6 Reasons Your Acne Products Might Not Be Working

There are three main reasons why your acne meds might not be working, and Cassandra wants to break these down so it becomes less of a mystery.

The first thing is something Cassandra does herself, but it might be the reason your acne medication is working overall.

Using spot treatments and pimple patches

Cassandra loves spot treatments and pimple patches, but this might be the reason your acne treatment isn't fully working. When you use a spot treatment, you're using it on one spot. And if you're just putting the acne medication on one spot, this is only going to help treat that blemish or pimple. 

But, what about the rest of your face? Pimples don't just pop up. They happen over time. They start deep inside of the skin, and they make their way out onto the surface. So, if you're noticing that you are prone to pimples, they are not just individual spots you have to treat. So, instead of using a spot treatment on one area of your face, consider using a treatment that goes all over. Some spot treatments can be used all over the face, but in general, using something that goes on the entire face is what will help with pimple prevention. 

Acne Free Adapalene Gel https - $21.99

This is one of Cassandra's favorites, and it’s basically a cruelty-free vegan, version of Differin. You can use this as a spot treatment, or you can take a small amount and apply it all over. If your skin can handle applying this product all over, this can really help breakouts. 

It’s not acne.

If you've been applying a product for a while but the pimples aren’t going away, the product might not be efficacious, it might not be for you, or it might not be acne. Sometimes papulopustular rosacea is mistaken for acne. Rosacea is a skin condition that's more vascular (relating to skin veins), but it can have little pimples and pustules that look like acne although it's very different.

So for acne, benzoyl or salicylic acid might be great, but they don't always work so well for rosacea. For rosacea, you want ingredients like azelaic acid and a retinoid. 

Another common condition that is mistaken for acne is folliculitis or pseudofolliculitis. If you look at your armpits, legs, or on the bikini area, you might see pimples after shaving. However, those might actually be ingrown hairs also known as pseudofolliculitis. On the other hand, folliculitis is when a hair follicle becomes inflamed or infected.  

But, this is very different than acne bacteria. This is why it's also so important to get a diagnosis from a doctor. To do this, you can also use platforms like Dermatica or Apostrophe. On these platforms, you can send photos and have a video chat with an actual doctor or medical provider. They can tell you what they believe your medical diagnosis to be and provide a custom blended prescription. This is important because you need to know what your diagnosis is first before trying to treat it. 



Acne happens deep within the skin. It can take a month or even 3-6 months for the skin to renew itself, especially if you have a lot of scarring or texture. When it comes to acne medication, you need to give acne medication a minimum of one month if not 3 to see definitive results. Skincare is not a sprint; it is a marathon.

Mixing products

Sometimes products aren't always effective together. For example, if you try to mix vitamin C and benzoyl peroxide, these could cancel each other out. Some formulas combine them well, but sometimes that can be tough. Even peptides when mixed with the wrong things can become less effective. 

Pimple picking

Cassandra does it a lot, but when you're picking pimples, you're just causing the skin to have irritation and inflammation. You're introducing dirt and bacteria into the skin, especially if you’re doing it continuously. 

This can cause a bunch of damage to the skin and make it much more difficult for the skin to heal even if you’re using products to build the skin. 

There are many reasons why your acne product or routine might not be working for you, but if you recognize any of these things, you can start making the changes that work for you!