Acne Prone Skin

Whilst most people with other skin types (in particular oily and combination skin) can experience spots or breakouts, acne prone skin is primarily driven by hormonal changes. As such, it is important to have an acne skin routine specifically designed for acne prone skin.

Acne occurs when the triad of androgen, bacteria on the surface of the skin and excess oil production co-exist. It is most common in teenagers but the number of adults with acne is also on the rise. The severity of acne varies and can be classed as mild, moderate or severe. Acne prone skin however typically contains excess oil and clogged pores which manifest as whiteheads, blackheads, nodules or cysts. Acne prone skin can be exacerbated by changes in hormonal levels, blockage of pores by comedogenic products and spreading or promoting growth of the acne-causing bacteria on the skin by manipulating pimples or headgear.

One of the biggest mistakes people suffering from acne prone skin make is to use very harsh and drying skincare products. Whilst this gives temporary relief in that it makes skin feel cleaner and appear clearer, it actually stimulates the skin to produce even more oil. Also using very harsh skincare methods can cause micro injury to the skin, irritation and inflammation as well as scarring. It is not all bad news though. It is possible to control acne and oil production with the right skincare routine. A good skincare routine for acne prone skin will cleanse the skin, hydrate and protect it as well as specifically target acne with specific acne-fighting products. With the right skincare routine, acne prone skin can be clarified, outbreaks reduced and blemishes or scarring prevented.

“Acne prone skin is caused by an imbalance of the androgen hormones which stimulate overproduction of sebum from the oil-producing glands. This causes blockage of the pores and overgrowth of skin bacteria which together result in inflammation resulting in pimples and blemishes. The key to caring for acne prone skin is to effectively cleanse, regulate oil production, reduce bacterial growth and hydrate the skin.”


The fundamentals of caring for acne prone skin are similar to a skincare routine for oily skin. There are however some important inclusions that are unique to acne prone skin. These include spot treatments for individual pimples and finding products with acne fighting ingredients which regulate oil and prevent excessive bacterial growth. Whilst your main focus will be on acne, also consider whether there are any other skin concerns or goals that you have. For instance, this may be acne scarring from previous outbreaks, uneven skin tone or rough skin texture.

Daily Skincare Routine


  1. Double Cleanse your skin in the morning to clear pores and remove excess oil. Start with a cleansing oil which believe it or not, is effective for acne prone skin as it will draw any excess oil from the skin. Finish with a cleanser that contains benzoyl peroxide.
  2. Tone with a product that contains Salicylic acid.
  3. Serum (Extra) should be in the form of an oil-free or noncomedogenic formulation. In the morning, opt for a Vitamin C serum is a powerful anti-oxidant and will help brighten and even out skin tones. Additional serums that are good for acne prone skin include those containing Niacinamide, alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids.
  4. Moisturise with a hydrating oil-free product containing hyaluronic acid and Vitamin B5.
  5. Protect your skin from photodamage with an oil-free sunscreen containing at least SPF 30.


  1. Double Cleanse in the evenings to completely remove any makeup and clear out any clogged up pores. Use your cleansing oil first then follow up with the same benzoyl peroxide cleanser you used in the morning.
  2. Tone with the same salicylic acid containing product that you used in the morning.
  3. Serum (Extra but you really should) at night should be Retinol. Retinol serum will help control acne, reduce lines and wrinkles, brighten skin and fade out any acne scarring or sun damage spots.
  4. Moisturise with the same oil-free hydrating moisturiser that you used in the morning. If you really don’t want to use a serum, then use a separate oil free night moisturiser containing Retinol and exfoliating alpha as well as beta hydroxy acids. Finish your acne skincare routine by apply an oil-free hydrating under eye cream with Retinol if you want to reduce the appearance of dark under eye circles or smile line wrinkles.

Best Skincare Ingredients For Acne Prone Skin

  • Benzoyl peroxide kills the surface bacteria which can trigger and exacerbate acne.
  • Retinoids and Retinol help treat whiteheads and blackheads. They can also prevent pores from being clogged by exfoliating dead skin cells. Furthermore, Retinol is known to reduce the appearance of wrinkles as well as brighten the skin and even out skin tone.
  • Salicylic acid helps unclog pores by exfoliating dead skin that is blocking them. It also reduces inflammation and helps reduce oil secretion.

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Weekly Skincare Routine

Once a week set aside a little time to pamper your skin:

  • Exfoliate with a scrub containing activated charcoal.
  • Multi-mask by firstly using a product containing lactic and or salicylic acid to exfoliate skin and clear pores. Finish with a clay mask to draw out excess oil and balance the skin.

Professional Treatments

A good skincare routine will clarify your skin and control acne. It can also target other problems including acne scarring, blemishes, wrinkles or uneven skin tone. To quickly get your skin to a manageable baseline we would recommend a course of bespoke chemical peels. If your acne is under control and you simply wish to optimise your skincare routine, then a bespoke chemical peel or advanced clinical facial every 2-3 months can help with that. At City Skin Clinic, we offer a wide variety of bespoke skin treatments for acne prone skin in London. Our chemical peels and advanced clinical facials are all entirely designed around your specific skin concerns and goals.


When it comes to skincare products for acne prone skin, you’re rather spoilt for choice. We constantly review and assess feedback on skincare products for our clients and followers of our blog. Below are our favourite skincare products for acne prone at the moment:

  • Cleansing: DHC Pore Cleansing Oil for the first cleanse followed by Acnecide 5% Wash Benzoyl Peroxide.
    Toning:Mizon AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner contains salicylic acid and papaya enzyme to unclog pores and regulate oil.
  • Serums: For Vitamin C try Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum or Medik8 C E-Tetra Pro Collagen Vitamin C Serum. Also, consider adding The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% in the morning to clarify pores and regulate oil production. At night, add in a Retinol serum like Medik8 Retinol 3 TR or The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane.
  • Moisturising: Keep it simple with Hyasoft The Hero Project gel which contains hyaluronic acid and Vitamin B5 to hydrate and nourishes acne prone skin.
  • Exfoliation: The Grounded Activated Charcoal Blackhead Removing Face Scrub will remove dead skin, unblock pores and hydrate your skin.
  • Masking: For dull skin, try an initial resurfacing product like the REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask to clarify and resurface your skin. Follow up with a clay mask like Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Masque which contains purifying clays and sulfur to clean and decongest acne prone skin.

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