Remember when you took the SAT, and before you could solve a problem you had to figure out WTF it was even asking? Well, treating acne is kind of like that. Before you can solve it, you need to figure out what type you have.

comedonal acne

Think typical whiteheads and blackheads, AKA clogged pores. You can typically tackle this type of acne on your own by adjusting your skincare routine to the one we suggest below.



This type results in painful, tender, and red bumps. While you may get away with treating this type of acne with the routine below, keep a low threshold to bring in the professionals to prescribe something pharmaceutical grade if things aren't clearing up in the first couple of months. 


Also known as cyclic acne, this type will flare up right around your period. It typically pops up near the lower cheeks, chin, and jawline. A dermatologist can write a prescription for spironolactone, which will clear this up by inhibiting testosterone and decreasing sebum production in the skin. 


Imagine all of the above types of acne on steroids. Cystic acne gives you large, painful bumps that are deep, red, and inflamed. This is where the pros come in extra handy- you should see a dermatologist as the first line of defense. They can prescribe an antibiotic or Isotretinoin (Accutane), which will clear you up in no time.

In truth any derm worth their salt will let you know that there is overlap between all of these types of acne...

...the important thing to know is which is the predominate type, as that will determine the best course of treatment. 



Use a gentle cleanser (morning and night)
We love CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser or La Roche-Posay Hydrating Gentle Cleanser. Remember: if it contains exfoliating beads, put it back. 


Apply up to 4% Benzoyl Peroxide (morning only). Panoxyl Acne Creamy Wash (4%) or Acnefree Oil Free Acne Cleanse (2.5%) are both great options. Be sure not to use anything with more than 4%, as it can be too harsh on your face - (stronger is only OK for your chest and back).


Apply a retinoid (night only)
This will reduce inflammation and speed up the skin’s renewal process, AKA improve breakouts and skin texture more quickly. Be warned: this step may make your skin appear worse for the first week or two, but don’t give up! Your skin has to get acclimated to this product, but once it does, it’s a game changer. To avoid irritation, be cautious or avoid applying around the mouth, and a pea size amount is all you need for the entire face. If it looks like you've given yourself a chemical peel - it's because you probably disregarded the pea. When used properly, this miracle ingredient will unclog and shrink your pores, leaving you with healthy and vibrant skin. For over the counter options we recommend Differin Gel or Apostrophe Tretinoin Formula


Moisturize (morning and night)
Even if you have “oily” skin, do not skip this step. Moisturizers don’t contain the same type of oil as “oily” skin, so it will only affect your level of hydration, not oiliness. Products like benzoyl peroxide and retinoids strip the skin of natural oils and leave it vulnerable to irritation and inflammation, so it’s imperative that you use a deep moisturizer while your skin is adjusting to the new routine. Otherwise, the treatment can cause redness, pain, or dark spots. We love Neutrogena's HydroBoost Gel Cream Extra-Dry. It's non-comedogenic, oil free, and hydrates the skin impeccably without a greasy or slimy feel. SkinCeuticals also has a fab light moisturizer if you're looking for more of a splurge. 

the most important bit of advice:

 start your skincare routine early.

No last-minute love (skin) bombing here. Get consistent with a routine and stick with it, ideally 8 months to a year ahead. Adjust your routine as needed and chat with a dermatologist if you're unsure. Don't sabotage your glow by bombarding your skin with a crazy lineup of products right before the wedding. Keep it real and keep it simple. Let’s face it, no one wants skin drama stealing the spotlight on their wedding day.