Cystic acne is one of the most stubborn forms of acne and can feel incredibly difficult to manage at times. As someone with severe cystic acne, I am here to share some tips that I use to keep my skin healthy and under control.
Cystic acne is quite literally the worst. It’s inflammed, itchy and you can’t even pop it or shrink it with a pimple patch. My hormones greatly impact my acne as well. Personally, so long as I cleanse and moisturize properly I don’t get many whiteheads. My issue is those deep bumps that form beneath the surface of your skin and hang on for days or even weeks on end. Here’s what I do to keep those stubborn spots at bay.
First things first, figure out when/why you get cystic acne
Before you go any further, I just want to state that everybody’s skin is different and what works for me might not work for you. First off, my endocrinologist gave me a blood test to see if birth control would be right for me to help manage my hormonal acne. I naturally produce excess testosterone which led to irregular periods and my acne issues. In addition to taking an estrogen based birth control, I also was able to go to a dermatologist during Quarantine. She prescribed Clindamycin, Tretinoin (0.05% since that’s more hydrating than the 0.01%), and Nicaprin.
My skin type is also: Combination with grade 3/4 acne. Moisturizing properly is key to managing acne for any skin type because when your skin produces too little or too much sebum (oil) it can lead to breakouts and other issues.
Also, be gentle with yourself. Acne never really goes away, it’s just well managed. Just find your routine, stick to it and hopefully you’ll see some results. Going to a dermatologist or esthetician are the best options if you have severe skin concerns.
My Favorite Products for My Cystic Acne
She really is that girl when it comes to those deep breakouts. I use the Azaleic acid suspension from The Ordinary and it shrinks those breakouts overnight. It’s the closest thing to a pimple patch for me. I absolutely love it. I’ve been using it since June and it helps the acne on my cheeks and chin so much. I no longer get that many breakouts (also probably because of the hormone regulation from my birth control) but when I do, it shrinks them no problem.
CosRx Snail Mucin Essence
This serum moisturizes and hydrates my skin so well. Anytime I have inflammation I apply this to my face and it helps with redness and hydration. I wrote about this product in my Korean Skincare review and I definitely do recommend it for cystic acne concerns as well, especially if your acne itches.
PCA Skin 5% BPO Cleanser
I especially use this cleanser during the weeks before and during my period because that’s when my skin acts up. It helps kill the acne at the root. Benzoyl peroxide is one of the only ingredients that does that which makes it really effective as a topical treatment and a cleanser. I don’t really use the topical ointment I had from before because the Clindamycin and Tretinoin are like Benzoyl peroxide on steroids. But, before I went to a dermatologist, I used these two ointments from Target or Walmart:
These two topical treatments work well but they’re very drying so use them sparingly and only as spot treatments. If you apply it all over your face, they dry your skin out. Just put it on the specific pimple you want to treat.
CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser
I love this cleanser for chemical exfoliation. I use it two or three times a week typically at night. Salicylic acid, like benzoyl peroxide is super helpful for exfoliation and killing acne at the route. Exfoliation is important when it comes to cystic acne because it gets rid of any dead skin or oil that could clog your pores and cause breakouts.
Usually when people think of exfoliation they think of physical scrubs. However, physical scrubs are not ideal for your face, skin or chest because that skin is super thin and sensitive. When you rub something like a sugar scrub for example on your face, that can irritate your acne even more, cause texture and hyperpigmentation. Instead, chemical exfoliation uses ingredients like salicylic acid, lactic acid, AHAs, BHAs, etc… to gently remove the skin cells from your face without all the friction.
Incorporating exfoliation twice a week into your routine can help you see major progress in your skin. This cleanser is also affordable, easily sourced and a nice way to introduce exfoliation into your routine. I use the regular CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser for normal to oily skin for my day to day cleanse.
There ya have it friends. Here are my holy grail products I use to manage my cystic acne. Overall, going to a dermatologist or esthetician is the best option when it comes to getting expert help for managing your skin concerns. But, I do hope the products in this article can help you if those options aren’t available to you right now.
Estheticians to follow on Twitter:
YouTubers to Subscribe to!
- Skincare by Hyram
- James Welsh (check out his twin brother Robert Welsh for Makeup Advice!)
I hope this was helpful. Drop your favorite products in the comments below and if you end up trying any of these, let me know about your experience!