If there’s one unfair fact of life, it’s that there are some people born #blessed with flawless complexions while others are constantly at war with their skin. This struggle can feel particularly weary if you suffer from acne-prone skin.
On top of that, so many acne products contain sneaky dehydrating alcohols and harsh sulfates which can actually make your acne worse, which makes finding a good skincare routine to get rid of acne can feel like an uphill battle. But don’t fear - because we’re here to help. Here’s everything you need to know about the most common types of acne, and how to create a skin care routine for acne.
First step: identify the kind of acne you’re dealing with
Not all acne is created equal, and different types of acne require different treatments. Acne falls into two groups - inflammatory and non-inflammatory. This is important because knowing exactly what kind of break-out or pimple you’re dealing with is key to creating an effective skincare routine. Here are the most common types of acne, and how they’re caused.
Blackheads fall into the ‘non-inflammatory’ category, as they’re not coupled with redness, tenderness and swelling. Also known as open comedones, blackheads are an open plug of sebum mixed with cells that are dead which are clogged pores. This exposure to the air causes oxidization, giving your zit that darkened, ‘black’ appearance. While blackheads can be persistent little suckers, they are pretty easy to treat with the right skincare routine.
People often confuse whiteheads with inflamed papules or pustules (your classic ‘zit’). Whiteheads are made up of a cocktail of sebum, dead skin cells, bacteria and white blood cells. Also known as closed comedones, the pore is closed over to form a raised bump, unlike blackheads which are open. Unlike papules and pustules, however, whiteheads are not inflamed and red.
A papule is the exact kind of acne that springs to mind when you think of a ‘pimple’. Papules are basically just evolved whiteheads: red, inflamed, with a large white head on top filled with pus (lovely stuff). This is one of the only types of acne that dermatologists say you can extract yourself at home, provided that the pimple is supple with a large head. These pimples fall into the “inflammatory” acne category along with cystic and nodular acne.
Cystic and nodular acne
This type of acne is arguably the worst kind, because it’s so tricky to treat. Nodules are those sore, flesh-coloured, tender lumps that usually appear on the chin and jawline. Nodular acne occurs when sebum and skin cells that died get trapped in pores along with a strain of bacteria called p. Acnes. This causes a large inflammation in the deepest layers of the skin. The worst part about nodules is that they never come to a head, and trying to force it will only make it worse.
Cystic acne is a little bit different, although nodules and cysts can look similar. Cysts are formed when whiteheads and blackheads rupture through pore walls and ‘spill’ infection into the surrounding skin. The body responds with inflammation to heal the area, resulting in a big angry bump. Cysts can appear to have several different entrances, as several whiteheads group together to create one super zit.
Phase two: tried and tested acne treatment
If you’re dealing with one super spot, pimple patches help to protect pimples from infection and promote faster healing. These hydrocolloid plasters subtly hide your pimple and use osmosis to shrink spots faster. Dermatologists also say that applying some anti-redness eye drops to your pimple is a safe way to temporarily reduce redness, thanks to vaso-constricting ingredients.
Use ingredients that fight acne
In the long term, using products with targeted ingredients can help to kill acne bacteria and exfoliate pores before acne forms which is why these products to your skincare routine to treat acne. Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are one of the best tools you can use. AHAs like glycolic acid and lactic acid eat away dead skin cells before they can block your pores.
Salicylic acid (a BHA) is a slightly smaller molecule, which actually sinks into your pores to clean them from the inside out. For whiteheads and papules, benzoyl peroxide spot treatments can help kill bacteria to stop your pimple getting worse. Tea tree oil is another excellent - and natural! - way to fight acne-causing bacteria, as long as you don’t use it on its own. Undiluted tea tree oil (and essential oils in general) are far too harsh for your skin and should be used in small concentrations with other acne-fighting factors.
The Soothing Serum contains tea tree oil along with soothing aloe vera extract to fight spot-causing bacteria and calm to the skin. Our Soothing Serum also contains moisturising seabuckthorn oil to help nourish the skin.
For inflammatory acne-prone skin, your skincare routine should include ingredients that will reduce swelling and inflammation. Aloe vera juice is an excellent calming ingredient that is antiseptic and non-comedogenic, to help fight bacteria while soothing inflammation.
Getting rid of nodules and cysts can be a bit more tricky. If you’re experiencing chronic nodules and cysts, a visit to your doctor or dermatologist may be in order. Break-outs constantly appearing on your chin and jawline can be a sign of hormonal acne. If hormonal contraception is an option for you, this can help to reduce the severity of hormonal break-outs.
The best skincare routine for acne isn't that hard to follow. You just need to make sure to keep using a face wash and to make sure you don't use skincare products that have the potential to make your acne worse. Acne treatment on sensitive skin is something that everyone who suffers from has to keep on top of. Acne skincare is a serious matter which is why you should follow Poko's instructions on the matter.