The Total Guide To Acne

Published: October 09 2020 & Updated: August 23 2023

Unfortunately, almost everyone has to deal with different types of acne throughout their life. Because there are so many variations of acne and pimples, it can be hard to treat them correctly and find the right products to treat them effectively. Fear not, at Peace Out Skincare, we’ve created the ultimate guide for understanding acne, the causes and what best ways to treat it! Along with Dr. Dendy Engleman (MD FACMS FAAD), we’re here to answer your acne questions.

How does acne form?

Acne forms when the openings of hair follicles become clogged and blocked with oil and dead skin cells - (yuck, we know.) If the clogged pore becomes infected with bacteria, it then forms a pimple.


What are the different types of acne?


Whiteheads, or closed comedones, occur when the follicles beneath your skin become filled with bacteria and have a very small opening at the top of your skin. Air isn’t able to enter the follicle. The bacteria inside of it doesn’t undergo a chemical reaction, so it stays white in color.



Blackheads, or open comedones, are skin-colored bumps that form when you have a pimple. In the case of blackheads, these comedones consist of follicles beneath your skin with very large openings, or pores. When you have blackheads, these large pores become clogged with a substance known as sebum. A chemical reaction with the sebum occurs under your skin. Melanin is oxidized and turns the clogged pores a black color.


Papules vs Pustules

A papule is a small red bump. Its diameter is usually less than 5 millimeters (about 1/5 of an inch). Papules don’t have a yellow or white center of pus. When a papule does accumulate pus, it becomes a pustule. Most papules become pustules. This process commonly takes a few days.


Cystic Acne

Cystic acne is the most serious type of acne. It develops when cysts form deep underneath your skin. This can result from a combination of bacteria, oil, and dry skin cells that get trapped in your pores. Although anyone can develop acne, cystic acne tends to occur in people with oily skin. It’s also more common in teens, women, and older adults with hormonal imbalances.


Hormonal Acne

Hormonal acne is exactly what it sounds like — acne is tied to fluctuations in your hormones. Although it’s typically associated with hormone fluctuations during puberty, hormonal acne can affect adults of any age. It’s especially common in women. During puberty, hormonal acne often appears in the T-zone.


How do you treat each type of acne?

  • Whiteheads + Blackheads: This type of acne is typically treated effectively with non-prescription acne treatments, like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.
  • Papules + Pustules: This type of acne is typically treated effectively with non-prescription acne treatments, like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and/or retinoids. 
  • Cystic Acne: Due to the severity of cystic acne, OTC treatments are typically not effective and often combination therapies are required. Isotretinoin, oral antibiotics, Spironolactone, topical retinoids and oral contraceptives are all common treatment options. 
  • Hormonal Acne: OTC treatments are usually not effective. Oral contraceptives, anti-androgen drugs or retinoids for less severe cases are usually the go to.

What do breakouts in different areas of the face mean?

  • Forehead: Forehead acne is very common. Breakouts can appear in the form of whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, cysts & nodules. Stress, poor hygiene, hair products, makeup and skin irritation can all make forehead acne worse.
  • Cheeks: Acne on the cheeks is also quite common. I'd recommend regularly cleaning your phone (many don't realize how much bacteria ends up on our phones!) and changing your pillowcase very often to help minimize breakouts. 
  • Nose: The nose is a bit more prone to breakouts because the pores in this location tend to be larger than elsewhere, where sebum can trap dead skin cells and bacteria. Digestive troubles, hormone fluctuations and hair removal/excessive nose blowing can also be underlying factors in breakouts on the nose. 
  • Chin: Pimples on the chin are very common. They are typically the result of fluctuations in hormones. This is particularly the case for females and teenagers.
  • Jawline: Jawline breakouts are commonly associated with hormonal fluctuations, especially in women. Men can also experience jawline breakouts from using old razors while shaving.

How can I clear up acne fast?

If you’re dealing with consistent, pesky breakouts, we would suggest using topical treatments like our Peace Out Acne Serum or a quick fix like our Acne Healing Dots.

To learn more about Peace Out Skincare stressed skin products and how you can take better care of your skin, check out some of our other great blogs, including “Body Acne 101”, “Maskne Skincare Essentials”, & “How To Take Care Of Your Skin At Home During Coronavirus

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