What’s the ideal skincare routine for acne-prone skin – And which products should I use?

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“People who don’t wash get spots”. You’ll have heard that before, but it’s not that straight forward. Acne is primarily caused by hormones and even the cleanest people get acne too. Find our more in acne and hormones.

That said, a conscientious, daily skincare routine − using cleansing and care products specially formulated to meet the needs of your skin − will help to reduce pimples and keep your blemish-prone skin under control. 

This article explains what you should look for when choosing skincare products and recommends a routine to suit your skin which changes depending on whether or not you are undergoing medical acne treatment. We also look at some of the other steps you can take to help care for blemish-prone skin.

Why do I need a special skincare routine?

If your skin is blemish- or acne-prone it will benefit from a regular skincare routine using products that have been specially formulated to address your skin’s particular needs.

When it comes to choosing the right skincare products it might help to understand a little bit about how blemishes form. 

There are many complex and interrelated factors involved in their development - inflammation, seborrhea, hyperkeratosis and bacterial growth - and you can read more about each of these as well as how they work together in acne in general/the development of acne, and you can find out more about how micro-inflammation is the root cause of acne in behind the science of micro-inflammation.

The most appropriate products for blemish- and acne-prone skin will address all these factors to support your skin, reduce blemishes and prevent them from reappearing.

The development of blemishes and acne

If your skin is blemished or acne-prone it will benefit from cleansing and care products that have been specially formulated to suit its needs. Look out for the following properties on pack:

If your skin is blemished use products proven to be non-comedogenic

Healthy skin naturally has a pH that is mildly acidic. Blemish-prone skin tends to be more alkaline and soap has an alkaline pH so it further upsets skin’s natural balance making it more prone to infection. 

A non-comedogenic product is one that does not contain ingredients that are likely to clog pores (a clogged pore is also known as a comedone). Clogged pores lead to the formation of blackheads, whiteheads and pimples.


Blemish- and acne-prone skin already produces too much sebum so avoid greasy products.

A comedolytic product is something which breaks up comedones (blackheads and whiteheads) and opens up clogged pores.


Keratolytic products dissolve hard plugs of skin and promote the natural process by which skin sheds its dead skin cells.

A mildly acidic pH

Blemish-prone skin is more alkaline than normal skin which has a mildly acidic pH. Products for blemished skin benefit from being mildly acidic as this helps to return skin to its optimal pH.

All products in the Eucerin DermoPURIFYER range have been specially formulated for blemish- and acne-prone skin. There are also products in the Eucerin anti-age and sun protection ranges that are non-comedogenic and non-greasy and ideally suited to oily skins.

Ingredients that can help reduce and prevent blemishes

Peeling agents

Well cleansed skin is better able to absorb the active ingredients in your care products.

The most commonly used peeling agents in skincare products are AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) which are also known as fruit acids. In the Eucerin DermoPURIFYER Skin Renewal Treatment we use combination of Glycolic Acid (an AHA), Salycylic Acid (a Beta Hydroxy Acid or BHA) and Gluconolactone (a PHA or Polyhydroxy Acid). This innovative and effective 10% Hydroxy Complex opens the pores, promotes the scaling off of dead skin cells and supports skin renewal.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic Acid is particularly effective at fighting blocked pores and bacterial growth. It is a Beta Hydroxy Acid which acts keratolytically (meaning it removes dead skin cells and softens skin to help prevent blocked pores) and comedolytically (which means it opens up clogged pores). Salicylic Acid reduces blemishes and prevents the build-up of new blemishes and is a key ingredient in several of the Eucerin DermoPURIFYER formulas.

Sebum regulating ingredients

Look out for products that are able to regulate the amount of sebum your skin produces. Ingredients such as L-Carnitine help cells to absorb free fatty acids where the mitochondria turn them into energy. This reduces the amount left over to form sebum, thereby controlling sebum production. Mattifying particles, when added to formulas, can also help to absorb any excess sebum on the skin. L-Carnitine and mattifying particles are part of the sebum regulating technology used in several of the Eucerin DermoPURIFYER products.

Licochalcone A

Licochalcone A is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory extracted from the root of the Chinese Liquorice plant. It reduces redness, helps to soothe inflammation and is a key active in Eucerin DermoPURIFYER Skin Renewal Treatment, Eucerin Adjunctive Soothing Cream and Eucerin DermoPURIFYER Mattifying Fluid.

Mild surfactants

Cleansing is an important step to caring for blemish-prone skin, but harsh cleansers can strip skin of its natural balance and exacerbate symptoms.
Look out for mild, soap-free cleansers such as the Amphoteric surfactants and APG Complex used in the cleansers in the Eucerin DermoPURIFYER range


SymSitive* regulates the sensitivity of hyper-reactive skin sensory fibres, offering immediate and long-lasting relief from tingling, stinging and burning. As well as calming skin it increases skin-tolerance and, over time, helps to make skin more resistant. It is a key active in Eucerin DermoPURIFYER Adjunctive Soothing Cream.
* registered trademark of Symrise AG, Germany


These important lipids strengthen the skin barrier helping to prevent moisture loss and keeping out irritants that can cause inflammation and itching. Eucerin uses synthetic Ceramides that are biologically-identical and that enhance skin’s natural barrier – locking in moisture and preventing dryness and irritation.

Lactic Acid

Lactic Acid (also known as Lactate) is part of skin’s Natural Moisturising Factor (NMF) and a key component of skin’s protective acid mantle which regulates the pH value of skin. It absorbs and retains moisture within the outermost layer of the skin and so plays a vital role in skin condition. It is also comedolytic.


Effective cleansing − using products that have been specially formulated for blemish-prone skin − is a key step in reducing and preventing blemishes. We recommend that you cleanse twice a day. In the morning to remove the excess sebum and dead skin cells that have built up overnight and in the evening to ensure the day’s dirt, as well as all traces of make-up and concealer, are fully removed before you go to bed. This will enable your skin to renew and repair overnight. We recommend that you use lukewarm water (water that is too hot can stress skin) and choose products that have been specially formulated for blemish-prone skin such as Eucerin DermoPURIFYER Cleansing Gel.

Research *1 shows that skin cleansed with Eucerin DermoPURIFYER Cleansing Gel is able to absorb 9% more of certain active ingredients (L-Carnitine and Decanediol) providing significant additional benefits.

If you are looking for a quick and convenient cleansing solution, or an additional make-up remover, you might like to try a micellar water such as Eucerin DermoPURIFYER Micellar Water.

You may also benefit from using a scrub once a week to unclog pores and refine skin texture. Try Eucerin DermoPURIFYER Scrub. We do not recommend using a scrub alongside acne medication as Isotretinoin, Benzoyl Peroxide and Antibiotics can make skin more sensitive.

*1  Appropriate skin cleansing enhances the epidermal bioavailability of dermocosmetic anti-acne actives Decanediol and Licochalcone A, poster presentation , EADV 2013
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A toner that has been specially formulated for blemish-prone skin helps to clarify and refresh skin and prepare it to absorb maximum benefit from your care products. Tone as a last stage to your cleansing routine using a product such as Eucerin DermoPURIFYER Toner. We don’t recommend that you use an alcohol-based toner if you are undergoing medical acne treatment. If you like the refreshing feel of a toner, try the alcohol-free Eucerin DermoPURIFYER Micellar Water instead.

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Blemish-prone skin requires moisturisation to help strengthen skin’s natural protective barrier but you’ll want to use a product that is non-greasy.  If you have mild to moderate blemishes, and are not undergoing medical acne treatment, choose a soothing and mattifying moisturiser such as Eucerin DermoPURIFYER Mattifying Fluid. And, for clearer and smoother-looking skin over time, you may like to incorporate a skin peel such Eucerin DermoPURIFYER Skin Renewal Treatment into your evening routine.

If you are undergoing medical treatment we do not recommend you use skin peels. Your skin may be experiencing side effects such as intense dryness and will benefit from special care. Try Eucerin DermoPURIFYER Adjunctive Soothing Cream which, if you’re using a topical treatment, should be applied five minutes after to allow the treatment to absorb fully.

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Sun protection

Sun protection is an important step in your morning routine. Blemishes can cause pigmentation issues if over-exposed to the sun, and acne medications can make blemish-prone skin even more sensitive to UV rays. Eucerin Sun Gel-Creme Oil Control Dry Touch SPF50  offers the levels of protection that your skin needs and should be applied before your cover-up and make-up. If you’re applying sun protection after a topical acne treatment wait five minutes to allow the treatment to fully absorb.  Find out more in acne and sun protection.

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Cover-up and make-up

Use only products that have been specially formulated for blemish-prone skin and are proven to be non-comedolytic. And don’t forget to remove all traces of make-up before you go to bed.

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What else can I do to help my blemish-prone skin?

A conscientious daily skincare routine is crucial in the fight against pimples and blackheads

Leave pimples alone
Try to keep your hands away from your face as picking blemishes spreads bacteria and makes things worse not better.

Shave carefully

Take care when wet or dry shaving so as not to be too rough on your blemish-prone skin.

Facial steaming and saunas can help to open up and unblock pores.

Keep bacteria to a minimum
Clean your mobile phone, pillow cases and towels regularly to help reduce bacteria. Find out more in tips for your home.

Look after yourself

Exercise, a good night’s sleep and a healthy, balanced diet will help you to stay healthy and positive overall, reduce stress (which can trigger hormones and exacerbate acne) and improve your skin’s natural resilience. Try to stop smoking  too.

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