Understanding Acne: What Kind Do I Have & How Can I Treat It?

Acne is one of the most common skin conditions amongst teens and adults, yet when you’re in the middle of a breakout, it can feel extremely isolating.  

June is Acne Awareness Month, and C’est Moi is striving to help you better understand the type of acne you have and what might be causing it, plus treatments and holistic life choices that can help heal and prevent further breakouts.

What kind of acne do I have?

In general, acne falls into one of two categories: non-inflammatory and inflammatory. It’s important to understand which kind of acne you’re dealing with, because that will affect the course of treatment.

Non-inflammatory acne is generally:

  • Blackheads (open comedones) - buildup of dirt, oil and debris in pores that oxidizes due to exposure to air causing the appearance of a black head.
  • White heads (closed comedones) - like a blackhead, but enclosed beneath the skin. White heads can form as a result of introducing bacteria to the skin by touching your face, or as a reaction to common environmental irritants.

What helps non-inflammatory acne? Regularly cleansing and exfoliating with a physical cleanser (we recommend our Clarify Cleansing Scrub) or a chemical exfoliant (salicylic acid), which can be found in our Clarify Blemish Treatment Pads for Acne.

 Clarify Scrub and Clarify Treatment pad

Use a clarifying mask with oil absorbing ingredients such as charcoal clay weekly to clear excess build up in the pores, like the Purifying Charcoal Clay Facial Mask, which also doubles as a spot treatment.

Model holding Charcoal Clay mask

Using fragrance-free skin care and frequently washing your pillowcase with laundry detergent can also help prevent non-inflammatory skin clogging.

Inflammatory acne is:

  • Pustules - Pustules resemble whiteheads, but are deeper underneath the skin and can often be red and inflamed. Pustules can form as a result of hormones or diet.
  • Papules - Papules are raised, red, and inflamed blemishes that do not come to a head. They form when pores become blocked with excess oil and bacteria, and can be linked to hormonal imbalance and certain medications.
  • Cysts - Cysts are breakouts that occur deep within the skin, resulting in large, inflamed bumps that can be painful. Cysts are the most severe type of acne, and should never be picked as they can spread and cause scarring.

What can help inflammatory acne? These types of breakouts are generally much more painful and challenging to deal with than non-inflammatory acne. It’s recommended that you consult with a dermatologist when dealing with inflammatory acne, especially if it’s reoccurring, to develop the best treatment plan.

In general, if you’re struggling with an inflammatory acne breakout it’s important to limit touching your face, and never pick breakouts.

Using ingredients like Aloe and Chamomile can help to calm irritation and discomfort from inflammation, as well as a cool compress. Try our Soothing Cucumber & Aloe Gel Facial Mask.

Soothing Aloe + Cucumber mask

Things to Do to Prevent Acne Breakouts

While not all acne types can be prevented or avoided, there are certain minor changes we can make to our environment and behaviors to create a better environment for our skin.

Prevent breakouts by:

  • Regularly changing and washing your pillowcases. This should be done at least once a week!
  • Drinking at least 64 oz of water per day. Your skin needs hydration to maintain its health.
  • Wearing sunscreen! The sun can exacerbate breakouts and increase your chances of scarring.
  • Washing your face (and body if you get breakouts there) after working out.
  • Eating lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Maintaining a gentle skincare routine that includes cleansing your face in the AM/PM, moisturizer and sunscreen.

3 step skin care kit

If you’re struggling with acne, know that it’s not forever. While it can feel mentally and physically painful, you are not alone and you are beautiful! We hope this helps you better understand your acne and how to care for it.

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