How to choose the right acne skincare routine for you

Hannah Wilson

Not all acne is made equal. There are so many different types of acne that vary in severity. Add that to the fact that everyone’s skin reacts and performs differently and you’ve got a complicated puzzle on your hands. 

Here at Face Dr, we treat tonnes of clients and help them with their skin bugbears, so we consider ourselves seasoned pros when it comes to curating a personalised routine that works. 

We offer free online video skincare consultations, where our Skin Expert will analyse your skin and make recommendations for a skincare regime suitable to your concerns and budget. Want to skip the lesson and book now? Click the button below.


But what if you’re flying solo? 

Well, have no fear, because this article will arm you with all the knowledge you need to craft the best skincare routine for your acne. We’ve broken it down into the basics and added a few tips here and there to help you personalise your plan...

It’s worth the time it takes

We already know how important healthy skin and a clear complexion is and, if you’re here, we’re assuming you’re on the same wavelength. But if you’ve got any doubts about whether or not it’s worth investing time and money into a proper skincare routine, buckle up and get ready for the 101 - *clears throat*...

A skincare routine is essentially facial hygiene - and when you have acne, that’s essential to prevent bacterial build-up, blocked pores and breakouts. So, if you suffer from acne (of any kind), you need a proper skincare regimen. It really is as simple as that. 

Acne-prone skin is sensitive, bothersome and needs a little TLC to get it in tip-top shape. And when we say little, we mean little. To cleanse, exfoliate, treat and tone your skin it’ll take you all of four and a half minutes. Trust us, we timed it. 

In fact, if you brush, floss and rinse twice a day, you’ll spend more time than that on your teeth - seven minutes to be exact. So there really is no excuse for skipping skincare.

woman using skincare routine for acne


Double cleansing is vital

Now that’s out of the way, time to get into the nitty gritty. Every single skincare routine should include a cleansing step, and if you’re an acne sufferer, double cleansing is vital. 

You clean your skin on a surface level first to remove makeup, SPF products and any of the day’s grime, then you cleanse again with a face wash that will penetrate deeper into your skin. If you have acne, this is a great way to ensure you’re giving your skin the love it needs, but there are a few things to bear in mind when picking products:

Avoid anything that’ll clog your pores - There are a lot of rich, thick pre-cleansing balms out there that you can use to remove makeup. These are great for certain skin types, but if you have acne you should avoid at all costs. The heavy, oil-based formulas will just clog your pores more and might make your acne symptoms worse. Stick to a light water-based micellar product or gentle gel exfoliant for the first step of your double cleanse.

It’s all about balance - The last thing you want is to strip your skin. Yes, you need to get rid of that excess oil and flush out those pores, but your skin needs to stay hydrated and moisturised in the process. 

For example, certain acids (AHAs and BHAs) are great at breaking down those dead skin cells and sebum build-up. If your acne is more severe, you can use heavier concentrations of these ingredients, but if it’s the kind that’s a little more hormonal or it comes and goes, a high acid content will just strip your skin of all its essential moisture. 

We offer a range of facial cleansers suitable for any skincare concern or skin type. For acne-prone clients, we usually recommend ZO's Exfoliating Cleanser, to gently exfoliate away dead skin cells, excess sebum on the skin surface and to prevent further breakouts from occurring.

Find a facial cleanser that is properly balanced with the right ingredients and concentrations to suit your acne-type. For a full breakdown of ingredients that are great of acne-prone skin take a look at this article.


Dead skin cells are a major enemy of progress when it comes to perfecting acne-prone skin. They clog up pores and can really get in the way of a glowing complexion.   If you suffer with acne, you should use acids to exfoliate your skin as these are much more gentle than harsh, bitty scrubs. Glycolic Acid is a great starting point. It breaks down the bonds between dead skin cells to rid your skin of pesky particles without being too tough. 

If you need something a little more heavy duty, try salicylic acid or lactic acid instead. We stock a great exfoliator (ZO Skin Health Dual Action Scrub) that contains both these hero ingredients, great for stubborn acne.

When building a skincare routine, keep tabs on how many acids you’re using throughout the steps. If you have dry or sensitive skin and you’re using an acidic exfoliant, for example, you’ll probably want to keep the rest of your skincare products acid-free.

man using skincare routine for acne


Make sure you use a toner

This is an important step that many people skip or think isn’t worth the time, but it’s a great way to work some oil control into your routine. Since most types of acne are caused by sebaceous glands overproducing sebum, it’s important to keep the little blighters in check.

Toning is a great way to do this. It’ll also help prevent further pore congestion, refine the appearance of pores and rid your skin of surface oils. You can use pre-soaked pads for convenience and to really tackle your acne symptoms - we stock ZO Skin Health Oil Control Pads. We also recommend the ZO Skin Health Acne Control, which is a maximum strength treatment that will reduce and control oil production - a must-have if your acne is more severe. 

Know your limits

When it comes to acne, there’s only so much you can do with an at-home skincare routine. If your symptoms are severe and persistent or you’re suffering from more serious forms of acne (such as cystic acne) then it’s worth seeking help from a medical expert.

At Face Dr, we have in-house GPs who you can book a consultation with. They’ll be able to diagnose your skin, offer advice on any further action and prescribe medication to treat symptoms. Email us at for more information on this.


Want an expert opinion? 

Face Dr expert giving consultation for acne skincare routine

Crafting the perfect skincare routine can take a lot of trial and error, but we hope these tips will help make the process a little easier. Just bear in mind that your skin is unique and you might need to call on some expert advice to find the right routine for you. 

If you’re struggling with any form of acne or another skin condition and you’d like to pursue professional help, we offer free online consultations where you can speak with one of our dermatologists and chat through your symptoms. They’ll then recommend a personalised plan compiled of products from our trusted partners at ZO Skin Health and AllSkin Med. There’s no pressure to purchase though, so if you decide it’s not for you that’s totally fine. 

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