Not all breakouts are created equal

First, let's go over what an acne quiz should tell you:


  • What your skin type is
  • What kind of blemishes you have
  • The severity of the acne
  • Treatment options for your skin and acne type, severity, and location

Take our free acne quiz to determine what type of acne you have. The next five minutes could change your life.

What is your skin type?

Your skin is balanced. You have small pores and rarely experience breakouts.

Your skin often feels tight or dry and requires a lot of moisturizer to stay hydrated.

Your skin has a glossy shine with visible pores. You frequently experience breakouts.

You have a mixture of dry and oily skin. Your T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin) tend to be oily and your cheeks dry.

Your skin is easily irritated and may sting, burn, or tingle when applying skincare products.

Where do your blemishes usually appear?

The T-zone includes the forehead, nose, and chin - it is the part of your face that contains the most sebaceous glands.

Facial blemishes typically appear on the forehead, cheeks, nose, and along the jawline.

Acne that appears below the jawline is known as body acne and is most likely to develop on the neck, chest, shoulders, and back.

How would you describe the severity of your breakouts?

I have a few lesions, primarily of one type,
with little to no inflammation.

I have a significant number of lesions and/or lesions
of different types with some redness and inflammation.

The majority of my face is affected by different types
of lesions along with significant redness and inflammation.

What do your acne blemishes look like?

It sounds like you have whiteheads

Whiteheads are also known as closed comedones. They develop when the pores become clogged with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria.

The clogged pore creates a plug under the skin but the head of the pore remains closed.
This gives it the appearance of a little white bump just beneath the surface of the skin.
Non-inflammatory acne lesions like whiteheads are best treated with regular cleansing and exfoliation.
Avoid picking or popping at whiteheads because it could rupture the pore, allowing bacteria to enter the surrounding pores and triggering inflammation.

It sounds like you have blackheads

Blackheads are also known as open comedones. They develop when the pores become clogged with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria.

Their black color isn’t caused by dirt - it develops when sebum oxidizes at the surface of the skin.

Non-inflammatory acne lesions like blackheads are best treated with regular cleansing and exfoliation.

Though they can be extracted, squeezing could lead to scarring. Other abrasive options to pull out blackheads like pore strips and peel-away masks can damage the top layer of skin and make your acne worse.

It sounds like you have papules

Papules are small, hard, red bumps that form on the skin’s surface. They develop when a pore becomes clogged with excess oil or dead skin cells then mixes with bacteria on the skin.

The contents of the pore can spill out, spreading bacteria to the surrounding tissue to create an inflamed lesion with no visible pus.

Inflammatory acne lesions like papules can be treated with over-the-counter remedies like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic to kill bacteria and reduce inflammation.

Consider a routine that includes cleansing, exfoliation, and moisturization to manage breakouts.

It sounds like you have pustules

Pustules are white or yellowish pus-filled lesions also known as pimples. These lesions develop when oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria combine under the skin’s surface causing an infection.

Pustules look similar to papules but they contain pus and may exhibit a higher degree of inflammation while the body tries to fight the infection.

Inflammatory acne lesions like pustules can be treated with over-the-counter remedies like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic to kill bacteria and reduce inflammation.

Consider a routine that includes cleansing, exfoliation, and moisturization to manage breakouts.

It sounds like you have nodules

Nodules are large, painful, swollen bumps that develop underneath the skin when the walls of a clogged hair follicle break down.

When the walls of the follicle break down, oil and bacteria spread deeper into the skin to create a painful infection that can affect multiple pores. Fluctuating hormones can trigger or worsen nodular acne.

Nodules are deeply rooted in the skin and they generally do not contain pus, so they cannot be extracted and they are difficult to treat with over-the-counter acne treatments.

Consider consulting with a medical professional. Such providers can recommend a wide array of options, including prescription treatments like tretinoin to help control inflammation or specific types of birth control to help regulate hormonal fluctuations that can cause nodular acne.

We offer access to providers and a free consultation to make professional treatment possible from the comfort of home.

It sounds like you have cysts

Cysts are very large, inflamed, pus-filled lesions that develop deep under the skin. These lesions form when the walls of a pore rupture, allowing oil and bacteria to spread to the surrounding tissue to create a painful infection.

When a membrane forms around the infected area, it becomes known as a cyst. Cysts are often painful and can be difficult to treat.

Many people with cystic acne struggle to treat it with over-the-counter acne treatments. Prescription treatments like tretinoin and clindamycin can help control the infection and reduce inflammation.

Oral contraceptives may help regulate hormonal fluctuations and treat cystic acne. Additionally, oral antibiotics can help to treat cystic acne.

Ask your healthcare provider if these could help with your acne.

We've got answers

Frequently asked questions about acne

How does acne develop?
At the heart of the issue, acne develops when hair follicles or pores become clogged with sebum (oil), dead skin cells, and other debris.
Those clogged pores can become infected with bacteria and develop into lesions such as pustules, nodules, cyst, and comedones.
Each and every breakout is unique not only in the types of acne lesions that form but in the combination of underlying factors that contribute to their formation.
The four primary factors that lead to acne are:
  • Excess oil production
  • Clogged pores
  • Bacteria
  • Inflammation
Most women experience acne over the course of their lives, but you may see your acne change from adolescence to adulthood.
In young women, acne is frequently linked to hormonal changes such as the menstrual cycle.
Many women experience a reduction in acne as they get older while others don’t develop problem acne until they hit their 30s or 40s.
Though hormones are the primary driving factor for acne in women, your risk for breakouts may also be linked to genetics and skin type.
Acne can also be triggered by certain medications and pressure or friction on the skin from tight clothing and accessories.
What is the most common skin type that develops acne?
Any skin type can develop acne, but it is most common in women with oily skin types.
Oily skin is characterized by large pores and a glossy shine. Most importantly, oily skin is characterized by excess sebum production.
The skin requires a certain amount of sebum to stay soft, hydrated, and healthy but excess oil can give your skin a shiny appearance and can make you more prone to developing acne.
Identifying your skin type is the key to caring for your skin - it may also help you understand your acne.