Korean Skincare Tips for Acne Prone Skin

K-Beauty Acne Skincare Tips

By Bianca Hazelhurst
10/10/2022 | Read time: 5m

If you’ve struggled with acne, you’re not alone. It’s one of those things that affect nearly every second person in the world at some point in their life whether it ranges from mild to severe, there’s one thing we can all agree on: acne sucks!

What can Korean skincare do to help you?

There is plenty k-beauty can offer you on your acne skincare journey. The biggest difference between the Korean skincare approach vs a western approach is that of treating your skin as the delicate ecosystem that it is.

Western skincare tends to focus on the visible problem. This healthcare idea stems into all sorts of things, such as if you’ve got a headache ‘take a headache tablet’, if you’ve got cramps ‘take a painkiller’, if you’ve got allergies ‘take an antihistamine’.

While drugs and harsh topical treatments might seem to ‘fix’ issues, you’re in effect putting a sticker over the warning light that’s come up on your car’s dashboard.

The reason we feel pain or experience breakouts is because there’s something else going on underneath the skin’s surface and our body is essentially flashing its ‘warning sign’.

If you want long-lasting results while minimising the possibility of a recurring issue, you need to listen to what your body is telling you and treat beyond the skin.

This is where Korean skincare just excels! Instead of simply focusing on just the acne itself (as in: spot-treating breakouts as they occur or putting on harsh, drying creams prescribed by doctors), the K-beauty approach considers the whole skin ecosystem holistically. This can go a long way in improving acne over the long-term. Read more about this in this scientific journal.

Without further ado, let’s jump into some care tips that will help you see the results you’ve dreamed of!

Double Cleansing + Acne

Anyone can and should use the double-cleansing method. We’ve got an in-depth article all about the benefits of doing this step here.. But if anyone should do it, it should be acne sufferers.

Double-cleansing offers your skin the cleanest clean of its life. Acne suffers might think ‘no way am I putting oil on my already oily skin!’ – but it’s a myth that it makes your skin oilier. If anything, it balances your skin out beautifully.

Oil cleansers work by gently dissolving the oil-based impurities and the sebum that traps them in the pores and acne spots, then lifting them out and giving your skin a fighting chance to heal. Our best selling and acne-fighting oil cleansers include the and the

Try using a light oil cleanser that leaves no residue in the evenings to melt away excess sebum and impurities, then follow up with a gentle, low pH water-based cleanser. My favourite gentle low Ph cleanser is the COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser – closely followed by the PYUNKANG YUL Low pH Pore Deep Cleansing Foam.

K-Beauty Chemical Exfoliation + Acne

Using a chemical exfoliant is your best bet, and should include ingredients such as tea tree, salicylic acid, AHA / BHA and glycolic acid. Gentle, mild and often is your best approach. Some of our best recommended peeling gels and exfoliants are the HARUHARU WONDER Black Rice Soft Peeling Gel, PYUNKANG YUL Peeling Gel and the BEAUTY OF JOSEON Apricot Blossom Peeling Gel.

Exfoliation is essential for acne-prone skin because of the sebum and bacteria that builds up within the break-out spots. Your skin can use all the extra help it can get in clearing the surface of harmful bacteria and giving it a chance to heal. Physical exfoliants (any formula with added beads, sugar scrubs or basically any scrub) are not recommended. The last thing you want to do is tear already damaged and sensitive skin.

Hydration + Acne

Dehydrated skin is the foundation of so many skin issues, including acne.

When your skin is dehydrated, it starts an inflammatory process that can lead to more excess sebum and less cell turnover (which is not what you want with acne!).

Have you ever heard that over washing your hair makes you have oilier hair? It’s because the stripping ingredients within shampoos can actually deeply dehydrate you scalp and hair follicles, triggering your body into an overproduction of oils to compensate. The same thing happens when your body detects your skin is too dry. It’s little warning light goes off and your face goes into overproduction mode. No thanks!

So keeping your skin well hydrated (specifically the water being held within your skin barrier and not whether the surface is oily or dry, more on that here) is not just great for overall skin health, but actually creates a healthy and balanced skin biome which will prevent breakouts.

Some super-hydrating yet lightweight moisturisers that won’t make you oilier include DR. CEURACLE Vegan Kombucha Tea Gel Cream, PYUNKANG YUL Balancing Gel and the SOME BY MI AHA.BHA.PHA 30 Days Miracle Cream.

K-Beauty Treatment Serums + Acne

The temporary relief from the gradual calming of an active breakout on to be left with darks spots or hyper-contamination is one (insert not so nice word here) frustrating cycle. These marks are unsightly and can be just as bad as having pimples and spots.

Very often, the best global results when treating acne is when you give attention to scarring and marks left behind. Following the theme of using hydrating and calming ingredients, try incorporating brightening ingredients like niacinamide or Vitamin C.

Hydrated, soothed skin and anti-inflammatory ingredients can also help overactive melanocytes stay calmer, reducing darks marks. Hydration + treatment serums = fast healing.

Some of the most effective serums and concentrated creams we have are the AXIS-Y Spot The Difference Blemish Treatment, SOME BY MI AHA.BHA.PHA 30 Days Miracle Serum, the COSRX Centella Blemish Cream and the HEIMISH All Clean Vitamin Blemish Spot Clear Cream.

Pimple Protection + Acne

Acne patches are easy to use and effective, as I’ve personally found out quite recently. Now I don’t know where I’d be without them! You can read more in-depth information about them here.

In a nutshell they work by creating a moist healing environment and a protective covering over the breakout which enormously speeds up the recovery process. Not all patches are the same, the thickness and adhering-ability playing their part to give you a different experience. Some patches also come with specific formulas with healing ingredients like salicylic acid, tea tree, niacinamide, cica and hyaluronic acid.

My personal favourite is the PYUNKANG YUL Acne Spot Patch Super Thin but the COSRX Master Patches are also super useful and famous for their good results.

Acne is a bitter fight, but it’s one you can and will win. Don’t lose hope and keep working on it. One day soon you will be the ‘after’ in the ‘before and after’ picture.