Types of Acne and How To Deal With Them - Ellana Cosmetics

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Types of Acne and How To Deal With Them

Types of Acne and How To Deal With Them

Types of Acne and How to Deal With Them

If there’s one thing that everyone can agree on, it’s that dealing with acne is no picnic. Battling breakouts on a regular basis can be frustrating, and choosing the right treatment is often confusing. Department store and pharmacy shelves are filled with skincare products that promise to heal pimples but end up making skin more irritated.

When it comes to battling acne, forewarned is forearmed. Read on to learn about common acne types and the key ingredients you need to manage pimples and other blemishes gently yet effectively.

Acne Vulgaris

Acne vulgaris is the scientific name for ordinary, garden-variety acne. It’s caused by blocked or inflamed pores. This skin condition can either be noninflammatory or inflammatory, and they manifest as comedones, pimples, and other skin blemishes.

Commonly known as blackheads and whiteheads, comedones are a kind of noninflammatory acne. They form when a plug made up of excess sebum and dead skin cells accumulate inside a hair follicle or pore.

If pores are clogged but open on top, air can get in and oxidize the debris inside. This makes the top of the pores appear black, hence the name blackheads. Meanwhile, bumps that result from closed comedones are called whiteheads.

The root cause of inflammatory acne is also clogged pores. What makes it different from comedones is the presence of a bacterial infection deep within the surface of the skin.

The main types of inflammatory acne are:

  • Papules: These are comedones that have become inflamed. They are small, swollen, red bumps that tend to appear in clusters.
  • Pustules: These pus-filled blemishes are larger than papules.
  • Nodules:Bigger and more solid than papules and pustules, nodules are typically tender to the touch.
  • Cystic Acne:This condition is marked by the formation of large, painful cysts that sometimes leave scars and deep pits.

Fungal Acne

Fungal acne is often misdiagnosed as acne vulgaris. If we’re going to be technical about it though, it’s not even really acne at all. It’s actually a skin condition called malassezia (pityrosporum) folliculitis.

Malassezia is a type of yeast that grows on the skin’s surface. Usually harmless, it can wreak havoc on your skin if it gets into and infects the hair follicles. The result: pustules and papules that look similar to ordinary blemishes but are incredibly itchy.

Fungal acne usually appears as small red bumps that are uniform in size and shape. While you can get fungal acne on your face, it’s more common to get it on your chest, upper arms, and back. Keep in mind, though, that fungal acne and common acne can occur together. 

This makes treating breakouts tricky, as some anti-acne products either don’t work on fungal acne or make it worse.

Treating Acne-Prone Skin

The road to clearer skin starts with identifying the type of acne you have. Once you’ve done so, it will be easier for you to find the right treatment.

Many of the acne-fighting ingredients used in skincare work by targeting one of its most common causes: the buildup of excess sebum and dead skin cells within the pores. Other ingredients work by decreasing the bacteria that cause inflammatory acne or slowing down the growth of the yeast that results in fungal acne.

AHAs and BHAs

When fighting acne, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) are the ones to have in your corner. They provide multiple benefits for treating most types of acne and their aftermath.

BHAs go beyond the oil on the skin’s surface and penetrate deep within pores to get rid of two acne culprits: excess sebum and dead skin cells. BHAs also have antibacterial and antifungal effects.

Salicylic acid is a BHA. Because of its ability to make stubborn zits go away faster, it’s found in many spot treatments, serums, and cleansers. It dissolves excess sebum while gently exfoliating skin, making it ideal for people who are dealing with oily or combination skin as well as acne.

AHAs, like lactic acid and glycolic acid, are derived from fruits. They are commonly found in products for mature skin because they address aging-related skin concerns like fine lines and age spots. However, AHAs are actually suitable for all skin types, including acne-prone.

Both BHAs and AHAs exfoliate the skin, tone down skin redness, and calm inflammation. 

They are often used in combination to fight acne. While BHAs soothe inflammation and dissolve excess sebum, AHAs smoothen skin and improve the appearance of the marks that acne leaves behind.


In people with acne, the skin's cell turnover process isn't as efficient as it should be. Dead skin cells accumulate on the surface instead of shedding, resulting in patchy skin and clogged pores.

Protease is a nature-derived enzyme that's making waves in the skincare community for its ability to prevent the buildup of dead skin cells. It works by breaking down the proteins that bind dead skin cells together, making them easier to remove. This helps make skin look clearer, brighter, and more even.

Gentle yet powerful, protease is the ingredient to look for if you need an exfoliant suitable for sensitive and acne-prone skin. 

Where can you find AHAs, BHAs, and Protease?

OurCalm Down AHA/BHA Acne Spot Gel contains a blend of plant-derived BHAs and AHAs. It provides targeted blemish control: applying it directly on affected areas reduces the redness, swelling, and irritation caused by acne.

Our oil-free formulation includes Protease to promote skin cell turnover as well as botanical actives that work together to protect and nourish the skin as it heals. It's safe to use on blemishes caused by common, inflammatory, and fungal acne.

Banish Breakouts With Better-for-Skin Ingredients

When caring for acne-prone skin, it helps to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and it takes trial and error to find the treatment that’s right for you. Generally, though, it’s best to avoid harsh and abrasive formulations. These may end up drying your skin and making it more susceptible to acne-causing bacteria. Instead, #ChooseBetter and opt for skincare products with ingredients that are kind to skin but tough on acne.

Want to learn about other ingredients that can help heal your breakouts? Check outthis article to get the lowdown on allantoin, kaolin clay, and other acne busters.

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