Acne Glossary: Key Skincare Terms Decoded

August 8, 2022

Acne Glossary: Key Skincare Terms Decoded


Battling acne can be a frustrating and confusing experience.

Diagnosing types of acne, formulating acne treatment plans, and studying anti-blemish skincare ingredients, all involve new skincare vocabulary which can be difficult to understand. In this comprehensive acne glossary, we decode common skincare terms relating to acne so that you can have an easier time banishing breakouts for good.


Acne Vulgaris

Acne Vulgaris is the medical term for pimples. This umbrella term refers to all types of acne, including blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules, and cysts. The biggest culprit for acne vulgaris is clogged pores, induced by an overproduction of sebum or an excess of dead skin cells on your complexion. 


Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

AHAs are water-soluble chemical exfoliants that break down the bonds between dead skin cells. Typically derived from nature, AHAs are gently on your skin and can be included into your evening skincare routine 2-3 times a week. Our LumiGlow Fruit-Derived AHA Exfoliant features Glycolic Acid that sloughs off dead skin cells to reveal healthy radiant skin.



Androgens are male sex hormones, including testosterone. They are also present in women at lower levels. A spike in androgen levels causes sebaceous glands to produce more sebum which can trigger acne breakouts.



Antibiotics is a classification of drugs that combat bacteria in your body. When used as an oral acne treatment, antibiotics help to eliminate acne-triggering bacteria to reduce your risk of developing pimples.


Azelaic Acid

This naturally derived acid soothes skin inflammation and kills harmful bacteria on your skin. In addition, Azelaic Acid is a powerful melanin-inhibitor that prevents the formation of melanin to fade dark spots overtime. Introduce this ingredient into your acne skincare routine by using our LumiFade Advanced Dark Spot Lightener.



“Bacne” is a combination of the words “back” and “acne”. It refers to pimples that develop on your back which can be treated with antibacterial body wash.


Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs)

BHAs are oil-soluble which means they can effectively penetrate pores to remove dead skin cells and curb excess sebum. Salicylic Acid is a popular type of BHA that is a staple in many people’s acne skincare routine.



This non-inflammatory type of pimple occurs when your hair follicle gets filled with excess oil and dead skin cells. They are known as open comedones as the surface of your skin remains open. The exposure to air causes the opening of your hair follicles to oxidise and turn black.


Blind Pimple 

Blind pimples form beneath the surface of your skin. They can be felt or are tender to touch but they are not visible to the naked eye.


Chemical Peel

A chemical peel is a process where skincare acids are applied to your skin to stimulate exfoliation. Exfoliators such as Salicylic Acid, Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid, slough off dead skin cells to prevent a build-up that can potentially clog your pores.



A comedogenic cosmetic ingredient is one that has an elevated likelihood of congesting your pores. As such, always look out for products labelled with “non-comedogenic” to prevent your makeup or skincare products from sabotaging your clear skin journey.


Cortisone Injection

A cortisone injection is a process where a steroid drug is delivered into a cyst or nodule to heal inflammation and reduce swelling fast.


Cystic Acne

The most severe form of acne, cysts are larger than average pimples and they form deeper in your skin tissues. They can be painful to touch and present greater risks of developing post-inflammatory acne scars.



Dermabrasion is a skin resurfacing procedure that uses a rapidly rotating device to remove the outer layer of your skin. This cosmetic process can also help to fade flat acne scars.



Exfoliation removes dead skin cells from the top layer of your skin. Mechanical exfoliation involves the use of tools, such as a brush, sponge or scrub, to physically remove dead skin cells. On the other hand, chemical exfoliation utilises AHAs or BHAs to gently break down dead skin cells.



A follicle is a small opening on your skin where hair grows and oil is excreted from. Blockage of a follicle can lead to inflammation and as a result pimples.


Fungal Acne

Fungal acne is not the same as acne vulgaris. They are caused by an overgrowth of yeast within your hair follicles resulting in small pimple-like bumps on your skin. Typical acne treatments will not work on Fungal Acne. Click here to find out more about Fungal Acne and how to treat it.


Hormonal Acne

Hormonal acne is a breakout that occur due to hormone fluctuations. This is common during teenage years, menopause, pregnancy or when you get your monthly period.



A holy grail acne-fighting ingredient, ICTASOL is clinically proven to improve acne-prone skin appearance by 94% and reduce the number of pimples by 80%. This anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anti-seborrheic ingredient combats a broad spectrum of acne symptoms to heal breakouts fast.

Click here to learn more about ICTASOL.


Isotretinoin (Accutane)

Accutane is an oral acne medication prescribed by dermatologists to treat severe acne. As it can cause potential birth defects, pregnant women cannot consume Accutane to banish breakouts.


Laser Therapy

Acne battlers can undergo laser therapy to banish breakouts. Lasers produce a band of light that can help to eliminate bacteria, excess oil, soothe inflamed skin and fade acne scars.



Maskne refers to acne formed as a result of prolonged mask wearing. Trapped humidity, moisture and bacteria on your jaw, cheeks and nose area are susceptible to maskne breakouts.



Melanin is a pigmented substance that gives your hair and skin its color. As an inflamed acne heals, melanin can be produced resulting in the development of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.



Milia is formed when Keratin, a type of protein found in your skin cells, gets trapped under the outer layer of your epidermis. These tiny hard bumps look like whiteheads but they are not acne and do not develop from a pore.



A form of Vitamin B3, Niacinamide helps your skin grow its Ceramide (lipid) barrier and reduces inflammation and redness. This powerful anti-blemish ingredient also regulates oil level and treats hyperpigmentation.



This type of pimple is small and appears as a red bump. It occurs when your pores are clogged and can be filled with pus a few days layer.



Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is a type of pigmented acne scarring that occurs where an inflamed pimple was. Your skin’s natural response to inflammation is to deposit melanin which can lead to hyperpigmentation over time.


Propionibacterium Acnes (P. Acnes)

This bacteria on your skin is notorious for contributing to the development of acne. Protect your skin from the harmful effects of this bacteria by cleansing your skin with a gentle cleanser twice daily.



Pustule is a pus-filled pimple that has a yellow or white centre.



A derivative of Vitamin A, Retinoid penetrates your skin beyond the epidermis layer to stimulate skin cell turnover and unclog pores. This potent ingredient can also help to fade acne scars.


Salicylic Acid

This over-the-counter acne treatment is a BHA that gently exfoliates your skin to reveal smoother and brighter skin.


Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil is an antiseptic that combats oily skin. It delivers anti-inflammatory properties that reduce redness and swelling while its antimicrobial efficacy keeps acne-triggering bacteria at bay.



Whiteheads are non-inflammatory pimples that form when oil and dead skin cells block the opening of your hair follicles. These closed comedones have a top that is covered by a thin layer of skin and typically appear white in colour.


Getting to know these key acne skincare terms will help you navigate breakouts with greater confidence and ease. If you have any questions relating to acne, email us at and we will be happy to assist you on your quest to clear skin!


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