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A Step-by-Step Skin Care Routine for Acne That Really Works

When combatting acne, the easiest and most universally effective treatment comes through an acne skincare routine. Applying gentle, proven topical products on a consistent schedule will help you target and eventually clear acne.

It is important that your skincare routine consists of products that target the causes of acne: clogged pores, bacterial overgrowth, and inflammation. Your routine should be performed morning and night, enough to treat acne but not so much that it irritates skin. The steps of your routine may consist of a gentle cleanser, medicated tonic, concentrated serum, and calming moisturizer, among other products.

How do you create a balanced routine that leaves your skin feeling replenished and free of blemishes? Let's take a look at what each step of your routine can do to clear acne.

A man washes his face.

Skin Care Routine For Acne

Step 1: Gentle Cleansers

The first step to any acne skincare routine should be applying a gentle cleanser. One of the leading causes of acne is clogged pores. This primarily occurs from the build-up of sebum and dead skin cells. Cleansers alleviate the blockage.

A well-made acne cleanser is specially formulated to lower the surface tension of the skin and emulsify any contaminant that would not otherwise dissolve in water alone. A cleanser formulated for acne-prone skin will also contain ingredients like salicylic acid at a manageable level, like 0.5%, which goes above and beyond to dissolve these contaminants even more effectively and chemically exfoliates excess dirt, sebum, and dead skin.

Good cleansers for acne-prone skin will not "strip" your skin of all moisture, as this can actually send signals to your follicles to produce more sebum, exacerbating oily skin. Instead, they will be balanced with moisturizing ingredients. The Exposed Skin Care Facial Cleanser contains sage extract and pro-vitamin B5 in addition to salicylic acid to perfectly cleanse and regulate your skin's oil levels.

A woman washing her face

Step 2: Medicated Tonics

Next up should be your toner, which is a lightweight liquid that you do not rinse off. Toners can be used for a variety of purposes, including to hydrate, exfoliate, or a combination of both.

At Exposed, we recommend using a toner that gently continues the process of your cleanser without irritating your skin and then primes it for the rest of your routine.

The formula of our Clearing Tonic even contains azelaic acid, an antimicrobial that helps reduce bacterial overgrowth. On top of this, we've added passion flower to calm redness and irritation.

A man applies toner with a cloth

Step 3: Concentrated Serums

Including a serum in your skincare routine for acne can be one of the best ways to clear breakouts and lock in moisture, as they typically contain the highest concentrations of active ingredients in your regimen.

When choosing serums, you want to look for ingredients that target your specific needs. For example, if you have dry skin, you may want to look for a serum with ingredients that moisturize, like niacinamide. If you notice lots of blackheads and whiteheads, this may be a sign of bacterial overgrowth. You can counter this with ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, found in our Acne Treatment Serum.

Because our skin acquires oils and grime throughout the day, we recommend implementing the Acne Treatment Serum as a step during the morning and then the Clear Pore Serum at night. The latter contains salicylic acid that will effectively remove any excess sebum that could clog pores overnight in order to prevent acne.

A woman examines her face in the mirror

Step 4: Moisturizing and Beyond

Finish up your acne skincare routine by restoring any moisture that might have been lost during other treatments. Not only does this help your skin from becoming dry, but it also keeps it from overproducing oils. This means that it can be beneficial to use a moisturizer even if you have oily skin.

Moisturizer helps the skin to retain or take in water, an essential component in the skin that provides structure and flexibility while turning over dead skin cells. The Exposed Moisture Complex also contains pumpkin seed extract and caffeine to decrease inflammation and redness while locking hydration into the skin.

In addition to moisturizer, you can choose to apply an SPF sunscreen in the morning, which will protect against UVA and UVB rays that cause aging and even skin cancer. Be sure to find a sunscreen that is effective but non-comedogenic, meaning it won't cause acne.

A woman applying cream

Why is My Acne Getting Worse?

If you see that your acne is getting worse or you are experiencing irritation after your multi-step routine, it may be time to scale back on frequency.

Improper use of products can actually cause more damage than good. Overuse of skincare products has been linked to the development of rosacea in certain patients. Alternately, one study showed individuals who washed their faces once a day rather than twice experienced worsened acne. Be sure to use products exactly as directed and if they are still irritating your skin, stop entirely.

If you have sensitive skin, you may be especially prone to this irritation and may need products formulated for this skin type. Exposed products are all formulated to be gentle enough to use on sensitive skin while remaining effective enough to reduce acne.

Why is My Acne Not Going Away?

Consistent use of a skincare regimen is key; don't get discouraged! People who start fighting acne and give up when they don't see results immediately will never experience the full benefits of those products. Keep up with your skincare routine, since most products do not work overnight and take several weeks for results to show up.

Even after implementing a multi-step skincare routine, acne may not go away instantaneously. Remember to implement healthy skin choices into your daily routine as well, to address potential triggers of acne causes. For example, it can be helpful to:

  • Stay hydrated; increased water intake can improve skin functioning

  • Keep your hands away from your face

  • Wash your face soon after sweating

For this reason, Exposed Skin Care guarantees better results for your skin after using our products. If you don't see the results you expected, we will gladly return your money, unconditionally. Most users begin to see results in just one month, but you can return your kit all the way up to one year after purchase. Those terms make ours one of the best guarantees in the entire skincare industry.

Before and after photos of an Exposed Skincare user
Kim Kilgour noticed an enormous difference in her acne after using the Exposed Skin Care kits.

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