The Best Tips, Tricks, and Skincare Products for Acne

Key Points

  • Acne is difficult to manage, but there are some tips and tricks to keeping your skin clear.

  • Watch out for harsh ingredients in your skincare product for acne.

  • Try the products listed below the next time you shop for skincare products for acne.

Acne is a common skin condition that – contrary to popular belief – affects people of all ages. Blemishes and breakouts occur when the pores of the skin become clogged with oil, dirt, and bacteria, leading to the formation of pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads. Many factors contribute to the condition including genetics, hormonal changes, and certain medications, but using the right skincare products for acne kicks those pesky blemishes to the curb. Don't let acne bring you down!

In this article, you'll be introduced to tips and tricks for fighting off acne. You'll also find some of the best skincare products for acne-prone skin, including cleansers, toners, spot treatments, and moisturizers. These solutions are designed to clear up existing breakouts and prevent new ones from forming, leaving you with healthy, radiant skin.

Tips for Treating Acne

Acne isn't fun, but there are ways to nip it in the bud. Check out this list of skincare basics to implement into your beauty regimen to improve the state of your skin.

Keep Your Skin Clean

Wash your face twice a day with a mild cleanser to remove excess oil, dirt, and bacteria. Avoid using harsh, abrasive cleansers as they tend to cause irritation to the skin and make acne worse.

Regularly Exfoliate 

Exfoliating your skin gets rid of dead skin cells and unclogs pores, both of which prevent breakouts. Look for an exfoliator that contains alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) as these ingredients are super effective at treating acne.

Those with acne-prone skin contend with the overproduction of oil. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Neda Mehr says, “Exfoliating prevents excessive oil from causing the top layer of skin cells — or epidermis — from sticking together, clogging the pores, and leading to cystic acne and acne scarring.”

Use Non-Comedogenic Skincare Products

Non-comedogenic products are specifically formulated to not clog pores and prevent the formation of acne. Look for this term on the label when purchasing skincare products.

Apply Spot Treatments

If you have individual pimples or breakouts, consider using a spot treatment to clear them up. Spot treatments are typically applied directly to the affected area and contain acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.

Woman looks into mirror to examine pimple on cheek

Avoid Picking at Your Skin

It's tempting to pop pimples, but doing so actually makes your acne worse. Picking at your skin causes inflammation and scarring, and it may also lead to the spread of bacteria, resulting in even more breakouts.

Use a Moisturizer

If you have acne-prone skin, it's still important to keep your skin hydrated. Look for an oil-free and non-comedogenic moisturizer so it won't clog your pores.

Consider Acne Medications

If your acne is severe or not responding to other treatments, consider using prescription or over-the-counter acne medications. These include topical creams, gels, or lotions as well as oral medications.

Cleansers for Acne-Prone Skin

Cleansers clear the skin of extra oil and bacteria that cause breakouts and other blemishes. The best cleansers for acne-prone skin are gentle, non-comedogenic, and developed with acne-fighting ingredients.

Foaming Cleansers

Foaming cleansers are a good option for those with oily or acne-prone skin as they extract excess oil and dirt from the surface of the skin. Foam cleansers unclog pores which is an important step in preventing and treating acne.

Some top-rated foaming cleansers on the market for acne-prone skin include Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash, Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Control Foam Wash, Olay Regenerist Advanced Anti-Aging Pore Scrub Cleanser, and Biore Charcoal Acne Clearing Cleanser.

Woman applies acne treatment to pimple on forehead

Gel Cleansers

Gel cleansers have a lightweight, water-based formula and are typically refreshing and cooling on the skin, so they are an excellent option for those with oily or acne-prone skin. Gel cleansers remove excess oil and impurities from the surface of the skin without stripping it of its natural moisture. This is important because over-cleansing or using a cleanser that is too harsh strips the skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness and irritation which worsens acne.

Effective gel cleansers available for purchase include Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Gel Cleanser, La Roche-Posay Effaclar Gel Facial Cleanser, and Bioderma Sebium Gel Moussant.

Cream Cleansers

Cream cleansers are developed with a rich, cream-based consistency. They are typically a bit more nourishing and hydrating than the other types of cleansers listed above, making them a popular choice for those with dry, acne-prone skin.

Examples of great cream cleansers for acne-prone skin are Olay Regenerist Advanced Anti-Aging Cream Cleanser, La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cream Cleanser, and Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Cream Cleanser.

Essential Ingredients to Look Out for in Your Cleansers

When choosing a cleanser for acne-prone skin, it's important to look for products that contain ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid that cleans pores and reduces inflammation, while benzoyl peroxide is a powerful antimicrobial agent that kills the bacteria that cause acne. 

Other ingredients to look for include glycolic acid, which exfoliates the skin and unclogs pores, and tea tree oil, which has natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Toners for Acne-Prone Skin

Toners are a type of skincare product used after cleansing to remove any remaining impurities, balance the pH of the skin, and prepare the skin for the next step in your skincare routine. Toners work wonders on acne-prone skin because their powerful ingredients kill the bacteria that cause breakouts.

Variety of acne skin care products scattered on table with leaves

Alcohol-Free Toners

Alcohol-based toners are drying and irritating to the skin, so it's important to choose an alcohol-free option if you have acne-prone skin. Alcohol-free toners are gentle and hydrating, and they balance the pH of the skin without stripping it of its natural oils.

Top-notch alcohol-free toners include Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner, Tatcha The Essence Plumping Skin Softener, and Kiehl's Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol-Free Toner.

Glycolic Acid Toners

Glycolic acid is an AHA that exfoliates the skin. It's an effective ingredient for those with acne-prone skin as it cleans dead skin cells and other impurities that contribute to breakouts.

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid, and Neutrogena Pore Refining Toner are all toners that contain glycolic acid and have received rave reviews online.

Witch Hazel Toners

Witch hazel is a natural astringent that tightens and tones the skin. It also reduces inflammation and kills bacteria, making it a powerful element for those with acne-prone skin.

The skincare community often chooses Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner, Dickinson's Original Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel Pore Perfecting Toner, and Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Face Serum for their favorite witch hazel toners.

Woman smiles with face wash on both cheeks

Spot Treatments

Spot treatments are a type of skincare product specifically designed to treat individual pimples or breakouts. They are usually applied directly to the affected area and developed to clear up existing blemishes and prevent new ones from forming.

Spot treatments are typically used in addition to a regular skincare routine, and they are most effective when applied at the first sign of a pimple. They usually contain acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or sulfur which unblock pores, kill bacteria, and reduce inflammation.

There are several types of spot treatments available including creams, gels, and patches. Creams and gels are typically applied with a cotton swab or finger and left on the skin for a specific amount of time before being washed off. Patches are a newer type of spot treatment applied directly to the pimple and left on the skin until ready to remove.

Salicylic Acid Spot Treatments

Salicylic acid is a keratolytic agent, which means that it exfoliates the skin and clears pores by breaking down the bonds between dead skin cells. It removes excess oil from the skin which stops acne and other blemishes from forming.

In addition to its exfoliating properties, salicylic acid also has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects which alleviate redness and swelling associated with acne and kill the bacteria that cause breakouts.

Salicylic acid spot treatments with great reviews include Murad Rapid Relief Acne Spot Treatment, Paula's Choice Clear Extra Strength Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution with 2% Salicylic Acid, and Neutrogena Rapid Clear Acne Eliminating Spot Gel.

Benzoyl Peroxide Spot Treatments

Benzoyl peroxide is a powerful antimicrobial agent that works by killing the bacteria that cause acne, reducing inflammation, and unclogging pores. One of the main benefits of benzoyl peroxide spot treatments is their effectiveness in treating a wide range of acne including mild, moderate, and severe acne.

Some potent benzoyl peroxide spot treatments are La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Acne Spot Treatment, Paula's Choice Clear Extra Strength Acne Treatment with 5% Benzoyl Peroxide, and Neutrogena On-The-Spot Acne Treatment.

Woman compares two acne skin care products

Sulfur Spot Treatments

Sulfur spot treatments are a perfect option for those who might be fearful of trying any skincare products with harsh chemicals. Sulfur is a natural element that has been used for centuries to treat acne. It cleans out pores and reduces inflammation, making it an effective ingredient in spot treatments for acne-prone skin.

Paula's Choice Clear Extra Strength Acne Treatment with 10% Sulfur and Sunday Riley Saturn Sulfur + Niacinamide Spot Treatment Mask are some of the latest and greatest sulfur spot treatments on the market.

Moisturizers for Acne-Prone Skin

Moisturizers keep the skin from producing too much oil and drying out. Acne-prone skin is dry and sensitive, and using a moisturizer soothes and hydrates the skin, reducing the risk of dryness and irritation.

Oil-Free Moisturizers

Oil-free moisturizers are a good option for those with oily or acne-prone skin as they are lightweight and non-greasy. They are formulated to hydrate the skin without clogging pores or leaving a greasy residue that contributes to breakouts.

Effective oil-free moisturizers include Bioderma Hydrabio Moisturizing Cream, Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Control Moisturizer, and Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture.

Non-Comedogenic Moisturizers

Non-comedogenic moisturizers are specifically designed to not clog pores. This is important for those with acne-prone skin as clogged pores may lead to the development of pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads.

Some examples of top-notch non-comedogenic moisturizers include Cetaphil Daily Hydrating Lotion, Olay Total Effects Moisturizer, and La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Moisturizer.

Woman places hands on cheek looking in mirror

Gel-Based Moisturizers

Gel-based moisturizers are lightweight, water-based options that absorb quickly into the skin. They are a good choice for those with oily or acne-prone skin as they are non-greasy and non-comedogenic.

Popular gel-based moisturizers include Alba Botanica Oil-Free Moisturizer with Aloe Vera, Kiehl's Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream, and Dermalogica Oil Control Lotion.

Cream-Based Moisturizers

Cream-based moisturizers are thicker and more nourishing than gel-based moisturizers. They're a great choice for those with dry or sensitive skin as they are more hydrating.

Sought-after cream-based moisturizers include Proactiv Green Tea Moisturizer, SkinCeuticals Daily Moisturizer, and Skin Fix Barrier + Triple Lipid-Peptide Face Cream.

Live Blemish Free

Taking care of acne-prone skin is a challenge, but with the right skincare products and routine, it's possible to achieve clear, healthy skin. From foaming cleansers to spot treatments, a wide variety of skincare products are available to treat and prevent acne.

Go ahead, give your skin the TLC it deserves and watch as those pesky pimples fade away!

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