The Ultimate Skincare Routine for Acne-Prone Skin

The Ultimate Skincare Routine for Acne-Prone Skin

Acne is a common skincare concern that affects most people at some point in their life. But, luckily, there are ways to keep it at bay.

A daily skin care routine is essential for every skin type. But, for those with acne-prone skin, consistency is key to minimize breakouts and keep the complexion looking healthy.

Double Cleanse

If you’re dealing with acne-prone skin, it’s essential to keep your face as clean as possible. But relying on makeup wipes or micellar water isn’t enough to thoroughly get rid of dirt, oil, sunscreen and makeup residue from the day. That’s why double cleansing is the way to go, especially at night. It ensures that any and all gunk is fully removed, which in turn helps your skin care products — think serums, moisturizers and sunscreen — to better penetrate and work their magic.

To begin the process, start with a noncomedogenic, oil-based cleanser. This will help to break down any leftover makeup, oil or sun protection left on the face and dissolve any excess sebum. Massage the cleanser into the skin with your fingers, a cotton pad or a cleansing device.

Then, rinse off the first cleanser and follow up with a water-based option that’s tailored to your skin type. “A good choice is a gel or clay facial cleanser that contains ingredients like aloe, rose, green tea and moringa seed,” Dr. Austin says, which can balance the skin and prevent inflammation while regulating sebum production.

After you’ve rinsed off your second cleanser, pat your skin dry and finish with an acid-free exfoliant if necessary. Then, apply a soothing toner and any spot treatments you need before proceeding with your usual night routine.

However, while double cleansing is generally safe for most, it’s important to note that not everyone needs to do it. “It’s certainly not necessary for every patient, and it may be too much for those with sensitive skin or underlying conditions such as rosacea or eczema,” explains Corey Hartman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Birmingham, Alabama.


An often-overlooked part of a skincare routine, exfoliating is essential for acne-prone skin. “Exfoliating helps unclog pores, enhances skin cell turnover, and promotes better absorption of skincare products,” says Corey L. Hartman, MD, an Alabama-based board-certified dermatologist. It also helps improve skin’s texture and color. Plus, it makes your new, expensive face serums actually work by removing any dead skin cells and pore-clogging oil that could block their effectiveness.

It’s important to do this regularly (every two to three days, or twice a week depending on your skin type), but don’t overdo it, since too much exfoliation can lead to redness and irritation. If your skin gets irritated or flaky after exfoliating, it’s probably time to stop, as well as to switch out the product you’re using. If you’re confused about which exfoliator to use, remember that there are two types: physical and chemical. Physical exfoliants include things like loofahs or scrubs that physically rub the skin’s surface, whereas chemical exfoliants (toners and liquids with alpha and beta hydroxy acids) break down the connections between dead skin cells so they can flake away easily.

In general, it’s best to choose a chemical exfoliant for acne-prone skin, and start by using it only a couple times a week until your skin builds up a tolerance. Then you can begin to exfoliate a few more times a week, or even every day if your skin can handle it.

When choosing an exfoliant, be sure it’s non-abrasive and non-comedogenic. Avoid using physical exfoliants that have micro-beads or rough particles, which can cause tiny scratches and irritate the skin. Instead, look for a chemical exfoliant that’s gentle on the skin (alpha hydroxy acid-based products are a good bet) and oil-free.

Also be careful not to exfoliate while you’re using any products that can irritate the skin or cause peeling, such as prescription retinoid creams and over-the-counter acne medications. Finally, be cautious with physical exfoliants, as overdoing it can lead to blackheads and other blemishes. Lastly, be sure to follow your exfoliant with a moisturizer, as your skin may be extra sensitive afterward.


Acne-prone skin needs moisture to keep it looking healthy and balanced. Skipping moisturizing can result in dehydration and excess oil production, which will exacerbate acne problems. Moisturizing can also reduce inflammation that’s often present with acne-prone skin and help prevent fine lines from forming.

It’s important to find a moisturizer for oily and acne-prone skin that is lightweight, absorbent, and doesn’t clog pores. Look for moisturizing ingredients like glycerin, dimethicone, and niacinamide which are proven to increase skin hydration, reduce sebum production, and decrease inflammation.

Another essential ingredient for an effective moisturizer for acne-prone skin is ceramides. Research has shown that incorporating ceramides into a skincare routine helps to restore and strengthen the skin barrier and help with oil control and sensitivity. It’s a must that Celebrity Skincare Ethics are adhered to. This is in order for both consumers and fans to know the process of making their product.

The best moisturizer for oily skin with acne is one that’s noncomedogenic and contains niacinamide, glycerin, and/or retinol. Look for cleansers that contain these ingredients, or a moisturizer with an added vitamin C for even better results.

Cleansing in the morning and evening is an absolute must for all skin types, but it’s especially crucial for those who suffer from acne-prone skin. A cleanser that’s formulated with glycolic acid or salicylic acid is an ideal choice for those who struggle with breakouts since these ingredients will dissolve surface oil and unclog pores, keeping them clear and preventing the formation of pimples.

It’s also important to take steps to avoid clogged pores by minimizing the amount of dirt and debris on your face and in your environment. This means washing makeup brushes and tools every day and changing pillowcases two or three times a week, and wiping phones and tablets with a gentle cleanser.

Finally, it’s essential to wear sunscreen every single day. Using a sunscreen that’s formulated with an SPF 30 or higher is recommended to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays, which can accelerate aging and cause long-term permanent damage. For those who struggle with breakouts, choosing a noncomedogenic sunscreen is a good way to avoid them as well.


Sunscreen might feel like a skincare step that you can skip when you’re in a rush, but dermatologists say it’s one you don’t want to miss. It protects you from skin cancer, hyperpigmentation caused by sun damage, and fine lines and wrinkles—as well as those pesky blemishes.

Acne happens when pores get clogged with excess oil or dead skin cells, leading to inflammation. Sun exposure can exacerbate inflammation and even darken the appearance of old acne scars. So a broad-spectrum sunscreen is essential for protecting your complexion from both UV rays and blue light, which can cause hyperpigmentation in the long run.

While sun protection is important for everyone, it’s even more crucial for people with acne-prone skin. That’s because certain acne treatments, including topical retinoids and antibiotics, can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Sunscreen prevents sunburn and shields your skin from further damage, which will help keep inflammation at bay.

When it comes to finding the best sunscreen for your skin, opt for a non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores) and oil-free formula. It should also be labeled “broad-spectrum” and contain SPF 30 or higher. Choose a physical sunscreen with active ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which create a barrier that reflects and blocks UV rays instead of absorbing them. You should also avoid chemical sunscreen filters such as oxybenzone and avobenzone, which can irritate your skin.

If you’re looking for a lightweight, oil-free sunscreen, check out Tula Skincare Ultimate Sun Serum. This editor favorite contains hydrating glycerin and soothing botanicals, but it’s free of all comedogenic ingredients that can clog pores—and it won’t leave your face feeling greasy. Just remember to reapply often and pair your sunscreen with other acne-fighting products, such as an anti-inflammatory serum or topical retinol. Your complexion will thank you!