Dermatologists Approved Skincare Routine for Acne Prone Skin

by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN

Acne is the most common skin condition in the U.S., affecting up to 50 million Americans. It’s a major concern for anyone who wants clear, healthy-looking skin. If you’re battling acne, it can be tough to know where to start when it comes to skincare and creating a skincare routine.

Do you buy something over the counter? Do you go see a dermatologist? There are so many products available that it can feel overwhelming.

Here’s a dermatologist-approved skincare routine for acne-prone skin that can help you achieve clearer skin in just three weeks!

Morning Skincare Routine for Acne Prone Skin

The morning is a great time to start your skincare routine since it’s when your skin is in its most active state. This is the time of day when you can get the most out of your skincare products.

Here’s what you should be doing:

1.     Cleansing

The first step in this morning skincare routine for acne-prone skin is cleansing. This will help remove all the dirt and oil from your face and keep it healthy by preventing clogged pores. Wash off all the makeup that might be present on your face, as well as dirt and oil, with a mild cleanser or face wash. Do not use harsh chemicals as they can damage your skin and make it more sensitive.


2.     Toning

After cleansing, you want to tone your face with a toner that contains salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Salicylic acid is an ingredient that can help exfoliate the skin and reduce oiliness. Benzoyl peroxide is another ingredient with similar effects. Some people find that using a toner reduces the appearance of acne and helps keep the pores clean and clear.

3.     Apply Sunscreen

Sunscreen is your last line of defense against the damage that comes with too much sun exposure. You should be wearing sunscreen every day, whether or not you’re going to be outside for a long time or not. Make sure you use at least SPF 30 with broad spectrum protection (meaning it protects against both UVA and UVB rays).

4.     Treat

When it is about selecting a serum, go for a product that promises to calm and soothe. Ingredients such as cica, niacinamide, prebiotics, and mushroom will help to decrease the irritation and inflammation that causes spots to feel painful and appear rough.

5.     Moisturize

Although it’s better to moisturize at night, you can still moisturize in the morning. Use a lightweight moisturizer that won’t clog pores or cause breakouts. If you have oily skin, use an oil control lotion instead of a cream or gel formula.

Nighttime Skincare Routine for Acne Prone Skin

The nighttime skincare routine for acne-prone skin differs slightly from the daytime skincare routine. Your skin is more vulnerable to hormonal shifts at night, and using the wrong products can aggravate your acne.

Here’s what you should do:

1.     Cleanse

A common routine is to cleanse your face. Use a gentle cleanser that won’t strip your skin of natural oils. You can also use a product with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to clean up any remaining oil and bacteria on your face. These ingredients can be found in something like the Proactiv 3-step system if you’re looking for something more convenient and affordable.

2.     Serum

If you don’t want to use a toner at night (because you may feel like it dries you out), a serum works great as a toner substitute. Serums contain more active ingredients than moisturizers or creams and are less watery than toners. They also contain fewer fillers, which means they’re less likely to irritate sensitive skin. The most important part is choosing a product that contains ingredients specifically designed to treat acne (reduce sebum production) or reduce inflammation caused by acne (reduce redness).

3.     Hydrate

The third step in your nighttime skincare routine should be to hydrate your skin with an oil-free moisturizer. Look for one that contains hyaluronic acid or glycerin, as these ingredients will help lock in moisture and keep your skin looking healthy and radiant. Be sure not to use too much product as it can clog pores, leading to more breakouts.

4.     Apply Night Cream

It’s best for acne-prone skin to apply moisturizer at night because it keeps pores from getting clogged during the day when you’re out sweating or working up a sweat at work or play. A nighttime moisturizer with salicylic acid can be applied after washing your face if needed (though never use an exfoliating scrub on your entire face before bedtime). Also, look for ingredients like tea tree oil which fights acne-causing bacteria without drying out the skin. If you’re using topical prescription treatments, apply them after your usual nighttime routine is complete.