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The Best Acne Treatments for Every Acne Type

Woman with acne, touching her face

 

Does the type of acne you experience make a difference when considering your plan of attack? If you’re using salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, you might think you’ve got it covered. While those are two giants among acne-fighters, there is more to crafting an effective acne regimen. Each type of acne has a variety of factors affecting the severity of the breakout. Genetics, skin type, hormones, inflammation level are a few of them. Here we break down the various types of breakouts along with the best treatment for each so you can optimize your clear skin results.

  

HORMONAL ACNE

What is it?

Probably the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about hormonal acne is the breakouts associated with puberty. The increase in sebum-producing hormones fuels acne, but the issue doesn’t end when your teen years do. Whether from puberty, pregnancy, stress, or menopause, hormones are a wild card, affecting skin at all stages of life, meaning it’s not at all uncommon to experience adult acne.

 

What’s the best treatment?

Teen hormonal acne responds well to benzoyl peroxide and vitamin A treatment. For adult acne, we recommend switching from a benzoyl peroxide cleanser to a mandelic acid cleanser, which is a more gentle acid that promotes cell regeneration, making it good for skin that may be thinning a bit from age. Mandelic acid has the advantage of being a melanin-inhibitor, so it can help with age spots as well. Try Mandelic Acid 3-In-1 Wash or Mandelic Acid 3-In-1 Exfoliating Cleanser.

 

WHITEHEADS

What is it?

The result of oil and dead skin cells mixing and clogging pores, whiteheads are the little white plugs that sit there daring you to pop them. Don't. They're harboring bacteria. Popping them will spread the bacteria, raising the risk of infection and the chances of scarring. These little pustules can often be red and inflamed as well.   

 

What’s the best treatment?

Salicylic acid is your friend here. The beta-hydroxy acid exfoliates inside the pore as well as on the surface to pull all that sebum and cellular debris out and put an end to that pimple party. Use it in combination with benzoyl peroxide to kill bacteria, and you have the ultimate acne-fighting team. Wash with BP 3% Exfoliating Cleanser and follow it with Normalizing Tonic Forté, an advanced toner that pairs salicylic acid with witch hazel, plus lactic, glycolic, and citric acids to flush and unclog pores.

 

BLACKHEADS

What is it?

A blackhead forms when a pore is only partially clogged, allowing some of the trapped sebum to drain to the surface where it’s exposed to oxygen. The exposure to air causes that black color you notice. That’s oxidation, not dirt. (Though dirt, makeup, and environmental pollutants can certainly contribute to a buildup of oil in the follicle.)

 

What’s the best treatment?

To clear blackheads, exfoliation is critical. Wash with BP 3% Exfoliating Cleanser to kill bacteria and unblock pores. Follow with Daily Repair Pads. Their blend of salicylic, mandelic, and lactic acids loosens dead skin cells and trapped sebum while the pad’s textured surface sweeps it away like a mini peel.

 

To speed cell turnover and decongest pores, use a more advanced serum like Vivant’s Exfol-A (for skin already acclimated to vitamin A therapy). We also recommend masking once or twice a week with our detoxifying, anti-bacterial Sulfur Clay Mask to rapidly draw impurities and excess oil out of pores.

  

CYSTIC ACNE

What is it?

These are the raised red, puss-filled, painful bumps that occur when the acne gods are angry. At least that’s how it seems if you suffer from the most severe type of acne. In truth, these notoriously resistant lesions are the product mainly of genetics and hormonal stimulation of oil glands.

 

What’s the best treatment?

Calming and clearing these lesions requires a balance of calming ingredients to reduce inflammation and chemical exfoliants like acids and vitamin A to accelerate cell turnover and renewal. For cystic acne, which is already highly inflamed, we don’t recommend using a scrub. BP 3% Acne Wash will kill acne bacteria, flush pores, and calm inflammation. Follow that with Normalizing Tonic Forté, an advanced toner that blends glycolic acid and salicylic acid. Sensitive or dark skin tones should use a Mandelic Acid toner beginning at the lowest percentage and working up to the more advanced formula.

 

A Vitamin A serum will accelerate cell turnover and renewal to peel away impactions and strengthen skin structure, bringing a smoother, clearer complexion. If you’ve not used vitamin A therapy previously, you’ll need to acclimate your skin, starting with level one, Derm-A-Gel, and working your way up. Your goal is Exfol-A Forté, a cocktail of exfoliating alpha hydroxy acids and cell-regenerating Vitamin A Propionate. Benzoyl Peroxide 10% Gel Medication, our most potent acne-fighter, is a must to reach into the pore and speed healing. It should be applied all over the face, not as a spot treatment. Spot treating leaves bacteria in surrounding areas to spark new flare-ups.

  

NODULES

What is it?

Similar to cystic acne, but without the puss. These raised, painful bumps remain under the skin, the result of a break deep in the follicular wall. The resulting subdermal node appears as a sore, red lump that feels firm to the touch. It will fester as a deep, inflamed bump until the lesion either becomes a cyst and drains or the break heals and goes into remission. Unresolved nodules often flare up again and again.

 

What’s the best treatment?

Ice is the first order of business for this type of troublemaker. Rub ice over the affected area for two to three minutes to constrict blood vessels and reduce the swelling. It will also help the skin to better absorb treatments like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and vitamin A.

 

Cleanse with BP 3% Acne Wash. Follow with a toner that includes salicylic acid to help clear pores and reduce inflammation. Vivant’s Normalizing Tonic or Normalizing Tonic Forté are both excellent choices. For dark or sensitive skin tones, a mandelic acid toner will minimize irritation. Start with the 3% Mandelic Acid 3-In-1 Toner and move up to 9% Mandelic Acid 3-In-1 Toner when your skin has acclimated. A vitamin A serum is essential to peel impactions and accelerate cell turnover. Also critical, Benzoyl Peroxide 10% Gel Medication applied over the entire face to kill bacteria and help bring impactions to the surface to be peeled away.