Acne / Guide to Skincare Ingredients / Acne/oily/enlarged pores

ACNE 101 - Different Types of Acne & How to Treat Them

Types Of Acne
We often think of acne as a condition that affects teenagers, but it can also concern adults too.
A range of factors triggers acne, but the main cause is thought to be hormonal related.
Sometimes acne can be caused by medication, genetic, and lifestyle factors (such as diet, stress, skincare products etc).


Acne vulgaris is the medical name for common acne -- the presence of blackheads, whiteheads, and other types of pimples on the skin. 
Acne is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that causes spots and pimples, especially on the face, shoulders, back, neck, chest, and upper arms.
Although mild to moderate acne can improve with advanced skincare, more severe forms should be treated by a dermatologist.
Whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, cysts, and nodules are all types of acne.
A comedo is a hair follicle that has become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. Comedones (the plural of comedo) can develop into bumps called whiteheads and blackheads. Products that may cause comedones are called "comedogenic." Makeup or skincare labelled "noncomedogenic" is less likely to clog pores and contribute to acne.
Blackheads are comedones that are open at the surface of the skin. They are filled with excess oil and dead skin cells. It's not dirt that causes the comedone to turn black, it's the reflection of light coming from clogged hair follicles.  
Comedones that stay closed at the surface of the skin are called whiteheads. This arises when oil and skin cells prevent a clogged hair follicle from opening.
Both Blackheads & whiteheads can be treated and prevented when using exfoliating products frequently like AHA's & BHA's.
Papules are comedones that become inflamed, forming small red or pink bumps on the skin. Picking or squeezing can make the inflammation worse and may lead to scarring. 
Nodules are large, inflamed bumps that feel firm to the touch. They develop deep within the skin and are often painful. Nodules should be treated by a dermatologist since they can scar with prescriptive medication.
Cysts are large, pus-filled lesions that look similar to boils. Like nodules, cysts can be painful and should be treated by a dermatologist since they also can scar.
People who develop nodules and cysts are usually considered to have a more severe form of acne and will require prescription medication to treat.



With comedonal acne (blackheads & whiteheads), you need products to help control sebum, clear dead skin cells, and clogged pores.
Glycolic acid, azelaic acid, and salicylic acid are the most popular exfoliating ingredients to effectively remove dead skin cells to prevent clogged pores & blemishes. These ingredients can be found in cleansers, treatment products, masks, and even moisturises. 
With papulopustular acne, you need products to help reduce inflammation, offering antibacterial and inflammatory benefits.
As well as exfoliating benefits Glycolic, azelaic & salicylic acid also offers anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties to help target blemishes.
Niacinamide can be helpful for papules and pustules type of acne, because of its anti-inflammatory benefits.

Retinol is another effective acne-fighting ingredient.
It works from the inside out, encouraging cell turnover in the lower layers of skin and reducing sebum production to stop breakouts from forming.

Popular Retinol Treatment products 

SkinCeuticals Retinol .3 Refining night treatment

SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.3 Refining Night Treatment


Dermaceutic Activ Retinol 1.0 - Intense Age Defense Serum

pca skin

PCA Skin Intensive Clarity Treatment®: 0.5% Pure Retinol Night

 Click here for more of our Retinol Treatment products 

Popular Acne Cleansers 

PCA Blemish Control Bar

PCA Blemish Control Bar 


Dermatologic Cosmetic Laboratories (DCL) Active Mattifying Cleanser

dermatx cleanser

DermaTx Clarify Salicylic Cleanser


Popular Antioxidants for blemish-prone skin

SkinCeuticals SilyMarin CF Serum


Popular Acne Treatment products 

Jan Marini Bioclear Face Lotion

Popular Acne moisturisers 

clear skin

PCA Skin Clearskin

DermaTx Clarify Clear Skin Cream Moisturiser


Dermaceutic Actibiome

Dermaceutic Actibiome

Click here to view all our moisturisers ideal for blemish-prone skin


Popular sunscreens for acne-prone skin 


LED Light Therapy 

Blue light therapy is the type of light therapy most commonly used to address acne breakouts.

The wavelength of blue light has an antimicrobial effect, making it effective at killing several types of bacteria that can collect in your pores and oil glands and cause breakouts. The treatment also has anti-inflammatory benefits, which decrease other symptoms of acne, such as redness.

Omnilux CLEAR

Winner of Best Product For Acne Prone Skin - Marie Claire Awards 2022!

OMNILUX Clear has been developed from an FDA-cleared medical device that has been used by dermatologists worldwide for the successful treatment of acne. OMNILUX Clear  uses light technology in the form of light emitting diodes to:

- Destroy the bacteria responsible for the inflammation
- Stimulate healthy tissue growth


- Inconsistent Use 

Acne treatments are only effective if used once or twice a day, every day not a few times a week.

Remember, you can't cure acne - just control it.


- Everyone needs to use a moisturiser even if you have oily skin.

All cleansers even water, take out some level of moisture, and especially acne products can be very drying too. Using a moisturiser will replace this, protect your skin from increased irritation and infection and protect your skin barrier.

Go with a moisturiser that won't add oil or a greasy feel or go for a serum or lotion instead of a cream moisturiser.


- SPF is a must 

Even if the weather is cloudy, the UV rays get through. This can result in changes in your skin colour and texture, wrinkles and fine lines appearing earlier, and an increased possibility of developing skin cancer. A sunburn can dry out pimples temporarily, but it can end up making you break out even more because your skin reacts to the drying effect of the sun by producing even more oil.

Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen/daytime moisturiser every morning of at least at SPF30. choose one that says non-comedogenic on the bottle to ensure it doesn't block pores.


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Andrea Patel Dermatology Nurse Practitioner & Director Author
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