Now, this I’m writing from personal experience and about 5 years of tinkering with my skin, after discovering the source of my acne.
What Should You Look For?
In my experience, it can look just like regular pimples. It can be cystic (under the skin), little red dots, regular medium-sized pimples, and whiteheads.
Some indicators can be:
- Pimples along the hairline.
- Breakout in front of your ear.
- Acne along the back part of your jawline (towards the ear, especially on the underside of your jaw).
- Bacne along the center of your shoulders + down the spine.
- Breakouts around the mouth – especially if above your lip or a vague line from lip edge to chin.
All of these are drip lines – shampoo, conditioner, + toothpaste. These localized markers can help provide a clue. Most other things you use are applied equally across the face (like a face wash or moisturizer), making it hard to tell sensitive skin acne apart from other types of acne.
These aren’t the only places sensitive skin acne can show up, it’s just a good hint.
What Shows It’s Not Just Regular Acne?
I believe there’s two ways. And it depends if it’s product caused or acne acne.
If it’s product caused:
A big telltale sign is how rapidly your skin clears + remains clear when you remove a product with a troublesome ingredient.
With that, I find the timeline is often 3-4 days. That is, from an angry breakout to clearly subsiding towards clear skin by just removing the suspect product.
If it’s acne:
This can be subtle. If a traditional acne product treats a breakout, but the area becomes dried out and a pimple reoccurs in the area, that can be a clue.
That endless cycle of treating + quickly reoccurring can be a sign that the treatment was too harsh for your skin + you need to turn to gentler approaches to see lasting results.
What I’ve seen is less aggressive treatments are able to treat without aggravating sensitive skin. So instead of a return breakout, it simply goes away and that’s that.