How To Best Use Facials For Acne

Jeff Hautala
By Jeff Hautala, Co-Founder of Exposed Skincare

Several factors cause acne, so good acne facials will target these factors and reduce their influence on the skin. Everyday facials typically don’t accomplish this task, so what makes a facial a good acne treatment?

Acne facials range from practical to luxurious, and they come in all colors, shapes, and prices.

How To Prevent Acne

Facials for acne per se have not been medically reviewed, but people have experimented extensively with different types of facials. For better results, it’s always good to treat your skin holistically and armed with knowledge 🧠, so first, let’s take a look at how to reduce pimples in general.

Inflammation is the root cause of many health issues and skin conditions, including acne. It can be due to anything, from excess irritation to illness, and it causes the pores to constrict and trap oil and bacteria inside.

Our skin needs a thin layer of oil for protection from invaders and irritants, but sometimes it produces too much oil. This excess oil can clog pores, and it can also contribute to the growth of Propionibacterium acnes (p. acnes), or, as some call it — Cutibacterium acnes 🦠.

Regarding p. acnes, the best we can do is keep their reproduction at a minimum. They are part of the natural flora on our skin, so in moderate numbers, they actually pose no threat at all. Still, their primary food source is the oil our skin produces, which can be a problem, especially for oily skin. Acne facials can help prevent bacterial proliferation, but a good skin care routine with suitable products is probably a better call for this.

The Best Chemical Peel For Acne

When you think of an acne facial, your first thought might be a chemical peel.

What Is a Chemical Peel?

A chemical peel involves applying strong chemicals to your skin in order to peel away the outer layer and reveal a new, fresh layer. There are three main types of chemical peels: mild, medium, and deep.

Medium and deep peels are generally not preferred for acne treatment. They’re very expensive 💰 and most often require long recovery times. The best chemical peel for pimples is definitely the mild peel.

Mild Chemical Peels

The mild chemical peel (sometimes called a superficial peel) is the least expensive, and it’s the only type that can be performed by an aesthetician rather than a doctor or nurse. The chemicals used in it are called alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), which include glycolic acid, lactic acid, and citric acid, to name a few.

Unfortunately, mild chemical peels need to be repeated relatively often to keep up the good results.

Microdermabrasion is a facial procedure best used to help reduce and prevent blackheads and whiteheads.

Bentonite Clay Acne Mask For Oily Skin

For excess oil (sebum) treatment, the bentonite clay pimple mask 🌋is the best at-home acne facial. Bentonite clay is formed from volcanic ash and is exceptionally oil-absorbent.

Inflammation is more of a problem than too much sebum when it comes to pimples, but inflammation can be exacerbated by excess oil because the oil can clog pores and feed p. acnes bacteria, leading to more blackheads, more whiteheads, and more pimples. If you have particularly oily skin, once or twice a week you may want to apply a bentonite clay mask. People with drier skin types should choose drying facials carefully.

Charcoal Facial Mask For Acne

In some ways, the charcoal mask is very similar to a bentonite clay mask as a facial treatment, except charcoal is better at removing all kinds of impurities. If you have blackheads, a charcoal mask is an excellent at-home facial treatment.

To help remove the oil and dead skin cells that cause blackheads, you’ll need activated charcoal. This is regular charcoal that has been heated with steam or with chemicals to render it more absorbent.

At Exposed Skin Care 🏆, we make our own Clarifying Mask with active charcoal and other great ingredients like bentonite and sulfur. All of this helps absorb or remove oil, so if you have dry skin, it may not be the best option for you. If you have combination or oily skin, though, our Clarifying Mask contains all the right ingredients to help remove blackheads and prevent them from forming again.

Our own Clarifying Mask is the perfect charcoal treatment for acne if you’re looking for a ready-made solution with all the right ingredients to get rid of blackheads while taking good care of your skin.

Bioré Charcoal Acne Scrub

The Bioré Charcoal Acne Scrub is one of the most popular charcoal facials out there, but we actually strongly advise against using this product. It contains ingredients 🧴 that will likely cause more — not less — pimples in the long run.

The problem with this product is that it contains too many ingredients that will irritate and likely inflame the skin. As we now know, reducing and avoiding inflammation is the number one goal in acne skin care, and this is especially important to remember when using a drying ingredient like charcoal. Apart from dehydrated and flaky skin, one of the side effects could well be more acne breakouts.

Be Very Selective When Choosing a Face Scrub For Acne Treatment

Many people believe that a facial scrub for acne is ideal because it helps exfoliate the skin🧼. However, this is only the case for the right kind of scrubs.

Many scrubs contain irritating ingredients that might quickly clear up a few blackheads, but will likely bring plenty more in the near future. Most drugstore scrubs contain sodium laureth sulfate, or its close relative, sodium lauryl sulfate, because they are both foaming agents that cause luxurious lather. Even though this feels nice, it can cause irritation in acne-prone skin, so these ingredients should be avoided if possible.

If you don’t have sensitive skin, you can probably withstand a fragrance and a few dyes in your acne facials. However, you’ll want to avoid those beads made of polyethylene or other plastics — partially because they are likely to irritate your skin, but also because they’re terrible for the environment.

Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) in a facial are great exfoliators and if used in the right concentration, they won’t cause irritation.

Are Peel-Off Masks Just At-Home Chemical Peels?

Acne peel off masks are a fun facial option to try at home, but it’s important to do the research to find one that’s gentle enough for your skin.

Acne peel-off masks are very different from real chemical peels. Both use chemicals to help exfoliate the top layer of the skin, but they do so to very different degrees. Chemical peels are gently washed away after the treatment is complete, but much of the exfoliating power of peel-off masks comes from the painful process of ripping it off at the end. This is terrible for acne because it’s not only irritating, it also removes the protective layer of surface oil that the skin needs.

So if you’re going to try an acne peel-off facial mask, make sure you get the right one for your skin type. Check reviews and YouTube videos about the products 📺.

The Truth About Acne Drying Lotion

Acne-drying lotion is not all it seems. It might sound like the ideal acne treatment, especially for oily skin, and it can come in handy, but it’s been seriously overhyped.

Most drying lotions work through their astringent properties. Astringent drying lotions pull the moisture out of our skin cells, drying them out so the pores are smaller and less noticeable. Astringents are also helpful for reducing breakouts because they can remove some of the pus from the p. acnes infection in the pore.

However, as you might suspect, they can sometimes pull too much moisture, especially if overused. This leaves the skin dry and vulnerable to irritation and infection again 👎.

We recommend using pimple drying lotions sparingly as a spot treatment that only gets applied once or twice a week.

Can You Really Make Acne Facials with Aspirin?

Aspirin can be used to reduce inflammation — this has been medically reviewed 📝— which is what makes it so ideal to treat pimples. It is typically prescribed as a systemic treatment, but ingesting it won’t have as strong an effect as applying the aspirin directly to the skin.

Aspirin shouldn’t be crushed up and applied on the skin, but you might be able to dissolve it.

We don’t advise that you try to use crushed-up bits of aspirin on your face. As you can imagine, this will be too abrasive. You will get better results if you add dissolved aspirin to an acne facial at home, or, alternatively, wipe your face with a cotton ball soaked in dissolved aspirin.

As mentioned before, though- all these remedies need to be medically reviewed much more extensively. Ask your doctor or dermatologist 👩‍⚕️ for advice and prescription of acne medications if your problem is particularly severe.