Esty Protocols: Professional Acne Treatment

By Alex Hernandez, Face Reality Education Lead

Acne is a hereditary disorder of the pores, meaning acne is not a result of someone’s lifestyle, hygiene, or anything else typically attributed to acne.

Pores that are not acne-prone will shed one layer of dead skin cells per day, and the body can keep up with this desquamation without issue. Acne-prone pores shed up to five layers of dead skin cells per day, which the body cannot keep up with. As a result, microcomedones, the beginning of all acne lesions, begin to form. From here, open and closed comedones appear on the skin; if P. acnes bacteria are present within the pore, comedones become inflamed.


In Face Reality’s National Survey on Acne (from which we collected over 1,000 responses), we found that 91 percent of people try over-the- counter skin care products from places like Ulta and Target; only 7 percent of those people found that to be a solution. Between 62 and 69 percent start with prescription topical and/or oral acne prevention medications. Again, success rates are low for these options as well, with only 11–22 percent getting results. Those who sought out the help of an esthetician saw significantly better success—up
to 54 percent when respondents followed a skin care routine curated by their esthetician. The benefits of working with a licensed esthetician who has received dedicated acne training include a partner who can guide acne clients through lifestyle changes, topical skin care solutions, and professional acne treatments.


Not all skin care is created equal, especially when it comes to a skin condition as specific as acne. Many amazing ingredients for antiaging or non-acne-prone clients need to be removed completely from an acne client’s regimen. Ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, and seaweed are all pore-clogging ingredients that can cause breakouts for acne-prone individuals. Chemical exfoliants are extremely helpful and can be chosen based on acne type, severity, and skin type. Some popular options include L-mandelic acid and salicylic acid. L-mandelic acid has been gaining attention due to its broad array of benefits; it is anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial, exfoliating, and brightening. It is also a great option for clients with a Fitzpatrick rating of 4+.


There are lifestyle factors that clients will need to be educated on, many of which they would not have considered otherwise. These include, but are not limited to, diet, laundry products, and post-workout habits. Diet is an extremely important factor for those experiencing acne, as there are many foods high in iodides and androgen hormones that can lead to increased oil production and inflammation in the body, which can cause an increase in breakouts.


Professional acne treatments such as corrective peels and enzyme treatments are extremely beneficial for acne clients. In addition to correcting tone, texture, and healing acne lesions, the treatment will prep the skin for extractions. For new acne clients, it is helpful to perform corrective treatments biweekly. Once their acne is under control, those can be pushed out every 4–6 weeks as maintenance services.

Face Reality 

How To: Acne Peel

This protocol is for use with Face Reality's acne peel #1, #2, and #3.

Step 1: Cleanse 


Cleanse the entire area to be treated with a small amount of Face Reality Ultra Gentle Cleanser and rinse thoroughly with warm water.

Step 2: Prep

Glycolic toner

Moisten a cotton round pad with Glycolic-Lactic Toner and swipe over the entire area to be treated thoroughly and evenly. Glycolic-Lactic Toner will degrease the skin while acting as a sensitivity test. If your client experiences discomfort with the toner, do not proceed with a chemical peel.

Step 3: Treat

Chemical peel

Place a dry cotton pad directly onto the open bottle of Face Reality Acne Peel #1 solution and invert the bottle, making a circle of solution on the pad. Move the bottle around the pad and repeat this five times in a circle. Starting on the forehead, wipe evenly and apply the peel in panels to cover the entire facial area and upper neck. If your client is not sensitive, apply a second layer.

Step 4: Extract

SalC Toner

The pores are now softened from the peel solution. Perform extractions, then wipe the face thoroughly with Sal-C Toner for its antibacterial properties.

Step 5: Optional

Direct high frequency

You may perform high-frequency and/or LED light therapy for additional antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Step 6: Finish

SPF 30

If the client is typically dry, apply a thin layer of Cran-Peptide Cream. For all clients, gently apply Daily Lotion SPF 30.

Before and After

A client displays her side profile before and after a professional acne peel treatment.   An acne-prone client shows before and after views from her professional acne peel treatment.

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