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Home>Blog>The Cystic Acne Skin Care Routine that Works Wonders

The Cystic Acne Skin Care Routine that Works Wonders

MIRA BEAUTY • updated Dec 15, 2020
The Cystic Acne Skin Care Routine that Works Wonders

Treat cystic acne the right way with these skincare products

There’s acne, and then there’s cystic acne. This type is often the most severe and difficult to treat, as cystic acne is characterized by large, irritated nodules that happen below the skin. Unlike whiteheads that form on the surface, a cystic acne breakout can’t be popped, generates painful red bumps, doesn't react well to topical treatments and is more likely to leave acne scars. Lovely. Causes of cystic acne are generally hormonal changes (like a switch in medication) or genetic predisposition, and these oil or blood-filled cysts can sit below the skin for ages and take forever to go away. Since ignoring them isn’t always an option, it may be the time to start forming your cystic acne skin care routine. While OG acne-fighting ingredients like Salicylic Acid can definitely help, you’ll also need a few more along the way, like Benzoyl Peroxide, Activated Clay, oils and other powerful ingredients to fight the deeper causes of cystic acne. Treat and prevent even the worst underground breakouts with this cystic acne skin care routine.


Eradikate Daily Cleanser Acne Treatment by Kate Somerville, $38

Eradikate Daily Cleanser Acne Treatment by Kate Somerville
Source: Kate Somerville

“I specially formulated my whipped, foaming cleanser with 3% Sulfur to deliver clinical strength acne control while cleansing to keep skin clear from breakouts," said Kate Somerville about her Eradikate Daily Cleanser Acne Treatment. Indeed, the best skincare products for cystic acne find a balance between reaching far below the surface and aggressively drying out every last breakout, and keeping your skin healthy and hydrated at the same time. It’s not always an easy task. But this cleanser contains Sulfur to fight inflammation and bacteria deep within the skin, bringing cystic acne to a halt and ensuring that these painful breakouts don’t keep popping back up. The whipped texture feels incredibly soothing as you apply Eradikate, and it only becomes more cool and calming with an infusion of Natural Oat, Honey, and Rice Bran extract to balance oil production and leave your complexion feeling soft and smooth. Cystic acne doesn’t have to be here to stay, and you’ll be sending underground pimples packing with a good cleanser in your cystic acne skin care routine.

Daily Deep Cleanser by Differin, $14

Daily Deep Cleanser by Differin
Source: Differin

Salicylic acid is often the go-to ingredient when forming a cystic acne skin care routine, and we love SA as much as the next person. But have you tried Benzoyl Peroxide? This maximum strength ingredient is meant for those with severe, chronic, or cystic acne, as it contains antibacterial properties that eliminate the deepest of pimples and prevent future breakouts… and you’ll get the ideal amount of this acne-fighting ingredient with the Daily Deep Cleanser by Differin. This product features 5% Benzoyl Peroxide to penetrate the pores and absorb excess sebum, confronting the direct causes of cystic acne, while releasing a gentle moisturizer that keeps the breakouts away and seals moisture into the skin. Sounds like a win-win, right? Being strong doesn’t mean you don’t have a soft side, and you’re about to discover all the acne-fighting power and gentle hydration of one of the best skincare products for cystic acne.

Sea Mud Deep Cleansing Bar by Erno Laszlo, $38

Sea Mud Deep Cleansing Bar by Erno Laszlo
Source: Erno Laszlo

While we’d normally cringe hard at the idea of washing your face with only soap and water, especially in a cystic acne skin care routine, this cleansing bar is kind of a miracle. It’s formulated with Dead Sea mud, gathered from the lake of the same name and infused with 26 minerals to cleanse and nourish your cystic acne-prone skin. But that’s not all. Sea Mud Deep Cleansing Bar also contains charcoal to draw out dirt, oil, toxins and causes of cystic acne without drying out your pores, plus Glycerin for a moisture magnet that keeps skin hydrated 24/7. Your cystic acne skin care routine will never be the same with this cleansing bar, especially since it can be used not only on the face, but the rest of your body to treat this painful condition and achieve all-over radiance without the redness.


Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant by Paula’s Choice, $30

Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant by Paula’s Choice
Source: Paula's Choice

As much as we love Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s) for gentle exfoliation, it’s Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA’s) that you really need in your skincare products for cystic acne. These acids reach deeper into the pores to reduce swelling and inflammation, halt the formation and spread of bacteria, and exfoliate to remove the excess oil that makes you break out, really hard. Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant contains the top BHA for defeating acne, Salicylic Acid, to unclog the pores and break down cystic acne breakouts, along with smoothing out wrinkles and creating an even, glowing skin tone. Green tea provides further antioxidant protection and refreshes the skin, which helps to minimize pores and even fade the look of dark spots or acne scars from previous breakouts. Exfoliation is everything when you struggle with cystic acne, as the problems lie far below the top layer of skin, and this exfoliating product by Paula’s Choice is an amazing addition to your cystic acne skin care routine.

Therapeutic Sulfur Mask Acne Treatment Mask by Peter Thomas Roth, $52

Therapeutic Sulfur Mask Acne Treatment Mask by Peter Thomas Roth
Source: Peter Thomas Roth

“I use this treatment as a weekly mask as well as a daily overnight spot treatment for any cystic acne. The 10% sulfur shrinks everything overnight and fades acne marks from past breakouts.” Therapeutic Sulfur Mask Acne Treatment Mask is an essential for anybody who suffers from breakouts, both the cystic acne and the “normal” type. It’s medicated with 10% Sulfur, an over-the-counter acne treatment to clear whiteheads and blackheads on the surface of your skin, before going in deep with Kaolin and Bentonite clays. These clays absorb excess oil and impurities while fighting inflammation and bacteria, all the worst causes of cystic acne, while minimizing pores in even the most oily-skinned individuals. It’s a beautiful thing to say goodbye to acne and witness your most clear and smooth complexion with this Peter Thomas Roth mask, especially since it also features Aloe Vera to soothe the skin. Eliminates both whiteheads and cystic acne while keeping your skin calm? That’s what makes it one of the best skincare products for cystic acne.

SUPERMUD Activated Charcoal Treatment Mask by GLAMGLOW, $59

SUPERMUD Activated Charcoal Treatment Mask by GLAMGLOW

Sure, cystic acne is generally not the most glamorous part of your life, or even your beauty regime. But you can always count on GLAMGLOW to add a bit of luxury to your skin care lineup, and you’ll receive the ultimate glow up with SUPERMUD. You know, the charcoal face mask that you’ve seen on Instagram about a million times, but never got around to trying… until now. This masks contains a Super Six Acid Blend (Lactic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Mandelic Acid, Tartaric Acid, and Pyruvic Acid) to exfoliate, unclog, and minimize the appearance of pores, while keeping your skin balanced at the optimal pH level. Activated-X Charcoal sucks all the impurities from deep within the skin, from oil and dirt to last night’s makeup, and GLAMGLOW’s exclusive TEAOXI® Eucalyptus Leaves deliver phytoactives into the formula to keep skin clear and free of impurities without becoming overly dry. Just a few minutes with this mask a day makes all the difference - as it’s not just a self-care (and selfie!) moment, it’s also one of the top skincare products for cystic acne to help you look and feel glam.


Clear Improvement Pore Clearing Moisturizer With Bamboo Charcoal by Origins, $34

Clear Improvement Pore Clearing Moisturizer With Bamboo Charcoal by Origins
Source: Origins

“I love this one from Origins! It hydrates while mattifying, it’s super lightweight and really reduces oil while still moisturizing. I especially love it in the summer when I’m extra oily!” Your new favorite moisturizer has arrived, and it’s ready to eliminate all the cystic acne, excess oil, and blemishes. How? Glad you asked. Clear Improvement has Salicylic Acid 1% to remove oil and blemishes, gently exfoliating to unclog pores and clear up whiteheads for a glowing complexion. But anybody with cystic acne knows that’s not always enough, which brings us to the standout ingredient: Bamboo Charcoal. Known as the “black diamond,” this precious ingredient “transforms into a porous, micro-fine powder that’s capable of absorbing 100 times its weight in impurities,” meaning that it pulls dirt, oil, and dead skin from your pores at an incredible rate, helping to reduce effects of cystic acne while hydrating with sodium hyaluronate, glycerin, and squalane. Treat the painful effects of cystic acne with this lightweight, hydrating, and gentle moisturizer for all skin types.

Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel by Clinique, $28

Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel by Clinique
Source: Clinique

“DEFINITELY try this, it is LITERALLY the holy grail of moisturizers for oily skin, it helped my skin so much.” Dramatically Different has plenty of MIRA reviews calling it a holy grail product and game changer for breakouts, and it’s easy to see why once you add this gel moisturizer to your cystic acne skin care routine. Besides the lightweight gel texture that absorbs effortlessly and feels calming on even the most painful breakouts, this moisturizer features Sunflower Seed Cake, Barley Extract, and Cucumber Fruit Extract that strengthen the skin’s natural moisture barrier and support moisture levels while improving resiliency. Hydration is key to nearly any skin issue, including breakouts and cystic acne, and keeping pores free of excess oil and packed with moisture is the secret to your most smooth, clear, and acne-free skin. Oh, and did we mention that it has Hyaluronic Acid too? Your cystic acne skin care routine will be Dramatically Different in the best way with this gel moisturizer.

Repairative Moisturizer by Tata Harper, $116

Repairative Moisturizer by Tata Harper
Source: Tata Harper

“If you are sensitive, acne prone, or struggling from hormonal breakouts, this moisturizer will be a game changer for you. Absolutely no fillers to irritate and congest.” Causes of cystic acne can vary, and those who are genetically predispositioned may start to lose hope after trying (and failing) to treat it with tons of moisturizers. But that’s okay, as Repairative Moisturizer is here to banish cystic acne breakouts and restore your natural radiance. Tata Harper is one of the most natural skin care brands ever, as they make all of their beauty products on an actual farm to ensure that they’re 100% free of toxins, fillers, and synthetics. Pretty much, all the things that make your cystic acne even worse. That’s why this is the best moisturizer to keep your skin under control, made with Apricot Microspheres to exfoliate and smooth texture, Natural BHA from White Willow Bark Extract to deep clean pores and remove impurities, and Olive Oil Liquid Crystal Complex to moisturize and soften the skin… all the right ingredients to eliminate cystic acne and bring the radiance, not redness.

Lotions and Gels

Drying Lotion by Mario Badescu, $17

Drying Lotion by Mario Badescu
Source: Mario Badescu

There’s a good chance that you or somebody you know has heard of this cult favorite product by Mario Badescu - maybe you’ve even used it to zap the odd pimple overnight, because it’s just that good. But did you know that it’s also an excellent spot treatment for your cystic acne skin care routine? Just apply a bit on the affected areas during the day or overnight, and watch as this blend of Salicylic Acid, Sulfur, and Calamine dries out even the deepest cysts while keeping the rest of your face soothed and soft. Mario Badescu has a talent for going back to basics and treating a variety of skin issues in a gentle, yet extremely effective way… and you’ll see a significant decrease in whiteheads, blemishes, and cystic acne with Drying Lotion.

Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment by Differin, $32

Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment by Differin
Source: Differin

“I have nothing negative to say about differin, my skin looks better than it ever has. My cystic, hormonal acne has cleared, as well as fine lines and wrinkles.” We could talk for hours about the importance of retinol and retinoids, as they encourage the cell turnover process and help prevent cystic acne before it even happens - among many other things. Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment contains an Rx-strength retinoid to fight the main causes of cystic acne - inflammation and impurities that occur deep within the skin - and restore your skin to its natural tone and texture. While the $32 price tag may seem a bit much for such a tiny tube, hear us out: this treatment is one of the only skincare products for cystic acne that contains a powerful, over-the-counter retinoid that comes face-to-face with your underground breakouts, and the results speak for themselves. A clinical study by Differin showed that this gel “can reduce up to 87% of acne in just 12 weeks,” while our MIRA guests give it top ratings for being gentle, good for acne, and reducing redness.

Cystic acne doesn't have to stick around. Find the best skincare products for your routine on MIRA.