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Acne 101: Acne Types & Treatments

Unless you’re a superhero or exceptionally blessed, you’ll probably deal with acne at some point. While most remember pimply teenage days, acne can pop up periodically throughout your life as your body changes. Understanding your acne is the key to treating it properly. It’s important to remember that the causes of acne are usually complex and interrelated; you may even be suffering from more than one type of acne. It may take some trial and error to find the right treatment for your particular condition.

Hormonal Acne

What it is: Hormonal acne generally occurs 7-10 days before your period when estrogen levels drop and testosterone increases, sending your sebum production into overdrive. If you’re in your early 30s and suffering from an onset of hormonal acne, don’t freak out—estrogen levels naturally drop in your late 20s and early 30s, making it more likely for you to experience hormonal breakouts.

What it looks like: Hormonal blemishes generally appear around the chin and mouth right before your period. You may notice an increase in blackheads, whiteheads, and inflamed pimples that seemingly pop up overnight.

How to treat it: The key to treating hormonal acne is a daily skincare regimen that keeps skin clean and hydrated. Use a peel about 10 days before your period to help remove pore-clogging skin cells and excess sebum.

I recommend: My Intensive Acne Treatment Stack was designed specifically to prevent and treat hormonal acne breakouts.

Acne Cosmetica

What it is: Comedonal acne is a very common skin concern and usually a sign that skin cell turnover is slow and sebum production is high. It manifests as clogged pores and most often appears on the forehead, nose and chin. It can be exacerbated by heavy makeup, hair products, dirty makeup brushes, and ¬cell phones.

What it looks like: Comedonal acne usually appears as many small blemishes or bumps around oily areas like the T-zone, jawline, or hairline.

How to treat it: Luckily, comedonal acne is relatively easy to treat. Check your makeup and hair products for pore-clogging ingredients, clean your makeup brushes and pillowcases regularly, and keep skin exfoliated to prevent dead skin and sebum build-up.

I recommend: My TCA Multi-Acid Face Peel is a gentle way to boost skin turnover and prevent dead skin cell build-up.

Inflammatory Acne

What it is: Inflammatory acne can be amongst the most painful and embarrassing types of acne. It is often a combination of bacteria growth and an intense inflammatory response.

What it looks like: Think of red blemishes, whiteheads, and inflamed blackheads. Skin with inflammatory acne looks and feels painful.

How to treat it: Inflammatory acne can be tricky because it’s usually a sign that the body’s inflammatory response is out of whack. Try changing your diet to an anti-inflammatory diet to see if that cuts down on redness. To treat existing blemishes, you’ll need to focus on eradicating acne-causing bacteria. I prefer a combination of salicylic acid and soothing anti-inflammatory ingredients, but many people choose benzoyl peroxide to kill bacteria. Be careful—benzoyl peroxide can cause major dryness and skin irritation that can only compound the issue further.

I recommend: My TCA Multi-Acid Face Peel kills acne-causing bacteria with natural salicylic acid and gently exfoliates to speed up cell turnover and reduce redness and inflammation. For daily treatment to fight post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, I recommend adding my EGF Activating Serum, which promotes skin healing and cell turnover.

Cystic Acne

What it is: Cystic acne is the most severe type of acne and is characterized by hard nodules deep within pores. It can cause severe scarring and considerable pain.

What it looks like: Cystic acne blemishes are large, firm, red, and usually have no visible “head” on them.

How to treat it: If you’re suffering from cystic acne, you should see a skincare professional for treatments at least once a month to deep clean the pores and help alleviate some of the painful inflammation. An anti-inflammatory diet can also help ease some of the redness and pain associated with cystic blemishes. Stay away from dairy and processed foods

I recommend: My Total Renewal Acne Stack was designed for cystic acne sufferers. It contains my gentle TCA Multi-Acid Face Peel to promote skin sloughing and turnover, my EGF Activating Serum to help skin healing, and my HA Hydrating Serum to feed and hydrate depleted skin.

Asphyxiated Acne

What it is: Asphyxiated acne is caused by extreme skin dryness and paralyzed cell turnover. The skin isn’t properly sloughing away dead skin and pores become clogged. It is common in dry climates and can occur if you use drying products without a proper moisturizer. It is also common among those who smoke cigarettes

What it looks like: You’ll notice small bumps and a dry, rough skin texture.

How to treat it: This condition can be treated with a combination of exfoliators and moisturizers to speed cell turnover and keep skin plump and moisturized.

I recommend: My Deep Sea Mineral Peel and HA Hydrating Serum will give asphyxiated skin the exfoliation it needs while restoring a healthy moisture balance.

Acne Rosacea

What it is: Rosacea is a skin disorder that causes redness over the cheeks and nose—areas where the face usually flushes. It can be accompanied by small pimples.

What it looks like: Very flushed skin with small, red pustules. Red blood vessels are also often visible.

How to treat it: Rosacea treatments can vary greatly depending on the intensity of the condition. It is best to use a gentle skincare regimen high in anti-inflammatory ingredients to keep redness at bay.

I recommend: My TCA Multi-Acid Face Peel helps gently stimulate cell renewal without further irritating already inflamed skin. I recommend following it with my EGF Activating Serum, which will help diminish inflammation and promote blemish healing.


For more advice on how to treat acne, check out my Top 12 Acne Tips


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