What Type of Acne Do I Have?

What Type of Acne Do I Have?

Acne is an annoying, uninvited guest who just loves to show up before a date, a job interview, or a huge event. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t stop knocking at 18. In fact, acne can pop up (pun intended!) well into your 30s, 40s, or even into menopause!

What type of acne do you have? Different types of acne require different types of acne treatment. The two biggest factors that determine which type of acne you have are genetics and skin type. There isn’t much you can do with the genes you were born with. But knowing which type of acne you have gives you a leg up in the remedy department.

brown eyebrows and blonde hair | what type of acne do I have?

How to Discover What Type of Acne You Have

Acne is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that causes pimples and unsightly spots. Appearing mostly on the face, shoulders, back, neck, chest, and upper arms, it is the most common skin condition in America and affects up to 40 million annually.

Pimples, whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, nodules, and cysts are all types of acne. If you’re less than lucky, you can have several types all at once. It commonly appears during puberty - a time when the sebaceous glands are most active. But (as most of us know by heart!) can occur at any age. It certainly isn’t life-threatening. What it can do though is leave unsightly scars and blemishes.

Treatment and prevention of acne depend on which type you have.

Hormonal Acne

What it looks like: zits around your chin and jawline

Hormonal acne is called such because of the way it develops in response to hormonal changes. You know you have it when you suddenly see a sprinkling of zits around your jawline and chin. If you tend to get these types of acne around the same time every month, it's hormonal acne. The rise in androgens, such as testosterone, can trigger higher sebum production, inflammation, and bacteria in your hair follicles.

Products that include ingredients such as salicylic acid work best for hormonal acne because it reduces the number of skin cells within pores. This prevents more pimples from forming. Penny and Pine’s exfoliating toner works great for hormonal acne. It gets rid of dead cells, exfoliates skin, opens clogged pores, and tightens skin texture. A bonus? It helps reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

Penny & Pine exfoliating toner | what type of acne do I have?


What it looks like: a zit with a white dot in the middle.

When skin cells huddle together, they tend to block your pores’ opening. The white dot you see on top is the blockage. Sebum trapped with bacteria and grime causes an inflammation resulting in that red, swollen, angry bump.

To get rid of whiteheads fast, you’d like a product that contains colloidal sulfur, zinc oxide, salicylic acid, and camphor. Products such as Penny and Pine’s Overnight Blemish Relief works while you sleep! Simply dip a Q-tip into the solution and dab away. Not only does this product dry acne, it helps reduce the swelling too.

Penny & Pine Overnight Blemish Relief | what type of acne do I have?

Inflammatory Acne (Papules)

What it looks like: small red zits that don’t have a white dot.

Hello, world! Meet Mr. Papule, the inflammatory acne that comes around because of bacteria. Bacteria growth on the skin causes painful inflammation. This shows up as red, tender bumps.

Papules and acne-causing bacteria hate benzoyl peroxide. Products with this component work extremely fast but it can seriously dry your skin. So best to moisturize after use.

Cystic Acne

What it looks like: mammoth, furious pimples...some of which appear in angry, painful groups

Cystic acne is one of the more severe types of acne. Unfortunately, cystic pimples are part genetics and part hormonal stimulations of oil glands. Large, red, painful, and tough to treat, cystic pimples love to reappear – at the same pace. Even if you manage to get rid of it, some can keep filling up in their “favorite” place.

To annihilate cystic acne, you usually go all out. Find products that contain salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Products such as Penny and Pine’s exfoliating toner and overnight blemish relief work really well. However, cystic acne also requires a visit to your dermatologist. These types of acne need cortisone injections, topical formulas, and oral antibiotics.

girl laying underneath blankets | what type of acne do I have?


What it looks like: dark dots in your pores (that you’re just dying to squeeze!)

Blackheads, like its whitehead cousins, are blocked pores. Their namesake color is because of the oxidized oil. Blackheads have a larger opening than whiteheads, allowing air to enter.

Your best bet is exfoliation. Products that exfoliate the skin get rid of dead cells, open clogged pores, tighten skin texture, and reduce wrinkles. Try an exfoliating toner then finish your routine off with the 20-Minute Rescue Mask, a speedy product that draws out impurities and excess oil while unclogging pores and preventing future blockage.

20-minute rescue mask Penny & Pine | what type of acne do I have?

Blind Pimples

What it looks like: a ninja pimple – hardly there but hurts like hell

Blind pimples are the worst. They usually come in subtle bumps that are incredibly painful. You don’t actually see them but you can feel them (hence, the moniker). Blind pimples aren’t connected to the skin’s surface. The pressure just builds – which makes it even more painful.

As much as you want to squeeze ‘em… don’t! Picking and poking will worsen it. Blind pimples may disappear on their own after a few days. But to stop them in their tracks, you may need to get a shot of cortisone from your dermatologist. This shot will reduce inflammation and shrink it within 24 to 48 hours.

For quick relief (while waiting for your doctor’s appointment), ice the area and apply products with salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and 1% hydrocortisone. This magic combo will kill bacteria, calm your skin and draw out excess oil from the pimple.

Products we highly recommend are exfoliating toner and a blemish stick. Penny and Pines’ On-The-Go-Blemish Stick contains Witch Hazel ad salicylic acid. This tiny stick unclogs pores, reduces red spots, and dissolves impurities.

On-the-go blemish stick | what type of acne do I have?

Inflammatory Acne (Pustules)

What it looks like: Red pimples filled with white or yellow pus.

Inflammatory acne is the type of acne that beg to be squeezed! They resemble whiteheads but are inflamed because of bacteria. Pustules should never be squeezed because they’re more likely to scar. Our best bet? Go all out. Apply an overnight blemish relief product and finish with a 20-minute rescue mask.

girl covering face on bed | what type of acne do I have?


Acne types aren’t created equal. Genetics play a huge role. But so do hormones and hygiene. Knowing your enemy is half the battle. The proper plan of attack already keeps you steps ahead in the acne battlefield

Got a great tip we might’ve missed out on? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!

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