The best ingredients for fighting acne.
Acne can be treated with products that have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
- The best ingredients for acne are benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, alpha-hydroxy acids, retinol, tea tree oil, and sulfur.
- Ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, alpha-hydroxy acids, tea tree oil, and sulfur have antibacterial properties, which help kill acne-causing bacteria.
- Salicylic acid removes the top layer of dead skin cells, which helps unclog pores and reduce breakouts.
Acne is extremely common, affecting billions around the world. Acne can be stubborn and hard to get rid of, but there are many treatments available, both over the counter and via prescription, that can help you get clear skin.
With a huge assortment of anti-acne products out there to choose from, how do you know which is best for you? Many acne treatments differ mainly by their active ingredients. We're breaking down 6 ingredients, from how they work to how to use them. Here's what you need to know.
How it's beneficial for acne: Benzoyl peroxide is an over the counter topical medication that reduces the amount of acne-causing bacteria that lives on the skin.
By killing acne-causing bacteria, it can reduce the number of whiteheads and larger pimples, as well as reduce the frequency of breakouts.
How it's beneficial for acne: Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) that removes the top layer of dead skin cells. It is able to do this by deeply penetrating the pores, thereby unclogging them.
By unclogging your pores, using salicylic acid can reduce the number and size of blackheads. It can also help rid your skin of excess oil, thereby preventing new pimples.
Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs)
How it's beneficial for acne: AHAs are a group of chemical exfoliants. They remove dead skin cells, prevent the collection of sebum (oil) and prevent bacterial overgrowth. There are different types of AHAs such as:
- Lactic acid
- Mandelic acid
- Glycolic acid
By removing dead skin cells and getting rid of excess oil, AHAs can help to unclog pores thereby reducing breakouts.
How it's beneficial for acne: Retinol is a type of retinoid, which is a vitamin A derivative. It can increase the skin-cell turnover rate by getting rid of the top layer of dead skin cells, and promoting the growth of new collagen and healthy new skin cells.
Retinol is great for reducing the size and frequency of blackheads, whiteheads, and even deeper painful pimples, due to its skin-cell turnover abilities. Plus, it will improve the overall texture and tone of your skin.
Tea tree oil
How it's beneficial for acne: Tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, which may be helpful for acne. "I stress the word "may," because the studies supporting it are small and much lower quality than the research for some other [acne] treatments discussed,".
How it's beneficial for acne: Reduces the frequency of both blackheads and whiteheads. This happens because it removes the top layer of skin cells, which unclogs pores. Additionally, it can decrease the redness and size of pimples.
When to see a doctor
If your acne isn't improving at all after about a month of trying products with these ingredients, you should go see a dermatologist. They can help you come up with a more effective skincare routine, or they may determine that you need something stronger such as a prescription topical treatment or an oral treatment such as antibiotics.