6 steps to treat acne at home with your skincare routine

Vanessa Gibbs

Acne-prone skin might look like it needs a lot of attention, but in reality the opposite is true. There are three words to remember when it comes to crafting an effective acne-treating regime – less is more.

Our experts at Face Dr stand by this philosophy, and strongly recommend you avoid overloading acne-prone skin. We suggest stripping back your skincare routine to six simple steps and using fewer products with higher efficacy:

#1 Cleanse

#2 Exfoliate

#3 Tone

#4 Hydrate

#5 Target 

#6 Detoxify

Consistency is key when it comes to treating acne and this is a sustainable routine that you’ll be able to keep up even if you’re on the tightest of schedules. 

Want to find out the best products for you and how to build the ideal routine with them? That’s where getting tailored recommendations can help. Our experts at Face Dr have decades of experience in the skincare word—and they’re more than happy to share it! We offer free online consultations where you can speak with a member of our team. They can analyse your skin and recommend the very best products for your exact concerns. 


woman using skincare routine for acne


Step 1: Cleanse


Probably the most important step when it comes to treating acne-prone skin, daily cleansing is an absolute necessity. Bacteria, make-up and excess oil all need to get gone if you’re to ensure your pores stay free of build-up. 

A common mistake acne-sufferers make is to opt for harsh cleansers, but these actually do more harm than good. You’ll be much better off double cleansing (washing your face twice) with a gentle wash that’s formulated for sensitive skin. 

We recommend: ZO Exfoliating Cleanser - A gentle exfoliating cleanser for normal to oily skin. Targets surface oil and leaves the skin feeling clean, but not stripped or dry. Ingredients work to provide free-radical protection, hydrate and remove impurities. Suitable for normal to oily skin.

Step 2: Exfoliate


This one’s not an everyday step, but you should definitely take the time to exfoliate once or twice a week. 

Buff away build-up with an acid powered toner–glycolic acid is a great ingredient for the job–rather than using ultra-abrasive scrubs. This will ensure you protect your skin’s natural barrier from damage while breaking down dead skin cells. 

We recommend: ZO Exfoliating PolishZO Skin Health's Exfoliating Polish contains magnesium crystals that exfoliate dead skin cells to reveal a clear, smooth and even-toned complexion. Perfect for enhancing serum product penetration and brightening the complexion.

man using skincare routine for acne


Step 3: Tone


Serums are made using higher concentrations of active ingredients. They can contain anything from zinc to niacinamide, vitamin C to tea tree oil, so you should tailor your serum selection to your specific skin concern. For example, zinc is better at fighting blemish-boosting bacteria while niacinamide has potent anti-inflammatory properties. 

Do your research into which serum recipe best suits your skin and take the time to treat your skin to a little extra love. They’re not an overnight fix, but consistent use (as directed by the product) will ensure you see positive results. 

We recommend: ZO Oil Control Pads Specifically designed for acne-prone skin. An invigorating acne treatment prevention solution to be used as part of an acne program of ZO products. ZO Skin Health's Oil Control Pads work to remove oil and normalise pore size. In addition, they smooth the surface of the skin and reduce skin irritation.

Step 4: Hydrate & Treat


Healthy skin will be able to fight acne breakouts faster and hydration is a huge part of keeping your skin match fit. 

Use lightweight hydrators with humectants such as hyaluronic acid that help your skin hold onto moisture. If a product is labelled as a ‘gel’ or ‘water’ formula that’s usually a good sign. Just make sure that all ingredients used are non-comedogenic—this means they won’t clog your pores and minimises the risk of future breakouts. 

We recommend: ZO Daily Power Defense - Daily Power Defense is a lightweight serum that works to support the skin's health and function. It is consistently our best-selling skincare product, providing hydration and strength to the skin, protecting the skin from damage, boosting collagen and cell renewal and tackling fine lines and wrinkles. To read more about ZO Skin Health's Daily Power Defense, read the blog here.

woman using skincare routine for acne


Step 5: Target


Annoyingly, we often don’t know about breakouts until it’s too late and even the best skin can fall victim to pimples and whiteheads. Environmental aggressors, stress and hormones can all wreak havoc on our skin even when we have the best of regimes.

If you notice a spot coming, use a targeted treatment to stop it in its tracks. Be mindful that some on-the-spot products can be quite harsh, so make sure you’re choosing ones which simultaneously soothe your skin and aren’t too drying.

ZO Skin Health Oil Control Pads or ZO Complexion Clearing Masque can also be used as a targeted treatment.

Step 6: Detoxify


Flush out your pores once a week with a detoxifying face mask. Blackheads, pimples and whiteheads are no match for skin decongestants such as clay and charcoal. These purifying ingredients draw out impurities from deep within the dermis, giving your skin a new lease of life and helping to improve your complexion. 

Taking time out of a busy week to do a face mask is also a great way to indulge and de-stress. Cortisol (aka ‘the stress hormone’) can cause breakouts and make existing flare-ups worse. Anything you can do to lower cortisol levels in your skin and body will help you fight off those bothersome blemishes that come with acne. 

We recommend: ZO Complexion Clearing MasquePreviously known as ZO's Sulfur Masque, the Complexion Clearing Masque is a natural, clay-based formula that treats and prevents acne and breakouts. Purifies pores and absorbs excess oil that leads to future breakouts. Hydrates the skin to combat dryness.

Need expert advice? 

Face Dr skin expert giving skincare consultation for acne

So there you have it–six simple ways to treat acne with your skincare routine. As we mentioned at the start of the article, consistency is key if you’re looking for long-term results–stick with it and you will notice improvements. 

There are no miracle overnight cures for acne, so make sure you give your new routine a chance to kick in and get to work on your skin. Most products take four to six weeks to really start working. It may take a little time, but the results are definitely worth the wait.

If you’re still wondering what to do with your skin and nothing you try seems to be working, it may be time to consult a dermatologist or GP and get some professional tailored advice. 

You can also book a free online skincare consultation at Face Dr where one of our skin experts can give you tailored advice. They can analyse your skin and then recommend the very products to help. Plus, they can help you build the best routine to tackle acne. 

It’s normal for our skincare routine to regularly need changing. We need to adapt to take into account everything from our individual skin conditions, to...
Read more
Are you experiencing random breakouts? How about unexplained dry or flaky skin? Whatever is going on, it could indicate the skincare routine that’s been working so well for you is no longer providing results. Let’s dive into some of the biggest reasons why your skincare routine might cease to work.
Read more
Find the best facial masks to try in the comfort of your own home. Facial masks are an excellent way to target skin concerns and add a little more TLC to your skin routine. Discover our top mask recommendations from ZO Skin Health, Obagi and other brands on the market.
Read more
We dive into retinol, what makes it different from other retinoids, why you might wish to try it, how much the best retinols cost and more.
Read more

What is retinol and how does it work?

By Hannah Wilson

If you’re confused about the difference between retinol, retinoid, tretinoin and other related words, we’re demystifying it all right here! From its benefits to retinol side effects to which retinols will suit your skin type, let’s take a deep dive into this incredible ingredient. 
Read more

We want to make sure you have all the information about the products you put on your skin, so we’re breaking down everything there is to know about this superstar retinoid cream; what it does, who it’s for, the ingredients that make it so effective, and we’ll share some reviews so you can decide if it’s the best product for your skin. 

Read more