Pimples—nearly everyone gets them at some point. Often, those pesky spots first appear during adolescence, but it’s not uncommon for them to persist well into adulthood. If your breakouts are more constant than come-and-go, chances are you have blemish-prone skin (meaning skin that’s prone to breakouts). It’s a skin type—a fairly common one, at that—and, just like any other skin type, can be managed with a proper skincare routine. Determining what, exactly, your skin needs can be challenging, so that’s where we come in. Here, we’ll give you a quick run-down on what blemish-prone skin is and what can cause breakouts to develop. Then, we’ll clue you into seven of our best tips for managing blemish-prone skin at home. You’ll also discover some of the best products for blemish-prone skin to add to your online shopping cart. Keep reading for all the facts.
What Is Blemish-Prone Skin?
As we mentioned, blemish-prone skin is a skin type (the other commonly-recognized skin types are dry, oily, normal, sensitive, and combination). It’s characterized by a susceptibility to whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. The terms “blemish-prone” and “acne-prone” are often used interchangeably, but they’re not exactly the same thing—acne tends to be more widespread than blemishes, which are individual spots. That said, colloquially, acne-prone skin and blemish-prone skin are both used to describe skin that frequently breaks out.
How Do You Know If You Have Blemish-Prone Skin?
If you only have blemishes occasionally, like during periods of high stress or hormonal fluctuations, you probably don’t have blemish-prone skin. If, on the other hand, you find that you’re battling breakouts more often than not, chances are good that your skin tends toward being blemish-prone.
What Causes Blemishes?
Our experts are often asked by customers why they get blemishes so easily. Here’s what we can tell you: Generally speaking, blemishes develop when your facial pores become clogged with excess oil, dead skin cells, or other debris. The clogged pore can then turn into a blemish. As for what causes clogged pores in the first place, it varies. For many, there’s a genetic component: If your close relatives are blemish-prone, there’s a good chance that you will be, too.
Even without the genetic predisposition, though, blemishes can occur. Having oilier skin may make you more prone to clogged pores, as can hormonal fluctuations and stress. Similarly, wearing pore-clogging makeup products, touching your face frequently, and friction (like from clothes rubbing on your skin) can contribute to blemished skin.
How To Care For Blemish-Prone Skin: 7 Tips
While blemish-prone skin can be frustrating at times, it’s manageable with the right skincare habits. Ahead, discover seven of our top tips for caring for spot-prone skin.
Use a Targeted Cleanser
Washing your face morning and night can help remove the oil, dead skin, and other debris that can contribute to clogged pores. But if you’re blemish-prone, you want to reach for a cleanser that won’t weigh down your skin or worsen spots. To help control excess oiliness without stripping your skin, we recommend Ultra Facial Oil-Free Cleanser. The gentle foaming formula removes impurities and refreshes your skin while helping to reduce visible shine.
Alternatively, you can reach for an acne cleanser that helps address active breakouts, like Blue Herbal Acne Cleanser Treatment. It’s made with salicylic acid, a popular ingredient in anti-acne skincare formulations. The effective formula helps reduce blackheads, whiteheads, and other types of blemishes while working to prevent new spots from forming. It’s designed specifically for blemish-prone skin and can be used morning and night as the first step in your skincare routine.
Reach For an Astringent Toner
When used after face wash, toner can act as a sort of secondary cleanser, removing excess oil or impurities not fully removed by your face wash. The right toner can also help soothe your skin and address concerns, including breakouts and oiliness. As for which toner to choose, we suggest Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion—a Kiehl’s classic since its debut in 1964. The menthol-infused formula helps soothe skin and balances oiliness. Plus, it can be used all over or as a spot treatment on oilier areas (it even moonlights as a men’s aftershave).
It may seem counterintuitive if you have oilier skin, but trust us: Moisturizing is essential, especially if you’re blemish-prone. When your skin is dehydrated—in other words, lacking water—your body may signal your skin to produce excess oil to make up for the lack of moisture in your skin. This higher-than-normal production of oil can leave your skin looking greasy and clog your pores. Moisturizing regularly, on the other hand, can help keep your skin sufficientlyhydrated.
Ultra Facial Oil-Free Moisturizer
That being said, it’s important to choose the right moisturizer for your skin, as formulas that are too heavy or oil-infused may weigh down your skin. Ultra Facial Oil-Free Moisturizer is a great daily option for those prone to oiliness and blemishes. The lightweight gel moisturizer absorbs quickly and provides up to 24 hours of hydration for fresh-feeling skin. Also important to note is that the shine-minimizing formula is non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog your pores.
Breakout Control Acne Treatment Facial Lotion
If you want a moisturizer that helps diminish the appearance of breakouts, try Breakout Control Acne Treatment Facial Lotion. Formulated with salicylic acid and niacinamide, this fragrance-free moisturizer is clinically-demonstrated to diminish acne breakouts and visibly improve skin’s texture and tone.* You can use it daily or swap it with your usual moisturizer during active breakouts.
*Tested in a dermatologist-controlled clinical study.
Don’t Pick At Your Face
It can be tempting to squeeze, pick at, and pop pimples, but it’s not a good idea—doing so can worsen blemishes. Instead, address them with a targeted spot treatment, like Blue Herbal Acne Spot Treatment. The effective treatment contains 1.5% salicylic acid and helps reduce breakouts, including whiteheads and blackheads, leaving skin clearer-looking and more comfortable. You can apply it directly to blemishes up to three times per day, but we recommend starting with once daily and increasing your usage if necessary.
Aside from the risk of worsening your blemishes, picking at spots can leave you vulnerable to post-blemish marks, a type of discoloration that can develop after a blemish fades. While not usually permanent, these dark spots can take time to fade. If you find yourself struggling with post-blemish marks, we suggest adding Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Corrector to your skincare lineup. The brightening facial serum with activated vitamin C and peony root extract is clinically-demonstrated to help reduce a wide array of skin discolorations and dark spots.* It also helps brighten the skin over time, giving way to a more radiant and even skin tone. You can use it all over as your daily facial serum or apply it directly to dark spots to help improve their appearance.
*Results based on expert grading in a 12-week clinical test.
Detox Your Skin Regularly
Rare Earth Deep Pore Minimizing Cleansing Clay Mask
Regular at-home facials are a great way to unwind after a long, stressful week—but with the right mask, it can also help keep your skin looking its best. For those prone to oiliness or blemishes, we recommend indulging with our Rare Earth Deep Pore Minimizing Cleansing Clay Mask at least once per week. The award-winning mask, which contains both bentonite clay and fairly-traded Amazonian white clay, cleanses and detoxifies skin by drawing out the impurities that can contribute to clogged pores. It instantly visibly minimizes blackheads and clogged pores. It also helps reduce excess oiliness for a more balanced, refined appearance over time.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Oils
Adding a facial oil to your routine might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re looking to manage blemish-prone skin. In reality, though, non-comedogenic oils, used properly, can be a huge asset to your skincare routine. Take Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Extract Face Oil, for example. The lightweight, non-acnegenic formula with Cannabis sativa seed oil and green oregano oil is specifically formulated for problem skin. It helps visibly diminish redness and provides relief from discomfort while simultaneously working to help strengthen the skin’s natural moisture barrier. You can use the unique formula morning and night—just press two to three drops onto your face after moisturizing for calmer, more balanced-feeling skin.
Add Retinol To Your Routine
Even after they fade, blemishes can sometimes leave your skin looking dull and uneven. Adding a retinol product into your routine can help address these concerns as well as others, like fine lines and wrinkles. If you’ve never used retinol before, we recommend our Micro-Dose Anti-Aging Retinol Serum with Ceramides and Peptide. The fast-absorbing serum contains a precise daily dose of pure retinol and delivers visible results with minimal dryness, redness, or peeling. In addition to helping with skin tone and texture concerns, the effective formula helps firm the skin, diminishes the appearance of wrinkles, and visibly minimizes large pores. Plus, it’s suitable for all skin types and can be used morning or night.
Those already accustomed to retinol can opt for our Fast-Release Wrinkle-Reducing 0.3% Retinol Night Serum. The potent retinol serum helps accelerate skin surface cell renewal, delivering a visible reduction of fine lines in as little as five days.* Over time, it also helps diminish deeper wrinkles and smooths the skin for a more renewed appearance. (When you’re using retinol, remember to be extra diligent about applying sunscreen to help keep your skin protected from damaging UVA and UVB rays.)
*Based on expert grading in a 10-week clinical study of 71 panelists.
Next: Find out the root cause of your breakouts in our article Why Do I Have Acne? 5 Potential Causes of Your Breakouts.