Acne is an extremely common skincare concern—experts estimate that approximately 85 percent of teens and young adults deal with at least minor acne.I For those with normal skin types, these breakouts often result from external factors, like stress or certain foods, and resolve quickly. If you have acne-prone skin, however, blemishes are less of an occasional annoyance and more of an everyday skin concern. They can be frustrating to deal with, especially if you’re past your teen years. Thankfully, cultivating a targeted skincare routine for acne can help keep breakouts at bay. To get you started, we’ve put together a simple, seven-step routine suited for your skin’s unique needs. Ahead, you’ll find out what steps you can take to help promote clear, even skin. We’ve also included recommendations on the best Kiehl’s products to add to your skincare arsenal. Keep reading to discover your best skincare routine for acne-prone skin.
Step 1: Wash Away Pore-Clogging Impurities
Blue Herbal Acne Cleanser Treatment
While many different factors can trigger breakouts, all acne ultimately stems from clogged pores. Washing your face twice daily helps keep your pores clear of dirt and oil, which is the first step toward achieving clearer, more even-looking skin. Of course, the cleanser you use should be tailored to your skin type and specific needs.
When you’re battling active breakouts, reach for a targeted acne cleanser, such as Blue Herbal Acne Cleanser Treatment. This effective foaming face wash stars salicylic acid to help deep-clean pores and diminish breakouts, including blackheads and whiteheads. When used regularly, this powerful formula also helps prevent future breakouts from forming.
For a more gentle cleanse, particularly if you also experience sensitivity, try Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Cleanser. This unique face wash contains 96% naturally-derived ingredients, including calming Cannabis sativa seed oil and green oregano oil.* It helps melt away dirt, oil, and other pore-clogging impurities without stripping the skin’s natural moisture barrier or worsening irritation. You can use it as your go-to cleanser morning and night for refreshed, healthy-looking skin.
Step 2: Balance Skin With a Toner
Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion
After cleansing, remove any leftover dirt and oil with Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion. This iconic toner (a Kiehl’s staple since 1964) features refreshing menthol and camphor, plus calming aloe vera, to help soothe skin after cleansing. The unique formula also helps balance areas prone to oiliness, like the T-zone. Use a clean cotton pad to swipe a generous amount over your entire face, or use it as a spot treatment to help address problem areas. For men, this facial toner also works beautifully as a soothing aftershave lotion.
Kiehl's Expert Tip: Learn more about everything toner can do for your skin in our article What Is Toner and Why Should You Use It?
Step 3: Address Skin Concerns With Serum
Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution
Any trauma to the skin can trigger an overproduction of melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. This response is known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and is especially common amongst those with darker skin tones. Other skin concerns that often plague those with blemish-prone skin include rough skin texture and acne scarring.
You can help address these concerns simultaneously with a concentrated facial serum, like Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution. This Kiehl’s best-seller contains activated C, white birch extract, and antioxidant peony root extract, which work together to help promote more even-looking skin. The potent formula is clinically-demonstrated to visibly reduce the number and intensity of a wide range of discolorations, including post-acne marks.** It is suitable for all skin types and tones and can be used daily on the face, neck, and chest for more even, radiant-looking skin.
Step 4: Nourish With a Lightweight Oil
Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate Face Oil
When you think of the best acne skincare products, oils probably aren’t the first thing that come to mind. And that’s understandable: After all, putting oily products on oily skin seems counterintuitive at best (and counterproductive at worst). But some oils can actually help keep acne at bay. Here’s why: Many popular acne skincare ingredients, like salicylic acid and retinoids, can be harsh and drying if used excessively. If your skin gets too dry, your body will produce more oil to make up for the lack of natural moisture in your skin. Ultimately, this can result in clogged pores and blemishes. Ensuring your skin is well-hydrated can, therefore, help keep your sebum production under control.
Of course, you want to make sure that the oil you’re using is suitable for oily, acne-prone skin. We recommend Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate Face Oil, which is formulated with 100% naturally-derived ingredients, including hemp-derived Cannabis sativa seed oil.* This lightweight, non-comedogenic oil helps balance hydration and strengthen the skin’s natural moisture barrier. It also helps visibly reduce skin redness and relieve discomfort for calmer skin. The unique facial oil is suitable for all skin types, but especially beneficial for those with problem skin prone to blemishes.
Kiehl's Expert Tip: Don’t overdo it with facial oil—two to three drops is plenty to cover your entire face. Either apply it directly to your skin with clean fingertips or use a skincare tool (like a jade roller) to massage the oil in for an extra luxurious experience.
Step 5: Reach For a Lightweight Moisturizer
Breakout Control Acne Treatment Facial Lotion
The next step in your daily skincare routine for acne-prone skin is locking in hydration with a lightweight moisturizer. To hydrate your skin without weighing it down, try an oil-free moisturizer, like Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream. This weightless, non-comedogenic formula contains glacial glycoprotein and desert plant extract to condition the skin with lasting, 24-hour hydration. It absorbs quickly for a refreshed, shine-free finish.
Alternatively, you can reach for a moisturizer that also boasts acne-fighting ingredients, like Breakout Control Acne Treatment Facial Lotion. This lightweight lotion with salicylic acid and niacinamide is ideal for when you’re actively breaking out. The effective formula is clinically-demonstrated to help diminish acne breakouts and improve the appearance of roughness and dullness.*** It also helps prevent new blemishes from forming for visibly clearer, more even-looking skin.
Step 6: Treat Individual Blemishes With a Spot Treatment
Breakout Control Targeted Acne Spot Treatment
Even with a perfect skincare routine, external factors like stress, hormonal fluctuations, and your diet may result in the occasional breakout. It happens. When it does, treat blemishes individually with a potent spot treatment, like Breakout Control Targeted Acne Spot Treatment. This concentrated formula contains a blend of powerful blemish-fighting ingredients, including mineral sulfur and niacinamide. It is clinically-demonstrated to rapidly reduce the appearance of acne breakouts for clearer-looking skin.***
To use it, apply a thin layer of the potent treatment to pimples and problem areas once to three times daily. The unique formula absorbs into the skin quickly and blends evenly, so you can use it at night and during the day.
Step 7: Detoxify Your Pores
Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Mask
As we mentioned earlier, clogged pores are the primary cause of acne blemishes. To help keep your pores clear of acne-causing debris, we recommend incorporating Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Mask into your weekly skincare routine. This top-rated clay mask stars absorbent Amazonian white clay, which helps deep-clean and purify clogged pores. The unique formula is clinically-demonstrated to reduce skin’s surface oil production by 46.7%, which helps minimize the appearance of enlarged pores.****
You can use this best-selling mask once to three times per week or whenever skin feels particularly congested. Learn how to apply your mask properly in our article How To Apply a Face Mask The Right Way.
Kiehl's Expert Tip: For an extra-relaxing masking experience, learn How To Do a Pampering Facial At Home.
*We consider ingredients to be naturally-derived if they retain more than 50% of their molecular structure after being processed from a natural source.
**This product was tested on a multi-ethnic panel equally distributed: 25% African-American, 25% Asian, 25% Caucasian, 25% Hispanic. Results based upon a clinical study of the upper layers of the skin.
***Tested in a dermatologist-controlled clinical study.
****Based on results two hours after use vs. untreated skin.
I.”Skin Conditions By The Numbers.” American Academy of Dermatology. 2020. https://www.aad.org/media/stats-numbers