Cystic Acne from PCOS is Not Cute – How I Manage (Tips for YOU!)


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tips for Cystic Acne caused by PCOS

Well hello cuties!

I talk about this a lot on my Instagram, but I was diagnosed with PCOS almost 3 years ago.  One of the (many) side effects of PCOS is deep, cystic (throbbing) acne.

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And while I have quite the daily skincare routine (nothing like k-beauty bloggers), every 2 ish weeks a new cystic acne breakout comes along, bringing regular white heads along with it.

I’m 27 goddamn years old, and I’m STILL breaking out?!?!

So, below, I’ve shared my process to fight back against cystic acne.  All of the products below (except Clean & Clear!) were discovered at a medical spa I go to to treat acne scarring.  If you do decide to buy these products, be a dear and use the affiliate links on this page. Your clicks help me write more tip-filled content!

Best skincare brand for PCOS

Steps 1 & 2:  Cleanse & Tone

For cleansers, I stay the EFF away from drugstores, as those cleansers have a lot of garbage in them.  Image Skincare is a fabulous line, recommended to me by my aestheticism (skin fairy). I use the Clear Cell facial cleanser ($31.72) and ONCE daily I use the Clear Cell Salycilic Clarifying Tonic.  (It dries out my skin, so I only use it at night, along with a heavier moisturizer).

Step 3a:  Spot Treatment

Before I get excited about applying moisturizer (I loooove moisturizer, because my skin is so dang dry!), it’s time for spot treatments.

This next part will make aestheticism and skin nerds cringe, but, real talk, it works for me!  I sanitize the “pokiest” tweezer tool from this Extractor Kit (Hydrogen Peroxide ftw), and I lightly press on any cystic acne areas.  I do this because I want the spot treatment to be able to permeate below the skin, where the actual gross stuff is happening! Once some clear liquid comes out, I stop.  Pushing too hard/poking at the skin results in scarring, so resist the urge!!

Step 3b:  EndZit $19.99

Okay, while the product packaging makes this look like it’s either from a comic bookstore or the 1990’s (or a comic set in the 1990’s) THIS STUFF FREAKING WORKS.  Using the power of sulfur (plus some other handy dandy ingredients like zine oxide, talc and titanium dioxide), this is almost like a paste. Remember doing paper mache in grade school?  Similar consistency.

I goop a bit on the cystic areas at night, and somehow it dries out cystic acne overnight!  A raised and irritated bump calms down in 24 hours (ish) where normally mine hang out for a week (-_-).  Spot treatment for cystic acne

Note:  While it comes in 4 different shades, because it was created to match your skin tone, because I guess people wear it in the day?  NO BUENO. This stuff can create a mini mud pie on your face (getting those nasty germs out), so I would not wear it during the day.

Step 3c:  Salicylic Acid $21.50

Not all breakouts are cystic.  Some are just annoying pimples and whiteheads.  For those breakouts, I *do* go to the drugstore, for some handy dandy Salicylic Acid.  I like the Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment ($21.50 for two).  

Salicylic acid is the stuff that stings when you put it on a breakout, because it’s attacking the little germies.  You can get a higher concentration of Salicylic Acid from your dermatologist, but I find this one packs just the right punch.

spot treatment gel for cystic acne

Step 4:  Sunscreen // Moisturizer

When it comes to step 4, I go right back to my BFFS at Image Skincare!  I use the SPF 50 Daily Matte Moisturizer ($32.99), which usually provides enough moisture during the day.

At night, I use the  IMAGE Skincare Vital C Hydrating Repair Crème ($62). REAL TALK, y’all, the pricepoint makes me choke a little bit, but this stuff is HEAVENNNN on your skin.  And, unlike other moisturizers I’ve tried, it doesn’t clog up your pores or make you feel slimey.

Seriously, the Hallelujah Chorus comes on when I put it on.

Ideal image skincare treatment


Cystic acne sucks, and the fact that it’s so merciless and painful means I invest more money in my products.  Prioritizing, I would absolutely go with the EndZit spot treatment and then the Vital C Hydrating moisturizer.