My anti-acne skin care routine

I have struggled with acne for as long as I can remember. Through my pre-teen years and teenage acne has been my life companion πŸ˜› ; And it still continues to be. I have tried almost all the popular anti-acne treatments advocated my dermatologists and skin care specialists around the globe. After all the trials and also reading a great deal about these products, this is my current anti-acne skin care routine that I follow on a day-to-day basis.

Cleanser/Face wash

anti-acne face wash

I have tried salicylic acid based cleansers in the past. And they work really well. But I have sensitive skin prone to eczema and these cleansers made my skin really dry. So now I stick to Himalaya Herbals Purifying Neem Foaming Face wash for my night time cleansing. It cleanses my skin really well without making it dry. For mornings and after gym I like non foaming mild cleansers. Cetaphil cleansing lotion and Neutrogena Extra Gentle Cleanser are my favourite mild cleansers. They are both fragrance free and do the minimal cleansing you need.


anti-acne creams

Retinoid based creams are among the best available treatments for acne worldwide.

Benefits of retinoids :

When used consistently, retinoids can keep your skin clear & acne free, even out skin tone, reverse sun damage and pigmentation, improve wrinkles & mild scars and prevent pre-mature aging. This skin-changing factor, along with other exfoliating properties, make retinoids the gold standard for acne and anti-aging treatments.

But more often than not, not many are successful in incorporating retinoids into their skin care regimen. Flaking, breakouts, or slight irritation within the first few weeks can discourage you. It can take up to six months to see a visible improvement. It is consistency that matters here.

In decreasing order of strength the different types of retinoids are –

Isotretinoin> Tazarotene> Tretinoin (retinoic acid)> Adapalene> Retinaldehyde> Retinol> Retinyl palmitate.

  • Start with a lower concentration and strength. Initially apply it once every two nights for the 1st few weeks. Then, use it every other night for another week and gradually use it every night. After some months you can use a stronger concentration. This helps your skin slowly adjust to the product.
  • Use as little as possible. Ditch the “if a little is good, more must be better” mentality. Using more product will only irritate your skin even more. Use just a pearl sized amount for your entire face. If your eye is too sensitive to the retinoid, you can try mixing the product with a moisturizer and if that doesn’t help, just stop using it near your eyes. Retinoids can also be applied on your neck, hands & feet.
  • And finally, use only at night. I like Retino-A (tretinoin) and Acnovate (adapalene).

For mornings, I alternate between Glocin gel and Glyco 6. Glocin has Clindamycin and Nicotinamide which are anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory respectively. Glyco 6 is 6% glycolic acid which is an excellent skin exfoliant and also helps lighten acne scars. All these creams are available at the pharmacy.

Moisturiser & Sunscreen

anti-acne skin care routine (2)

I love the Cetaphil DAM Daily Advance Ultra Hydrating Lotion. It has got shea butter and macadamia oil. This is not at all greasy, gets absorbed instantly, is fragrance free and perfect for my sensitive skin.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer dry touch sunblock SPF 50+ has to be my favourite sunscreen. It is non oily, non-greasy, almost matte, very light (compared to other sunscreens). I love it.

Here’s another post you may enjoy πŸ™‚ – 7 ways to look great without makeup








  1. Hi!

    Salicylic acid gives relief from acne but I still have uneven skin tone. Are facial and cleanup in salons compatible with acne treatments?

    1. Hi Swati, Facials can be quite dangerous. While the massage can boost blood circulation leading to a physical glow, facials give no long-term skin benefit beyond relaxation. On the contrary facials can cause acne breakouts due to the following reasons – unhygienic equipment, dirty hands, abrasive scrubs, cheap products and unprofessional blackhead extractions. Unless you know for sure that all of the above reasons are not present, do not get facials done.

  2. Hey Anjana,

    Are you using any anti-ageing products? I am in my mid 20’s and my face was dull and dark with acne scars. Then I started using OLAY regenerist anti-ageing cream and got very effective results. But I have been facing breakouts and dryness ever since I stopped using it. At what age should I start using anti-ageing products and which all products will u recommend.

    1. It just happens that retinoids(anti acne ingredient in creams like Retino-A and Acnovate) is coincidentally also an anti-ageing ingredient πŸ™‚

  3. Hello Anjana, I jus read this post. Could you please elaborate a little how exactly I can incorporate glycolic acid and retinoid in my regime. How long do I leave it on and wash it off. Also how to follow it up with the moisturizer. Thanks a lot for sharing and I really appreciate your time.

    1. Hey, Retino A and Glyco 6 are cream which have tretinoin and glycolic acid respectively. Apply them on alternate nights. Start with leaving them for 30 mins and washing them. As weeks pass(and skin starts adjusting to it), you can leave it overnight. Moisturiser can be applied before or after applying the cream.

      1. Thanks, I will try to stick to this for starters. I am ‘blessed’ with dark circles, should I leave the under eye part. If I can apply , does it make the area lighter?

  4. Hello Anjana, could you please write an article about sunscreen. I am just trying to convince myself to include it in my routine, but just does not make much sense. If I apply it before leaving to the office at 8 o clock, it is active only for a couple of hours of or so. I may not even go in the sun. Rest of the day it leaves me unprotected for the rest of the day. Perhaps some time in the future, you could write about it? Many thanks.

    1. Hey, I used to think the same. But now I apply sunscreen religiously. And it shows such a big difference in my skin. Even by 9 am, the rays can get harsh so do apply before leaving for work. And after that, you just need to re-apply once at noon and you should be good for the rest of the day.

  5. Hi Anjana, I have a sensitive skin and have acne in my face..I have tried so many products that I couldn’t feel good results. I’m travelling more than 4hrs a day.. Can yu suggest me some products to get rid of acne

  6. HI Anjana,

    I really liked this article, quick question, i have read that we are supposed to use Glocin gel and Glyco 6 only during the night or even if we are using during day we used make sure we are not too much exposed to sun. you have been using it in the morning can you please suggest whats the best time to use it. if your already using Retinoid during night, is it good to use Glocin gel and Glyco the morning ?

    1. Retinoid is the one that’s photosensitive. I haven’t heard about glycolic acid being photosensitive. I apply it at around 8 am followed by sunscreen.

  7. Hi Anjana,
    Thanks for this very informative post.
    I am in my late twenties and I remember that you had written that we should start anti ageing cream regime by now. My skin is clear ( touch wood) , so can I still use the creams you suggested which have retinoids in them to help with the anti ageing? I guess I shouldn’t be using Glycolic acid products?
    Thank you for your time .

    1. Ya retinoids would be perfect..but the most important anti ageing cream is sunscreen. Sun damage is the top cause of wrinkles

  8. Thank you Anjana.. I love the lotus 3-1 SPF 40 matte look daily sunblock for the matte finish it gives. I have been using it for years now. But yea, I do not reapply because I am too lazy to do it . So once in the morning and that’s it. Have you tried it? Neutrogena was making my face shine.

  9. I just read your post. Very informative. I checked with the pharmacist for Retino-A and they had the same with 2.5 and 5%. Which one should I opt for? I am in my late twenties . Also I am at home most of my time. Do I still need to use a sunscreen? Sorry to bother you with such a long post. Thank you

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