Acne in Men: What You Need to Know

Ah, acne.

You may be all too familiar with it as your constant companion throughout high school. Perhaps you grew out of it as you entered adulthood – only to have it return now. Or perhaps it never left you.

While in adult cases of acne, women are affected more frequently than men1, these red spots and bumps are a very real concern for many, regardless of gender. In fact, as male skin differs from female skin, you may find that you experience worse breakouts than your female friends.

So how can men take better care of their acne-prone skin?

First, we need to understand why you get acne in the first place.

What Causes Acne in Men?

At the root of all acne is a clogged pore, which happens when excess oil mixes with dead skin cells to create a sticky plug. This is the same for males and females.

For men with acne, changes in testosterone levels are often the biggest trigger. Testosterone is a key androgen (male sex hormone) responsible for giving males their traditionally masculine characteristics, such as a deep voice and bigger muscles. The hormone also stimulates the production of sebum, which means an increase in testosterone may lead to excess oil being produced. This in turn leads to clogged pores and breakouts2.

In fact, research has found that acne patients produced higher rates of testosterone in their skin than people without acne3.

Levels of this hormone tend to rise during puberty for boys (and girls), which is why so many teens get acne. While women have testosterone too, men produce more, and factors such as stress, exercise, age, and genes can affect the level of testosterone in your body.

More Factors That Can Lead to Acne in Men

  • Diet
    While the acne-diet connection isn’t yet clear-cut, research has shown that consuming a lot of high-glycemic foods and cow’s milk may contribute to acne.
  • Genetics
    If your parents have acne, you’re more likely to have it too!
  • Steroids
    Taking anabolic steroids or corticosteroid medications can lead to higher testosterone levels and cause acne flare-ups4.
  • Facial Hair
    Rocking a beard or mustache? Check if your facial hair may be trapping bacteria and oil.
  • Sweat
    Sweating, whether from the summer sun or exercise, may make acne worse.
  • Stress
    When you’re emotionally stressed, your body makes extra hormones that can cause breakouts5.
  • The Wrong Skincare Products
    Using products that are too harsh on your skin or that contain pore-clogging ingredients may be the culprit.
  • Greasy Hair Products
    Similar to skincare products, if you use hair care products that are too oily, they can get onto your face and clog up your pores– leading to acne.

9 Things to Do for Clear, Healthy Skin

  1. Identify your skin type.

Knowing your skin type will help you better care for your skin. Your skin may be dry and flaky, oily and shiny, or a combination of both. It could also be oily but dehydrated, or even sensitive. Check out this easy guide to determining your skin type to start!

  1. Go for acne-friendly skincare products.

Take extra care when buying new skincare products. Check the labels to make sure they are non-comedogenic (meaning they won’t clog pores) and look through the ingredients list for potential irritants, such as fragrances.

Designed for acne-prone and sensitive skin, you can rest assured that the Clearly Basics line is 100% non-comedogenic and kind to skin.

  1. Wash your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser.

Give your skin a thorough cleanse without overstripping it of its natural oils and irritating it. Choose from So Fresh (for all skin types) or Balancing Cleanser (for oily skin), and remember to wash your face with lukewarm – not hot – water.

  1. Use retinol.

Retinol is the gold standard when it comes to clearing acne-causing clogged pores. Clear Out is our revolutionary retinol-powered lotion. Apply it once every night to flush out the clogs and make skin less acne-prone.

  1. Moisturize – yes, even when you have oily skin.

Use a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer such as the Matte Hydrator. As a hyaluronic acid serum, it can keep your skin nourished so that it won’t become so dry it compensates by producing even more pore-clogging oil.

  1. Remember your sunscreen.

No skincare routine is complete without sunscreen. Go for a lightweight, broad-spectrum one with at least SPF 35+ and a PA+++ rating.

  1. Take extra care when shaving.

Always use a clean razor and shave in the direction of hair growth. You can also moisturize before and after you shave to help minimize irritation. Use the antioxidant-rich Protective Moisturizer to calm redness, reduce skin sensitivity, and strengthen your skin barrier.

  1. Adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Living healthy overall can help improve your skin. Get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly, eat well, and schedule plenty of time to rest and de-stress.

  1. Mind the sweat when exercising.

To prevent the heat and sweat from making acne worse, use a towel to gently pat sweat off during your workout and wash your face after. Add in a shower if possible and change into clean clothes.

Have questions about what Clearly Basics can do for your skin?

We’re here to help! Get in touch with us via Messenger chat or Instagram DM (@clearlybasics).


  1. Emil A. Tanghetti et al., 2014: Understanding the Burden of Adult Female Acne
  1. Aimee Eyvazzadeh, 2019: Can Testosterone Trigger Acne?
  1. Evgenia Makrantonaki et al., 2011: An update on the role of the sebaceous gland in the pathogenesis of acne
  1. Cleveland Clinic, 2018: When Should Men See a Dermatologist for Adult Acne?
  1. Young Men's Health, 2019: Acne

Disclaimer: This article should not be interpreted as personal medical advice. For medical-related matters, please consult your dermatologist.

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Based on 2549 reviews
Skin Type: Combination
All I can say is wow

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Power Duo*
Chuan Ling T.

Adult acne is a new thing for me- I’ve had clear skin growing up so the outbreaks were very stressful! I did everything and anything I could, from watching YouTube reviews, trying out cult products to professional advice, but nothing quite did the job. So how the power duo panned out for me was definitely a pleasant (-ly hugeeee) surprise. I do acknowledge that my acne challenges are not on the extremely severe end, but I must say, emotionally the positive outcome of using both the power duo encouraged me to wear my skin as it is again. It’s really worthwhile trying as it is also a no fuss duo; hence the currently gild of my staple skincare products.

Calm Down*
Kimberly C.

The entire Clearly Basics product line is the only one that has cleared my skin. I tried any product you can think of including doctor prescribed medication and ointment and nothing worked. After having acne for over 15 years I am so happy to have clear, radiant skin!

I have maybe seen some improvement but nothing amazing yet. Have used the product as instructed, religiously. Will try another bottle and stick to it for a few more months.

I love all of clearly basics! They made my confidence rise because I finally feel comfortable without makeup.
This cleanser is amazing 👏
My skin doesn't feel tight afterwards and now I don't get that mid day shine near as bad.

I love everything from clearly basics! It totally changed my life by clearing my acne. Now they have a new sunscreen and it's great.
It doesn't have a smell or leave your face white or greasy. Best of all it doesn't cause breakouts!

The products are just amazing!! My results in 4 months of using clear out extra strength!!

Clear Out*
Sophie C.

Love this product 👏🏽

Works really well! Enjoy using this face wash, never stings or dries out my acne prone skin !

Clear Out*
Emma S.

Worked really well in quite a short amount of time! I now see long lasting results, my skin is healthy and my acne is finally under control! The first product I have tried which works and is actually affordable!

I struggled with lots of painful cystic acne so tried the clear out product. Found by the end of the first bottle a lot of the smaller spots were not coming back and the more painful larger ones were coming back less inflamed. I was happy with the results from the first bottle so I ordered another, this is halfway through the second bottle and can see most of the acne on my cheeks has gone! I still get cystic acne in the T area but it is much less painful than before. Definitely recommend, but takes time to see real results.

Clearly Basics has been an absolute life saver! Not an over night miracle, be patient and stick with it, amazing products

I saw a huge reduction in new pimples and any new pimples scars healed and disappeared a lot quicker

Power Duo*
Anne F.

I have struggled with acne since I was 12 years old. All through my teenage and adult life my skin has been unpredictable and the breakouts have been constant and so frustrating. I’ve tried everything you could imagine but nothing worked reliably. Clear Out and lighten up have been a total game changer for me and I couldn’t be happier with the results

Acne Care Kit*
Sinead C.

I started using clearly basics at the beginning of the year. I have struggled with acne most of my adult life and when I saw a video from a customer on instagram, everything she described is exactly what I had done…had hormonal acne on chin and jaw line in particular. I had been to the doctor, was referred to a dermatologist and had been on medication, tried all sorts of creams and gels with no success.

I cannot believe this actually worked. I would say I saw results within the first month and probably took around 4 months so really clear up. I have continued with using it and now only get the odd spot at that time of the month but use the calm down on it. It has given me my confidence back and now I’m working on reducing the scaring. I use clear out each evening, the TLC in the morning, lighten up twice a day (but that is a small bottle so doesn’t last long) and then have tried both the so fresh and balancing cleansers. For me it really worked so would highly recommend.

Tightens pores and brightens and smoothes skin. This was my first bottle but I will continue to purchase. I use day and night.

I already use CB balancing cleanser and clear out extra strength, two years ago my skin was spotty, blackheads, raw and very visible. I wondered if the TLC would make a difference in my routine but it has, a glow and radiance I didn’t expect. This is no filter I’ve just woke up. I turned 50 this year the clearly basics range is also an amazing anti ageing tool!

Power Duo*
Mamtha J.

Tried every product out there from proactiv to slurp! None worked, they infact aggravated the condition! Tried clearlybasics as last resort and oh boy it works! Worth every penny! First time in 20 years, stepped out without wearing base makeup! Never thought this day would come!

I suffered with acne for years, and when I finally learned to stop the acne I was left with red and brown scars and hyperpigmentation. But I started using the clearly basics Lighten up cream and Dark mark defends, followed by the moisturiser, and I saw a dramatic difference within days! My scars have lightened so much and most of them are gone. I find this moisturiser is also very hydrating but not greasy, it is absorbed into my skin effortlessly, and it wears beautifully under my makeup. I've now been using the products for 6 months and will continue to use it!

Power Duo*
Laura S.

This stuff changed my life!!!!
After reading the reviews I never thought it would work for me in the same way as it had for other people, as my skin was so bad and cystic. But after just a few months of using this and cutting down on dairy, my skin was 10 times better!
I’m still religiously using the Power Duo and don’t think I’ll ever stop 😊

Clear Out*
Leah N.

It's such a relief to finally have found something that works. I've had acne since I was around 11 and like most people, I tried so many different products and 'hacks' to try and get rid of the spots but nothing really helped.
I was hesitant to try clear out because of the price but I was reassured by the money back guarantee.
To be honest, the purging process they warn about was pretty severe for me. Mine lasted for the entire first bottle and I was so ready to give up. I contacted customer service and they offered me a refund or 50% off my next bottle, reassuring me it would be worth sticking with it. I agreed to persevere and I'm so glad I did! About half way through the next bottle I really noticed improvements and by the end, my skin was the clearest it had ever been. I've completely stopped having breakouts and only occasionally get a spot or two during my cycle. Overall my skin is smoother and I have much less redness and a more even skin tone. I keep using clear out nightly to maintain my nice new skin and I'll happily keep buying it knowing how well it works for me!

Clear Out*
Mandy R.

After a few weeks the results were already visible (right photo). Now the red spots are also less visible!!

Acne Care Kit*
Keiwing W.

My son has serious acene problem and the acene comes back when he stopped taking the anti- biotics. After trying the products, the acene starts to dry up. The result is amazing after one month. Now, trying to apply the product to lighten up the marks.

Calm Down*
Cara W.

This works amazing. As soon as you see a bump, put a small amount on. I’ve used many acne spot treatments and this is by far the best !!

Clear Out
Veronica Ilenya Ranieri

"My skin has changed in better after using these products, they are practical and are not aggressive towards the skin.
I was ashamed of going out in public because everyone was pointing out my acne and scars, but since I started using clearly basic, I found a new me. Thank you changing my life!!"

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