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How to Prevent & Treat Acne & Post-Acne Hyperpigmentation

Find out all you need to know about acne, post-acne scars and pigmentation with the experts at Kiehl’s, including treatment & prevention tips!

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Acne is a skin concern that we all hope to leave behind in our teenage years, however it continues to remain a common concern, even for adults. Whether you’re looking to banish existing acne breakouts or prevent new blemishes from forming, preparing yourself with the right arsenal of products is a great place to start.

At Kiehl’s, we have expertly produced a skincare range that includes products that are formulated to treat and combat existing acne and post-acne marks as well as preventing any potential breakouts or pigmentation. Our scientific-based solutions contain the most effective ingredients in order to keep your skin looking clear, happy and healthy

What is Acne?

Acne is a skin condition that occurs when the sebaceous glands in our skin, which are attached to our hair follicles are stimulated – resulting in the over-production of sebum. Sebum is a natural substance that moisturises and protects the skin, but when overproduced, the substance can cause acne. This has the tendency to leave the skin with unwanted marks and visible pigmentation. It can appear at any age and to our dismay often at the most inconvenient of times. Acne can occur in a number of ways, which include excess oil (sebum) production, hair follicles becoming clogged by dead skin cells and sebum, as well as bacteria and skin inflammation.

The different types of acne that appear on the skin are:

  • Blackheads and whiteheads
  • Pimples
  • Cysts

What Causes Acne?

There are a number of factors that can contribute to acne and studies suggest that everything from stress to genetics can be culprits to triggering breakouts. Some of the most common factors that can attribute to causing acne include:

  • Hormonal changes caused by puberty, menstruation or pregnancy
  • Hormonal levels increase during puberty, which in turn causes our sebaceous glands to expand and produce more sebum. Some women experience flare-ups of acne just before they have their period as well as during the first 3 months or their pregnancy.

  • Skincare and makeup that have pore-clogging ingredients
  • Some cosmetics and skincare products contain comedogenic ingredients that can clog pores. We recommend you always check the products you use to make sure they are non-comedogenic.

  • Medication
  • It’s possible that certain types of medications may cause or worsen acne, some examples include medication containing corticosteroids, testosterone, or lithium.

  • Genetics
  • There is no specific gene linked to acne, however, genetics can play a role in whether you’re more susceptible to the issue.

  • Lifestyle, stress and diet
  • Not getting enough beauty sleep, smoking and stress can also trigger and aggravate existing acne. Recent studies have also identified that a connection exists between diet and acne, therefore to maintain good health and great skin it's best to avoid sugary foods and unhealthy fats.

How To Treat Current Breakouts

It doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with a single pimple or a cluster of blackheads, the best way to treat breakouts is by adopting and committing to a skincare regimen that includes products with acne-fighting ingredients. Try using our Breakout Control Targeted Acne Spot Treatment which is formulated with acne-clearing sulfur and Vitamin B3 to help reduce the appearance of any current acne concerns you are experiencing. If you’re in need of something extra gentle or have sensitive skin, we recommend our Blue Herbal Spot Treatment to avoid irritation.

Ways to Prevent Future Breakouts

There are a number of ways you can actively prevent acne, including:

  • Keeping your face clean
  • Washing your face twice a day will remove any impurities, extra oil, and dead skin cells that can lead to breakouts. Remember to refrain from using harsh soaps or scrubs as you don’t want to aggravate or irritate the skin!

  • Watch what you use on your hair
  • If you have a fringe or hairstyle where the hair is in contact with your skin, it is best to refrain from using leave-in hair styling products as these can clog pores and irritate the skin.

  • Feed your skin with targeted serums and treatments
  • At Kiehl's, we have expertly produced a range of serums and treatments that are backed by science in order to prevent acne.

  • Stop touching your face
  • We all know how tempting it can be to pick and pop pimples, however, this should be avoided at all costs since it leads to spreading bacteria which causes irritation and potential acne scarring.

  • Use any makeup sparingly
  • If you usually wear makeup, make sure to check that it’s labelled as non-comedogenic to prevent blocked pores. At the end of the day, remember to remove the makeup thoroughly by cleansing your skin.

  • Avoid too much sun exposure
  • Exposing your skin to UV rays can lead to an increase in inflammation and redness, in addition to an overproduction of sebum that triggers acne and causes post-acne pigmentation.

  • Reduce stress
  • Make an effort to engage in stress-reducing activities a part of your daily routine, as stress may trigger visible skin inflammation concerns which could lead to acne.

What is Post-Acne Pigmentation?

Post-acne pigmentation occurs when a dark spot develops in place of a pimple that has recently healed and since disappeared. They usually appear as a flat area of discolouration on the skin, which can range in colour depending on the depth of discolouration and your skin tone. These dark spots are known to appear in all skin types but tend to be more common and longer-lasting in people with darker skin tones.

Why Does Post-Acne Pigmentation Occur?

Post-acne pigmentation occurs due to the skin cells producing too much melanin. Melanin is the protein that gives skin its colour and when overproduced in one patch or spot can cause skin to appear darker. Most people with acne will experience some degree of pigmentation.

How to Treat Post-Acne Marks & Pigmentation?

The good news is that with a little patience and commitment it’s possible to fade away post-acne marks and pigmentation over time! The dark spots you experience are not scars and will only stick around for a period of time since they don’t actually damage the skin follicle. Our Clearly Corrective™ Dark Spot Solution can help to speed up the healing process, formulated with specific ingredients that help to diminish the amount and intensity of marks whilst visibly brightening the skin.

Some Preventative Tips for Acne Marks & Pigmentation

Follow these tips to set yourself up in achieving the best results from treating any marks and pigmentation caused by acne:

  1. Ensure that keeping your acne under control remains your first skincare priority.
  2. This is to avoid the likelihood of any new breakouts happening, which could lead to even more dark spots.

  3. Make sure to apply an SPF every day.
  4. The Australian sun can be particularly fierce so it’s crucial to ensure you are using a sunscreen every single day (don’t forget to re-apply throughout the day). Exposure to the sun can make it harder for the skin to repair itself, increasing the chance of acne scarring. It can also cause pre-existing dark spots to worsen, jeopardising precious fading time and ruining all your hard work!

  5. Avoid unnecessary skin irritation.
  6. Make sure to monitor your skin when using products that treat acne and post acne marks, and avoid over-cleansing or stripping the skin. Irritated skin will ultimately lead to more breakouts and even more dark spots, so it’s important to remember to keep the skin hydrated with a light moisturiser.

What is the Best Skincare Routine for Acne-Prone Skin?

If you are suffering from acne or want to prevent any potential breakouts from occurring, we suggest you follow these 5 easy steps. Each incorporate’s specially formulated Kiehl’s products in order to keep your skin as clear and healthy as possible.

Step 1: Cleanse

The first step in any skincare routine is to cleanse the skin and remove any makeup or dirt. Use a gentle cleanser like our Ultra Facial Cleanser which is ph-balanced and won't over-dry or irritate your skin.

Step 2: Replenish and Strengthen

Now that your skin is clean you can apply a toner. We recommend our Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol-Free Toner which soothes the skin with its non-drying formula. You can then apply a few drops of our Vital Skin-Strengthening Hyaluronic Acid Super Serum onto your face and neck, this skin-strengthening serum helps to restore moisture to dehydrated and sensitive acne-prone skin. It is easily absorbed into the skin and can be used in conjunction with other serums before your moisturiser.

Step 3: Treat

At Kiehl’s, we have developed specifically targeted solutions that can help to treat acne and reduce post-acne marks and pigmentation.

If you are experiencing oil-based acne we highly recommend The Blue Herbal Spot Treatment which contains glycolic acid, a powerful pore cleaning ingredient, and cinnamon bark extract to soothe the skin. Apply a thin layer to any affected areas once a day to begin with (you can gradually increase to three times a day if needed, just be sure to monitor for any irritation).

If your skin is sensitive or you are prone to irritation our Breakout Control Targeted Acne Spot Treatment is a more suitable option for treating your acne. It contains niacinamide, a form of Vitamin B3 and sulfur, ingredients selected for their proven acne clearing and skin brightening properties. Apply a thin layer to any blemishes once daily to help reduce the appearance of pimples.

To target and reduce post-acne marks and pigmentation apply our signature #1 treatment, the Clearly Corrective™ Dark Spot Solution, a facial serum enriched with Activated C, white birch, and peony extract. It visibly brightens the skin and is clinically proven to decrease the intensity and amount of marks and pigmentation over time.

These products can be used both morning and night, after cleansing and toning and before moisturising. Make sure to always follow with an SPF

Step 4: Replenish and Protect

Although it feels counterintuitive to apply any extra moisture to oily, acne-prone skin, a moisturiser is an important part of your routine that you definitely shouldn’t skip. Acne medications and treatments can dry out the skin, leaving it in desperate need of hydration. The Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Face Cream is non-comedogenic and helps to regulate excess oil production whilst maintaining skin moisture levels. Apply morning and night after serums and treatments to leave your skin hydrated, refreshed and balanced. We really cannot stress enough the importance of using an SPF daily. Apply our Ultra Light Daily UV Defense CC Cream every morning to finish off your skincare routine. Its lightweight formula is non- comedogenic and will help protect your skin without causing acne.

What are the best ingredients for acne-prone skin?

We recommend you to look for the following ingredients that are proven to treat and prevent acne and any post-acne marks and pigmentation.

  • Glycolic Acid
  • Glycolic acid is a type of alpha-hydroxy acid derived from sugarcane that you will find included in selected Kiehl’s products. It can help treat acne by exfoliating the uppermost layer of the skin, improving its appearance, and leaving it smoother.

  • Vitamin B3
  • We use a form of Vitamin B3 called niacinamide within our formulas as it is proven to reduce the appearance of acne whilst helping to keep the skin illuminated, giving your complexion more radiance.

    * Cinnamon Bark Extract

    * Contains an essential oil that is known for soothing the skin and also contains antibacterial properties.

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin C which is also referred to as ascorbic acid is a powerful skincare ingredient known for increasing brightness and the overall clarity of the skin. We use Activated C, a stabilised form of Vitamin C in our Kiehl’s formulas as it penetrates the skin even more deeply. Activated C helps to even out pigmentation and reduce dark spots and post-acne marks in order to give you a more radiant complexion.

  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Hyaluronic acid is used to help retain moisture levels in the skin and promote suppleness. You will discover 11kDa Hyaluronic Acid, a micronised yet potent ingredient in our products that effectively rehydrates the skin’s cells.

    By making a few simple adjustments to your lifestyle and skincare routine you can give yourself the best chance at effectively treating and preventing acne, as well as the marks and pigmentation it can leave behind. Shop Kiehl’s scientifically formulated products that are clinically tested and proven to help with acne-prone skin.


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