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Effective Treatments for Mild Acne

Nearly everyone gets mild acne at some time during life, most often starting between the ages of 8 and 18. Mild acne is best treated with mild measures. Choosing the right treatment, however, depends on your skin type.

acne on fair skin
You should pick the appropriate acne treatment based on your skin type.


  • Nearly everyone gets acne between the ages of 8 and 18.
  • Mild acne is best treated with mild measures.
  • Whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples on the face are manifestations of mild acne. Cysts and nodules are signs of a more serious condition.
  • The right treatment for mild acne depends on skin type.
  • Skin may be dry or oily, sensitive or resistant, pigmented or non-pigmented, and tight or wrinkled.
  • Treatments that work well for one skin type often do not work for another.
  • The simplest way to get all the treatments you need at the lowest cost is to buy a skin care system.

What Is Mild Acne?

Mild acne  or “mild to moderate” acne is the usual result of acne vulgaris, also known as common acne. If you have mild acne, you may have areas of blemished skin populated with whiteheads and blackheads that come and go. You may have red pimples, but they are likely to be small, that is, under 1/10 of an inch (4 mm) in diameter, and you probably will not ever have more than 100 pimples on your face at any one time. You do not have acne infection under the surface of your skin1, in the form of nodules or cysts, and your acne is limited to your face and possibly your ears, scalp, and back.

Skin Type and Acne Treatment

It’s not hard at all to spend $50, or $100, or even hundreds of dollars on acne products you try for a few days and then never use again. There are some acne products that won’t work on any type of skin, but more often the problem is trying to use an acne product designed for one type of skin on a skin type for which is not beneficial. The main distinctions in skin types are:

  • Dry or oily.
  • Sensitive or resistant.
  • Pigmented or non-pigmented.
  • Wrinkled or tight.

Dry skin is skin that lacks moisture in the skin. It turns gray if it is not constantly moisturized, and it is prone to flaking and peeling2. If you have dry skin and mild acne, tiny flakes of skin will keep your skin from stretching out, locking oil inside pores.

Oily skin is skin that has too much oil on the skin. Oily skin is shiny3. The oil keeps the skin flexible so pores can drain, but the production of oil can be so great that whiteheads and blackheads form nonetheless.

Sensitive skin reacts to chemicals. Sensitive skin is easily stressed4, and when it is stressed, it sends out chemicals that make its outer layers more vulnerable to inflammation. In small amounts, inflammation can be a good thing. Inflammation isolates germs and toxins in and on the skin. But sensitive skin breaks out with redness and inflammation out of proportion to the stress and chemical irritation. Heat and cold, as well as irritant chemicals, stress the skin.

Resistant skin does not react to small amounts of most chemicals. Acne products that make breakouts on sensitive skin worse may heal breakouts on resistant skin.

Pigmented skin turns brown after inflammation5. The melanin that gives the skin its brown tones doubles as both pigment and inflammation-fighter. The more active the melanin-making melanocytes are in your skin, the more melanin is made by your skin when acne breaks out, and the more melanin stays in your skin even after acne heals. People who have rich golden or brown skin tones are especially susceptible to skin discoloration caused by acne, and some of the products used to treat brown discoloration on fair skin can transform discoloration on Asian skin from brown to black and blue.

Non-pigmented skin stands up to lightening agents without unwanted chemical reactions. But it is usually very sensitive to sun6.

Tight skin locks oil in pores. Pores in wrinkly skin tend to drain well. Exfoliation helps both acne and fine lines and wrinkles in wrinkled skin7, although it is important to use the right kind of peel for the skin.

How Does Knowing Skin Type Can Help You Avoid Products that Make Mild Acne Worse?

Knowing your skin type can help you avoid products that turn minor acne problems into major acne problems. For example:

  • Alcohol-based products do not work well for mild acne on any kind of skin, but they will make dry skin drier, and oily skin oilier.
  • People who have fair, non-pigmented skin usually respond best to exfoliants that contain alpha-hydroxy acids8. People who have darker, pigmented skin usually respond best to exfoliants that contain beta-hydroxy acids.
  • People who have fair or non-pigmented skin have more mild acne breakouts after stress. People who have dark or pigmented skin have more mild acne breakouts after changes in hormone levels.
  • Excessive use of vitamin C can cause breakouts on non-pigmented skin. The same amount of vitamin C can prevent breakouts on oily, dark skin.
  • Heat increases risk on sunburn on fair skin. Heat increases risk of mild acne breakouts on dark skin.
  • Benzoyl peroxide lotions may make pimples even redder on sensitive skin9. Benzoyl peroxides will prevent pimples on resistant skin.
  • Moisturizers help prevent mild acne outbreaks on dry skin, although alcohol-based moisturizers can increase mild acne outbreaks on oily skin.

Knowing the right products for your skin type can make all the difference in how successful the product is for mild acne10. But there is no need to be envious of people who have “perfect skin”.

The Problems with Perfect Skin

People who never get acne are often said to have “perfect skin,” at least in their youth. People who don’t have mild acne when they are young are actually more prone to have skin problems as they age.

The reason for problems with previously perfect skin is that people who don’t have acne never get into the habit of using skin care products. They do not protect their skin from the sun, and they are much more likely to have problems with wrinkling and pigmentation after the age of 50. Also, many of the vitamin A derivatives that protect the skin from mild acne, such as retinoic acid, have an anti-aging effect, protecting the skin from wrinkles for many years after acne is gone.

If you are new to acne treatment, it can be very difficult to find acne products that work. It’s simpler, and a whole lot less expensive, to start with a money-back guaranteed acne treatment system like Exposed Skin Care.


  1. Acne: Overview. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-.
  2. Siddappa K. Dry skin conditions, eczema and emollients in their management. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2003 Mar-Apr;69(2):69-75.
  3. Sakuma TH, Maibach HI. Oily skin: an overview. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2012;25(5):227-35.
  4. Lev-Tov H, Maibach HI. The sensitive skin syndrome. Indian J Dermatol. 2012;57(6):419–423.
  5. Davis EC, Callender VD. Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation: a review of the epidemiology, clinical features, and treatment options in skin of color. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2010;3(7):20–31.
  6. Brenner M, Hearing VJ. The protective role of melanin against UV damage in human skin. Photochem Photobiol. 2008;84(3):539–549.
  7. Grajqevci-Kotori M, Kocinaj A. Exfoliative Skin-peeling, Benefits from This Procedure and Our Experience. Med Arch. 2015;69(6):414–416.
  8. Tang SC, Yang JH. Dual Effects of Alpha-Hydroxy Acids on the Skin. Molecules. 2018;23(4):863. Published 2018 Apr 10.
  9. Kawashima M, Nagare T, Doi M. Clinical efficacy and safety of benzoyl peroxide for acne vulgaris: Comparison between Japanese and Western patients. J Dermatol. 2017;44(11):1212–1218.
  10. Whitney KM, Ditre CM. Management strategies for acne vulgaris. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2011;4:41–53.
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