For some of you, acne is a daily struggle.  But don’t fret – you’re not alone.  Acne is a skin condition that is affects 17 million people in the United States and 8 in 10 preteens and teens.  Pretty crazy, right? I’ve noticed that a lot of you have asked me in the skincare forum about acne solutions, so today I’m going to break down the three most common types of acne, what causes them, and how to prevent and treat them.

skincare 101 types of acne


What is it?

Comedones are clogged pores caused by excess oil that mix with dead skin cells.  Basically, what we call blackheads.  Whiteheads are simply comedones that have skin growing over the opening.

What causes it?

Black and whiteheads are usually caused by using makeup and hair products that contain oil, or from excessive sweating and humidity.

Prevention & Treatment:

To prevent comedones, just exfoliate! Washes with salicylic acid also help, as well as deep-cleaning clay masks (try my DIY clay mask!).  I would recommend keeping blotting papers in your bag to soak up any excess oil on your face throughout the day.

If you do have comedonal acne, try using pore strips to pull out blackheads.  For whiteheads, spot treatments with salicylic acid will help!


What is it?

Papules are the pimples every woman knows and hates – those painful, inflamed pink or red bumps that pop up every so often for some, but are a daily fixture for others.

What causes it?

Papules are caused by clogged pores that get infected by bacteria.  Stress, hormones and humidity can all increase the chances of an infection because they make your body produce more oil, which attracts bacteria.

Prevention & Treatment:

The key to preventing papules is a clean face.  Make sure you are washing twice a day with an acne-targeted cleanser (most of them will contain salicylic). Follow up with toner and a light moisturizer, preferably with SPF since salicylic acid makes your skin more sensitive to the sun.

There are many skincare products out there specifically designed to fight acne and control oil – the difficult part is finding the right one for you.  Talk to a dermatologist, who can recommend some over-the-counter solutions as well as any prescription treatments, should they be necessary.  Hydrocortisone is one topical cream that is supposed to help with inflammation.  I’ve got a great DIY anti-acne mask that will help too! Above all else, remember that as much as you’d like to squeeze those annoying little bumps out….don’t! It can lead to an even bigger zit, more pimples or even scarring.  Instead, try one of these squeeze-free ways to get rid of papules.


What is it?

Cystic acne is acne at its worst.  Instead of individual pimples, cystic acne shows up as large, inflamed bumps in clusters around your face.  These bumps can easily leave scars, but the good news is there are also some treatments out there that can help them fade. :)

What causes it?

Unfortunately, in a lot of cystic acne cases, there’s nothing to blame but genetics.  A lot of people with cystic acne have hyperactive glands that pump too much oil into their pores, as well as skin cells that don’t turn over fast enough.  Overactive oil glands and excess dead skin cells are a breeding ground for bacteria.  Unlike what some people think, cystic acne is NOT caused by cleaning or eating habits.

Prevention & Treatment:

Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to prevent cystic acne.  If you know you are genetically predisposed, talk to your dermatologist, who can recommend a skincare and/or treatment plan to help.

There are oral antibiotics and topical medications that are all specifically targeted towards cystic acne.  Have a thorough talk with your dermatologist or doctor to find the treatment plan that’s best for you. If you do end up going on any medication, as always, be sure to review any possible side effects ahead of time.

Acne plagues a lot of women on a daily basis – but don’t let it get you down! With modern skincare technology and solutions (as well as some pretty amazing foundations and concealers), it’s much easier to soothe and hide acne.  Just make sure you are following good skincare rules (like keeping your cell phone clean!) and abiding by whatever skincare regime your derm or doctor recommends.  Above all else, don’t blame yourself – like I said, a lot of acne is simply caused by genetics, and there’s no use in bringing yourself down with a guilt trip!

Do you have any acne-fighting tips?

Share them with me in the comments!

<3 Mish

Beauty, skincare

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