Skin Care Routines For Acne Prone Skin

If you’ve ever dealt with adult acne before, you probably feel as though you’ve tried everything in an effort to get rid of it.

Sometimes, it’s best to go back to basics and create a skincare routine from scratch, but this time, it’ll be one that’s specially formulated for your skin’s unique needs.

What are the best skin care routines for acne prone skin?

People with acne prone skin will benefit from using a routine that targets the reason for their acne, whether it’s hormonal, clogged pores, or excess oil production. After determining this, you’ll be able to choose cleansers, toners, moisturizers, and medications that can help you treat your acne.

This guide has been designed to walk you through the basics of creating a skin care routine for acne prone skin.

We’ll show you the steps to take each day and what other help might be needed to achieve the clean and clear skin you’ve always dreamed about.

Why Acne Prone Skin Needs Its Own Routine

Skin Care Routines For Acne Prone Skin

Acne is a skin that occurs when oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells clog the follicles on the skin. The pores of our skin are also hair follicle openings and they’re made of both an oil gland and a hair gland, usually releasing a small amount of sebum that keeps your skin soft.

When they become clogged though, the sebum that can usually escape the pores becomes stuck and builds up, sometimes causing an inflammatory reaction.

The reason for this clogging can be caused by dead skin cells, a buildup of bacteria in the pores, or the glands within the follicles creating too much oil.

Depending on the cause of your acne, whether it’s dead skin cells accumulating because they haven’t been exfoliated or a hormone change within the body, you’ll need a dedicated approach to target it.

The best place to start is with a basic skincare routine that aims to clear up acne, and then seek expert advice if you’re still not having any luck.

The Importance of Cleansing

Skin Care Routines For Acne Prone Skin

The cornerstone of any good skincare routine is a cleanser, and whether you have a flawless complexion or struggle with acne, you need to be keeping it clean.

For acne sufferers, cleansing is even more crucial as it’s the key to clearing out the pores and regulating oil production. 

One of the biggest mistakes people make when choosing a cleanser is finding one that targets acne specifically.

These are more dehydrating than a regular cleanser and will make your skin dry out instantly, which then makes your skin overcompensate by creating more oil to try and balance it out.

A gentle cleanser is the best cleanser when dealing with acne, and specifically one without sulfate in the ingredient list. Instead, look for an oil free cleanser that features salicylic acid and has a creamy texture.

Avoid anything with harsh exfoliants and gently massage the cleanser into your skin without any harsh scrubbing.

Using a Toner or Astringent

Skin Care Routines For Acne Prone Skin

The next step in a skincare routine is optional but if you’re someone who suffers from acne, it can be hugely beneficial. Although commonly compared to one another, toners and astringents are two different things. 

Using toner is about balancing the pH level of the skin and can be helpful after cleansing to restore some order to the face.

They’re also capable of removing excess oil which is useful for acne. If your skin type leans towards the normal or dry side, a toner is the better option of the two.

An astringent is like a deeper clean for your face, and it also dries out any oil and tightens the pores.

However, for someone with already dry skin, it can be too much, so this is the best solution for oily complexions.

There’s no necessity to use an astringent or toner, and we recommend introducing it slowly into your routine and seeing what the results are.

However, with the right product and a suitable skin type, being able to get rid of excess oil and restore your skin’s pH level can give you a huge line of defense against acne breakouts.

Moisturization Matters

Skin Care Routines For Acne Prone Skin

One of the last things that come to mind when trying to treat acne is lathering it with moisturizer, but it’s a step that many people miss that does more damage than you realize.

Even with oily or inflamed skin, you still need to moisturize every day and make a habit of doing it both morning and night.

The best thing you can do for acne is to soothe it so that it’s less likely to be inflamed, and you can do this with a moisturizer.

Leaving your skin to get too dry may cause it to overproduce sebum to counteract the problem and then you’ll find that your follicles become even more oily, clogged, and inflamed than before.

An oil-free moisturizer is the smartest approach for a daytime moisturizer, as long as it’s lightweight and still gives your skin room to breathe.

Gels are better for oily complexions and lotions and creams are fine for dry and combination skin. The key ingredients to look for are glycerin, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid, as they’re all suitable for acne prone skin.

At night, you’ll want to follow up your cleansing and toning with another healthy dose of moisturizer.

Choose something that’s specifically made for the evening but look for the same ingredients as your daytime moisture as these are gentle and soothing for inflamed skin, and won’t cause the oil to go into overdrive.

Medications and Treatments for Acne

Skin Care Routines For Acne Prone Skin

This next step should be determined on a case-by-case basis, with some people finding they can manage their acne breakouts with a simple daily routine and others needing extra solutions or advice from a health professional.

If you’re happy to manage it at home, seek out products that contain the following, proven to help with acne:

  • Benzoyl peroxide: This actively kills the bacteria that cause acne and helps to give a deep clean to your pores.
  • Adapalene: An over-the-counter retinoid that helps with cell renew, soothes inflammation, and can regular oil production.
  • Niacinamide: A form of vitamin B3 that soothes inflammation, regulates oil production, and evens out your skin tone.
  • Salicylic acid: This BHA dissolves excess oil from the skin and removes dead skin cells from the surface.

If you’re not getting any luck with the home treatments, speaking to a dermatologist can help. They’ll be able to determine the cause of the acne can come up with some solutions for treatment, including topical retinoids, oral antibiotics, or topical antibiotics.

Protecting Your Skin From the Sun

Skin Care Routines For Acne Prone Skin

All skin types and tones need protection from the sun, whether you think you notice the damage or not.

UPF protection is even more important for acne prone skin as it can aggravate already inflamed skin, making it harder to get a handle on.

The best sunscreen options for someone with acne-affected skin are those designed to be anti-inflammatory but still provide broad-spectrum coverage from UVA and UVB rays.

If you can find a sunscreen that also features niacinamide it’s an added bonus, as this compound will actively reduce inflammation on the skin, while the sunscreen gets to work shielding you from the rays.

When choosing a sunscreen, you’ll also want to think about your skin type, as not all acne sufferers have the same complexion.

People with oily skin will want a dedicated sunscreen that caters to this and helps regulate the problem, and those with normal or dry skin will find many of the standard sunscreen options are suitable for them. 

Most importantly, sunscreen should be at least 30SPF for adequate protection. If you can find one that’s rated as noncomedogenic this is also ideal as it means it’s specially tested not to clog your pores, which is a huge bonus for acne prone skin.

Tips for Acne Prone Skin

Skin Care Routines For Acne Prone Skin

There’s no magic cure for acne, unfortunately, but there are lots of tips you can take on board to get rid of it slowly. We’ve got some of the best advice to follow if you’re hoping to smooth and calm down your acne-prone skin.

Be patient

Experts recommend waiting at least three months before seeing if a skincare product is working for you.

While it can seem like a long time while you’re in the trenches with severe acne, this patience will pay off eventually.

Look at your lifestyle

Skincare can only go so far in treatment issues like acne and sometimes we may need to look at implementing some lifestyle choices.

The basics include drinking more water, getting regular exercise, and incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet.

Consider procedures

Those who want to take it to the next level might have some luck with procedures like lasers and chemical peels.

These can smooth out the skin’s texture and reduce some of the inflammation caused by acne, but you’ll need to work with a dermatologist to determine which ones are safest.


Aim to exfoliate your skin just once a week but stick to gentle alternatives that aren’t abrasive.

A cleansing pad or a night serum with exfoliating ingredients lets you kill two birds with one stone, and it’ll do wonders for stripping away the dead skin cells that block your pores.

Use a makeup remover

We can’t avoid wearing makeup in our daily lives, so we need to be vigilant in removing it. Rather than simply cleansing your face at night, start with micellar water to remove traces of makeup first, and then wash with your usual cleanser in the shower.

This double cleanse approach ensures all traces of makeup, debris, and oil are gone from your face so your pores are clear.

Don’t touch your face

Easier said than done, we are sometimes our worst enemies when we touch our face with dirty fingers that go straight into our pores.

Make a habit of pulling yourself up when you notice that you’re touching your face and keep your hands clean as much as possible.

Getting Back to Basics

Treating acne is never a one size fits all approach but the best thing you can do for your skin is to develop a simple and consistent routine to keep it clean.

Seek out help from a dermatologist to help determine the cause of your acne and then you’ll find it easier to create a routine that works and get the clear skin of your dreams.

Related Questions

Acne is a condition that affects millions of adults all around the world, but there are still so many questions about how we can deal with it.

To give you a better understanding, we’ve answered a few acne-related FAQs, so read on to learn the basics.