Acne skin is different from other skin types. It is easily irritated, often inflamed and oily, and ready to erupt at any given time. Common acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, retinol, and azelaic acid have a solid track record for clearing blemishes, but using these skincare products properly is important. From cleansers to spot treatments and even moisturizers and face masks, following a skincare routine for acne-prone skin that consists of products compatible with acne-prone skin is critical to keeping breakouts at bay.
The causes of acne vary, are complicated, and range from influences like genetics, bacteria, hormones, and increased stress. No matter the reason, the formation of pimples is the same: an increase in oil production and a buildup of dead skin cells clog the pores, causing an overgrowth of bacteria and leading to an inflammation response. Then, the skin falls victim to a breakout.
But not all pimples are the same. Some are tiny whiteheads or blackheads, while others are pustule-like or even cysts.
No matter the type of acne you’re faced with, it can be physically and emotionally challenging. It’s critical to use appropriate skin care products to clear up acne once and for all.
Best Moisturizers for Acne Prone Skin
Even if your skin is acne prone, it still needs hydration. A key element of the best moisturizers for acne-prone skin is that they are non-comedogenic, meaning they won’t clog pores or leave the skin looking or feeling greasy (some have mattifying ingredients to help keep shiny skin at bay).
Many people who suffer from acne-prone skin may think it’s okay to bypass using moisturizer, especially if their skin is oily. But that’s not the case. A good skincare routine for acneic skin must include a skin-safe moisturizer, especially if you use products to clear up breakouts that contain retinol, alpha hydroxy acids or beta hydroxy acids. While effective, these ingredients can dry and irritate the skin by stripping away the skin’s natural oils. This can cause an overproduction of sebum and lead to more breakouts.
Lightweight lotions, gel moisturizers and even serums are ideal for oily and acne-prone skin because of their fine texture. Typically, these formulations are void of oils, fragrances and heavy pore-clogging ingredients like silicone yet contain moisturizing ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid, which don’t instigate breakouts. But if your skin needs a little more moisture due to flakiness from anti-acne products or medications, you can apply a thicker moisturizing cream at night when the skin is in repair mode.
Best Makeup and Foundation for Acne Prone Skin
Wearing concealer and foundation may be an easy way to cover up active acne breakouts, but you must wear the correct makeup. Otherwise, you may be doing more harm to your skin than good. Pinpointing the best foundation for acne-prone skin can be complicated, but knowing what to look for may not be as hard as you think.
Today, foundation and makeup for acne-prone skin are often formulated with a bevy of skin-friendly ingredients that help to fight acne, like salicylic acid and antioxidants. The coverage may vary from light to medium and is often buildable, but knowing that your foundation and makeup won’t cause your skin to break out further is worth its weight in gold.
Consider a CC cream, which color corrects the skin and infuses it with good-for-your-skin ingredients, for lighter coverage. Mineral makeup, especially powder foundations, is another option for acne-prone skin since it is irritant-free and won’t clog the pores. And always opt for non-comedogenic, oil-free formulas which won’t congest the skin.
The best foundation and makeup for acne-prone skin provides ample coverage with a natural finish. Oily and acne-prone skin types tend to do well with lightweight matte formulations. But if your skin is dry and still breakouts, a foundation that gives a bit more of a luminous finish may be a better option. To ensure the most natural-looking finish that’s never cakey, start by applying a small amount of foundation to the center of the face and stipple the makeup with a clean makeup sponge to blend it out in an outward pattern. Then, go back to areas where more coverage is needed, spot treat with concealer and set it in place with setting powder.
Best Sunscreens for Acne Prone Skin
Sunscreen is essential for all skin types, especially acne-prone skin. Without proper sun protection, the skin is at a higher risk of sunburns and sun damage.
When using sunscreen on skin prone to breakouts, the best sunscreen for acne-prone skin is oil-free, non-comedogenic and non-irritating. Some sunscreens can clog the pores with oils or silicone and leave the skin feeling slick and oily, which can further perpetuate acne, so opt for fragrance-free, broad-spectrum ones with mattifying ingredients and anti-breakout ingredients like niacinamide. Mineral sunscreens irritate the skin less than chemical sunscreens, which is beneficial to acne-prone skin, which is usually easily irritated and sensitive. An SPF of 30 is always preferred over lower SPF levels.
Another reason you must wear sunscreen if you are prone to breaking out is that many acid-based ingredients used to treat acne make the skin more susceptible to sunburns and damage. Plus, using sunscreen daily will help acne-prone skin from developing unwanted pigment, which is made worse with sun exposure.