Identify your type and stage of acne and discover ways to clear them

What causes Acne?

Generally, acne develops when the pores in our skin get clogged with sebum, which is a type of oil produced in our skin. The excess sebum, together with dead skin cells, form a plug in the follicle. Normally, harmless bacteria, Propionibacterium acnes, which live deep within follicles and pores, can infect the plugged follicles, triggering inflammation.

When inflammation reaches deep into the skin, an acne cyst forms, resulting in the most severe form of acne that is very painful and tend to leave permanent scarring. As much as possible, we do not want to go there! It is best to nip the problem in the bud before it progresses to severe acne stage.

For now, let us look at the types of acne and the 3 grades of acne to help you understand which grade you are at.

Types of Acne in Diagrammatic Form

Types of Acne in Word Form

The 3 Grades of Acne

Unfortunately, there is no standard definition or classification of acne severity; even the federal drug administration’s (FDA) guideline of acne grading is not very precise.

Thus, I interviewed my dermatologist on how he grades his patients with acne and simplified it into layman terms.

Mild Acne
Appearance of a few blackheads / whiteheads / pimples.

Moderate Acne
Appearance of blackheads / whiteheads / pimples all over the face. No nodule / cyst.

Severe Acne
Appearance of many blackheads / whiteheads / pimples. Appearance of nodules / cysts.

Other Common Types of Acne

Back/Chest Acne

Though back/chest acne is easily hidden under clothes, it can also become problematic. Body acne is caused by the same factors as facial acne – overactive oil glands, excess dead skin cells and acne-thriving bacteria. The treatment for body acne is typically the same as facial acne.

Rosacea “Acne”

Occasionally, I do get questions on this form of acne. As I have no experience with this form of acne, I sought my dermatologist professional opinion on this. According to him, this is in fact not real acne. This means that regular over- the-counter anti-acne products will not work for this group of people. Treatment regimen would be different from regular acne.


There are other forms of acne but I would not go into detail on those forms of acne. It is best to seek professional medical opinion to eliminate all possible causes and address your acne more appropriately. Sometimes, seek a second or third opinion, because not all doctors might be correct with their diagnoses!

An example: One of my customers sent me his body acne photo asking for help and I showed it to my dermatologist. His condition looked really bad. My dermatologist identified it as steroid-induced acne. His other doctor gave him steroid cream, and that actually triggered his big acne flare up instead of clearing his acne! When in doubt, consult your doctor.

After Identifying your Stage and Types of Acne, how can you treat them?

I have been through all 3 stages of acne. You can read my story here. I am still very acne-prone and maintain mostly acne-free skin by using Skinlycious products. After all I was struggling with acne for 14 long years, until I found my cure with Skinlycious.

For mild acne, you can use Skinlycious Clarifying Serum, a vitamins-based spot treatment that does not dry or peel. It will clear up your existing spots and whiteheads. If you would like something that dries up the spots fast, you can try Skinlycious acids-based Glow Exfoliant. However, if you are only willing to use one product, Skinlycious Calming Cleanser is the one to use. Check out Julie’s video on how her 12 year old son’s mild acne cleared with Skinlycious Calming Cleanser.
However, you should also look at the main reasons why blackheads/whiteheads are forming. Some of us have genetically oily skin and clogs are easily formed. Therefore, we need to make sure that we cleanse our skin thoroughly. Do you know that using the wrong cleansers can make our skin oily? When I was formulating cleansers, I tried many surfactants (cleansing agents) and quite many of them oiled me up. 
Those of us who use makeup, we really must make sure that the makeup is removed thoroughly. Certain makeup ingredients clog pores. You can compare your cosmetic ingredients against our checklist here.
Do make sure that you use a water-based moisturiser, also known as hydrators/hydrating serums. We have a hyaluronic acid serum that Cream-based moisturiser are more likely to clog pores.

For moderate acne and severe acne, you can use Skinlycious Clear Skin Essential Starter Kit. The starter kit will have two different types of spot treatments – acid-based Glow Exfoliant and vitamin-based Clarifying Serum. You can use either spot treatment that suit you best or use all as a 4 step routine. For teens/tweens, pregnant, allergic to aspirin, try to avoid acid-based spot treatment. However, if after 3 months of using Skinlycious’ products and you are not seeing significant improvements, we recommend you see a dermatologist, where the doctor might most probably prescribe antibiotics/isotretinoin/topical retinoids to help in your condition. You can use our products together with the dr’s prescribed medication. Topical retinoids can only be used at night as they are photo-sensitive. Don’t use topical retinoids with our spot treatments. Just replace topical retinoids with the spot treatments at night. In the day, you can still use our spot treatments. You can listen/see how Jun Qi cleared his severe acne with just Skinlycious products. See a dermatologist before scars form!

The Skinlycious Clear Skin Routine

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