What is blemished skin?

A collective term for superficial ‘imperfections’ on the skin, you might see your blemished skin as a thing to fix. But like the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, an enlightened view of imperfection, we’re snubbing the idea of flaws. Instead, join us in celebrating the beauty of imperfection. We’ve got all the crib notes for when blemishes appear, skincare tips and makeup for blemished skin – all to help you navigate breakouts when they catch you off guard, put a little bit of extra tenderness into your daily routine and rediscover balance.

Woman applying face oil

Why do I get blemished skin?

Rewind – what are blemishes? There are many types of skin blemishes, but generally they are areas of uneven skin, differently coloured skin tone, dry patches or oiliness, found typically on the face. There’s a number of reasons why you might have blemishes on your skin so it can be hard to pin the cause down to just one thing, but mostly genetics play the deciding role. Your skin type is something you’re born with, and so is as biologically fixed as your eye colour. If your skin is prone to flare-ups, then the best thing you can do is be switched on to the other factors that can tip the scales in making your face more open to them – and counterbalance those factors.

Skincare supremos might already know that blemishes tend to stem from blocked pores. Often, blocked pores are down to our body’s natural oils, known as sebum. When the face produces an excessive amount of sebum, and/or it teams up with dead skin cells, bacteria, sweat and the like, this mixture can get stuck in pores, stopping sebum flowing freely. This can cause a bacterial overgrowth, which the body responds to with inflammation. So, if this type of daily grime isn’t cleaned away regularly or sufficiently, then you are more likely to find blemishes coming home to roost.

What causes blemished skin?

Above and beyond your birth-given skin type, there’s varying factors to take note of that might be causing blemished skin. And when you’re aware of the potential contributors, you’ll be more deft at keeping things in balance – like walking the tightrope of skincare.

Oily skin and excess sebum

The first priority for blemish-prone skin is helping to reduce the risk of your pores getting blocked. If your skin type is oily (the skin type most likely to experience blemishes) then you’ll likely be up on the benefits of managing your excess sebum. Consistency is key. Some simple skincare maths for you: two times a day, multiplied by one double cleanse, one purifying toner plus one gel-texture moisturiser equals blemished skin that feels soothed and looks clearer. You’re aiming to help balance (not strip) your natural oils, and then restore the right kind of moisture to skin. Once you’ve mastered that, you’ve got a good thing going to help keep skin looking clearer.

Excessive sun exposure

Ensuring you’re not overdoing it when the sun comes out to play has a multitude of health benefits – nothing new, right? But did you know that the sun’s rays can also cause your skin to dry out, which causes sebum production to rev up? Just another reason to play it safe under those UV rays and include a good sunscreen in your skincare routine.


Hormone fluctuations are a part of life, we’ve all felt them. Beyond the impulsive beeline for the supermarket’s chocolate aisle around your period, those hormone levels can also create an excess of oil on your face. At the beginning of your cycle, progesterone levels rise, which can create more puffiness in the skin. This pressure on the skin means pores have a narrower opening. At the same time, sebum can be thicker due to testerone levels increasing during this part of the cycle. More dense oil and a smaller opening? Sounds like an ideal breeding ground for blemishes. Due to hormones really getting the party going around adolescence, this is also why teenage blemishes are such a thing.

Touching your face

No surprises here – our hands out and about in the world can touch a lot of surfaces that might contain bacteria and other nasty no-no’s you don’t want coming into contact with your skin. Reality is that before you might get a chance to wash your hands, you subconsciously touch your face – many times, in fact. Adding this extra grime and gunk to your face creates more opportunity for blemishes to crop up.


It’s suspected that certain dietary choices can impact superficial changes in the skin’s appearance. There are a number of suspects, such as dairy, which is thought to be difficult for the body to digest in large amounts. A number of dieticians suggest that eating foods like milk, cheese and yogurt can set off hormones that cause sebum production, a big cause of blemishes. If you reckon you might be reacting to dairy (or anything else for that matter), try a bit of detective work with a food diary to see if these foods are triggering more blemishes. If you want to, seek out dairy alternative swaps to help reduce the chances of blemished skin. And of course, everything in moderation.

Lack of sleep and stress

When we don’t get enough sleep, it doesn’t just leave us feeling groggy the next day. The effects are far-reaching. Firstly, it heightens our tendency to stress, which is said to cause androgen levels to spike, making our faces emit more sebum. Not ideal for blemish-control. When you’re depriving yourself of your full 8 hours, your immune system gets weaker, making your skin less capable of fending off blemish causes. Lastly, if you’re only getting cat naps, this lack of sleep will affect the body’s ability to effectively repair cells, which it normally does more quickly overnight. Since cell turnover isn’t as efficient for those with blemish-prone skin (hence why dead skin cells often clog pores and cause blemishes), disrupting this cell regeneration process will only worsen skin’s flare-ups. So, essentially, sleep is your skin’s quasi-spa state.

Removing makeup

This one goes hand-in-hand with a good amount of sleep. Your bedtime skincare routine will affect your skin’s ability to battle even one blemish meaning that if you’re not cleansing at night, you’re doing your skin a disservice. Removing the bad stuff you’ve faced during the day and helping to reset skin’s oil levels is key before you get to counting sheep. If you find you’re skipping a night time cleanse because you’re simply too tired, try removing makeup and washing your face as soon as you get home. Be faithful to your morning and nighttime routines and your skin will thank you.


The artificial air in planes has a really low humidity, which dehydrates skin. When oily skin gets dehydrated, our faces try to compensate by producing even more sebum. How to counteract this? When you’re next headed overseas, consider keeping a tube of moisturiser to hand during the course of the flight to help keep skin hydrated with touch-ups. Regardless of flight time, you might also want to exfoliate when you get to arrivals to help rid your face of dead skin cells and then moisturise the freshly exposed skin cells to help rebalance moisture levels.

The wrong skincare

Forget complicated scientific explanations, sometimes it comes down to this – if the skincare products you’re using aren’t a good match for your skin type or unique needs, it could be that your skin will react. By dint of their formula, some skincare and makeup products are inherently comedogenic (that is, pore-blocking) making them a bad fit for blemish-prone skin. Equally, if the water temperature you’re washing your face with is too hot, you might be disrupting your skin’s natural balance, creating an oil-heavy playing ground for blemishes to arise.

Our best skincare routine for blemished skin

The Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Facial Wash

Tea Tree Skin Clearing Facial Wash

Let’s recap this chain reaction – oilier skin can create blocked pores, and blocked pores can create blemishes. So, using a face wash that helps to thwart both excess oil and pore-blocking is ideal. To help give your blemish-prone skin such a treat, use our Tea Tree Skin Clearing Facial Wash morning and night. It’s enriched with Community Fair Trade tea tree oil and has a refreshing lather. It helps to lift impurities and create a more mattified complexion.

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Hands pouring The Body Shop Tea Tree Toner onto cotton pad

Tea Tree Skin Clearing Mattifying Toner

Balance being the buzzword for blemished skin, it’s important to use a toner to help rid your skin of any residual grime. Our Tea Tree Skin Clearing Mattifying Toner helps skin to look clearer and feel refreshed, and is enriched with our Community Fair Trade tea tree oil. After cleansing, shake to activate our Tea Tree Toner and use a cotton pad to sweep it all over the face (avoiding the eye area).

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Tea Tree Anti-Imperfection Daily Solution

Want to help boost your inner radiance and restore balance to your blemished skin? Like a gymnast balancing on a beam, sometimes the smallest of moves can make a big difference. Case in point, our Tea Tree Anti-Imperfection Daily Solution, a mighty little bottle, enriched with Community Fair Trade tea tree oil. Apply 2-3 drops onto fingertips and massage all over your face morning and night after cleansing and toning, but before your moisturiser. All you’ve got to do now is allow it to sink in and it’ll get to work helping to reduce the number of blemishes.

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The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil

Our Tea Tree Oil for blemishes is a little, targeted facial solution that helps to battle the appearance of blemishes. Apply as a preventive measure when you feel them arising or as and when you feel your skin needs something a little extra to help target blemishes. It is a handbag-friendly skincare saviour so you can also use it for touch-ups on-the-go.

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The Body Shop Tea Tree Anti-Imperfection Night Mask

Tea Tree Anti-Imperfection Night Mask

Our ideal face mask for blemished skin, the Tea Tree Anti-Imperfection Night Mask makes for a soothing-feeling overnight delight for skin. Smooth this gel-cream textured face mask all over the face and simply slip into bed. Its remarkable little formula doesn’t leave any stains on bed sheets and sets to work while you sleep, helping skin to feel decongested and look clearer.

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“Amazing stuff great for clear skin I use this and the tea tree facial cleanser”


Tea Tree Oil

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Makeup for blemished skin



Fan of a multi-tasker? Who isn’t. Our Matte Clay Skin Clarifying Foundation is infused with Community Fair Trade tea tree oil and helps to minimise excess sebum while covering the appearance of blemishes as you wear this lightweight beauty base. Use together with our Complexion Blender for a masterful application.

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The Body Shop powders


Our Matte Clay Concealer, like all of our Matte Clay makeup range, is enriched with Community Fair Trade tea tree oil. When you target your imperfections with this vegan makeup must-have, you’re also helping to reduce their appearance without increasing the chances of clogging pores. Win win.

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Blemished skin meaning, often, oily skin, loves mattifying products like powder. But watch out – some heavy formulas can worsen pore-blockages, creating more blemishes. Our Matte Clay Powder, though, is lightweight and breathable – phew. Enriched with Community Fair Trade tea tree oil, it helps to absorb oil and create a more even-toned visage.

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Hands applying mattfying lotion


Wise minds might say fail to prepare and prepare to fail. Just so with makeup. If you have blemish-prone skin, before applying any makeup, you should prep it with our Instablur™ Primer. This base layer helps to keep shine under control, while helping to ensure makeup stays put longer and looks more smooth and seamless.

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The Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Body Wash

How to care for blemishes on your back

The skin on our faces tends to be a little more reactive than elsewhere, but it can happen that other parts of the body have blemishes too. If blemishes appear anywhere else on the body, such as on the back, look to our Tea Tree Skin Clearing Body Wash. It’s enriched with our Community Fair Trade tea tree oil and helps to leave skin feeling clean and refreshed.

Tips to care for blemished skin

Drink water

Water is perhaps the most fundamental human need, but beyond keeping your body going it has benefits for your skin too. If we don’t get enough H20, skin can appear more dull or even become dehydrated, which can cause sebum to offset this lack of hydration, and increase the chance of blemishes developing. It’s said that drinking sufficient water also helps to prevent toxin build-up which can contribute to blemishes. So make sure you get enough of the good stuff to keep skin hydrated, and better equipped to keep your natural oils in check.

Change your pillowcase often

There’s nothing nicer than falling into clean sheets. But did you know that clean bedding can also help to keep blemishes at bay? Every night you shed dead skin cells and lipids, which can build up on your pillow, encouraging bacteria to take root in your pores. At the very least, change your pillowcase at least once a week to help lower the chances of exacerbating skin’s oiliness.

Get 8 hours of sleep

As skin cells naturally regenerate faster while you sleep, it’s key to make sure you’re getting the right amount of time in the land of nod. Between 6-8 hours of sleep is what your skin needs to keep its natural cell regeneration process running as smooth as clockwork. Just think, in every day that means there’s 8 hours for sleep, 8 hours for work and 8 hours for whatever you like – could that be why they say three is the magic number?

The Body Shop Tea Tree products on shelf

Our Tea Tree range for blemished skin

Tea tree is believed to be a bit of a legendary natural purifier, a major plus point for your blemish-battling skincare routine. It’s a no-brainer, then, that we infuse the oil into our skincare and body care ranges for those in need of TLC in the face of flare-ups. Our Tea Tree range helps to control excess sebum and refresh skin, helping to target blemishes wherever they might arise.

We source the tea tree oil for our Tea Tree range from Kenya, where our Community Fair Trade programme helps to provide a steady income for a local collective of small-scale farmers. In the process, this helps to foster further investment into sustainable farming methods and wider community initiatives. So every tea tree that’s hand-harvested and steam-distilled in Kenya has a bit of a positive butterfly effect, and not just for blemished faces.