When you have a breakout, you probably see it as just that-a terribly unfortunate and potentially day-ruining development, but a breakout nonetheless. However, not all acne is the same, meaning you can't treat small, red papules the same way you'd approach an inflamed pustule. To break down the unique treatment plan required for each type of acne, we called in celebrity esthetician RenГ©e Rouleau. Keep reading for a complete guide to beating every kind of acne!
вЂњCysts are hard, painful blemishes that develop deep within the skin and will eventually heal (your body eventually reabsorbs the infection), but can remain a painful lump for weeks,вЂќ Rouleau says.В
Rouleau's best advice? Do not pick at a cyst. вЂњDespite being sore, it's not meant to come out through the surface and if you attempt to do so, you'll most certainly have a scar that will linger for months.вЂќ Rouleau's rule is that if a whitehead does not form (which will never happen with a cyst), then keep your hands off. She recommends applying ice to the cyst to reduce swelling and soreness and using an acne treatment like RenГ©e Rouleau Anti-Cyst Treatment ($48).
Need a quick fix? Schedule an appointment with your dermatologist to get a cortisone injection into the cyst, which will knock it out in a day or less. вЂњAlso, if you're prone to cysts in the chin and jawline area, consider cutting back on your dairy intake, as for many, this can be the cause,вЂќ Rouleau says.Renee Rouleau Anti-Cyst Treatment $47.50ShopREN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask $56ShopNeutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Daily Leave-on Face Mask $10Shop
вЂњWhiteheads, or closed comedones, are little clogged bumps under the skin that aren't red or sore,вЂќ Rouleau says. вЂњThey're just clogged pores that appear as white, clear, or flesh-colored bumps under the skin.вЂќ
First of all, don't go straight for your typical drying treatments. вЂњSince whiteheads have no infection (meaning they are not generally sore), using harsh acne products will only make them worse by causing dry skin cell buildup, which traps the oil in the skin longer,вЂќ Rouleau says.
Instead, her advice is to exfoliate. вЂњKeeping off surface dead skin cell buildup will help them to purge naturally.вЂќ She also notes that a deep pore-cleansing facial can be beneficial for removing the impurities within the pores. вЂњOnce you get the pores cleaned out, exfoliating products work deep within the skin to keep them clean.вЂќCane + Austin Face + Body Glycolic Acid Scrub Treatment $42ShopTammy Fender Epi-Peel Mask $80ShopOLEHENRIKSEN Pore-Balance Facial Sauna Scrub $28Shop
вЂњBlackheads are large, open pores that contain oil, which has oxidized from the air, causing it to turn black,вЂќ Rouleau says. Contrary to popular belief, it's not dirt, debris, or grime in there, but simply oxidized oil.
The bad news is there isn't really a cure for blackheads. вЂњAlthough there is no way to permanently get rid of blackheads, my best advice is to get monthly deep pore-cleansing facials and use well-formulated salicylic acid products at home to keep your pores clean long after the facial,вЂќ Rouleau says.
She recommends using retinol products like prescription Retin-A to keep your pores clean, but you have to use them consistently to see results. Rouleau also says to avoid pore-clogging ingredients like isopropyl myristate and isopropyl palmitate in your skincare products because they could be contributing to the formation of blackheads.
вЂњPustules are red, inflamed blemishes that contain puss and are known as your traditional zits,вЂќ Rouleau says. вЂњThey are most likely to cause post-breakout red or dark scars if you don't care for them properly.вЂќВ
вЂњYou must not touch these until you can see a whitehead,вЂќ Rouleau says. вЂњThen, you can carefully extract the infected pus and immediately dry it out with a spot treatment like RenГ©e Rouleau Night Time Spot Lotion ($33). Look for spot treatments with antiseptic, antibacterial ingredients like sulfur and zinc oxide, and a drying agent like camphor.Renee Rouleau Night Time Spot Lotion $33ShopOrigins Out Of Trouble 10 Minute Mask To Rescue Problem Skin $26ShopKate Somerville EradiKate Acne Treatment $26Shop
вЂњPapules are red, painful blemishes that do not quite reach the surface,вЂќ Rouleau says. вЂњIt's the stage past a whitehead where bacteria has caused inflammation, resulting in an infected blemish.вЂќ
When dealing with papules, you want to calm your skin, rather than dry it out. вЂњThe main symptom of a papule is inflammation and irritation, so the goal is not to dry it out with acne products, but rather to calm down the inflammation by using topical cortisone cream (from the drugstore) and ice compresses,вЂќ Rouleau says. вЂњThese will all reduce the inflammation until the whitehead reaches the surface and can be gently extracted.вЂќ Look for products with soothing ingredients like green tea, white tea, kaolin clay, and sulfur.Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Masque Acne Treatment Masque $52ShopFirst Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Daily Face Cream $22ShopChantecaille Rice and Geranium Foaming Cleanser $64Shop
Next up: A dermatologist weighs in on the relationship between stress and acne.