Skin Care, Skin Care Problems

Acne Unmasked: Understanding & Solutions

What Is Acne?

What is Acne?

Acne manifests as spots and pimples, primarily appearing on the face, shoulders, back, neck, chest, and upper arms. This skin condition arises from the obstruction of hair follicles by oil and dead skin, leading to inflammation.

Various forms of acne include whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, cysts, and nodules.

It is the most prevalent skin issue in the United States, impacting approximately 50 million Americans annually.

Typically surfacing during puberty due to the activation of sebaceous glands, acne can occur at any age and, while not harmful, may result in skin scarring.

Sebaceous glands produce oil and are influenced by male hormones from the adrenal glands in both males and females.

Acne affects at least 85 percent of individuals aged between 12 and 24 in the U.K.

There are several types of acne lesions:

  • Whiteheads – These are closed comedones where sebum, bacteria, and dead skin cells are trapped under the surface of the skin. They appear as small, flesh-colored bumps.

  • Blackheads – Also known as open comedones, these are pores clogged with oil and dead skin that are open to the air. The surface looks dark because of skin pigment melanin oxidizing when exposed to air.

  • Papules – These are small, pink or red bumps that are tender to the touch. They form when excess oil, bacteria, and dead cells cause inflammation deep in the pores.

  • Pustules – These are papules with white pus at the tips. The pus consists of white blood cells, bacteria, and dead skin cells.

  • Nodules – These are large, solid, painful lumps under the skin’s surface. They form from deeper inflammation of the hair follicle.

  • Cysts – Cysts are similar to nodules but are pus-filled and can be very painful. They form deep within the skin and can cause scarring if not treated properly.

Causes of Acne

Acne develops when pores in the skin become clogged with excess oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. There are four main factors that contribute to acne formation:

Excess sebum production – The sebaceous glands in the skin produce an oily substance called sebum. Excess sebum production can cause the pores to become clogged more easily. The androgens (male hormones) present during puberty cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge and produce more sebum.

Follicle blockage – Dead skin cells that are not shed properly can clump together and clog the follicle. This provides a breeding ground for bacteria.

Bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes) – This naturally occurring skin bacteria can multiply rapidly in a blocked follicle, causing inflammation. The bacteria releases enzymes that damage the follicle wall and create an immune response.

Hormones – Androgens during puberty cause increased sebum production. Monthly hormonal fluctuations in women from the menstrual cycle also affect sebum production and cause breakouts. Oral contraceptives may improve acne in some women.

Risk Factors for Acne

Acne most commonly affects teenagers and young adults going through puberty between the ages of 12 and 24. During puberty, the body produces more hormones like androgen, causing the sebaceous glands to enlarge and make more sebum. This excess oil clogs pores and allows bacteria to build up, leading to pimples.

Genetics and family history also play a role. If your parents had acne as teens, you’re more likely to struggle with breakouts too. Research shows that the tendency to develop acne can be inherited.

High stress levels can worsen acne by increasing inflammation and altering hormone levels. Cortisol is released when stressed, which can overstimulate oil production. Studies indicate acne patients have higher cortisol levels.

Smoking is associated with increased acne risk. The exact link is unclear, but chemicals from cigarette smoke may alter hormone levels and oils in the skin. Nicotine causes vasoconstriction, limiting blood flow and oxygen to skin cells.

Oil-based cosmetics and heavy creams can clog pores and contribute to acne. Greasy products like mineral oil are comedogenic, meaning they have a higher likelihood of blocking pores. Non-comedogenic makeup labeled “oil-free” or “nonacnegenic” is less problematic for acne-prone skin.

Our Skin Care Products For Acne Relief

How To Get Rid Of Acne?

  • Keep your skin clean: Wash your face twice daily with a gentle cleanser to remove excess oil, dirt, and sweat and Avoid harsh scrubbing, which can irritate the skin and worsen acne.
  • Use non-comedogenic products: Choose skincare and cosmetic products labeled as “non-comedogenic” or “oil-free” to prevent clogging pores and aggravating acne.
  • Moisturize: Even if you have oily skin, it’s essential to use a light, oil-free moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated without clogging pores.
  • Avoid touching your face: Touching your face can transfer bacteria and oils from your hands, worsening acne. Avoid picking or popping pimples, as this can lead to scarring and further inflammation.
  • Limit makeup use: If you wear makeup, choose products labeled as non-comedogenic and remove makeup thoroughly before bedtime to prevent pore blockage.
  • Watch your diet: While there’s limited scientific evidence linking specific foods to acne, some people find that certain foods, such as dairy, sugary foods, and high-glycemic-index foods, may worsen their acne. Consider reducing consumption of such foods to see if it improves your skin.
  • Manage stress: Stress can worsen acne by increasing the production of hormones that stimulate oil production. Practice stress-reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, or hobbies you enjoy.
  • Get enough sleep: Poor sleep can disrupt hormone levels and increase inflammation, potentially worsening acne. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.
  • Use over-the-counter treatments: Over-the-counter acne products containing ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or sulfur can help to unclog pores, reduce inflammation, and kill acne-causing bacteria. Start with a low concentration to minimize irritation and gradually increase if needed.
How to get rid of Acne

Acne Triggers

Acne can be triggered or worsened by various factors that increase oil production, irritate skin, or allow bacteria to proliferate and Some of the most common acne triggers include:


Hormonal changes during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause can stimulate sebum production and flare ups. The androgens produced during puberty cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge and make more sebum also Many women experience acne breakouts around their menstrual cycle when hormone levels fluctuate.


Certain medications contain androgens or corticosteroids that can exacerbate acne. These include some birth control pills, corticosteroids, lithium, androgen or anabolic steroids, certain epilepsy drugs, and more.


Oil-based makeup, pomades, and skin care products can clog pores also Using expired cosmetics or not removing makeup properly can also lead to breakouts. Harsh exfoliants, astringents, and fragrances can irritate and inflame skin.


Hot, humid climates can cause sweat to mix with sebum and create more clogged pores and bacterial overgrowth. High pollution levels can also irritate skin and worsen acne. Greasy hair products getting on the face and not washing your face after exercise can trigger breakouts too.

Acne Treatment

There are several effective treatments available for acne, both over-the-counter and prescription.

Over-the-Counter Medications

Some of the most common over-the-counter acne medications contain ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.

Benzoyl peroxide works by killing the bacteria that can lead to acne. It comes in different concentrations, typically between 2.5-10%. Start with a lower concentration and increase if needed, as higher concentrations can cause dryness and irritation.

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid that helps break down dead skin cells and oil in clogged pores however It comes in strengths around 0.5-2% and can be found in cleansers, toners, spot treatments and peels.

When using over-the-counter acne products, be patient. It can take 4-6 weeks of daily use to see results. Use a gentle, non-irritating cleanser and moisturizer in addition to acne medications to avoid excessive dryness.

Prescription Medications

For more severe acne, dermatologists may prescribe stronger medications like retinoids, antibiotics or birth control pills.

Topical retinoids like tretinoin (Retin-A, Renova) help unplug pores and increase skin cell turnover. Oral retinoids such as isotretinoin (Accutane) are very effective but can have significant side effects, so they require close monitoring by a dermatologist.

Oral antibiotics reduce bacteria on the skin and are often prescribed along with topical medications. Common options include doxycycline and minocycline. Antibiotics need to be taken for 6-8 weeks to be effective.

For women, birth control pills containing estrogen and progesterone can help reduce acne outbreaks. The estrogen decreases androgen production, lowering sebum production in the skin.

Prescription acne treatments usually need to be used for at least 2-3 months to see their full effects. Work closely with your dermatologist to find the right medications and dosages to safely treat your acne.

Lifestyle Tips for Managing Acne

Managing acne can be frustrating, but there are some lifestyle changes that may help control breakouts. Here are some tips for taking care of your skin and reducing acne triggers:

Gentle skin care

  • Use a gentle, non-comedogenic cleanser twice a day. Avoid harsh scrubs or soaps that can strip skin.

  • Moisturize daily with an oil-free, non-comedogenic moisturizer. This helps maintain the skin’s moisture barrier.

  • Avoid excessive washing, which can irritate skin.

  • Shampoo regularly and keep hair products away from the face.

Managing stress

  • Find healthy ways to manage stress levels, which can impact hormones and acne. Try exercise, meditation, yoga, or talking to a friend.

  • Get enough sleep, as lack of sleep can increase stress hormones.

Healthy diet

  • Eat a balanced diet rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids found in fruits, vegetables, and fish. These nutrients help reduce inflammation.

  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

  • Limit dairy intake, as some studies link milk to acne flares.

  • Reduce refined carbs and sugars, which can spike blood sugar and trigger breakouts.

With some lifestyle adjustments and daily skin care, many people can reduce acne breakouts and keep their skin clear and healthy. Be patient, as it may take some trial and error to find the right approach for your skin.

When to See a Dermatologist

Most cases of acne can be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) products. However, it’s important to see a dermatologist if you have severe acne or if OTC treatments don’t improve your acne.

Signs that indicate you should see a dermatologist include:

  • Severe acne that causes extensive scarring or disfigurement
  • Painful, deep cysts or nodules under your skin
  • Acne that doesn’t improve after 3 months of home treatment
  • Acne that worsens and spreads
  • Acne that flares before or after your period

A dermatologist can prescribe stronger medications than what’s available over the counter, such as:

  • Antibiotics
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Isotretinoin
  • Anti-androgen agents

They may also perform procedures like corticosteroid injections to treat large, painful cysts. Seeing a dermatologist early on can help prevent severe acne and acne scarring.

Acne Scars

Acne can sometimes lead to scarring on the skin. There are several types of acne scars:

  • Ice pick scars – Narrow, deep pits that extend into the dermis. They are usually small but can be wider.

  • Boxcar scars – Angular scars with steep edges and flat bottoms. They are wider than ice pick scars.

  • Rolling scars – Wide scars with rounded edges that give the skin a wave-like appearance.

  • Hypertrophic scars – Thick, raised scars that don’t go away over time.

  • Keloid scars – Firm, smooth, slightly raised scars that extend beyond the original scar site.

Some factors that increase the risk of acne scarring include:

  • Severe acne – Deep breakouts and nodules have a higher chance of leaving scars.

  • Delayed treatment – The longer acne goes untreated, the more likely it is to scar.

  • Picking/popping pimples – This can cause more inflammation and increase scarring.

  • Genetics – Some people are just more prone to scarring.

There are treatments that can improve the appearance of acne scars like:

  • Dermabrasion – Resurfacing procedure to smooth the skin’s surface.

  • Microneedling – Using small needles to induce collagen and skin remodeling.

  • Laser skin resurfacing – Using laser to remove outer layers of skin and stimulate new growth.

  • Fillers – Injectable gels can raise depressions and even out scar surfaces.

  • Surgery – For severe scarring, procedures like subcision can cut tethered scar tissue.

Consulting a dermatologist can help determine the best treatment options for your particular acne scarring. Proper acne treatment is important for preventing scars in the first place.

Acne Myths

Acne is a common skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide. However, there are many myths and misconceptions about what causes acne and how to treat it effectively. Here are some of the most common acne myths:

  • Eating greasy foods causes acne. There is no conclusive evidence that specific foods like chocolate or pizza cause acne breakouts. While following an overall healthy diet can benefit your skin, no particular food has been proven to directly cause acne.

  • Not washing your face causes acne. While keeping your skin clean is important, over-washing can actually irritate your skin and worsen acne. Acne is caused by multiple factors, not just hygiene. You don’t need to wash your face more than twice a day.

  • Popping pimples helps get rid of acne. Popping pimples can push bacteria and pus deeper into the skin, causing more inflammation and potential scarring. It’s best to avoid popping pimples and let them heal naturally. Only a dermatologist should drain severe acne cysts.

  • You’ll grow out of acne. Acne can persist well into adulthood if left untreated. It’s important to see a dermatologist if you’re struggling with acne, regardless of your age. Treatments are available that can help manage acne at any age.

  • Sun exposure clears up acne. While a little sun may temporarily dry out acne, too much sun exposure can worsen acne over time and cause new breakouts. UV rays also damage skin and increase cancer risk. It’s better to manage acne with proven skincare products and medications.

  • Acne is only a cosmetic issue. For many people, acne can cause emotional distress and negatively impact self-esteem. It’s important not to dismiss acne as just a superficial problem. Consulting a dermatologist can help manage both the physical and psychological aspects of acne.

Living with Acne

Living with acne can be challenging, especially during the teenage years when peer pressure and self-esteem issues are heightened. However, there are healthy coping strategies and support resources available.

Coping Strategies

  • Focus on self-care – get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet, exercise, and reduce stress. This supports overall health and can help improve acne.

  • Don’t pick or pop pimples – this can lead to infection and scarring. Use medications as directed by your dermatologist instead.

  • Practice self-acceptance and positive self-talk – don’t define your worth by your acne. You are so much more.

  • Find trusted confidants – open up to supportive friends and family who build you up.

  • Seek counseling if acne causes depression or anxiety. A therapist can help with building resilience.

Support Resources

  • Connect with an acne support community online or in person. You are not alone in this struggle.

  • Download apps like AcneAware that provide tips, motivation and a daily tracking journal.

  • Check out and the American Academy of Dermatology website for up-to-date information.

  • Talk to your school counselor if acne is impacting your academics or social life. They can help.

The key is not letting acne define you. Stay positive, focus on self-care, and utilize available support. This too shall pass.

Treatment With Our Products

Your proposed treatment regimen includes several products designed to address various skin concerns, including acne and hyperpigmentation. Here’s a breakdown of each product and its potential benefits:

  1. Areton Activated Charcoal Soap Bar: Activated charcoal is known for its ability to draw out impurities and excess oil from the skin, making it a popular choice for acne-prone skin. It can help cleanse the pores and reduce the likelihood of breakouts.

  2. Salicylic Acid Scrub Soap with Kojic Acid: Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) known for its ability to exfoliate the skin and unclog pores, making it effective for treating acne. Kojic acid may help lighten dark spots and hyperpigmentation.

  3. Aloe Vera for Pore Exfoliating: Aloe vera has soothing and hydrating properties that can help calm irritated skin. While it may not directly exfoliate pores, it can complement exfoliating products by providing hydration and reducing inflammation.

  4. Salicylic Acid Soap with Kojic Acid, Sulphur: Similar to the scrub soap mentioned earlier, this soap combines salicylic acid and kojic acid for exfoliation and lightening of dark spots. Sulphur is known for its antibacterial properties and may help reduce acne-causing bacteria.

  5. XanthRemover 70% Glycolic Acid Peel Gel: Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) known for its exfoliating properties. It can help improve the appearance of xanthelasma (yellowish cholesterol deposits on the skin), brown spots, dark spots, acne scars, and wrinkles. However, it’s essential to use glycolic acid peels cautiously, especially near the delicate skin of the eyelids, and follow proper instructions to minimize the risk of irritation or adverse effects.

When using multiple skincare products together, it’s important to introduce them gradually to your skincare routine to monitor how your skin responds and to prevent irritation or overexfoliation. Additionally, sunscreen is crucial, especially when using exfoliating products like glycolic acid, to protect your skin from sun damage and to prevent further hyperpigmentation. If you have any concerns or experience adverse reactions, consult a dermatologist for personalized advice and treatment recommendations.