All the different types of blemishes and acne, explained

Okay let’s be clear, blemishes and acne are totally normal and something we all experience, but we totally get that sometimes you just want to snap your fingers and make them disappear. Annoyingly, it’s not always that easy.

When it comes to dealing with acne and breakouts, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all. Each type of blemish requires understanding in order to select the very best spot treatment. However when zits do crop up, they don’t exactly say hi and introduce themselves (rude), so that’s where we come in…

We’ve decoded the most common types of spot – from what they look like, to where they’ll usually show up – along with a couple of the most effective treatment options for dealing with each particular type of blemish. From whiteheads to blackheads and even cystic acne, here’s how to pinpoint and treat every kind of breakout.


SAY WHAT? Blocked but open pores that take on a dark colour due to oxidisation (not dirt).

TREAT: All spots are the evil love child of overactive oil glands and dead skin cells – a paste-like concoction that blocks pores and acts as a breeding ground for bacteria. “Thorough cleansing and an exfoliating acid used once or twice a week will help dampen down inflammation, reduce sebum production and kill the acne-causing bacteria,” explains aesthetician Dr Kemi Fabusiwa. If you’re worried about your skin’s sensitivity, ease in with mandelic acid – it’s one of the gentlest types and worth considering if you have dark skin prone to post-inflammatory pigmentation.

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