Acne Medications + the Right Skin Care Products = Spot On Results

In pursuit of clear skin, your clients have decided to leave behind the uncertainty that can come with trying over-the-counter treatments and instead embrace the power of a proven solution: prescription acne medicine. And while they think their new approach is finally giving them the upper hand in the acne fight, turns out a whole new set of problems are popping up. 

First remind them that the road to clear skin may have some bumps, but it’s a journey worth taking. Then educate on the side effects of some of the most popular prescription acne treatments and what they can do to say goodbye to endless breakouts and hello to radiant skin. Here’s how to make sure that everything is working together and adding up to clear results. 


All About Acne Medications

Understanding the main ingredients in acne medications and their side effects will guide you in finding your clients the best at home skincare regimen for their situation. The six most common topical prescription medications and their side effects for acne include:

  • Retinoids: and retinoid-like drugs: Creams, gels, and lotions containing retinoic acids are commonly used for moderate acne. They make the skin more sensitive to the sun and may cause dryness and redness.
  • Antibiotics: They kill excess skin bacteria, reduce redness and inflammation, and can be applied topically or taken orally. During the initial months of treatment, a combination of a retinoid and an antibiotic is often used, with the antibiotic applied in the morning and the retinoid in the evening. To minimize the risk of antibiotic resistance, benzoyl peroxide is often added. They can also increase sun sensitivity.
  • Azelaic Acid: Azelaic Acid is a natural acid produced by a yeast and has antibacterial properties. Applying a 20% azelaic acid cream or gel twice a day appears to be as effective as many traditional acne treatments. It can also help manage acne-related discoloration. Side effects may include burning or stinging of the skin, dryness, itchiness or peeling of the skin.
  • Salicylic Acid: Can help prevent clogged hair follicles and is available as wash-off or leave-on products. Side effects may include skin discoloration (mainly whitening of the skin) and minor irritation or rash..
  • Dapsone: Recommended for inflammatory acne, particularly in women, Dapsone 5% gel is applied twice daily. Side effects may include redness, itchiness, peeling and dryness.
  • Isotretinoin (Accutane): A highly potent prescription medication that is administered orally and is used to treat severe cystic acne. While typically reserved as a final resort due to its associated side effects and treatment protocols, it does offer the potential for long-lasting positive outcomes, effectively getting rid of acne. Some side effects include dry lips and mouth, crusty skin and minor swelling of the eyelids or lips. Since it can be harsher on the skin than other medications, a consistent and proper skincare routine is essential for those undergoing Accutane treatment, as it is not uncommon to require up to three courses of treatments within a span of six years. 


Acne At Home Skincare Routine

From dehydration and redness to sun protection, a skincare routine designed specifically for acne prone skin will by design address most acne medication side effects. Tell clients that consistency in their routine is the key, and never, ever pick their face. 


Step by Step Acne Skincare Routine


Advise that when it comes to skin, it's important to address both acne and their specific skin type. If they have acne and dry or combination skin, focus on keeping the skin hydrated while targeting inflammation and acne-causing bacteria. Opt for a milk cleanser to maintain a calm and balanced complexion. For oily skin, consider a gel-based cleanser that helps eliminate acne-causing bacteria, purifying clogged pores and helping to prevent future breakouts. All skin types with acne can benefit from a double-cleansing approach, using a cleanser that bonds with the skin's natural oils to draw out impurities, followed by an herbal toner containing antibacterial ingredients like tea tree, goldenrod, and mistletoe to help clear and prevent acne.



Incorporating a serum into an acne-focused skincare routine can offer surprising benefits. Suggest a serum specifically designed to absorb oil, powered by botanicals such as burnet, cinnamon, ginger, and green tea. These ingredients work together to help prevent breakouts, and leave the skin looking fresh and matte throughout the day. Additionally, a suitable serum can promote healing for inflamed acne, assisting in soothing redness and irritation, while also helping to manage existing breakouts and preventing future ones.



To help regain control over acne, apply a blemish control gel that can suppress acne-causing bacteria without dehydrating the skin. This step helps minimize irritation, promotes healing, and can serve as an effective spot treatment for occasional blemishes.



Exposing acne to the sun, especially when on medication, won't make it disappear. In fact, sunlight can worsen acne by causing inflammation, skin irritation and scars. Protect the skin with an oil-free sunscreen that shields against harmful UVA/UVB rays. Opt for a sunscreen that not only prevents premature aging but also provides hydration 



In their nighttime routine, replace sunscreen with a healing moisturizer specifically formulated for acne-prone skin. This moisturizer helps repair any damage, conditions and soothes irritated skin, and can help keep it clear. Look for natural ingredients like cajeput, tea tree, and palmarosa, which can detoxify the skin, while mushroom stem and rice bran help provide soothing properties, stimulate healing, and enhance overall appearance.


Finally, make sure they understand the value of their relationship with you as their skincare professional—even when they’ve got a doctor in the mix. While their doc focuses on resolving acne through medical interventions, you're the key to helping them get beautiful skin. Combining consistent professional treatments with a custom-curated at home skincare routine designed by you, along with their prescribed medication, will work wonders in their quest for flawless skin.