The best ways to treat acne for sensitive skin

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Samantha Hey

Indications, Most Read


Acne and spot prone skin is extremely common in those between the ages of 13-25 with an increasing prevalence rate. However acne in those over the age of 25 is also on the rise, often in the form of persistent, late-onset, or hormonal acne. Acne can be uncomfortable and have a negative impact on self-esteem meaning people want an effective solution – fast! 

Treatment can often be one of, or a combination of some of the following; cosmetic skincare products, professional aesthetics treatments including IPL, LED Phototherapy, and Chemical Peels, and prescription medication including antibiotics and tretinoin/isotretinoin. However, when acne and spot prone skin is also sensitive, it can make it difficult to treat without causing redness and irritation. 

Understanding how you can treat sensitive acne prone skin will help you and your clients to get the best results, to effectively clarify the skin and improve overall skin health, as well as maintaining results and preventing further breakouts.

Why is acne prone skin sensitive? 

Breakouts can be more common in clients with sensitive skin. Sensitive skin is hyper-reactive to the environment and an inflammatory response can often be triggered, resulting in redness, flakiness and an increase in spots. If the skin barrier is compromised as a result of sensitivities, this can further contribute to the development of spots due to an increase in bacteria and dead skin cells which can clog the pores. 

Why is sensitive skin hard to treat? 

For clients with acne and sensitive skin, skincare products that help combat acne can often result in dryness, flakiness and peeling usually due to the high levels of active, skin renewing and sebum controlling properties. Whilst oily skin types that are spot or acne prone, can usually tolerate such products relatively well, sensitive skin can often be left feeling uncomfortable and irritated. 

Often, clearing breakouts and preventing future blemishes are the key goals when presented with spot-prone skin. However, with sensitive skin, this can be more challenging. 

The treatment approach should not only look to clarify the skin, but a holistic skincare approach that also aims to protect the skin’s barrier. 

How to treat sensitive acne prone skin 

When it comes to acne treatment, there is no one size fits all solution and treating any type of acne prone skin requires a holistic approach. 

No matter your client’s treatment journey, having the right skincare regime is a fundamental part of any treatment approach, that will help to support and enhance the results of any alternative treatments. 

Cantabria Labs created Biretix with this in mind, introducing a holistic skincare approach for spot-prone skin with its three product pillars: Purify, Treat, and Care. With effective regimes for safe use alongside professional aesthetics treatments and medical prescription treatments, Biretix was designed to support and enhance the results of every treatment journey and improve the skin health and wellbeing of those with spot-prone skin.

Biretix is a dermo-cosmetic skincare range specifically formulated for oily and spot-prone skin. Its products work in synergy to not only reduce spots but to effectively manage the associated symptoms of spot-prone skin including, keratinisation, oiliness, redness, inflammation, scarring and hyperpigmentation.

Here are the steps and products we recommend for sensitive acne and spot prone skin.

Step one: Purify 

Cleansing is a crucial step for acne and spot prone skin. Skin produces sebum naturally and is an important part of keeping skin moisturised and healthy. However, when sebaceous glands produce more oil than is needed, the excess oil sits on top of the skin and can block pores which traps dead skin cells and dirt. This allows bacteria to grow in the pores, leading to inflammation and breakouts. 

Cleansing should be the first step of a skincare routine for acne and spot prone skin to help remove impurities, dead skin cells and bacteria that can build up to form spots. Gentle cleansers are important for this skin type because many cleansers that contain harsh ingredients can strip the skin of the oil it needs, leaving clients with dry skin which can cause the sebaceous glands to work overtime to produce even more oil. 

A good cleanser will regulate the production of oil in the skin, have antimicrobial properties and prepare the skin to allow further products to absorb more easily.

Other products that will help to purify the skin, include purifying masks, toners and exfoliators. 

Products to look out for 

  • Biretix Cleanser – This cleanser is gentle but deeply cleanses skin to remove makeup and impurities without causing dryness or irritation. It is specifically formulated for oily skin, helping to reduce sebum production and target the bacteria in the skin that can cause spots. The cleanser also contains botanical extract to help soothe the skin, reducing redness and inflammation. 
  • Biretix Mask – This rich clay mask purifies the skin and absorbs excess oil to unblock pores. It can be used ais an intensive weekly treatment to help control oil to prevent spots and blackheads and reduce redness and shine. 
  • Biretix Micropeel – This is perfect for exfoliating oily and spot prone skin. It combines physical botanical exfoliants with salicylic acid to provide a dual mechanism of action to remove dead skin cells, prevent blocked pores and remove impurities. 

Step two: Treat 

Once skin has been thoroughly cleansed, the most active skincare product should be used. This step is the most important step in helping to rapidly clarify the skin reducing blemishes, redness and shine. This step can also help improve the skin’s texture, tone and firmness. Specifically in relation to spot-prone skin, it may help to reduce the appearance of acne scars and hyperpigmentation as a result of inflammation. These products can often be quite harsh which is why it’s important to look for products that have good skin tolerability. 

Products to look out for 

  • Biretix Tri-Active Gel – This is the most active product in the Biretix range under the ‘Treat’ category. It contains innovative technologies and active ingredients with clarifying, anti-microbial, and sebum regulating properties. It’s also clinically proven to have excellent skin tolerance. For sensitive skin, we recommend using this once daily to build up tolerance for 30 days before applying twice daily in the AM and PM for the next consecutive 30 days. 
  • Biretix Tri-Active Spray – this is a version of the Tri-Active Gel specifically formulated for oily and spot-prone skin on the body. It is an invisible, fast-absorbing spray formula that effectively helps to reduce spots on the body including on the back, arms and chest. 
  • Biretix Duo – this product is another effective clarifying solution that can be used on particularly sensitive skin. Its formula is not as potent as the Tri-Active Gel as as result adverse reactions on sensitive skin are less likely to occur. This may be used prior to Tri-Active Gel to build skin tolerance.  

Step three: Care 

Acne treatments can often dry skin out, prompting it to produce even more oil and causing a buildup of dead skin cells and bacteria, resulting in inflammation and spot development. Therefore, it is still essential to moisture spot-prone skin. However, using the right moisturiser for acne prone skin is essential to help maintain and restore the skin’s barrier, whilst not contributing to spot development or irritating the skin.

Products to look out for 

  • Biretix Hydramat – The Hydramat is the perfect hydrating solution of oily and spot-prone skin with its hydrating, mattifying and pigment controlling properties. It is a light, fast absorbing moisturiser that isn’t going to block the pores and it’s clinically proven to provide hydration for up to 72 hours and have excellent skin tolerance. 

Step four: Protect 

Exposure to sun is proven to trigger skin’s inflammatory response, causing significant damage to skin cells which can increase the risk of developing spots and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). In addition, the ingredients used in the treatment of acne and spot prone skin, such as retinoids and exfoliants, can increase sensitivity to the sun making it important to wear a high level, broad spectrum SPF every day. This protects the skin from the harmful effects of UVA, UVB, visible light and infrared-A. 

Products to look out for 

  • Heliocare 360° Oil Free Gel SPF 50 – this is an ultra-light formula that’s fast absorbing for a dry touch, mattifying finish that doesn’t block pores. It also has a sebum regulating complex, making it the perfect SPF for oily, spot or acne prone skin. 

Incorporating an effective skincare regime into your client’s acne and/or spot-prone skin treatment approach will enable you to enhance and successfully maintain results. Biretix is backed by scientific research with clinically proven efficacy with high tolerability. This means that the ingredients are effective at minimising acne and spot prone skin whilst being kind and gentle for sensitive skin minimising the risk of irritation 

Ingredients to look out for when treating sensitive acne and spot prone skin

When treating acne and spot prone skin, it’s important to consider and assess the ingredients used in any skincare products used and any risks they may impose to the skin. Here are some key ingredients that can be found in skincare for spot-prone skin.

  • Retinol has a long history of treating acne. Although effective at reducing blemishes and other associated symptoms, it can often result in irritation such as red, dry, itching and flaking skin. The Biretix range uses groundbreaking RetinSphere Technology – a Cantabria Labs exclusive retinol complex for immediate and gradual release of activity resulting in high efficacy and high tolerability. It is also non-photosensitising meaning it is safe for use all year long (although a high level, broad spectrum SPF is still highly recommended!). It works to renew and remove dead skin cells, unblocking pores and preventing the development of spots. 
  • Antimicrobials are important in the treatment of acne to help reduce the proliferation of bacteria that can lead to the development of spots. BIOPEP-15 is the antimicrobial used in the Biretix range. It is a botanical antimicrobial complex containing Oligopeptide-10. It has a clinically proven, broad-spectrum, anti-microbial activity against 24 strains of C.Acne bacteria. Clinical studies also show high skin tolerance and a low probability bacteria developing resistance.
  • Glycolic Acid is an alpha hydroxy acid which is great for exfoliating dead skin cells at the surface of the skin, helping to unblock pores and improve the skin’s texture. It’s important to gently incorporate exfoliants into any skincare regime to build skin tolerance but particularly with sensitive skin.  
  • Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) which is oil soluble and can penetrate the skin deeper than alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) which are water soluble. Salicylic acid has strong antibacterial and drying properties so it penetrates the pores to clear out bacteria and dead skin cells. Again, it’s important to gently incorporate exfoliants into any skincare regime to build skin tolerance but particularly with sensitive skin.  
  • Niacinamide (vitamin B3) is a water soluble vitamin that is gentle on the skin and does not cause irritation – this is vital for sensitive skin.
  • Hyaluronic acid draws moisture into the skin which helps to treat dryness and help acne scars to heal. Helps to hydrate and protect the skin which is essential for both acne-prone and sensitive skin. 

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