Acne Do's and Don'ts | How To Care For Acne-Prone Skin

If you've been following our series on healing acne holistically (if not - go back and read this!), you know by now that healing chronic adult acne is mainly an inside job. But your skincare does make a difference, and just like the food you eat, the products you use on your skin can either help and heal or...make the situation way worse. The trouble is, many of the products that are marketed towards acne-prone skin are too harsh, drying, and don't support your skin's natural ability to heal. You can't rely on the marketing buzz words on packaging to know which products or skincare routine is  right for you, so we're making it easy. Read on for the Do's and Don'ts of skincare for acne-prone skin. Hello, clearest skin ever!

DON'T go for the typical, harsh acne treatments

Just because it says it's for acne-prone skin...doesn't mean it's for acne-prone skin. Weird, right? Companies create cleansers, toners and treatments that strip and dry skin out and say it's for acne because oil = breakouts or stronger = better. But they couldn't be more wrong! Harsh, overly strong products only irritate and throw your skin out of balance even more, which worsens breakouts over time. 

DO treat your acne-prone skin like sensitive skin

Acne-prone skin is sensitive skin. If you haven't already, be sure to read our 11 Must-Know Skincare Tips for Sensitive Skin. Instead of punishing your skin with harsh treatments, treat your acne-prone skin like the sensitive organ it is. Feed it gentle, simple, nourishing products (like ours!) that will support your skin's innate ability to heal. Don't rely on 'acne treatments', but rather look for products designed especially for sensitive skin - that is, without added fragrance, harsh, physical exfoliants (we see you, walnut shell scrubs), alcohol, and more. Even some of the most popular 'acne' ingredients - salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, retinol - may worsen irritation and breakouts. 

DON'T use cleansers that give you that 'squeaky clean' feeling

Very simply, most conventional cleansers - that is, the ones that foam and bubble and leave you feeling squeaky clean - aren't great for sensitive skin. These high pH cleansers throw off the acid mantle of your skin and damage it's protective barrier, causing further irritation and upset. They do this by stripping your skin of it's natural sebum, causing your skin to produce more sebum and leading to more breakouts. 

DO oil cleanse daily

We wrote a whole blog on oil cleansing and why it's amazing for oily and acne-prone skin, which you can read here. Essentially, oil cleansing does everything a deep cleanser should do...without stripping or drying out your skin. Win.

DON'T over-exfoliate

Over-exfoliation, like over-cleansing, leads to irritation and increased sebum production. Most physical exfoliants apart from raw honey will be too abrasive for sensitive, acne-prone skin. You also don't need to exfoliate more than 1-2x per week.

DO use gentle exfoliating acids 1-2x per week

Use gentle, chemical exfoliants to loosen dead skin cells and promote cell regeneration 1-2x per week (any more could cause irritation!) Look for products that contain Lactic Acid, Mandelic Acid, or a low concentration of Salicylic Acid; other types of acids (ie. Glycolic and Malic Acids) tend to be too harsh for sensitive skin. Our Valley Of Light Illuminative Mask contains natural AHA's from Hibiscus. 

DON'T use oleic-rich or comedogenic oils that will clog your pores

Oleic acid clogs pores. Science says so. Therefore, oils that have a high concentration of Oleic acid aren't great for acne-prone skin. A few of the most common, pore-clogging oils include: Coconut oil, Cocoa butter, Wheat Germ oil, Algae extract, and even Olive oil!

DO use linoleic-rich, non-comedogenic oils that soothe & balance sebum

Linoleic acid is naturally antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and balances sebum. In fact, acne-prone skin has been shown to lack Linoleic acid, so you definitely want it on your skin. Look for Linoleic-rich products like our Balancing Act serum (a must in your skincare arsenal!) or look for Linoleic-rich oils like Rosehip Seed, Guava Seed, Grapeseed, Evening Primrose, Rice Bran, and Hemp. 

DON'T suffocate your skin in makeup all day every day

There's nothing wrong with makeup, of course, but many of the ingredients in makeup (ie. artificial colors, particularly reds!) rate high on the comedogenic scale. Wearing a thick layer of makeup on your skin daily can potentially clog pores, trap in bacteria, and dry out your skin. Look for non-comedogenic cosmetics (sans coconut oil is a great place to start!) that won't clog your pores and when you do wear makeup, be sure to thoroughly cleanse & remove it (with your new favorite oil cleanser) at the end of each day. 

DO let your skin breathe

Go makeup-free as often as possible, allowing your skin a chance to breathe - and by breathe, we mean naturally turnover cells, slough off dead skin cells, replenish it's protective lipid layer, and more. Sensitive, acne-prone skin loves simplicity. Plus, the simpler your morning routine, the less chance there is for potentially comedogenic products, exposure to bacteria (hello, dirty makeup brushes), and irritation. 

DON'T pick at your skin & spread bacteria

While super tempting, popping pimples only spreads bacteria and makes breakouts more vulnerable to infection and increased inflammation. Not to mention, your acne is more likely to leave long-term scars when you pick at it. When breakouts happen, whatever you do, try not to touch, pinch, pick at or pop them. 

DO use a spot treatment to help breakouts heal faster 

Help breakouts heal more quickly with a soothing spot treatment. While ingredients like Tea Tree or Lavender oil are common in natural spot treatments, even these can be too harsh for sensitive, acne-prone skin. Opt instead for something that will help decrease inflammation and support healing like our Blemish Correct serum with anti-inflammatory Ximenyic acid and soothing Curcumin - no essential oils needed!

DON'T switch up your skincare too often

As tempting as it is to try new products and switch up your routine daily, weekly, or monthly, switching up your skincare often can irritate sensitive skin. A few things to keep in takes up to 12 weeks of consistent use to see results from some types of products (ie. retinol) - not because they don't work, but because that's the nature of the actives in them! It's also difficult to pinpoint which products work for you and which cause irritation or breakouts if you're using more than one new product at a time.

DO keep a consistent skincare routine that works for you

Find a simple, beautiful skincare routine that works for you and stick with it. Remember: it can take anywhere from 6-12 weeks of consistent use to see visible results from your routine. Stay tuned for our easiest nighttime skincare routine ever for acne-prone skin...

DON'T beat yourself up over breakouts

Last but definitely not least, don't beat yourself up over breakouts. Or at all really. Stress is one of the most common causes of chronic adult acne. So don't let your acne add to your stress and cause more breakouts. Do what you can, make small changes, and avoid negative self-talk - especially around your acne. Know that 1 in 4 women experience chronic breakouts, so you're not alone!

DO be gentle with yourself and your skin

Remember the Skin-Spirit Connection and take care of your spirit. As Elysse says, 'Sensitive skin, sensitive spirit.' Whatever state your sensitive skin is in, it's likely a reflection of what's going on within. Become aware of your inner self-talk and try to  talk kindly to yourself, avoid self-judgement, and take time for self-care. You can use your daily skincare ritual(s) to tune in & connect with yourself while being gentle and loving towards your skin. 

That's it! If you found this helpful, be sure to check out our blogs on the 6 Things That Cause Chronic Acne and How To Eat To Heal Your Acne. Stay tuned for the Easiest Nighttime Skincare Routine Ever - next week on the blog!