Problem skin concerns such as acne, blemishes and redness are usually associated with adolescence, however they can occur at all ages. It is important to understand what causes blemishes and how to treat them, because if they are left untreated they can easily spread and quickly become worse.  

What causes acne and blemishes?

Acne and blemishes appear when the sebaceous glands (oil glands) are imbalanced. Blemishes are mainly associated with puberty because this is when the oil glands begin to produce more sebum which can irritate the skin tissue and cause pimples.

However acne can be a real issue in adulthood too, so when puberty isn’t the cause, what is? One thing is stress. Adulthood can be full of stresses which is known to trigger acne and blemishes. Another can be changes in hormone levels such as menopause or stopping birth control pills. Adult acne can also be a result of medication that your skin may be reacting to, or just a simple bacteria, such as on your phone, that has not been treated in time and spread. In short - acne is triggered by excess oil becoming trapped within the pores causing blockages and development of bacteria.

How to treat problem skin?

The main triggers of acne and blemishes are imbalanced skin tone, excess oil and bacteria - so these are the things to think of when preventing and treating problem skin.


First things first - cleanse! We have said it once and we will say it again, cleansing your skin right is the most important part of your skincare regime to achieve a clear complexion. If you are unsure how to effectively cleanse your skin read our blog ‘How To Choose The Best Cleanser For Your Skin Type’.

You should cleanse your skin once in the morning to prepare your skin for the day ahead and once at night to rid the skin of oil, impurities and dirt that collect on the skin throughout the day. Cleansing ensures that your pores are is clear to help maximise the benefits of skincare products and treatments. When cleansing, remember to choose a cleanser that suits your skin type to get the most out of this phase of your skincare regime. Typically when treating acne and blemishes a gentle cleanser is advised, as aggressive scrubs can actually worsen blemishes by irritating the sebum gland and causing greater oil production.

Always ensure hands are clean before cleansing and use lukewarm water to avoid disrupting the skin's natural balance. Thoroughly rinse the cleanser from the skin to avoid leaving residue which can clog and irritate pores, and always pat skin dry with a clean towel rather than rub dry, as rubbing can be a harsh motion that remove the skin’s natural oils.  

Applying a clay masque once a week helps to absorb excess oils from the skin and refine pores, which helps to refine blemishes and control shiny complexions. Many advanced cleansers do not require a toner to follow, however if you feel you could get more from your skincare regime try using a alcohol-free pH balancing toner after cleansing to help refine the skin and control breakouts.


There are many different spot-treatments available on the market - but which is the right one for you? It is recommended to use a spot treatment gel after cleansing both morning and night to specifically manage the problem.

Botanicals - Botanical extracts and ingredients such as Aloe Vera, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Extract, Thyme and Rosemary are great to feature in spot treatments. These natural ingredients offer anti-inflammatory and soothing properties which help to calm redness and sore blemishes. Botanical extracts feature natural benefits to the skin which help fight bacteria and provide the skin with antioxidant protection.

Exfoliants - It is important for spot treatments to include a gentle amount of AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) such as Hyaluronic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Citric Acid and Tartaric Acid. AHAs help to gently exfoliate blemishes and acne by accelerating the skin’s natural shedding process to encourage new skin at a faster rate.

Antioxidants such as Vitamins C and E work to protect the skin against future damage and blemishes at the same time as restoring the skin’s health for a radiant complexion.


Makeup can seem like the best invention ever when it comes to problem skin, offering an instant solution for a clear complexion. However, you have to be careful what product you choose as many cosmetics contain ingredients such as talc and oils that actually clog your pores which makes the skin condition worse beneath the temporary cover-up!

It is best to opt for makeup that allows the skin to breathe so that it can heal and repair whilst covering imperfections at the same time. Mineral makeup uses only natural high pigment minerals to cover the skin which provide antibacterial and antioxidant benefits. To find out more about the benefits of mineral makeup for acne and blemishes read our blog 'Makeup With Benefits - Can You Commit?'

Recommended products from The Apothecaries for oily, acne and blemish-prone skin types:


Start your anti-blemish skincare regime with a cleanser to tackle all your problems!

Tip: Always ensure your hands are clean before using them to cleanse your skin and that the towel you use to pat skin dry is too to avoid dirt coming into contact with the skin.  

SkinCeuticals Blemish and Age Cleansing Gel 

Gentle exfoliating cleanser designed to beat not just blemishes, but visible signs premature ageing too.

NeoStrata Clarifying Facial Cleanser

This soap-free cleanser lightly exfoliates the skin to improve acne and rosacea skin conditions


Although using an effective cleanser is the most important step to a clear complexion, a toner can also benefit very oily and blemish-prone skin too. Toners help to balance the skin and deep clean the pores so you can rest assured your skin is in an ideal position to absorb further treatments.

Tip: When possible apply toner using a cotton pad, or when applying with fingertips ensure fingers are completely clean to avoid the skin coming into contact with dirt at this stage in your skincare regime. 


SkinCeuticals Blemish and Age Solution

Why adopt two skincare regimes when you can have one? Reduce imperfections and fine lines with this duo solution


Treatments are essential to beating acne and blemishes! 

Tip: Do not over-use your treatment as your skin can build a resilience and the ingredients will stop working, only use and apply as recommended for best results.

SkinCeuticals Blemish and Age Defense Serum 

Combats blemishes, redness, excess oil production and reduces the visible signs of ageing - what more could you want from a serum?


Neostrata Spot Treatment Gel

Spot specific treatment allows you to target blemishes for a clear complexion.


Keeping your skin hydrated when you have a blemish-prone and oily complexion can sometimes prove difficult! However, it is important to keep skin hydrated to protect the skin against daily aggressors and avoid the skin becoming dry and flakey.

Tip: If you have tried and tested oil-free and still can't find a suitable moisturiser, as a minimum always apply an SPF to protect your skin against UV damage and premature ageing. 

NeoStrata Sheer Hydration

Hydrate oily and acne-prone skin with this lightweight mist that also provides a broad spectrum sun protection.

Want more information on how to treat blemish prone skin skin? Contact where our team of skincare experts can provide you a complete skincare regime tailored to your specific skin concerns.

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