Skincare science: What causes acne prone skin, and how is it treated?

Skincare science: What causes acne prone skin, and how is it treated?


Acne is caused by inflammation, infection or blockage of the follicles of the skin.  The sebacious glands in the skin secrete sebum into follicles and this sebum production in the skin is a healthy, normal process that conditions and maintains a hydrated epidermis. In acne, this process can be overactive, causing the follicle to get clogged and acne symptoms to appear.

There are many causes of acne, which means that treatment needs to be holistic and comprehensive. Many have a genetic predisposition to acne, but there are also lifestyle factors that may aggravate acne.

Lifestyle factors

Increasing studies have found a link between the diet and acne like symptoms. Many medical aesthetic practioners recommend a dairy free diet and reduced intake of refined carbohydrates and sugar due to the link between insulin, other growth hormones and sebum production.

Similarly, restoring gut health has been seen as important to acne and skin health, a dietary intake of prebiotics and probiotics can help restore gut health.

Skincare for acne prone skin

AHAs, PHAs and BHAs

Alpha-hydroxy-acids, Poly-hydroxy-acids and Beta-hydroxy-acids (eg, salicylic acid) are naturally occuring acids usually derived from fermentation of certain sugars, and are highly effective at preventing and treating acne by gently dissolving dirt and skin clogging factors. Salicylic acid at a 2% concentration in a facial wash has been shown to significantly improve acne symptoms. Cosmeceuticals will also incorporate soap free cleansers, which means the skin is not stripped of oil.


Often, acne can leave hyperpigmentation (dark marks) and scarring. Retinol and other retinoids can help reverse this pigmentation, and improve the skin texture. Retinoids need to be used under the care of a medical aesthetic practioner.

Anti-inflammatory ingredients

Certain actives can help to minimise the inflammation, ingredients such as chamomile, aloe vera and oat extract are just a few ingredients to look out for in cosmeceutical formulations. Avoid parabens and SLS as these ingredients can aggravate the skin.

Skin conditioning ingredients

It is important to remember that acne prone skin needs extra care with conditioning, and although it may seem counter intuitive to moisturise, it is still important to condition the skin; ingredients like vitamin E and pro vitamin b5 are great additions to look out for. Choose moisturisers with light formulations and antioxidant complexes.

Anti bacterial ingredients

Ingredients such as teatree and witchhazel can benefit acne prone skin as these natural anti bacterial extracts can inhibit bacteria growth. Essential oils can be irritating to the skin so need to be diluted and used in moderation.

Aesthetic treatments for acne prone skin

Glycolic acid or salicylic acid peels

Glycolic acid or salicylic acid based peels can be used to treat acne scarring and pigmentation. Your aesthetic practitoner can advise if you need a superficial peel or a deeper peel. Usually, the glycolic acid based peels have minimal downtime, if any, and can  resurface the skin within weeks.

Laser treatment

Laser acne treatment can be effective at treating mild to moderate acne.  Around five sessions is usually recommended, and has proven effective against all four different types of acne.

Dermaroller Treatment

Dermaroller® produces thousands of very fine needle columns (0.1mm wide and 1.5mm deep) into the upper surface of the skin. This stimulates the skins natual repair process, which induces new collagen formation and an improved blood supply. This process results in improved skin texture and can reduce acne scarring.

For more information on acne treatment at Revivify London please contact us on 020 3287 2717