How to cure acne in the 2020s

New treatments that could become real game changers in the world of skincare.

Written by
Kate Iselin
Medically reviewed by
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We're in the 2020s—humanity has robots, deepfakes, and plans to colonise Mars. So surely we’d have invented a simple way to cure acne in the blink of an eye, right?

Unfortunately, we don’t quite have that technology yet. But, there are some really interesting new treatments being developed for acne that could become real game changers in the world of skincare.

We researched a few of them to find out what’s behind the hype, and whether these treatments are something that could be coming to your dermatologist’s office this year.

Blue light therapy

Having bright blue lights directed at your face to cure acne might sound like something you’d see on a wellness influencer’s Instagram account rather than in a doctor’s office, but there might just be scientific proof that light therapy can work.

Some blue light therapies are already used to reduce jaundice in newborns, and new research has suggested they may be able to reduce acne as well [1].

The blue light in question is a specific kind of light that can have anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory effects on the skin. It’s theorised that directing this light at active acne lesions can kill the p. acnes bacteria that lives on skin and can exacerbate acne.

Studies have shown that some patients who underwent blue light therapy reported that it was moderately successful in reducing acne lesion although reports also say that one in five people may actually see their acne worsen after treatment [2][3][1].

There is little to no information on the long-term effects of exposure to blue light therapy, and the studies done on short-term effects haven’t yet proven that it’s a definite cure for acne.

But we think this treatment method is really interesting, and we’re excited to see what future research can reveal.

Microcurrent technology

Microcurrent technology devices are hand-held pieces of equipment that send tiny electrical currents into your skin to kill acne bacteria, plump up the skin, and lift the face—or so they say.

This technology may have been inspired by electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) devices, which are said to help strengthen and exercise muscles of the body using electricity. Microcurrent technology promises to do that too, only on the face.

While microcurrent technology devices are popular in skincare and beauty communities online, with many users swearing that they have a positive effect on the skin, we couldn’t find a lot of research or studies to back up the claims that these products make.

We won’t recommend that you rush out and spend a few hundred dollars on a microcurrent device to try it out yourself—but with a bit more research and evidence, that could change.


Microneedling devices are small, hand-held wheels covered with tiny little spikes, in a process that's also known as skin needling. They’re made to roll slowly over your face, with each spike penetrating the skin to create a small wound.

To heal the wound, your body is said to send new collagen to the area, plumping and smoothing the face in the process and stimulating the healing of any existing acne scars [4].

It might sound a bit weird, but studies have shown it actually works quite well to reduce acne scarring [5][6].

While there’s room for more research to be done, one study even said microneedling was preferred over other scar-reduction methods because it had few side effects and little recovery time [7].

We do think, however, that microneedling is something best left to the experts—doing it at home could lead to injury if you push too hard, or roll over active acne lesions. A trained dermatologist or doctor is always the best person to administer any invasive treatments.

Pore vacuums

Many of us have used pore strips in the past to get rid of our blackheads.

Pore strips don’t prevent new blackheads from forming, but it can be really satisfying to get rid of a few annoying blackheads in one go and see all of the goop that comes out of our pores after using a well-placed strip.

Enter pore vacuums, which are exactly what you’re probably imagining right now: a little hand-held vacuum that promises to suck out blackheads and leave your skin looking fresh and clear.

They’re super popular online, with videos popping up everywhere of people using them and being amazed at what comes out of their pores. But we’re a little bit cynical.

While they do seem to work, we worry that the sucking motion the vacuum uses to empty the pores might actually do more harm than good to our skin. While blackheads could be removed, too much pulling and pressure on facial skin can cause broken capillaries and even bruising.

The vacuum could also tug on pores and sebaceous filaments—tiny structures that allow sebum to exit the skin—which could potentially increase, rather than decrease, the size of our pores.

When it comes to pore vacuums, we have to say that we don’t recommend them. Salicylic acid, on the other hand, is a tried-and-true ingredient that is a much safer choice than using a mini-vaccum on your face.

Software's Salicylic Acid Foaming Wash uses the dual action of beta-hydroxy acid and poly-hydroxy acid to unclog debris and trapped oils in the pores, while also clearing away acne-causing bacteria and reducing the formation of blackheads and whiteheads.

Our unique blend of low-irritant ingredients for acne-prone and sensitive skin and can be used two to three times a week across your face, chest and back to target breakouts.

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  1. All About Acne, ‘Cosmetic treatments for acne’, <>, accessed 25th July 2020.
  2. Pei, Susan, Inamadar, Arun C. Adya, Keshavmurthy A., and Tsoukas, Maria M. 2015, ‘Light-based therapies in acne treatment’, Indian Dermatology Online Journal, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 145—157. <>, accessed 26th July 2020.
  3. Gold, Michael H., Andriessen, Anneke, Biron, Julie, and Andriessen, Hinke 2009, ‘Clinical efficacy of self-applied blue light therapy for mild-to-moderate facial acne’, The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 44—50. <>, accessed 26th July 2020.
  4. El-Domyati, Moetaz, Barakat, Manal, Awad, Sherif, Medhat, Walid, El-Fakahany, Hasan, and Farag, Hanna 2015, ‘Microneedling therapy for atrophic acne scars’, The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, vol. 8, no. 7, pp. 36—42. <>, accessed 26th July 2020.
  5. Dogra, Sunil, Yadav, Savita, and Sarangal, Rishu 2014, ‘Microneedling for acne scars in Asian skin type: an effective low-cost treatment modality’, Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 180—187. <>, accessed 26th July 2020.
  6. Alster, Tina S., Graham, Paul M. 2018, ‘Microneedling: a review and practical guide’, Dermatologic Surgery, vol. 44, no. 3, pp. 397—404. <>, accessed 26th July 2020.
  7. Ramaut, Lisa, Hoeksema, Henk, Pirayesh, Ali, Stillaert, Filip, and Monstrey, Stan 2017, ‘Microneedling: where do we stand now? A systematic review of the literature’, Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive, and Aesthetic Surgery, vol. 71, no. 1, pp. 1—14. <>, accessed 26th July 2020.
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