Cystic Acne: Definition and Potential Causes

Cystic acne is a form of acne that manifests as large, inflamed bumps deep beneath the skin's surface; the 'cysts' are often tender to the touch. The condition is a result of multiple factors, including (but not necessarily limited to) excessive sebum production, clogged pores, bacterial overgrowth, and inflammation. Hormonal imbalances, such as those during puberty, menstruation, or pregnancy, can contribute to its development, too. Additionally, certain medications and genetics may also play a role in the formation of cystic acne.

diet considerations

Diet and Hormones in Cystic Acne: Is There A Connection?

In some cases, diet and hormonal fluctuations can influence the severity of cystic acne. High glycemic index foods, sugary snacks, and dairy products have been associated with worsening acne symptoms in some individuals. These foods can trigger an increase in insulin production, leading to heightened sebum production and inflammation.

Hormonal imbalances can purportedly contribute to cystic acne. During puberty, androgen levels rise, leading to an increase in sebum production and the development of acne. Similarly, hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle or pregnancy can trigger acne flare-ups.

natural remedies

Remedies for Cystic Acne: Traditional and Natural Approaches

Traditional Remedies:

Over-the-counter topical treatments containing benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or retinoids can be effective for mild cases.

For more severe cystic acne, a dermatologist may prescribe oral antibiotics, hormonal therapy, or isotretinoin (Accutane) for long-term management.

Natural Remedies:

Some individuals find relief from cystic acne using natural remedies like tea tree oil, witch hazel, aloe vera, and green tea extracts. (See the Heal Yes! cosmetic formulas with green tea here. You'll find a handful of our formulas with tea tree and aloe vera as well!)

Do consult with a dermatologist before trying any home remedies, as they may not be suitable for everyone.

foundations from healyesco

Is it Okay to Put Makeup on Cystic Acne?

While it's generally safe to wear makeup with cystic acne, choose truly non-comedogenic ("comedogenic" is not a regulated term and can get mis-used for companies in effort to make their marketing more appealing! Read more on the mis-use of the claim "comedogenic" here) and products that won't clog pores or exacerbate the condition. Sure, do consider makeup labeled "acne-friendly" or "suitable for sensitive skin," but know that (like "comedogenic" or "hypoallergenic" or even "natural") such claims are often not backed by evidence and get thrown around all too often to garner customers.

Do consider avoiding heavy foundations and opt for lightweight, breathable formulas that won't suffocate the skin.


Best Makeup for Cystic Acne: Heal Yes!

Heal Yes! specializes in offering various formulas to cater to the most sensitive skin, which can include acne-prone (e.g., cystic acne) skin. Our products are formulated to conceal (but still look natural) and nourish and do so with non-irritating ingredients. Many of our formulas are infused with soothing ingredients like chamomile and aloe vera.

Reducing the Appearance of Cystic Acne

To reduce the appearance of cystic acne, consider the following tips:

Maintain a Consistent Skincare Routine:

Cleanse your face twice daily with a gentle cleanser and use oil-free moisturizers and serums suitable for acne-prone skin.

Avoid Picking or Squeezing:

Resist the temptation to pop cystic acne, as this can lead to scarring and worsen inflammation.

Use Topical Treatments as Directed:

Apply spot treatments with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid directly to the affected areas as directed by your healthcare professional.

Cold Compress:

Applying a cold compress to inflamed cysts can help reduce swelling and discomfort.

Diet and Lifestyle:

Consider reducing consumption of high glycemic index foods, sugary snacks, and dairy products.

Sometimes, healing the gut can be of consideration, from parasite-cleansing to balancing flora.

A balanced diet and stress management can also play a role in managing cystic acne.

how to cover cystic acne

How to Cover Up Cystic Acne with Concealer:

When using concealer to cover cystic acne, follow these steps:

Prep the Skin:

Cleanse, tone, and moisturize the skin before applying makeup. Use a non-comedogenic primer to create a smooth base.

Color Correct:

Apply a green-tinted concealer to neutralize redness in the affected areas.


Choose a creamy concealer that matches your skin tone. Dab a small amount on each cyst, gently blending it into the skin using a clean makeup sponge or a concealer brush.

Set with Powder:

To prevent creasing and ensure long-lasting coverage, set the concealer with a translucent or acne-friendly powder.

Use Minimal Makeup and/or Makeup with Clean, Minimalistic Ingredients:

Avoid heavy layers of makeup that may aggravate cystic acne. Allow the skin to breathe and heal naturally. Consider formulas without myriad chemicals, instead leaning toward organic ingredients, synergistic herbs, and nourishing botanicals.

nourishing ingredients

Cystic Acne: Main Take-Aways

Cystic acne can be a challenging condition to manage, but with a combination of proper skincare, suitable makeup products like Heal Yes!, and consideration of diet and hormones, its appearance can be reduced and concealed effectively.


Always consult with a healthcare professional for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized advice. The information provided in this page is for educational and informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.