatologists and physicians can prescribe a treatment medication if needed.

Step 4: Moisturize. After waiting for one to two minutes after applying your acne treatment product, it is time to moisturize. Hydration is among the top necessities of healthy skin. It is unnecessary to use a separate night cream from the day cream used in the morning. If you prefer to purchase a set of day and night, that is entirely up to personal preference.

It is important not to mix and match too many products or active ingredients when choosing products to use in your routine. Finding one brand or one product line to stick with would be more productive than jumping from brand to brand since each company, brand, and product line is formulated differently. That does not mean that it will not help acne-prone skin if multiple brands are used, but the desired results may take longer to achieve or even lead to additional skin irritation.

Remember to give your chosen products time to work before evaluating progress. Acne will not vanish overnight. Most acne-prone skincare routines take between four and twelve weeks of consistent use before results can start to be seen. Even more crucial is to continue with your daily routine even after results are visible to maintain your skin’s health and support.  

Will Drinking More Water Help Reduce Breakouts?

Water is vital to life. The body needs water to stay hydrated inside and support organ function. Skin is also an organ, the largest organ of the body. With that knowledge, the skin, too, will significantly benefit from a hydrated body. When our skin is dry, we apply a moisturizer. Water acts as a natural moisturizer to keep skin soft and smooth.

If the body is dehydrated, the skin can become dry. When skin is dry, the oil glands will overproduce, leaving clogged pores and acne breakouts in its wake. Several studies show an increase in daily water intake left numerous women with improved skin appearance and reduced dryness and roughness. Try adding extra water into your regular daily routine and note what benefits you see and feel for yourself.

When Should I See My Doctor?

If you have any concerns or worries about starting a new skincare routine, consult with your doctor or dermatologist. They will help you create a daily routine to follow and prescribe any treatment medications they feel will work best for you.

If you have started a new self-care remedy routine and notice worsening conditions or harsh reactions, see your doctor. Make sure to take a list of products you have been using and how long each was tried, so your doctor will know how to help.

If, after a new acne-prone skincare routine has been followed consistently for at least four to six weeks, and no results are visible at all, you may want to schedule an appointment with your doctor. They will have recommendations of products to add or steps to replace what is currently being done. Again, it is always helpful for you and your doctor to have a list of what products are being used and how long each has been included in your routine. 

Habits To Stop And Habits To Start

Habits can be hard to start or stop, but sometimes it is necessary. Skincare habits can be passed down from family, shared between friends, or read in a magazine and attempted at home to replace what we thought we already knew to be good for us.

Eight habits to stop and eight new habits to put in their place:

Habit 1: Sleeping in makeup. Leaving makeup on your face while you sleep restricts the skin from breathing, relaxing, and recharging. A new practice would be to wash your face every evening before bed. It is best to use a gentle hydrating face wash, but that may not always be an accessible step. Using a non-comedogenic towelette will work as a replacement habit on those nights when your face wash is not available.

Habit 2: Popping or squeezing pimples. It may seem like a good idea at the time, but this is a bad habit to break. Popping or squeezing pimples will most likely have a reverse effect and worsen a breakout than if it were to be left alone and heal independently. Squeezing can push bacteria, dead skin cells, and other contaminants deeper into the skin and create more pain and irritation. In this case, the best thing to do is to make it a new habit to resist the urge to pop or squeeze. If it becomes too painful, seek out a dermatologist or doctor for help.

Habit 3: Scrubbing to get clean. Scrubbing your face to get clean is the cause of increased acne and irritation. Using a gentle cleanser with warm water and a circular motion with your fingers will give you a better cleansing and keep your skin happy. 

Habit 4: Sharing makeup and applicators. Sharing is caring, or it is said to be, but it does not always work that way. When we share makeup and makeup applicators, we are also sharing bacteria, dead skin cells, and oils. Acne is not contagious but passing around the foundation brush from friend to friend is a tool for disaster when trying to maintain clean and healthy skin. Birthdays and holidays are a fantastic time to gift essential makeup tools such as brushes, brush cleaners, skincare sets, and cosmetics.  

Habit 5: Trying new acne treatments and skincare routines every week. It is often seen that results are not visible quick enough, and within a week of trying a new product or skincare routine, a new one is started. Reaching desired results takes time for just about anything, not only for healthy skin. Giving a new product or routine a fair chance to produce results takes between four and eight weeks. It generally takes between twelve and sixteen weeks to see a drastic change. Do not be so quick to give up and change routines without allowing the time to be sufficient.

Habit 6: Using oil-based makeup and skincare products. On the road to hydration, it might seem like a good idea to use oil-based products in the hope of extra moisturization or protection. The truth is oil-based products in an acne-prone skin care routine will only add to clogged pores and increased acne. Using non-comedogenic products will work best to support, hydrate, and work with your skin rather than against it. The goal is not to clog pores.

Habit 7: Washing your face multiple times a day. In the past, it was mentioned that washing your face multiple times a day will help clear up acne breakouts and maintain a healthy complexion. This works only if a doctor or dermatologist has told you to do so based on your individual needs and treatment plan. Everyone else, stick to two times a day, once in the morning and once in the evening before bed. When you over-wash your face, it can lead to dry and irritated skin, leading to more breakouts.

Habit 8: Rubbing your face during exercise. Sweating while exercising a normal thing to happen. Wanting to clear the sweat from our faces is also expected. Using a towel to rub away the sweat is where we go wrong. Rubbing the sweat with a rough towel only leads to irritable skin and does not help acne. Treat sweat just as you would after washing your face in the morning or evening and pat your face dry. Your face will thank you for it.

To Your Success,

Heather Hanrahan

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