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Acne: The in's and Break-outs

Updated: Sep 29, 2022

Clear skin is always the goal but if it's not our acne-prone skin preventing greatness, its premenstrual breakouts, stress pimples, or the occasional planet that lands on our face at the most inconvenient times.

In general, acne, on even the most sophisticated skincare expert, can take 4-6 weeks to clear. The best form of treatment is PREVENTION, and the best way to prevent it from happening is to understand why it does.

Those who experience breakouts often have acne-prone or oily skin. Heredity is a key factor in ance-prone and oily skin. The number, size, and productivity of sebaceous glands (the oil producers) are all determined by genetics. Hormones also influence oiliness levels but even hormone activity is hereditary. Even though it is very possible to control and manage oiliness, it can not be permanently corrected because oiliness is just part of the blueprint. Acne-prone and oily skin types experience something called retention hyperkeratosis aka this skin type do not shed cells. Instead, the cells buildup inside the follicles (pores) and causes congestion which leads to blackheads, whiteheads, etc. This is exactly why these skin type's must incorporate AHAs and BHAs (chemical exfoliants) to gently slough off dead skin cells.

So now lets talk about the different types of acne we all experience whether we have acne-prone skin or not.

Blackheads and whiteheads are actually the same things, hardened oil and dead skin cells trapped in our hair follicle. The black ones are only black because the pore is "open" or exposed. When oil and debris are exposed to oxygen it oxidizes and turns black. They might be noticeable and annoying but oxygen is the best thing that can happen to our pores because it kills acne bacteria and prevents inflammation. Blackheads never lead to pimples or anything red, painful, or swollen.

Whiteheads are also clogged hair follicles however, there is no opening and it looks like a tiny bump under the skin. All skin follicles contain acne bacteria but again, in the presence of oxygen this bacteria can not survive. So what happens when you have a whitehead, a compacted tiny follicle, and oxygen can not penetrate?

The bacteria will flourish and cause inflammation. The acne bacteria will continue to multiply and if it ruptures or bursts the follicle wall it will snowball into a papule or pustule. The culprit here


When a pimple turns red, blood is flooding the follicle and this is known as a papule.

When the follicle wall breaks, our body does what it can to fight off the bacteria. It'll send blood to the follicle and the white blood cells are what does the fighting. Dead white blood cells, along with other fluid and debris are what form a white head on our red pimple, aka PUSstule. This is why popping a pimple at home will usually result in a bloody situation and most of the pus is actually dead white blood cells, but popping at home is NOT RECOMMENDED. If extractions are done incorrectly you can harm other follicles and if they become inflamed you just created a perfect environment for more breakouts.


So whats the best way to prevent this snowball of a pimple? Stop it at the source with a simple skincare regimen specific for acne-prone skin.

  1. Use a foaming cleanser. The choice and strength of this cleanser is determined by the oiliness of your skin, the phase your acne is in and how sensitive your skin may be. Papules and pustules should be treated with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Your cleanser can contain AHAs or BHAs and double as your chemical exfolaint. Chemical exfoliants are a gentle option for skin that is already experiencing irritation, the last thing you would want to do is aggravate your skin with physical exfoliation.

  2. A low PH toner with antibacterial properties. Skin script has a mattifying toner with lemongrass, a natural antibacterial, while hydrating the skin at the same time. Hydration is crucial for all skin types. It benefits acne-prone skin because hydrated skin can excret sebum, dirt and debris from the pores easier than dehydrated skin.

  3. Use a non-comedogenic moisturizer, a moisturizer that contain ingredients that are not pore clogging. Olive oil, cocoa butter, coconut oil, grape seed oil, peanut oil, are highly comedogenic. KEEP AWAY from those ingredients.


Other than being acne-prone or oily, there are other factors that can trigger breakouts: hormones, food, stress, and we are living through 2020, hello acne. So heres how to identify different types of acne and how to treat them with over the counter ingredients.


Blackheads: clogged oxidized pores aka black annoying dots on your face

Treatment: Salicylic acid

Whiteheads: Clogged pores that are closed on the surface, raised bumps with no visible head.

Treatment: Glycolic acid

Papules: Swollen clogged pore fighting for its life. It is red and still no head

Treatment: Benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid

Pustules: Infected clogged pores after fighting a war with white blood cells. It has a white head filled with pus

Treatment: Salicylic acid, peroxide and drying lotions containing sulfur

Cystic acne:

Treatment: retinoids, benzoyl peroxide


There is more to talk about when it comes to acne because the human body is completely complex. Adult acne, hormonal acne, cystic acne and nodules, how hydration and moisture benefits acne contrary to popular belief, how food affects our skin, etc. There are also topics like what facials and professional treatments are recommended for each type of acne, and how makeup or products can cause breakouts. It is my civic responsibility to touch and all topics and educate as much as possible.

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