The Playbook For The Modern Man

Essential Tips To Tackling Unwanted Man Acne

Acne is the scourge of many a man’s teenage years. Just when you’re feeling your gangliest and most awkward, you also have to worry about the field of pus-filled volcanos you call a face.

With at least five of them threatening to erupt at any one moment, all hope of getting with the hot girl in biology class is lost.

Now fast forward ten or twenty years. You’ve gotten over the gangly and awkward part, but the acne persists in calling your face and body home. You have a full-blown case of man acne, and you’re none too happy about it.

Acne is far from a teenage nightmare. It’s a common problem among men of all ages, so we’ve gathered a few tips on staying breakout-free from face to feet.

Why It Happens



The best way to battle acne is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Breakouts can be caused by many factors, or a combination, or could just be the result of genetic predisposition. If you’re experiencing outbreaks, consider switching up the following routines.


Sweating it out at the gym on a regular basis could be the cause of your adult acne. Sweat clogs your pores, trapping oil and dead skin cells inside, which leads to zits and painful cystic acne on your face and body.


Over time, sun exposure may increase your skin’s oil production. More oil means more clogged pores means – you guessed it – more breakouts. The skin damage following a sunburn can also cause pimples.


Diet is a somewhat contentious subject amongst acne experts, but various foods have been accused of keeping your skin from ultimate smoothness. On that list is dairy, carbohydrates, processed foods, sugar, and not enough omega-3s.


Researchers believe stress hormones can worsen acne. A low level of stress is unlikely to affect your skin, but the hormones produced during times of intense tension can cause breakouts. Keep a stress ball handy.


A bad grooming routine could be to blame. Overwashing or scrubbing too hard can dry out and irritate the skin. Your choice of cleanser or moisturiser could also be at fault. Shaving itself won’t cause acne, but a dull blade or the wrong shaving cream can produce pimples.

Best Treatments


Basic acne treatment means keeping follicles open. That can be achieved via a variety of methods, including cleansers, exfoliating products, prescription solutions and lifestyle changes.

Non-Prescription Treatments

Most non-prescription treatments include two familiar ingredients, benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, both of which help unclog pores. Resist the urge to pop your pimples. It can cause soreness, redness, inflammation, infection and permanent scarring.

Prescription Treatments

If over the counter remedies don’t work, a dematologist can prescribe more powerful treatments. Antibiotics taken orally or rubbed into the skin help control pore-clogging bacteria. Vitamin A derivatives, known as retinoids, can also prevent blockages.

Lifestyle Changes

Shower regularly, especially after workouts and other sweaty activities. Use an exfoliating wash or tool to break apart dead skin cells and keep pores clear. Skip synthetic materials. They’re more likely to trap the moisture and oils that lead to breakouts against your skin.

And don’t forget to do your laundry – the cleaner your bed linens are, the lower the chances that the oil and dead skin cells that accumulate on them will end up clogging your pores.

Best Products


In the battle of the breakouts, these products are your best weapons.


Men who are prone to breakouts should wash their faces twice a day with a gentle cleanser. Be sure the cleanser is formulated specifically for oily or acne-prone skin, as this will keep excess oil under control without stripping the skin. Try Dermalogica’s Clearing Skin Wash, which is formulated with salicylic acid and antiseptic extracts.


Dry skin can, paradoxically, make an oil problem worse. Your body will naturally produce excess oil to counteract the dryness, kicking the acne issue into overdrive. Make sure your face is properly hydrated using an oil-free moisturiser that won’t clog your pores. Tom Ford’s Oil-Free Daily Moisturiser uses a mix of patented complexes and butters that are lightweight and absorb instantly.


Exfoliation clears all the ick out of plugged pores. Gently apply a scrub to your face and body twice a week. Overexfoliating, or exfoliating too vigorously, can damage the skin. Do it during or just after a shower, when your pores are naturally at their most open. Regular buffs with the Facial Fuel Energizing Scrub from Kiehl’s should do the trick.


Not only do these vitamin A derivatives unblock pores, they can also boost collagen to reduce fine lines, even out discolouration, and smooth the skin. Prescription formulas yield the most impressive results, but less potent versions can be purchased over-the-counter. SkinCeuticals produces top-notch retinol products in two strengths, 0.5 and 1.0.

Expert Tips

Rochelle Collis, LaserClinics Australia

“Many men find the acne they had during their teen years never really goes away.  Acne affects both sexes equally during teen hood, but men tend to have longer lasting acne than women.

And unfortunately, guys are more likely to have more severe acne too. The good news is acne can be treated successfully, even in adults.

Treatment Options:

Over the counter, to help dry out the oil production

  • benzoyl peroxide
  • salicylic acid

Prescription Topical creams, to dry oil and treat infection

  • Retin-A
  • topical antibiotics

Oral Medication for severe acne

  • antibiotics
  • Isotretinoin

Acne can make shaving difficult; take extra care when shaving. Don’t shave the tops of pimples off, if you can help it. And try to shave super carefully over acne blemishes. 

If your blade razor is irritating your skin, try an electric to see if that helps, you might even want to experiment with a beard trimmer.


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