Image of person with blemishes

Clear Skin Guide: Solutions for Acne, Breakouts and Blackheads

Acne, breakouts and blackheads are common skin concerns that many of us face at one point or another. They're completely normal, and nothing to be ashamed of! But if you're looking for tips to improve or manage your way to clearer, healthier-looking skin, we've got you covered. So, get to know the likely cause of your blemishes and what to do.


What causes acne, breakouts and blackheads?

Acne, breakouts and blackheads can have multiple causes, often stemming from a combination of factors. These factors can include excessive oil production, clogged pores, hormonal imbalances, bacteria or a compromised skin barrier. Even your environment (from pollution to humidity exposure) can play a role. So, understanding and identifying the likely cause is the first step in improving or managing your skin concern.


How can I tell what's causing my blemishes?

While finding the exact cause of your blemishes can be challenging, there are some general indicators that can help to point you in the right direction.

  • Excessive oil production: If your skin is consistently shiny, and you experience your blemishes in areas prone to oiliness, then this may suggest excessive oil production as your contributing factor
  • Clogged pores: If you notice your blemishes in the area where your pores are most visible (such as the nose or chin), this could indicate clogged pores as your contributing factor (also, it's likely you can visibly notice that your pores are clogged)
  • Hormonal imbalances: Are your blemishes closely linked to your menstrual cycle? Do you experience flare-ups during times of hormonal changes (puberty, pregnancy or menopause)? It's likely that hormones are your contributing factor
  • Bacteria: When blemishes are inflamed, painful and filled with pus, there may be a bacterial infection at play. The presence of redness, swelling and tenderness suggests an inflammatory response triggered by foreign bacteria
  • Compromised skin barrier: Is your skin itchy, red, inflamed or sensitive? Did you have a reaction to a product that caused blemishes? You could have a compromised skin barrier, driving the blemishes you're experiencing
  • Environment: Are your blemishes more prevalent during specific seasons? Or, when exposed to certain environmental conditions (such as humidity or pollution)? It may suggest that your direct environment is your contributing factor

Be patient with yourself and keep in mind that determining the exact cause of your blemishes requires time. So, get to know your skin and take note of the changes in your blemishes (when they occur, where they occur, how they feel, and so on). You can also visit a dermatologist for a thorough examination.


Skincare solutions for acne

If acne is a concern for you, it's essential to adopt a consistent, and gentle, skincare routine. Nothing too over the top. Cleanse morning and evening with a mild cleanser to remove excess oil and impurities. You may wish to double cleanse, too. An oil cleanser can remove oil-based impurities (makeup, SPF), while a water-based cleanser can remove water-based impurities (sweat, daily dirt). Be sure to use an alcohol-free toner and hydrate your skin with an oil-free moisturiser. Look for water-based makeup to prevent further breakouts, and opt for an SPF that is formulated for acne-prone skin.


Skincare solutions for breakouts

With various causes, everyday breakouts are best addressed with a consistent skincare routine that focusses on gentle cleansing and exfoliation. Look for a gentle cleanser that won't strip your skin's natural oils and used this morning and evening. Use a chemical exfoliant containing AHAs or BHAs twice a week to help unclog pores and promote cell turnover too. Avoid heavy, oil-based skincare, make-up and SPF products, because these may continue the cycle or clogging pores and exacerbating breakouts. Look for a detoxifying mask once a week, and pop on a spot treatment as needed. 


Skincare solutions for blackheads

Blackheads are stubborn! They appear on the nose, chin and forehead. But with regular cleansing, exfoliation and masking, you can really start to yield results. Cleanse morning and evening with a gentle cleanser to remove daily dirt and excess oil. Exfoliate twice a week to remove dead skin cells and unclog pores. You may opt for either a physical exfoliant or a chemical exfoliant. Use a detoxifying mask once or twice a week to draw out impurities and minimise the appearance of blackheads. Be sure to use an oil-balancing toner, and moisturise with an oil-free moisturiser. If you're looking to extract any blackheads, leave it to the professionals, so you don't cause any scarring to your facial tissues!


What to look out for, and what to avoid

Whether it's acne, breakouts or blackheads, there's a few ingredient and product tips you should get to know, too.

Ingredients to consider:

  • Salicylic acid
  • AHAs, BHAs
  • Niacinamide

Ingredients to avoid: 

  • Oils
  • Artificial fragrances
  • Alcohol

Products to consider:

  • Oil-free skincare and make-up
  • Natural spot treatments
  • SPF designed for acne-prone skin

Products to avoid:

  • Harsh and abrasive exfoliants that can irritate the skin and aggravate acne (for those with acne concerns)
  • Alcohol-based toners
  • Oil-based skincare and make-up
  • Everyday SPF


General tips for clear skin

It should go without saying, but you can very much assist your skincare routine with lifestyle factors too. Maintain a balanced and nutritious diet, hydrate and exercise regularly. 


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Remember, everyone's skin is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. It's essential to listen to your skin's needs, be patient with your skincare journey, and consult a dermatologist if you have persistent skin concerns. With consistent care and the right techniques, you can achieve clearer, healthier skin and boost your confidence along the way.