Your Guide to Treating Acne-Prone Skin with K-beauty

How to prevent breakouts from happening year-round

If your skin concerns cover breakouts, blemishes and all-out acne, then chances are you’ve tried many routines to get your skin under control. And, while flare-ups aren’t ideal, they’re more manageable than ever thanks to many targeted treatments available. But while thorough exfoliation, formulas to dry out an excess of sebum and harsh actives like retinol and glycolic acid are often the normal tactics used, when it comes to the Korean approach to problematic skin, it uses a gentler tact. Think solutions to soothe, hydrate and balance your complexion in order to restore problem skin from the root.

What’s more, K-beauty banks on a roster of traditional yet super effective, hardworking botanicals like Centella Asiatica, Tea Tree, and Mugwort as well as anti-inflammatory ingredients like Propolis and Niacinamide to help prevent and treat acne. Here, the lowdown on why we get breakouts and the tips and tricks to preventing them, the K-beauty way…

• IS OILY SKIN ALWAYS ACNE-PRONE?

Here’s the deal: Oil, also known as sebum, is produced by your sebaceous glands. Oily skin is the result of these glands producing too much oil and there are a number of reasons why this happens including genetics, hormones, over-cleansing, taking certain medications or using the wrong skincare products for your skin type. With oily skin you are often more prone to breakouts. This is because when your oil production is on overdrive, the extra sebum made by your skin combines with dead skin cells to clog your pores. Bacteria can get trapped within these pores, causing inflammation and ultimately spots and acne.

What cleanser is best for breakout-prone skin?

When your skin is feeling greasy it’s tempting to want to scrub it as squeaky clean is possible, but this can actually have the opposite effect on oily and acneic skin. Using harsh cleansers and toners or too frequent cleansing strips skin of its moisture which triggers more sebum to be produced, leaving you with even oilier skin in the longterm, and, potentially even more breakouts. Instead, try a double cleanse. 

a view of Dr. Ceuracle Pro-Balance Pure Cleansing Oil 155ml
a view of Dr. Ceuracle Pro-Balance Pure Cleansing Oil 155ml

Start with a balm or oil format like 

Dr. Ceuracle Pro-Balance Pure Cleansing Oil 155ml

which gently purges pores using Sunflower Seed, Jojoba and Meadowfoam Seed Oils while balancing skin’s bacteria levels with probiotics. It’s key here that your cleanser keeps your skin’s barrier intact which this one does with aplomb. Next, use a gel cleanser dedicated to oily-prone skin. 

COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser

We love 

COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser

as it’s enriched with Tea Tree Oil and a mild BHA to keep blemishes at bay without stripping the skin barrier in the process.

Should I exfoliate often?

.Twice a week is key for healthy cell turnover. Any more and you risk destroying your skin’s barrier which can also lead to excess oil production. When it comes to what you should be using, the key here is to tread gently

Klairs Gentle Black Sugar Facial Polish 110g
Klairs Gentle Black Sugar Facial Polish 110g
Klairs Gentle Black Sugar Facial Polish 110g
Klairs Gentle Black Sugar Facial Polish 110g
Klairs Gentle Black Sugar Facial Polish 110g
Klairs Gentle Black Sugar Facial Polish 110g

Klairs Gentle Black Sugar Facial Polish 110g

is made up of fine granules of black sugar, which gently slough off dead skin cells on the surface of the skin while controlling blackheads and keeping skin hydrated at the same time. 

By Wishtrend Mandelic Acid 5% Skin Prep Water
By Wishtrend Mandelic Acid 5% Skin Prep Water

If your skin tends to get irritated easily try a 100% chemical exfoliant instead like 

By Wishtrend Mandelic Acid 5% Skin Prep Water 120ml

This gentle AHA is particularly good at helping to de-clog spot-prone pores without any stripping action. 

Should I be using serums?

After cleansing and exfoliating you always need to replenish your skin’s moisture levels and this especially applies to problem skin. But you don’t need a heavy hydrator to do the job. Choose lighter, gel-like textures when it comes to serums. 

ONE THING Centella Asiatica Extract
ONE THING Centella Asiatica Extract
ONE THING Centella Asiatica Extract
ONE THING Centella Asiatica Extract

While not a serum, we swear by 

ONE THING Centella Asiatica Extract

as the first step post-cleanse. It calms irritation and redness from blemishes and inflammation while boosting skin’s elastic and transforming its texture at the same time. 

ISOI Blemish Care Up Serum
ISOI Blemish Care Up Serum
ISOI Blemish Care Up Serum
ISOI Blemish Care Up Serum
ISOI Blemish Care Up Serum
ISOI Blemish Care Up Serum
ISOI Blemish Care Up Serum
ISOI Blemish Care Up Serum
ISOI Blemish Care Up Serum
ISOI Blemish Care Up Serum

Next, use 

ISOI Blemish Care Up Serum

which is packed with the botanical ingredient, arbutin to help fade acne scars and brighten skin tone.

Can I use a cream if I have spot-prone skin? 

Absolutely not! Blemish-prone skin needs just as much moisture as any skin type. The key is to stick to one that’s lightweight and layer it overtop of a lightweight serum. 

Dr. Ceuracle Vegan Kombucha Tea Gel Cream
Dr. Ceuracle Vegan Kombucha Tea Gel Cream
Dr. Ceuracle Vegan Kombucha Tea Gel Cream
Dr. Ceuracle Vegan Kombucha Tea Gel Cream

Try a mega-hydrating cream with a gel texture like 

Dr. Ceuracle Vegan Kombucha Tea Gel Cream

to top up your skin’s moisture levels without any heavy, potentially pore-clogging emollients. 

Aromatica Tea Tree Balancing Emulsion 100ml
Aromatica Tea Tree Balancing Emulsion 100ml

We also love 

Aromatica Tea Tree Balancing Emulsion 100ml

as an alternate post-toner hydrator to keep pores clear while moisturising at the same time.

Are there any treatments I should be doing?

Definitely! Acneic skin is often irritated so you want to calm and soothe your complexion while helping to keep pores clear. Clay is a key ingredient to look out for. 

Dr. Ceuracle Jeju Matcha Clay Mask Travel Mini
Dr. Ceuracle Jeju Matcha Clay Mask Travel Mini
Dr. Ceuracle Jeju Matcha Clay Mask Travel Mini
Dr. Ceuracle Jeju Matcha Clay Mask Travel Mini

The natural clay in 

Dr. Ceuracle Jeju Matcha Clay Mask Travel Mini

is rich in Caolin, Bentonite and Beatin which work to purge pores and refine the skin’s surface. At the same time, it’s packed with amino acids and vitamins to replenish lost moisture that’s the result of heat and humidity in the summer and dry, harsh cold air in the winter. 

I'M FROM Mugwort Mask 110g
I'M FROM Mugwort Mask 110g
I'M FROM Mugwort Mask 110g
I'M FROM Mugwort Mask 110g

I'M FROM Mugwort Mask 110g

banks on Mugwort, the Korean wonder herb, to detoxify the skin while infusing it with a potent medley of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. You can zone-treat with these masks too. If you’re normally only oily on your t-zone, slick them on that area only and apply a hydrating mask to the rest of your face, taking it up under your eyes.

What about SPF?

If you’re prone to oily skin it’s tempting to skip the sunscreen as these formulas can often feel greasy or slippery on skin. But you need to protect your skin from harmful UV-rays all year round, no matter your skin type. The trick is to use a formula that won’t clog or sit on the surface of oily or acne-prone skin. 

Klairs All-Day Airy Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++
Klairs All-Day Airy Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++
Klairs All-Day Airy Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++
Klairs All-Day Airy Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++
Klairs All-Day Airy Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++
Klairs All-Day Airy Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++
Klairs All-Day Airy Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++
Klairs All-Day Airy Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++
Klairs All-Day Airy Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++
Klairs All-Day Airy Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++

Klairs All-Day Airy Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++

has a water-based gel texture that sinks into skin without leaving any residue on the surface. It’s formulated to shield skin with an SPF50 PA +++ protection while offering major hydration too.

COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF50+ PA+++ 50ml
COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF50+ PA+++ 50ml
COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF50+ PA+++ 50ml
COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF50+ PA+++ 50ml
COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF50+ PA+++ 50ml
COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF50+ PA+++ 50ml

 If you need a little more moisture, try

COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF50+ PA+++ 50ml

instead which boasts the same UV protection with added aloe vera to lock in hydration. On extra humid summer days skip your moisturizer as these SPF’s work double duty as a facial cream.