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Different Types of Acne

by Developer WebFX 01 Jun 2022

As skin care becomes more accessible, people are looking for ways to treat acne blemishes to keep their skin looking healthy and radiant. Acne treatment isn't one-size-fits-all. The various forms of acne require different types of products to achieve the best results. It's also important to consider your current skin type and the potential causes of your breakout.  

Below, we'll guide you through the different types of acne on the face and what additions you can make to your skin care routine to combat pesky breakouts. It's always important to consult with a dermatologist or skin care professional before choosing a new product for your skin.

1. Whiteheads 

Whiteheads are a common type of acne, also known as closed comedones. They usually look like white or flesh-colored bumps, ranging from small to medium in size. Whiteheads occur when skin cells and sebum clog the pores, causing pus to develop.

Sebum is an oily or waxy substance created by the skin's sebaceous glands. These glands are essential for keeping the skin hydrated, but too much sebum production can cause breakouts. If you have an oily skin type, you're more likely to develop whiteheads.

Whiteheads typically don't come with inflammation, meaning there's very little redness or pain. Whiteheads are considered a mild type of acne that you can easily remedy. Avoid popping your whiteheads at home, as you can damage your skin and allow the bacteria in your pores to spread further, causing additional breakouts. 

Instead, change your skin care routine to clean the pores and prevent future breakouts. Any product that helps mitigate oil and exfoliates is a good idea. Two popular and effective ingredients are witch hazel and salicylic acid.

Here are some of our favorite products you can use to unclog the pores and reduce excess oil production: 

Replenix Gly/Sal 5-2 Clarifying Pads 

This skin care product contains glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and witch hazel, which fight against excess oils and prevent clogged pores. Your skin will look smoother, and you'll maintain the right balance of hydration using natural botanicals. The pads simplify your skin care routine and are easy to use on the go.

Obagi CLENZIderm M.D. Pore Therapy

This medical-grade formula contains salicylic acid. You can apply this product after using your regular cleanser in the morning and night. Consistent use will help clear your complexion and leave your skin feeling healthy and refreshed.

You can follow with a moisturizer as needed, but it's always best to consult with your physician to determine the needs of your skin type. Always wear sunscreen after applying beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) like glycolic and salicylic acid, as they may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.

2. Blackheads

Blackheads are another common form of acne known as open comedones. The difference between whiteheads and blackheads is exposure to the air. Oxygen reacts with the dead skin cells in the pores and causes them to darken, giving them their appearance.

There's a common misconception that blackheads are caused by poor hygiene, but the reality is that blackheads are caused by excess oil and dead skin cells, just like whiteheads. If you have an oily skin type, you're more likely to experience blackheads. Your pores become blocked, but there is no swelling or infection.

You can go to a professional to get blackhead extractions, which can clear your skin. However, this is only a temporary fix, and an inexperienced technician could damage your skin and cause scarring.

The best way to treat and prevent blackheads is by taking proper care of your skin with a balanced skin care routine. The most important steps you should focus on to prevent blackheads are cleansing and exfoliating, which will remove the buildup of dead skin cells and clear away excess oil.

Here are some of our product recommendations to help treat blackheads:

SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser

This product handles exfoliating and cleansing all at once, removing the dead skin cells from the pores and keeping excess oil at bay. This product also contains jojoba oil, which helps hydrate the skin and signals to your sebaceous glands that additional sebum production is unnecessary.

The combination of ingredients helps smooth skin texture and improves the appearance of your skin, leaving you with healthy and radiant skin. This gentle exfoliating cleanser is an excellent choice for all skin types and can help you prevent pesky blackheads.

La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Brightening Deep Cleanser

This cleanser leaves the skin clean and refreshed after each use. The active ingredients target acne breakouts to even skin tone for a bright and radiant appearance. This product specifically targets dark spots, clearing away impurities that cause blackheads and preventing further blemishes.

Apply in the morning or night as part of a well-rounded skin care routine for the best results.

3. Papules

Papules are a moderate form of acne, and they look like the swollen red bumps that people most commonly associated with acne breakouts. Like other types of acne, papules are caused by excess oil and the buildup of dead skin cells. These breakouts will continue to develop until pressure builds up in the blocked pore, causing a rupture and allowing the bacteria to spread to other parts of your skin.

Your immune system will respond by fighting off the bacteria, and you might experience redness and swelling. The area can become sensitive and somewhat painful. Controlling the inflammation is the best way to treat these breakouts and reduce the tenderness and swelling. Maintaining a skin care routine will also prevent further papules from developing.

Here are some of our recommendations for skin care products to include in your routine to bring down inflammation:

PCA Skin Clearskin

If you have oily skin and you're prone to breakouts, this is an excellent moisturizer. Its light formula prevents excess moisture buildup and maintains the natural skin moisture barrier. This product also contains cucumber, a natural botanical that helps reduce redness and inflammation.

The non-oily formula reduces discoloration and evens out the skin tone. Adding this moisturizer to your skin care routine can be the perfect balance for sensitive skin types.

Replenix Gly-Sal 5-2 Deep Pore Cleanser

This cleanser fights acne without drying the skin. Salicylic and glycolic acid help clear the pores, while green tea extract calms redness and swelling. The calming formula also contains antioxidants to protect your skin from oxidative damage and ultraviolet (UV) rays, improving your skin's elasticity and giving it a youthful, glowing appearance.

Pair this product with a light moisturizer to round out your skin care routine and fight off acne breakouts.

4. Pustules

After red papules develop for a few days, they can turn into pustules, which look like swollen white or yellow bumps. Pustules have the traditional pimple appearance that people commonly associate with breakouts.

While they may look like whiteheads, the difference is that pustules are inflamed, causing redness, swelling, and pain. This type of acne is most commonly found on the face, chest, and back, but it can form anywhere on the body. It's important not to pop pustules, even though it might be tempting.

The best way to treat pustules and prevent further breakouts is to balance your skin's sebum production. If you have oily skin, you may think that skipping moisturizer is the best way to prevent breakouts. However, doing this can cause your pores to overcompensate for lack of moisture, and they'll produce more oil than before, leading to additional breakouts.

It's all about finding the right balance for your skin type. Here are some of the products we recommend to calm inflammation and hydrate the skin:

SkinMedica Facial Cleanser

This facial cleanser is perfect for all skin types and helps cleanse buildup from the day, including makeup, dirt, and grime. The gentle formula helps soothe the skin and calm irritation caused by breakouts. It's also hydrating, leaving your skin feeling refreshed and keeping your natural moisture barrier intact.

You can pair this cleanser with a light moisturizer to keep your skin nourished and healthy.

SkinCeuticals LHA Cleanser Gel

This cleansing gel from SkinCeuticals is one of the best skin care products for acne-prone skin. The formula helps remove impurities from the skin, unclogs pores, and hydrates for a bright and healthy appearance. This product reduces acne and prevents future breakouts without drying the skin.

5. Nodules

Nodules are a severe form of acne that can be difficult to address. They have many similarities to papules, but they form deeper in the skin. Since they exist under additional layers of the skin, they're challenging to treat. They can appear as a bump without a head and feel painful and firm to the touch.

Nodules can appear as a single breakout or multiple sore patches. Nodules can coexist with cysts, which we'll explain further in the next section. This form of acne can last for weeks, or even months. The best way to treat nodules is to adjust your skin care routine accordingly, adding the proper exfoliants.

If you have a painful nodule and want relief, you can place a cold compress on the affected area for 10 minutes. Make sure you don't pop these breakouts or bring them to the surface, as doing so can increase inflammation and cause scarring.

If you're looking for a product to add to your routine to prevent nodules, we have a few recommendations:

Replenix Glycolic Acid 20% Resurfacing Peel


These skin care pads are excellent for people with a busy lifestyle who want a simple skin care routine. This product cleanses, exfoliates, and moisturizes to create a smooth and even skin tone. 

Glycolic acid is essential to eliminate excess oil and reduce pore size. Green tea extract helps calm the inflammation and brings you relief from painful breakouts under the skin's surface.

With this product, your skin will be prepped for all topical treatments, saving you time each day and making it easier to maintain a consistent routine.

Jan Marini Bioglycolic Facial Cleanser

This cleanser helps eliminate dead skin cells and oils that commonly clog pores. The creamy formula perfectly cleans the skin and leaves your skin hydrated and soft, eliminating the need for drying toners or harsh astringents. Its gentle ingredients don't irritate the skin, making it an excellent choice for people experiencing painful acne breakouts.

6. Cysts

Like nodules, cystic acne is another severe form of acne that develops under the skin's surface. These two types of acne have been known to appear together during breakouts.

Cysts commonly appear on the face, jawline, or back. While nodules are firm to the touch, cysts are full of pus and feel soft. They can be very tender and painful, and some people experience these breakouts for weeks or months.

Many people find it tempting to pop these breakouts to reduce the pain, but it's essential not to drain cysts. The bacteria will spread to other parts of your skin and make the breakout worse. Cysts aren't caused by poor hygiene, just an excess buildup of oils and skin cells, the same as other types of acne.

The best way to treat cystic acne is to follow a regular skin care routine. Look for products that nourish the skin and are specifically designed for acne breakouts. Sticking to a routine can help get the breakout under control and prevent further cysts from developing.

Some products we recommend for acne-prone skin include:

Replenix Acne BP 10% Acne Wash + Aloe Vera

This product from Replenix is specifically designed to treat acne-prone skin. Salicylic acid is proven to fight breakouts and repair damage. This cleanser is designed to unclog the pores and speed up the removal of dead skin cells that cause severe acne. The addition of green tea extract helps reduce the pain caused by cysts.

Jan Marini RosaLieve Redness Reducing Complex

Cystic acne often causes a lot of redness and inflammation. You can add this product to your current skin care routine to reduce redness and calm the skin. Less inflammation will help even out your skin tone and allow it to heal. This product also contains antioxidants to protect the skin from additional irritants that could be contributing to a breakout.

7. Milia

Milia are not technically classified as acne and are often confused for pimples. However, it's essential to keep an eye out for these if you're trying to heal blemishes on the skin.

Milia are technically small cysts caused by keratin deposits or trapped skin cells. Keratin is a protein essential for strong hair, skin, and nails. When keratin gets trapped under the skin, small bumps form.

Milia often disappears on its own after a couple of months, but you can speed the process along by taking care of your skin. It's important to clean and exfoliate regularly to release dead skill cells from the pores and break up keratin deposits. You also shouldn't pick milia because it can damage the skin and worsen the breakout.

Try looking for skin care products that contain retinol. Retinol is an ingredient that speeds up cell turnover, allowing new skin cells to replace dead ones. If you're interested in trying retinol, it's best to ask your dermatologist for advice beforehand, as it can be an intense treatment.

Some of the best retinol products we recommend to help encourage skin healing are:

Osmosis Skincare Blemish Retinal Serum

This serum rebalances sebum production to prevent excess oils from clogging the pores. It also helps restore the skin's natural barrier and repairs the skin, encouraging the formation of new skin cells. 

Your skin will need to get used to the retinol if you've never used it before, so start by applying the serum a night twice a week. Use the serum after you've finished applying your moisturizer and before applying any additional face oils. This way, you can ‚Äúsandwich‚ÄĚ the retinol between two moisturizing products.

PCA Skin Intensive Clarity Treatment: 0.5% Pure Retinol Night

This specially crafted formula helps repair the skin and reduce acne breakouts. Specifically created to strengthen the skin, using this product twice a week will help clear and smooth your complexion. You can gradually use this product more often to target severe breakouts once your skin adjusts to retinol treatment.

Put Skin Care First With Exclusive Beauty Club

Now that you know how to treat different types of acne, it's time to find the right skin care products to suit your individual needs and skin type.

Exclusive Beauty Club offers medical grade and dermatologist recommended products to give you the most out of your routine. Our knowledgeable experts can help you find a product for your personalized beauty regimen to put you on the path toward glowing, healthy skin.

Get in touch today to speak with one of our experts and fight back against acne.


Learn More About Skincare Types with Exclusive Beauty Club


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