How to Prevent Acne Breakouts: 7 Complete Tips

So recently in a group chat, someone put up an image of herself that showed mild to moderate acne on her face. She asked for tips on how to prevent acne breakouts, as well as manage existing ones.

I was unsure of her age, but if I were to guess, I would say she would be between 20 and 24 years of age.

While so many people were recommending one product after another, I shared some practical tips the audience considered to be one of the best. 

You Need More Than Anti-Acne Products.

When you talk about your struggle with acne with another person, what do you often hear?

You probably mostly hear “oh buy this or that product. it’s really good for acne”.

I am not saying that they all don’t work. Of course, many of these products can be highly effective. But you need more than just products!

Why Do People Request Help on How to Prevent or Treat Acne?

Some of your reasons may include;

  1. You have tried some products that have failed.
  2. You are starting to loose faith in any skincare products due to terrible experiences.
  3. You are simply unsure of what to do about your acne.
  4. You want expert advise etc.

Hormonal Acne And Other Forms of Acne

Hormonal Acne
Hormonal Acne

The tips shared in this article apply to all forms of acne, including adult female acne (commonly called hormonal acne). However, there is a section specific for hormonal acne.

How Can You Differentiate Hormonal Acne From Other Forms?

Typical hormonal breakouts will appear along the “hormonal belt” which is generally used to refer to the lower part of your face, along your jaw line and around your mouth.

Hormonal acne may present as mild to moderate hormonal acne, which is caused by hormonal fluctuations.

You may see inflammatory lesions, papules, pustules, whiteheads or small cysts.

Who Experiences Hormonal Acne?

So for a female, fluctuations in your hormones can happen in different situations.

  • It can occur before your period starts (premenstrual).
  • When you have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
  • If you are approaching menopause (perimenopause).

In any of these cases above, your hormonal fluctuation can lead to breakouts.

Read more about other factors that can contribute to acne.

Tips on How to Manage Breakouts Generally.

7 Tips To Help Prevent Acne Breakouts, Including Managing Existing Ones.

TIP 1: Research anti-acne ingredients

If you are looking for products for acne, start by knowing and finding ingredients that have anti-acne properties, for example niacinamide, witch-hazel etc. There are several of them actually. You can apply this based on the manufacturer’s direction.

TIP 2: Establish a skincare routine – 5 Steps.

There are 5 steps under TIP 2 that will be addressed for your skincare routine.

Depending on your financial position or desire to advance your skin care routine, there are steps include cleansing, toning, use of serum, moisturizing and use of sunscreen. 

You want to make sure you establish a CONSISTENT skin care routine in this order or at least should include a suitable anti-acne cleanser, moisturizer and sunscreen (which is basic).

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Step 1 – Find a suitable, gentle cleanser

Although there are many variations of cleansers lately such as gel cleanser, foam cleanser and water-based cleanser. The underlying principle is that you want to make sure that ingredients deeply cleanse your skin, will be gentle on your skin, can unclog your pores.

You also want to make sure that the cleanser is labelled non-comedogenic, have anti-inflammatory or anti-bacterial properties.

For example, a gentle cleanser with salicylic acid (BHA) can gently exfoliate (remove dead skin) without causing irritation, can help unclog your pores and reduce sebum production. There are others such as lemon peels and quinoa seed extract that can help to clear blemish and reduce excess oil production.

If you are keen to know more about types of cleansers, tips on how to cleanse properly cleanse your skin and effective and highly rated cleansers, you can read more.

Step 2 – Find a gentle treatment or exfoliation toner

A treatment toner can contain ingredient such as witch-hazel, niacinamide. 

Witch-hazel has anti-inflammatory property that can help clear blemish. It can also help to prevent excess oil production and further breakout, as well as gently exfoliate the skin. the skin.

Niacinamide can help protect your skin from environmental insults such as sunlight and pollution. Its anti-inflammatory effect can help with inflammatory forms of acne such as papules and pustules.

An exfoliating toner may include Beta Hydroxy Acid – BHA (e,g. salycylic acid) and Alpha Hydroxy Acid – AHA (e.g. glycolic acid).

BHA toners can help reduce excess sebum production and gently remove dead skin cells, and reduce or prevent breakouts. It is good for oily and acne prone skin as it is oil soluble and can work at a deeper level to remove excess oil and unclog your pores.

AHA is not oil soluble so it can mostly work on your skin surface as an exfoliant to effectively remove dead skin cells. However, if you have senstive sensitive and acne prone skin, your tendency to react unpleasantly to AHA may occur. If this happens, then it may be best to leave AHA out of your choice of ingredients and stick to a milder BHA or even less irritating ingredients.

Exfoliators can unclog your pores and allow better penetration of your serum or moisturizer to work their magic. If you are using an exfoliant, make sure you don’t miss slap on a sunscreen, as exfoliants may increase your sensitive to UV rays.

Read more about different  anti-acne toners that have shown to be highly effective and rated.

Step 3 – Find a suitable anti-acne serum

As serums generally contain high concentration of active ingredients, you should find serums that contain anti-acne ingredients such niacinamide, zinc, tea tree and cantella asiatica, and if you like, retinol.

Anti-acne serums can help to minimize the appearance of pores, unclog your pores, reduce and prevent blemishes, including inflammatory forms of acne like papules and pustules.

If you are using retinol, make sure you put on a sunscreen as retinol is not photo stable and may increase your sensitivity to UV rays

So if money isn’t an issue, don’t overlook including serum in your skincare routine.

Find out more about anti-acne serums that rank highly and are effective.

Step 4 – Find a suitable moisturizer

You want to select a moisturizer that is specially designed for acne with anti-acne ingredients such as tea tree oil, adapalene/, willow bark extract and probiotic.

There a added benefits you if your anti-acne moisturizer contains probiotic such as Bifidobacterium longum. Their lactic acid can help with further fighting off acne causing bacteria and inflammation, as well as enhancing your skin protective barrier from environmental insults that can aggravate your acne. Bifidobacterium longum can also help repair damage to your skin caused by your acne.

Your anti-acne moisturizer can become your life-long skincare product for not only treating acne when they occur but also preventing future breakouts. Their can help clear acne scars, spots, as well as heal inflammation.

Step 5 – Don’t forget your Sunscreen

Often so neglected, ensure to always stap on a sunscreen to protect against UV rays. Not only can UV rays exacerbate acne, excessive exposure can cause skin damage.

Select sunscreen with at least SPF 30 depending on your climate region and UV index.

Use your sunscreen correctly, as directed by the manufacturer. 

Find out more about suitable sunscreens and tips on how to use sunscreen.

TIP 3: Learn good habits and unlearn bad ones – 6 habits to note!

  1. Keep good hygiene – wash your face morning and evening. Make sure you don’t wash more than twice. Avoid excessive washing and limit each session to one minute.
  2. Avoid using soaps to wash your face. Using an appropriate face wash with ingredients described above.
  3. Avoid squeezing/popping pimples. If you get the urge, gently dab each lesion that’s itchy and painful with concentrated tea tree oil or use charmomile to calm the itchiness, irritation or pain.
  4. Avoid using alcohol on your will dry it out and worsen your acne.
  5. Don’t leave make up on your face overnight.
  6. Select appropriate make up if you feel the need to use one. Make sure it is non-greasy and it’s labelled non-comedogenic.

You can read more about some selected anti-acne moisturizers that are effective and highly rated.

TIP 4: Review your diet, stress level and exercise.


When it comes to what you eat, you want to avoid excessively greasy, sugary or refined foods. Eat healthy instead, mostly foods with low glycemic index and consider cow milk alternatives fortified with vitamin D.

If you can’t find cow milk alternatives, minimize your milk intake but make sure you are getting a balanced nutrition and enough vitamin D. Cow milk has been linked with exacerbating acne. Minimize your chocolate intake, if you have to eat it.

It is always best to consult your nutritionist to prevent malnutrition or dietary complications.


As for stress, try control or avoid stressors and engage in yoga or stress relieving activities to help with reducing stress.


What about exercise? Don’t over exercise for long hours. Keep your exercise up, be moderate and for shorter length of time but you can be consistent.

If you are keen, you can read more about the role of diet in acne and potential dietary triggers. You can also check out the connection between hormonal acne and diet.

TIP 5: Hormonal Acne Supplements – For Hormonal Balance.

If your acne is hormonal related, this can be beneficial.

Hormonal acne is common with PCOS, pre menstruation and perimenopause.

There are many steps you can take if you want to control hormonal fluctuation that results in acne or PMS.

A natural supplements such as Diindolylmenthane (DIM) can help you restore restore your hormonal balance, reduce excess sebum production, thereby significantly reducing acne.

DIM can be obtained from cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, mustard, brussels sprout, cauliflower and kale.

Do you want to find out more about what hormonal acne is, how to manage it, what supplements can help regulate hormones, how they work and how they can help control breakouts? You can read more.

TIP 6: Give it time and be consistent

You will not see result overnight.

Although you may start to see some effect with some anti-acne products within the first few days to 1 week, generally, you need to give the products 4 to 8 weeks to see significant results, as backed up by multiple studies.

Also, don’t hope to see much improvement if you are inconsistent with your routine. This is why it is important to select products that you can easily use as your daily skincare routine while you are focusing on ingredients. For example, if time is a factor, opt for products that require less frequent application to promote adherence to routine.

TIP 7: When to contact your doctor

There are many effective over the counter (OTC) cosmeceutical products designed to control acne and prevent breakouts. Most of them work for mild to moderate acne, and in rare cases for severe acne.

However contact your doctor if;

  • your acne isn’t not mild to moderate. That is, if you have severe acne.
  • you have PCOS acne that’s not responding to OTC products
  • you are on other medications and may want to check contraindication with hormonal supplements sold OTC.
  • your acne is not going away despite all efforts and commitments.
  • For any allergy you may develop, stop and contact your doctor immediately!

Points To Note in Addition to The 7 Tips Above

1) Of course, with acne, you will need to find a skincare product that works.

2) You will also need to understand the triggers or what makes acne worse.

3) If you are having difficulty finding the right product, you may want to visit your doctor or dermatologist for prescription strength medications -.topical or oral.

4) You want to take action early enough to avoid permanent scarring.


Your topical skincare routine, as described above under cleanser, treatment/exfoliating toner, serum and moisturizer should be established and followed with consistency based on manufacturer’s direction.

If you can’t afford all steps, never leave your acne untreated. Start with the basics that include cleansing, moisturizing and use of sunscreen designed for acne and be consistent.

Always remember that the input of your doctor or dermatologist is always your best bet if you have severe acne, are on medications or have had failed and disappointing experiences with cosmeceutical products.

Never leave your acne untreated to prevent scarring!

PLEASE LEAVE US a message if you find that this article addresses your concerns on how to manage your acne. Drop a line or two if you can.

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