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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See what others have to say about Clearly Basics.

Based on 495 reviews
So glad to have found these products!

Finding products that helped to control my acne without irritating my sensitive skin has always been a huge challenge. The clearly basics products have been my saviour, I can't recommend them enough ☺️

Extra Strength Duo
Briannon Argueta
Skin Type: Combination
Comments: It's worth it. Just try it and stick with it =)
Definitely seeing improvements

I've struggled with acne for the last few years. I've tried many different topical things to clear it but nothing was working. I decided to try Clearly Basics and have definitely seen improvements! I've been using this combo for about 2 months and am loving the results so far. Obviously, my face isn't perfect yet but it's a marathon, not a sprint, and I understand that. Here's to consistency and better results as I continue my journey! I've attached some before and after pictures, all with a makeup-free face so you can see my honest progress.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Excellent and actually works

I am so incredibly impressed with the TLC for pore minimising - it 💯 works and has transformed my skin.

I’m in my 50’s and always had hormonal flare ups with larger pores as I age - this is a game changer and have just reordered my 3rd bottle !


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.

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

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!

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 😊

I am 32 years old and still suffering from acne. I tried many things, but acne will dissappear and come back. Now I am using this product and my skin is getting better. Still I get some acne, but hopefully it clear all. But I am not sure how long I should use this product ?

Ive been using clear out for about 3 months and I have noticed a big change. Breakouts are minimal and my skin is looking and feeling much clearer. Im just about to start the clear out extra strength to try and clean out the remaining stubborn cystic bumps. Id like the pigmentation and scars to fade quicker, but Im sure they will in time. Overall Im happy with the product and can notice the change when comparing photos.

Power Duo
Emma Taylor

I love clearly basics so much!! My skin has cleared up amazingly, check out @myacnepage on insta or clearly basics website to see how far my skin has come while using their products. I love the power duo especially and recommend to anyone who has been struggling with acne or redness/hyperpigmentation and scarring

Power Duo
Amy Nuramira

"""I have been struggling with acne for 10 years. This is by far the best product. I started out with brown pigmentation (acne marks) and a lot of tiny bumps of acne on my forehead, cheek and nose (kind of like sand paper). As soon as I started the Clear Out and Lighten Up, my acne bumps got smaller and smaller. My brown pigmentation began turning lighter (reddish pinkish).
Initially, when I started using it, I didn't really get a 'purge' it was just a small amount of break outs which went away in a few weeks. Now my hormonal break outs are not as terrible as before, they still appear but barely noticeable.
My skin is acne free, pigmentation are still there but they've improved tremendously. The Clear Out does not dry out your skin at all, even when I apply makeup on, it's not patchy."""

Started using the Power Duo approximately 2-3 months ago, the creams have really helped to improve my skin quality, it feels so much smoother. I still have pigmentation which I will be starting to use the Dark Mark Defense for. But overall VERY happy with the Power Duo

Power Duo
Megan Downes


Never have I found a brand that is so gentle on my skin but works wonders.

The lighten up is the best thing for redness, the difference in just one day on my pictures below.

Can't recommend enough, especially for hormonal acne.

Thank you Clearly"

Power Duo
Louisa Bohm

Before I started using Clearly Basics, I was using normal pharmacy products and this obviously wasn’t enough. I was having a lot of breakouts and cysts underneath the skin. I found Clearly through a giveaway which I participated and won, and I’m so glad it gave me the opportunity to try their products. 2 months in, I was amazed how powerful the products are, especially the Power Duo, and I absolutely love them. My skin has changed so much, it heals much faster now. I definitely recommend trying.

Power Duo
Celeste Robinson

This company is honestly incredible! I have been struggling with really painful hormonal cystic acne for years. I was prescribed oral medication, but decided against taking it because of all the side effects. So I did some research and found Clearly Basics! I have been using the Power Duo for 3 months and the progress my skin has made has been amazing! It has cleared my skin without causing any irritation or sensitivity. I am finally at the stage where I can leave the house without makeup! My skin is clear!! The customer service is also very personal and efficient. I don’t have enough wonderful things to say about these products, they literally saved my skin.

Really lovely product range! The power duo is the first thing, after 6 years of searching, that has helped my hormonal acne. I've tried antibiotics, differin, epiduo and everything range going but my skin got burnt, the acne came back or just didn't work. Clealry have the balance just right of clearing out your pores to prevent acne and calm pigmentation without irritating the skin. Absolutely amazing stuff that has transformed my skin!

Power Duo
Ghina Arbid

I've had acne since I was in high school. It was coming and going, but I never got rid of it completely. Last year, I had a few months without acne at all and I thought "Okay, great. This is it." But then it started coming back. So I went to see a doctor and they gave me some prescriptions. They didn't work. I saw an ad for Clearly Basics on social media once, and I was like, "This is great! But do I trust online products like this?" And guess what? I'm back here and I trust them completely because I've seen results. I started using Clearly almost 3 months ago, had a purging period where everything was just coming out. Now I'm in my third month, and I really like the results so far. My skin has cleared up, and there aren't any large bumps underneath my skin anymore. And it's just great, honestly. I didn't expect a product I bought online to be this helpful and useful. I wouldn't go anywhere else anymore after this.

Extra Strength Duo
Melissa Aldana

I love what the Sensitive Skin Trio (Clear Out + Lighten Up + Protective Moisturizer) has done for my skin! I had tried so many things before trying these products out and my skin was at its worst and peeling horribly, but I noticed a difference within the first week of using these products. The So Fresh cleanser is so refreshing and it has worked so well without stripping my skin. And with the Dark Mark Defense, my dark marks have faded greatly in comparison to when I first started using it. Since starting Clearly, I have upgraded to the Clear Out Extra Strength and even with the stronger formulation, I don’t experience any sensitivity and my skin has never looked or felt better! My skin is not dull or dry, and even has a glow, and the texture of my skin has also improved significantly

Power Duo
Chelsey Hendriksen

"I have been using Clearly for about 5 weeks and I am blown away by results. I have no large lumps, which is awesome because they were super painful. My skin is smooth and soft and everyday I see my red scars fading. I had tried so many things from drug store brands to high end products for my cystic acne and nothing worked.
After months of struggling and literally hating my skin I can not believe how amazon it looks"

Extra Strength Duo
Nicole Long

I have always struggled with acne ever since I was a teenager. Constant breakouts, constant red marks, fading into acne scars that I still probably have today. I found Clearly through social media and I was really taken in by their testimonials, so I took the leap. I started with the Clear Out + Lighten Up (Power Duo), and I really was able to see that any breakouts I was having would go away faster than I've ever seen and the Lighten Up would get rid of those red marks very quickly. Eventually I moved into the Clear Out Extra Strength and I was able to really feel like I was clearing out my clogged pores and really resetting my skin. I also added the Dark Mark Defense to really target those dark marks, acne scars that I've had since I was a teenager, and I was able to see the difference within the first month, which was really exciting for me to really target those spots that have been bothering me for years!

Power Duo
Brittany Shanae

"I swear the Power Duo (Clear Out and Lighten Up) are a GOD-send! I've been using both consistently for 3 months now and my skin has NEVER looked or felt better! I haven't experienced a breakout since March and more than 80% of my hyperpigmentation is GONE!

I'm so grateful to have finally found a product that actually works for my skin!

If you're dealing with acne breakouts and hyperpigmentation, you should def research Clearly Basics."

Skin Type: Normal
Comments: The only thing I now need to use to keep my skin clear.
The holy grail for clearing hormonal acne.

This is the only product that I have needed to keep my skin clear since discovering it about 2 years ago, after suddenly developing cystic hormonal acne at the age of 25. I now only need to use it every second night, so it's incredibly affordable. It has also never irritated my sensitive skin and it has faded previous acne marks to truly clear my skin. After years of trying expensive supplements/products/harsh prescription creams, Clear Out was the only thing that gave me long-lasting results.

Skin Type: Oily
Clearly Basics is the only product that has helped my Adult Acne

I have always struggled with dehydrated acne prone skin. Every month like clockwork I would get a new breakout on my chin or cheek area. These included large cystic acne that by the time they came to a head would take me months to clear. With new breakouts each month this created more & more spots before the first could heal leaving more hyper pigmentation spots that never have time to clear. Clearly basics changed all that for me. It gave my skin a chance to heal and reduced the number of breakouts each month. When I do get a new breakout it resolves itself quickly with less scarring and redness. Now that the acne is under control the products are helping to eliminate the remaining hyper pigmentation spots left from years of acne. I have not been using the product for long but I will continuing relying on this product and look forward to the day I can happily look in the mirror at a smooth clear & even complexion some day soon.

Skin Type: Combination
Comments: Product consistency in terms of smoothness/coarseness/stickiness/ is sometimes a miss, don't believe it affects the result provided.
Great Combo

Have seen great improvements by using these 2 items concurrently, hard to fault and wil continue purchasing.

Individual results may vary

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