How to Prevent Acne Breakouts: 6 Tips for People with Sensitive Skin

Contrary to popular belief, acne doesn’t just occur during puberty – it can affect teenagers and adults alike. People who suffer from this condition experience skin inflammation like pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads that appear on the face, neck, shoulders, chest, back, and upper arms.

There are plenty of treatments available to help alleviate this skin condition. However, you should remember that the effectiveness of the best acne treatments varies from one type of skin to the other. This means that what may be helpful for your friend’s oily skin may not have the same effect on your sensitive skin.

To help you find a solution to acne without leaving your sensitive skin in worse condition, here are six tips experts swear by:

1.   Use Water-Soluble Cleansers…

Cleansing is one of the best ways to avoid acne since it removes the dirt that could potentially clog the pores. But if you have sensitive skin, you need to be more careful in choosing which cleanser to use.

Avoid bar cleansers and soaps as they may cause severe dryness and leave residue that can clog the pores. Instead, go with water-soluble cleaners that are made to address the problem with acne rather than aggravate it. Cleansing brushes with stiff bristles and scrub-type cleansers are abrasive and may also harm your sensitive skin, so it is best to stay away from them.

2.   …And Not Scented and Oil-Based Skincare Products

Many cleansers and other skincare products proudly promote their essential oil contents as if these are the best things ever. However, this may not apply for all types of skin, as sensitive skin doesn’t fare well after coming in contact with these substances.

Because of this, you should avoid cleansers that are scented and contain essential oils such as lavender, eucalyptus, camphor, and peppermint to prevent your acne problem from getting worse. Products with alcohol, parabens, beta hydroxy acids, witch hazel, formaldehyde, propylene glycol, salicylic acid, and some plant extracts should also be avoided.

To determine which products can help with acne on sensitive skin, always check their texture. Ditch oily lotions and creams and go for ones that are lightweight and come in the form of a liquid, gel, or thin lotion. These products offer enough hydration to soothe the skin without aggravating the acne.

Plant extracts such as willow bark, willow herb, licorice root, beta-glucan, and sea whip extract soothe sensitive skin without making acne worse. You can also opt for products that contain niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides to treat the skin issue without harming your sensitive skin.

3.   Avoid Harsh Treatments and Scar-Removing Chemicals

Scar-removing products like alpha-lipoic acid for raised scars and diethylaminoethanol (DMAE) for indented scars are too harsh for sensitive skin. These products may cause an excessive production of oil in sensitive skin which, inadvertently, causes the pores to become clogged. Using these products may also leave your skin with brown spots.

4.   Never Overdo Exfoliation

The promise of dirt removal from exfoliation may cause more harm than good for sensitive skin, especially when overdone. Cleansers with grains that help “scrub” dirt away should be used sparingly – never daily. This is because over-exfoliation might remove even the healthy skin cells and open up wounds on the epidermis.

Remember that exfoliants and scrubs should only be used two or three times a week at most. Anything more frequent than that will put you at risk of getting scars.

5.   Pat, Don’t Rub

The manner of cleansing also plays a role in aggravating acne on sensitive skin. After washing your face with warm water (never hot), make sure to pat it dry – don’t rub a towel on it. This will keep your skin damp enough to absorb hydration from your moisturizer, which should be applied within three minutes from washing.

6.   Choose Skin Brighteners Wisely

Skin whitening treatments offer a way for you to get youthful and radiant skin. However, many products with a lightening effect can be too harsh for sensitive skin. If you must use a skin brightening product, make sure to choose according to the type of skin you have.

For sensitive skin, avoid products containing vitamin C or hydroquinone as they can cause unwanted spotting on the skin. Instead, you should go with products with kojic acid and/or arbutin that help you achieve the intended lightening effect without the spotting.

A Last Piece of Advice

Getting rid of acne without harming your sensitive skin involves knowing what substances to avoid and which ones can solve the issue safely. Make sure you understand how you can keep your skin healthy with the help of this article, and remember to seek help from a licensed skin specialist if the condition gets worse.


Vandana Luthra founded VLCC in New Delhi, India as a beauty and slimming services centre in 1989. Today, it is widely recognized for its comprehensive portfolio of beauty and wellness products and services and also enjoys a high level of consumer trust. The VLCC Group’s operations currently span 330 locations in over 150 cities and 14 countries across Asia and Africa.