three types of acne, and how to treat them

When it comes to skincare, it can feel like we’re left to decode it all ourselves. Whether it’s determining our skin type, which products to try, or even the type of acne we all battle, we’re often left with a lot of questions.

In this post we will break down the three types of acne, the science behind different kinds of breakouts, and (most importantly!) how to treat them. Confusion, be gone!


Stage 1—Mild

These are the common culprits! They may take the following forms:

  • Minor pimples: The usual suspects, with no inflammation
  • Blackheads: Blockage is above the skin; dead cells reacting to oxygen result in black color (just like how avocados brown when exposed to oxygen, our dead skin cells blacken too!)
  • Whiteheads: Clogged pores not open to the surface, medically known as comedones

Breakage of these leads to the development of all other lesions. When whiteheads rupture the hair follicle wall, pimples are formed, and bacteria is released into the skin. This is what turns into “inflammatory acne”, so be careful!

The key to dealing with this type of acne is to deeply cleanse. Use our cleansing oil and toners, and bring the travel sized toners on-the-go with you throughout the day! Gently treat this form of acne and let them turnover on their own.

If you are prone to persistent blackheads, my best advice is to use toner and exfoliate often. Our Sea Moss Exfoliator is gentle enough to be used frequently, so keep this in the shower and use 3-4x per week. It’ll help prevent excess build up!


Stage II—Moderate, inflammatory

These are the bad guys. They may show up as:

  • Papules: These are whiteheads that turned into an infected area, and they are just under the surface. What differentiates these is that the blackheads or whiteheads have become inflamed (irritated, swollen, red), so much so that they are painful to the touch. For papules, the key is to reduce inflammation. Use our mask and turmeric stick frequently on these guys!
  • Pustules: The typical “pimple”. You can actually SEE the white, AH! These are inflamed whiteheads that have collected with white or yellow pus at the surface of the skin, not underneath like papules (and may be painful to the touch). Be careful using your hands around these guys. While I’m not a proponent of popping zits, these can be hard to resist! If you do pick, use two q-tips and immediately apply a cotton pad sprayed with our Raspberry Vinegar Toner over the area after. Do NOT pick beyond the initial POP! It may appear that there is “more” after the initial pop, but most of the time it is just swollen. Overly picking can can lead to more inflammation or long-term hyperpigmentation.


Stage III—Severe

These are the villains. The most “severe” form of acne may become:

  • Cysts: infected pustules that seem very buried under the skin, and are often large and painful. They can leave temporary or permanent scars and are more than 5 mm in diameter. Since they’re so deep under the skin, they are un-pop-able (not that any popping is good but these are REALLY un-pop-able)
  • Nodules: like cysts, these are hard, painful bumps, but they contain no pus or fluid, can last for weeks or months, can be dormant and reappear. These are really, really, really annoying.

Do. not. pick. these. guys. You will not be victorious and will end up with a scar or damaged texture for months…or LONGER! I’m speaking from experience. This is not the type of zit that will form a whitehead that easily comes out. When you pick cysts, it leads to even more inflammation. I know you know what I’m talking about!

The key for these guys will be to reduce swelling and inflammation. Use our Turmeric Stick or Chlorophyll Mask as much as possible on these areas or spots! Eat clean, avoid dairy, and let them reduce in size on their own. If you treat, mask, and let them heal naturally, they will eventually disappear without a scar.

*A note on cysts: Cystic acne is the most severe type of inflamed acne. Cysts form when your pores are clogged with dead skin cells and oil, are extremely irritated, and grow deeper within the skin than other types of acne. Changes in your hormones (like PMS week), picking and squeezing, environmental factors, bacterial irritations, or food sensitivities can be the cause. These are commonly found on cheeks and under the chin, but can take place just about anywhere (even on your back, chest, and neck).

It is important to note that you can have all three “stages” on different parts of your face or different time periods. Your acne does not have to be exclusive to one stage, unfortunately!


We hope this post helped demystify the different types of acne, as well as how to combat each type! As always, if you have any question reach out to us at