Understanding Different Types of Acne

Understanding Different Types of Acne

Understanding Acne 

Written By Ashton Qual

Have you ever had a hard time understanding all the different information surrounding acne in all of its different forms that happen to be all over the internet? There is so much information, and not all of it correct, on various types of acne and what to do about it. Today, we are going to break down the different types of acne, what the main causes of those acne types are, and what you can do about it!

We are going to talk about these six types of acne classifications; Whiteheads, Blackheads, Papules, Pustules, Nodules, Cystic Lesions.

Whiteheads & Blackheads

Also known as closed comedones, are small raised white bumps on the skin, typically affecting the shoulders, back, and face. Caused by bacteria filling up the follicles under the skin. This bacteria can be excess or unhealthy oil and/or dead skin cells (why oil cleansing is so important, more on that later). Unlike blackheads, the air is not exposed to these bacteria-trapped follicles so they remain white. Blackheads are very similar. Blackheads are also known as open comedones, meaning they are follicles under the skin where the pore or opening is large (can become a blackhead after a pimple was there and popped) where bacteria (oil and dirt) got into the follicles but was exposed to air, oxidizing it and turns the trapped oil and debris black. Blackheads are most commonly found on the back, shoulders, and face.

Treating whiteheads and blackheads can be super easy. Many recommend acids and actives to go deep into the pores and push out the bacteria, but at Ash & Stone, we have researched and found through years of use, that a gentler approach is better for the overall health of your skin and works just as good. Oil Cleansing (with our Sunshine Oil Cleanser or Nourishing Oil Cleanser) helps to remove dirt and debris off the surface of your skin and lift that excess oil and dirt out of your pores, allowing it to be wiped off the surface of your skin easily. This method does not interfere with the pH of your skin, nor does it strip your skin of its natural and good sebum (natural facial oil you produce on your own). Oil cleansing helps to regulate how much oil your skin is producing and balance your overall complexion and skin texture, not to mention help clean out those whiteheads and blackheads. Exfoliation is also key in helping to treat white and blackheads. Regularly exfoliating is key to helping unclog those pores by helping to get rid of the build-up of dead skin cells and oil that can get trapped in your pores and cause white/blackheads. Using the Flower and Sea Facial Grain two to three times a week will help keep your skin healthy and keep your pores unclogged.

Papules & Pustules


Papules are raised areas of skin tissue that are solid and inflamed. They are smaller than some other forms of acne, being less than 1 centimeter. Often called skin lesions as they are changes in your skin's color and texture. They are dome or cone-shaped or flat-topped. These solid papules are not puss-filled like other forms of acne, but they can be painful and irritating. Papules can be found in various areas of the body, not just the face. 


Papules can be caused by a few different things. Contact to the skin that creates irritation, allergic reaction or bacteria transfer to the skin, hormonal changes, specifically excess androgen (especially in the teenage years), and sebaceous glands overproducing oil. Papules can also be triggered by stress, too much sugar, or a poor diet. 


Pustules are the annoying pus-filled acne spots that pop up when you need them to just not. They are small bumps on the skin filled with fluid with a white head. Pustules are typically inflamed and can be painful, leaving the skin around them red. They can affect the face, back, chest, and shoulders. They can be small or bigger in size.


This form of acne is very commonly related to hormonal issues (changes and imbalances). 

Formed due to oil and dead skin cell clogged pores, they raise up on the skin and can be painful to the touch. 


Treating papules and pustules can be done at home. Be very gentle with your skin if you suffer from these forms of acne, don't over-exfoliate or rub the skin. Oil cleansing is a great option to remove bacteria, dirt, and excess oil while helping to regulate the oil production of your skin. We recommended the Sunshine Oil Cleanser. The Flower and Seas facial grain can be used to exfoliate 1-2x a week for gentle removal of dead skin cells but should be done carefully and very gently. For papules, moisturizing with the O.G. Facial Oil will further help to regulate the oil production of the skin and help to treat and soothe current breakouts. For pustules, moisturizing with Omega Facial Oil will significantly help to treat those active breakouts with its anti-inflammatory formulation. The Matcha Mellow Mask is packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients that treat active breakouts and is a great option for those struggling with these two forms of acne. 




This form of inflammatory acne is a deep-rooted pimple that is caused by a bacterial infection deep within the pores as hair, dirt, excess oil, and bacteria get trapped in the pores. Nodules are bigger than pustules or papules and are hard lumps or knots just below the surface of the skin. They can last for a long time, weeks, or even months. They are painful and should not be picked at or attempted to be popped. This form of acne is most common in young/teenage men but can also be found in women. Hormones, stress, lifestyle, diet, and excessive sweating can cause nodules. 


Diet and lifestyle are one of the only ways to truly treat nodules holistically. Making sure the skin is cleansed twice a day (oil cleansing will work great at keeping those pores unclogged), and properly hydrated to not overproduce sebum and further clog pores is key (the Omega facial oil is a great option). Managing stress, working on supporting hormonal health, and making healthy lifestyle changes are so important to clearing this acne. Many doctors will recommend different medications for this form of acne. Our Omega Facial Oil is a great option for reducing inflammation topically though. 


Cystic Acne 


Like nodules, cystic lesions or acne are formed deep under the skin and are caused by similar factors. Unlike nodules, cysts are large pus-filled and inflamed with large white bumps and are painful to the touch. Typically found in people with oily skin and those suffering from hormonal problems (teens and women). Cystic acne is very commonly referred to as hormonal acne. Found on the face, back, neck, shoulders, chest, and other parts of the body, it is a stubborn type of acne and takes time and patience to heal. 


Being gentle on your skin is essential, providing nourishment to the surface of your skin that will penetrate deep into the dermis. Finding noncomedogenic skin care products will help you to use powerful plant-based products without them clogging your pores. The Omega Facial Oil was designed and formulated to help treat this form of acne. It is a great everyday moisturizer that will not clog your pores and help to provide deep nourishment to the skin. Avoid harsh chemicals and scrubs. Instead, keep your routine simple (Omega Travel Bundles is a great place to start), and focus on your diet and lifestyle choices. This form of acne has more to do with gut and hormonal health than anything else, so focus on healing hormonal imbalances and gut issues through whole foods, proper nutrition, and a balanced lifestyle. 


Acne can be super frustrating and have a toll on your self-image, but here at Ash & Stone, we want to remind you that your acne does not define you, and you can love the skin you have by caring for it and nourishing it to heal. I have personally suffered from cystic acne since I was 17 years old (I’m 25 now), and it has been a journey…a long one at that, with ups and downs, successes and setbacks, but because my identity is not tied to how my skin looks, I have been able to love the skin I have and share my passion for skincare and hormonal healing with so many people. I hope this blog helps you to identify the type of acne you are struggling with and point you in the right direction in your skin healing journey. 


-Ashton Qual

CEO and Founder of Ash and Stone Skincare LLC

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