The Best Skincare Routine for Acne

The Best Skincare Routine for Acne

Zits. Pimples. Blemishes. Spots. Acne goes by numerous names and manifests itself in many different ways, such as irritable whiteheads, persistent blackheads, and inflamed bumps. Here's our version of a Korean skincare routine, no matter what kind of acne you might be dealing with.

Focusing on a gentle and effective way to fight acne, here’s what you need to know.

There isn't a single Korean skincare item that would magically cure everyone's acne because everyone's skin is unique. However, there are certain general guidelines and advice that can assist in obtaining a complexion free of blemishes.

First and foremost, it's important to pick the correct acne treatment remedies for your skin type and particular acne problem. Being consistent with your routine is also crucial. Even the greatest acne treatments will not work if you use them one night and then go to bed wearing makeup the next. Your skin needs your care and attention, always.

Using the Korean skincare routine as our guide, let’s get to the fun part: the blemish-battling products, plus more tips for healthy, hydrated and beautifully clear skin.

Step 1. The Double Cleanse

Cleansing is the first essential step to clear and glowing skin. If you haven’t committed to the double cleanse yet and are still dealing with breakouts, no more excuses. Using an oil-based cleanser is the best way to remove unwanted oils from your skin, like oil-based makeup and sebum. Since those of us with acne-prone skin typically have an excess of sebum, an oil-based cleanser is vital.

Double Cleanse with Ohlolly

Heimish’s Mandarin All Clean Balm
Natural, Paraben-Free and Hypoallergenic! Ideal for all skin types, especially those with sensitive skin. The soft and lightweight texture effortlessly removes makeup and residue without stripping off skin's natural oils.

If you prefer an oil, this viral cleansing oil is a must-have. Pure Cleansing Oil by ma:nyo. 

Next, follow up with a gentle water-based cleanser, which often comes in the form of a gel, foam, stick, or powder.

Matcha Biome Amino Acid Acne Cleansing Foam by Heimish
This gentle cleanser uses the benefits of fermented matcha and salicylic acid to clear and cleanse acne-prone, sensitive skin. It is all-natural and low pH, made with 0.5% salicylic acid to remove excess sebum and dead skin.

Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser by CosRx
If you deal with dry or dehydrated skin, a gentle gel cleanser is a great choice.  This Cosrx cult-fav cleanser is made with all natural ingredients to soothe, exfoliate and hydrate.

Step 2. Exfoliate

Exfoliation is a necessary step for clear skin. When dead skin cells pile up, your skin’s ability to retain moisture diminishes, resulting in dry, cracked skin that allows for external bacteria to easily penetrate. If you want to learn more, read our post, Exfoliate Like a Pro.

The quick feeling of being freshly cleaned is the nicest aspect about hand exfoliation, but being gentle is essential for success!

Pyunkang Yul Peeling Gel Perfect for all skin types, this unique exfoliator is made with gentle ingredients including betaine salicylate, derived from sugar beets, which effortlessly lifts and rids unwanted skin cells.

Cosrx Clearing Pads

One Step Original Clear Pad
Non-drying, refreshing, easy and convenient to use, each cotton pad is pre-soaked in essence designed to dissolve oil, wipe away dirt and dead skin cells, soothe irritated skin and aid a fast recovery.

Step 3. Tone

After cleansing and exfoliating, toning balances your skin’s pH levels and preps it for the next layers of treatment. But the right toner can also do double-duty and help fight acne.

Benton’s Aloe BHA Skin Toner
Benton’s Aloe BHA Skin Toner is great to calm and repair irritated skin. Featuring a light gel-like texture, this toner is made up of  80% Aloe ingredients to calm and repair irritated skin, while BHA (0.5%) helps keep skin clear.

Benton BHA Aloe Toner

Pyunkang Yul’s Mist Toner
This toner is a cooling, hydrating and convenient misting toner made up of 91.9% coptis japonica root extract, a powerful antioxidant known for its redness-reducing, energizing and nourishing properties.

Step 4. Treat

Okay, so this step is a bear, but it's the core of the Korean skincare regimen and may involve several layers. In this step, essences, serums, and ampoules all come into play, each of which addresses a particular skincare concern and, of course, provides further hydration.

AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid by Cosrx
Get rid of the whiteheads, extra sebum, and clogged pores. The Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid is a simple, 10-ingredient remedy for troublesome skin conditions like chronic acne, hormonal acne, sun damage, and hyperpigmentation.

BHA Blackhead Power Liquid by CosRx
Experience a whole new way to exfoliate with no harsh peeling or irritation. A very light serum-like texture provides a detox to flush out the clogged pores and reveal a clearer and brighter complexion.

CosRx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid

Note: Be extra careful when mixing chemical exfoliants like AHA and BHA. Although these exfoliators are completely safe, even for those with sensitive skin, it’s best to never overdo it. Using multiple products with chemical exfoliants does not mean your skin will heal quicker. Similar to manual exfoliation, too much chemical exfoliation can actually cause your skin to be irritated. Begin by using one chemical exfoliation once a week and slowly increase to two or three times per week. 

AHA + BHA + PHA Serum by Toun 28
A combination of three distinct acids, plus hydrating nutrients and skin-conditioning Melia azadirachta extracts, this non-fragranced, lightweight serum leaves skin smooth, clear, and luminous.

Sometimes, no matter how religious you are about your skincare routine, a pimple appears. Again, CosRX saves the day with their Acne Pimple Master Patch. Packed with active ingredients these patches never fail to fight blemishes fast.

One to two times a week apply a sheet mask, which contains concentrated essences for deep hydration and treatment.

Daily Skin Mask - Charcoal by Lapcos
The potent essence is loaded with glycerin, pennywort extract, and charcoal extract to tighten pores and clear the skin while antioxidant-rich fruit extracts nourish and protect it.

Tea Tree Essential Mask by Mediheal

A must-have for anyone with acne-prone or inflamed skin to reduce the appearance of redness and maintain clear, balanced skin. cooling, cleansing, and balancing.

Step 5. Moisturize

This step not only adds another layer of moisture but it also locks in the previous layers of treatments. CosRx makes a rich moisturizer that is gentle enough for everyday use and leaves your skin super soft thanks to Birch Sap.

Centella Calming Gel Cream
The lightweight, moisturizing gel cream from iUnik combines 70% Centella Asiatica leaf water and 10% tea tree leaf water in place of pure water to calm and mend inflamed, sensitive, or acne-prone skin.

Centella Calming Gel Cream

Step 6. Protect

Protecting your skin from the sun is a step you should never forget no matter what your skin concerns are. Sunscreens are crucial especially if you’re using any products that have chemical exfoliants.

Intensive Long Lasting Sunscreen EX SPF50+ PA++++ by Innisfree
The creamy solution swiftly dries without leaving a white residue, leaving skin ready and rejuvenated with no sticky residue.

Matte Sun Stick : Mugwort + Camelia (SPF50+ PA++++) by Beauty of Joseon
Ramón (@glowbyramon), a social media influencer and cosmetic chemist, produced this compact sun stick with SPF 50+ PA++++ that applies flawlessly over makeup and controls shine all day. Your skin will feel softer, smoother, and less oily after using silica powder since it helps to absorb extra sebum.

Mugwort + Camelia Matte Sun Stick - Beauty of Joseon

All-around Safe Block Soft Finish Sun Milk by Missha
A very lightweight sunscreen that absorbs quickly, leaving a soft matte finish, and is suitable for daily use. Safe Block Soft Finish All Around Sun Milk shields skin from UVA/UVB rays without becoming sticky, shiny, or smelling chemically. 

No matter your age, skin type, or particular skin issues, if you are having acne problems, you are not alone. The most common skin condition in the US is acne. Keep in mind that giving your skin the time and attention it needs is the best way to treat acne.

Additionally, you can always email us at if you have any questions.