The surface spots, the underground bumps, the redness, the peeling—when it comes to acne, the struggle is real. Here’s what you need to know about what causes acne, what types of acne there are, and most importantly how to clear up breakouts for good.
What causes acne?
Acne is a super common skin condition caused by clogs in your skin’s pores—the buildup is often made of the oil, bacteria and dead skin cells which are present in or on your skin all the time. Not great news for people who are acne prone. (Which some of us just are, due to genetics.)
When your pores become clogged, the surrounding skin becomes inflamed, leaving you with classic red zits. Teens tend to experience more acne breakouts because the influx of hormones can stimulate oil production in the skin, and that oil can quickly clog pores.
That’s also why you’re more likely to see acne pop up in areas of your skin that have more oil glands—think, your forehead, nose and chin, as well as your chest, back and shoulders.
Stress is yet another culprit. When you’re stressed out, your cortisol levels rise. Cortisol is a hormone that can cause acne to flare up.
There are studies which have drawn connections between acne and certain types of food—particularly fried or oily foods, sugary foods and dairy products. (Keeping a food diary can help you identify potential trigger foods.)
It’s unfair but true that picking at existing acne can cause more acne (not to mention scarring). If you have dirt or bacteria on your fingers, there’s a good chance of it getting into your pores while you’re messing with your zits. We know it’s hard but resist the urge to pop!
The 5 different kinds of acne
Acne comes in different shapes and sizes. No matter your skin type, if you’re prone to acne, you could see any of these types show up.
How to get rid of acne
Start with a regular skin care routine that includes the right cleansers, moisturizers and targeted breakout solutions.
By definition, acne-prone skin is sensitive skin. It’s already inflamed and irritated, so you need to treat it gently but consistently. Start with a cleanser that includes Salicylic Acid, which is an exfoliant that helps clear away dead skin cells and flush out pores. We love this Purifying Gel Cleanser—it pairs Salicylic Acid with Cica, which is a natural ingredient known to soothe skin.
If you’ve been using a washcloth to cleanse your face, we’d recommend that you skip it, or at least wash it after each use. A damp washcloth can be a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, which will only make acne worse.
You can follow your cleanser with a toner, which helps remove any residual dirt and oil while balancing the pH of your skin. This Clarifying Toner has the same effective ingredients as the cleanser and is alcohol-free, so it won’t over-dry your skin.
If you have existing breakouts, dab on a spot treatment for some targeted breakout defense. This Natural Acne Solutions Targeted Spot Treatment also blends Salicylic Acid and Cica for a strong-yet-soothing effect.
Just because you have breakouts doesn’t mean you don’t need to keep your skin hydrated, so be sure to follow your cleansing and treatments with a moisturizer. Our Sensitive Solutions Calming Day Lotion is a great choice—it has soothing Rice Extract and Aloe, and hydrates all day without causing redness or irritation.
Persistent or severe acne can sometimes require the help of a dermatologist, so speak with yours if a simple and consistent skin care routine doesn’t help curb your breakouts.
Your response to skin care products may vary. Ask a healthcare professional about the most suitable skincare regimen for you.