Your Ultimate Acne Action Plan: All Types of Acne & The Best Way to Deal With Each

March 07, 2017
By: Jackie Burns Brisman | by L'Oréal
Your Ultimate Acne Action Plan: All Types of Acne & The Best Way to Deal With Each

From pre-period pimples to random out-of-nowhere zits to adult acne, we’re sharing our ultimate guide of the best ways to deal with all types of acne from minor blemishes and to big breakouts, below. Consider this your ultimate acne action plan!

Acne During Puberty

Perhaps most people’s first foray into the world of breakouts, puberty is hard enough already without having to deal with acne, too. As a result of hormonal changes and fluctuations, your skin at this stage in your life can produce and excess of oil. That, plus a lack of a proper skin care routine, is what Dr. Dendy Engleman— consulting dermatologist—explains is one of the root causes of blemishes around puberty.

Acne Action Plan: To help you deal with acne during puberty you’re going to want to adopt a skin care routine for oily or combination skin. We detail a four-step action plan for oily skin during puberty here.  

Acne Before Your Period

You’re doubled over with cramps, your head is pounding, you can’t remember if you have a tampon…oh, and your face is a greasy, pimple-covered mess—nice, right? Pre-period pimples are an oh-so-annoying issue many of us deal with (show of hands, ladies?) and according to the American Academy of Dermatology pre-period breakouts are causes by hormonal fluctuations that increase sebum production—sensing a pattern?

Acne Action Plan: If you notice your skin goes haywire before or during your time of the month, it’s time to up your skin care game. Use mild cleansers formulated with acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide—and keep similarly-formulated spot treatments on hand for any pimples that pop up!

Adult Acne

Breakouts are supposed to stop in junior high, right? Wrong! For so many of us, acne can extend into, reoccur, or start for the first time in our adult years. Once again, this type of acne is most often caused by hormonal fluctuations—typically presenting itself around the chin and jawline. However, what sets it apart is its stubbornness. Unlike the acne of our youth—which is more often than not, sporadic—adult acne is more cyclical and doesn’t always respond in kind to the same products you used in grade school.

Acne Action Plan: While it may not respond to the same products you used back in the day, there are thankfully new product formulations created with adult acne in mind. Normaderm is a collection of products from Vichy—formulated with salicylic and glycolic acids in addition to moisturizing ingredients—that helps to target blemishes and shine along with the dehydration adult skin can so often experience. Another must-try? SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense, an oil-free serum formulated with dioic acid, salicylic acid, LHA, glycolic acid, and citric acid to fight the formation of acne and reduce excess oil while helping to improve the appearance of skin aging. If your adult acne is especially stubborn your best option is to see a dermatologist who can devise a more personalized plan of attack.

Body Acne

Thought those blemishes on your face were bad? Enter: back and chest acne. If these body breakouts occur on your back, chest, and face then you likely have acne vulgaris—common in teenagers and young adults. If the breakouts are just on your back or chest, our consulting dermatologist Dr. Lisa Ginn thinks it may be time to look at your habits. According to Dr. Ginn, when breakouts show up on only on your back and chest, it is most likely caused by failure to wash your back after you sweat—still think you can skip that post-workout shower?

Acne Action Plan: Dr. Ginn says to start by always rinsing the sweat off at least 10 minutes after working out, from there she likes topical products formulated with sulfur, salicylic acid, or benzoyl peroxide. Discover more info about body acne from our interview with Dr. Ginn, here.

Out-of-Nowhere Acne

Go to sleep with clear skin only to wake up with a zit camped out on the tip of your nose? Those seemingly out-of-nowhere breakouts can happen to the best of us, but are nearly always caused by clogged pores.

Acne Action Plan: First things first, take your makeup off before hitting the hay and then cleanse and moisturize your skin. Failing to wash your face before bedtime is a good way to get zits, since you’re essentially letting those impurities linger on your complexion while your skin should be in self-repair mode—not cool. Keep your pillowcases, sheets, towels, cellphone, and makeup brushes clean—often your skin saboteurs are hiding in plain sight right in your home. Oh, and as always, follow a well-balanced skin care routine, eat well, get your beauty sleep, and keep the stress to a minimum! 


Sure, we give a lot of lip service to whiteheads and other pimples that reach the skin’s surface, but what about clogged pores that sport that tell-tale darkness of a blackhead? Caused by the oxidation of pores clogged with dirt, oil, and/or other impurities, blackheads are the worst. While squeezing these suckers out may seem like the right plan…it couldn’t be more wrong.

Acne Action Plan: Lucky for you, we detail four simple tips to help you deal with blackheads, here.

Hands Off! 

No matter what the cause of your acne, the number one mistake you can make when it comes to breakouts, blemishes, and blackheads is picking at your skin. Sure, that immediate satisfaction of popping may feel good, but that scar you could potentially be left with—or worse, that new open cannot-be-covered-by-anything wound on your face—is not going to give you the warm and fuzzies. Stick to spot treatments, skin care routines, and advice from the professionals and keep your hands off!

Curious about common acne myths you may be buying into but shouldn’t? We shut down five acne lies, here!

Need a quick fix? Here’s a step-by-step guide to hide those blemishes and breakouts, fast!

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