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5 Skin-Saving Tips for Stubborn Acne

5 Skin-Saving Tips for Stubborn Acne

Oh, acne. As someone who hasn’t gone a day without a pimple since about the age of 11, I have an extremely complicated history with the word. From being told “it’s just a teenage thing” and “your skin will clear up” to *insert judgmental tone* “maybe you should stop using so many products”, it’s safe to say I’ve received my fair share of unsolicited advice–and probably enough for all of you readers, too.

Now, at 21 years old, my skin is finally on the home stretch–I can just feel it. Although I’m still pretty darn oily and have my fair share of breakouts, it’s gone from cystic to sporadic, which is a very welcome change. There’s only so much foundation and concealer one face can take, after all!

5 Skin-Saving Tips for Stubborn Acne

Even though advice from the average Joe or Josephine isn’t particularly helpful, I admittedly have received a few words of wisdom that actually did work–albeit from acne specialists or former sufferers, which increases their credibility by a whole lot. Here are 5 handy hints you can use to (fingers crossed!) alleviate your acne for good.

1. Take a supplement

Way back when, AKA 2008, when my acne was at its peak, the thought of a supplement that could relieve my skin issues would’ve been jaw-dropping. Seriously, I can picture 13-year-old me gasping in disbelief upon making the correlation between internal health and external issues like pimples and breakouts. Still, this is a connection that not everyone makes (potentially due to the “it’s from popping them all the time!” joke non-acne sufferers just love to make).

Unlike harsh medications such as Roaccutane, supplements such as the SkinB5 Acne Clearing Caplets or Extra Strength Tablets shouldn’t ever have negative effects on your health or change your skin type entirely. With a ton of vitamins in both the Caplets and Tablets, such as Vitamins B5, B3, B9, A and H, they’re antioxidant-packed and should help regulate any internal processes that may be causing your skin to flare up.

2. Pick an active ingredient and stick to it

As a skincare junkie, working in the beauty industry is lethal. We’re constantly surrounded by the best and brightest when it comes to skin solutions, so it’s only inevitable that I want to try everything I can get my hands on. This isn’t always the best thing for acne, though–although a select few active ingredients can have transformative effects on your complexion, when you throw them all into the mix, things can get muddled. And irritated. And, occasionally, worse… So, instead of throwing your entire bathroom cabinet on your skin, many skincare specialists suggest using the one ingredient and letting it take its course before adding anything new in.

My go-to when really trying to nip my acne in the bud was the ultra-medical benzoyl peroxide, however, not everyone’s skin can handle this stuff–it should only be used topically, and in conjunction with a great moisturiser and SPF, as it is very drying. After a while, I phased this out and progressed onto Glycolic acid, which has a ton of great properties including skin resurfacing. The Skinstitut Glycolic Scrub 14% is a great product for anyone with stubborn congestion as it’ll help draw out impurities and encourage the offending skin cells to turn over quickly.

3. Use a hydrating moisturiser

A common mistake those with oily or acne-prone skin often make is not moisturising. I get it–your skin is full of oils that keep resurfacing, so layering on more moisture may cause skin to feel greasy or just plain uncomfortable. However, pushing past that feeling (which subsides, trust me) will help your skin maintain hydration levels and can actually stop the overproduction of oil. It might seem a little foreign to use something ultra-nourishing to actually reduce your oiliness, but after a few weeks of dedicated use you’ll notice a difference. Go for something designed for acne-prone skin, such as the SkinB5 Acne Control Moisturiser or the Dermalogica Active Moist.

4. Add in a serum

If you’ve got acne-prone skin, chances are you’ve been dealing with it since adolescence. The idea of using a serum is a pretty new concept, and it may be something you’ve never even thought about if you’ve got longstanding skin issues, seeing as the general routine when you’re younger is cleanse, tone and moisturise. They’re super fast acting, though, and usually packed with highly concentrated active ingredients that will begin to work their magic in just minutes.

A fan-fave is the Salicylic Acid 2% from The Ordinary, which has been found to work wonders on blemishes, cysts and more. Massage a little of this formula into the skin twice daily and notice the difference it makes to the size and staying power of acne! Also from The Ordinary comes the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum, another blemish-fighting formula that can be applied to the whole face to help diminish your acne. This is a great alternative to the salicylic acid-based formula if you’re trying to avoid using this ingredient.

5. Use a chemical exfoliant

Often acne-sufferers, and the population of skincare users in general, think that the only way to exfoliate the face is by using a physical scrub. This isn’t true, though–a chemical exfoliant can work wonders, without the harsh, abrasive beads of a physical exfoliant. Applying a few drops of a chemical exfoliant such as the Alpha-H Liquid Gold before bed every second or third night can help to encourage new skin cells to turn over. This is another scenario where glycolic acid comes up tops–formulated with this miracle ingredient, Liquid Gold has been proven to be extremely effective for treating acne and blemishes.

This isn’t everything, of course, but if you haven’t already begun to use these tips as part of your acne-fighting routine, then you definitely should! Pair these recommendations with a healthy lifestyle and a few regular facials and you’ll be on your way to purer, clearer-looking skin. Let us know what your favourite acne treatments are by commenting on our Facebook post!



Writer and expert

I'm a journalism grad and avid makeup fan with an unhealthy addiction to buying nude lipsticks, no matter how similar they all may seem. I love chatting to anyone who will listen about my new favourite products, skincare dos and don'ts and practically any other beauty-related topic under the sun. That doesn't mean I'm frivolous with my recommendations, though--you can count on me to give you the nitty gritty on all your wishlist products. In my spare time, you'll find me binge-watching old episodes of Gilmore Girls or at brunch with a large iced coffee in my hand.