Treating Acne: What Can and Can't Be Controlled

Treating Acne: What Can and Can't Be Controlled

Acne is a pain. From your teenage years of covering up pimples before your school photo to having breakouts due to stress in your adult life, it's something that's never ideal for anyone. Fortunately, there are tons of topical treatments, products, and medications on the market that are beneficial to those who suffer from acne, whether it's occasional breakouts or a constant struggle.

When it comes to acne treatment, there are three aspects you can influence to reduce acne and its impact on the skin. Despite these strategies and their ability to clear up unpleasant spots on your face, there is one factor that cannot be controlled when it comes to how and when breakouts occur. We're here to explain the four main components that lead to acne and which ones can be controlled and which cannot.

Excess Sebum

Thanks to dermatologist-approved and recommended products and ingredients, there are solutions for managing uncomfortable and embarrassing acne. The first aspect of acne that can be treated using topical products is controlling excess sebum. Sebum is the more technical term for the oil that is found in our skin. Acne occurs when pores become enlarged and hair follicles are congested, often due to excess sebum being secreted. excess sebum

 The type of oil also matters, as thinner oil seeps up to the skin surface faster and more effectively than thicker oil.

Most of the oil that comes to the surface concentrates in what is called the "T-zone," or the area of your face that includes the forehead and down to the nose and chin. If you have oily skin already, you will be well aware of the T-zone and how it's typically a problem area when it comes to acne and excessive shine. When there's more oil on the surface of your skin, these areas can trap dirt and other impurities, which encourages acne. Excess sebum production may be stimulated by hormones or stress.

People with oily skin can rejoice, as there are lots of treatment options for excess sebum. Cleansing your skin frequently, using a toner, and removing excess oil with blotting paper are just some of the solutions to keep oil under control. 

Bacterial Overgrowth

Bacteria is everywhere, even on your skin. While some bacteria is helpful, other types can cause things like acne to develop. The main type of bacteria linked to acne is Propionibacterium acnes, or P. acnes. This bacteria resides at the base of your hair follicles and uses sebum to thrive. When factors cause excess sebum to be generated, whether it's puberty, hormones, or stress, excess P. acnes also forms. When this bacteria multiplies, consuming the sebum, the hair follicle becomes inflamed, causing a pimple to form.

acne bacteria

Bacterial overgrowth can be halted using a few different methods. The first is sticking with a regular cleansing routine to keep your face clean. Spot or topical treatments can also be useful in keeping bacteria levels low. If you are unsure of the treatments that will work best for you and your skin type, be sure to consult your dermatologist for more information.


Have you noticed that your acne is topped with little black, bumpy spots? These are often referred to as "blackheads" or comedonal acne. This type of acne can come about due to a few different reasons, including genetics, hormonal factors, or the products you are using. Comedonal acne appears in two forms: open or closed. Open comedonal acne is an actual blackhead, a small bump on the surface of the skin with a black tip. Closed comedonal acne doesn't have a blackhead and is often just a small bump on the surface of the skin, but is still in the same acne family.

 Comedonal acne has a few different treatment methods. Sticking with a regular cleansing routine is one way to keep the skin clean and blackhead-free. You can also use topical treatments, medication, and products containing benzoyl peroxide and comedone vs closed comedone


Now that you know the three factors that can be controlled, here's the one that cannot be. Did you notice how hormones play a role in each of the other leading causes of acne? Excess sebum, bacterial overgrowth, and comedones can all be attributed to hormones. When you go through puberty, more hormones, particularly testosterone, are being produced in your body, which is why teenagers and young adults tend to have more issues with acne than adults. When sebum production increases, bacteria flourishes on the face, and comedones form, the result is acne.

Unfortunately, there isn't much we can control when it comes to our hormones. But, there are ways to treat hormonal acne and the other factors listed above. At Calysta Labs, we use natural and approved ingredients that can treat acne in all its forms. From our Calming Acne Serum and Clarifying Charcoal Mask, our treatment options can help you keep your face healthy and clear.