Getting rid of, or even controlling acne can be an ongoing struggle for many. There are thousands of acne treatments, formulas and remedies on the market, but knowing what ingredients to look for can be a mystery. What works and why – what is simply marketing hype, and how can you tell the difference?
There are a number of essential ingredients necessary to control acne – each with their own job to do. Some key ingredients act as exfoliants, some as anti-bacterial agents, while others are necessary to reduce sebum (oil) production.
Now you can look beyond the marketing hype and look directly at the top five acne-fighting ingredients.
The most recognizable ingredient, benzoyl peroxide works as a peeling agent, increasing skin cell turnover and clearing pores, thereby reducing the bacteria that causes acne. Benzoyl peroxide for acne is typically applied to the affected areas in gel or cream form, in concentrations of 2.5% increasing through the usually effective 5% to up to 10%. Research suggests that 5% and 10% concentrations are not significantly more effective than 2.5%, and 2.5% is usually better tolerated by most people.
Salicylic acid works by slowing down the shedding of cells inside hair follicles. As the rate of shedding is reduced, the incident of clogged pores is also reduced. Salicylic acid also breaks down whiteheads and blackheads further contributing to the reduction of clogged pores. The breaking down can also be described as exfoliation.
Glycolic acid is perhaps the best-known of a group of chemicals called fruit acids or alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA). It is derived from sugar cane, so it can be considered a natural product. Citric acid, made from oranges and other citrus fruits also falls under the same classification as glycolic acid. Glycolic acid has an exfoliating effect. It breaks up dead skin cells revealing a clearer skin.
Sulfur is probably one of the oldest ingredients for treating acne – it has been used in products for over 50 years, but has a history of healing that goes back thousands of years. Sulfur works to peel and dry the skin and is efficient at breaking down existing blackheads and whiteheads. Sulfur is often combined with other ingredients, such as resorcinol or even alcohol and many over the counter acne treatments contain this ingredient. As the name may suggests, sulfur does not smell great, but it can be an effective ingredient.
DID YOU KNOW?
Ancient Romans bathed themselves in hot sulfur springs to rid their bodies of various ailments and skin disorders, including acne.
Azelaic acid is an organic compound used to treat mild to moderate acne, both comedonal acne (blackheads and whiteheads) and inflammatory acne (papules and pustules). It works in part by stopping the growth of skin bacteria that cause acne, and by keeping skin pores clear. Azelaic acid is usually found in products in 20% strength as a cream or lotion.
In addition to the active ingredients discussed above, there are a number of natural ingredients that could be added to your acne product that provide healing qualities. Here are five effective natural ingredients and what they do:
- Aloe Vera – soothes irritated skin
- Gotu Kola – improves skin healing
- Green Tea – kills acne bacteria
- Passion Flower – reduces inflammation
- Sage Extract – fights free radicals
One Size Does Not Fit All
Acne can be a difficult condition to control and treat. One of the most frustrating things about choosing the best acne treatment is that not everyone has the same skin, same condition, or the same set of circumstances – what works for one person may be too harsh for another. Hopefully this guide will help you find the best acne-fighting ingredients for your unique condition.
- Treating Acne with Salicylic Acid (healthyskinsolutions.com)
- Adult Acne – It’s more common than you think (healthyskinsolutions.com)
- Glycolic Acid – How It Works and What it Does (healthyskinsolutions.com)
- Cosmetic Acne (healthyskinsolutions.com)
- The Basics of Treating Back Acne (healthyskinsolutions.com)
- Myths About Acne (healthyskinsolutions.com)
- The Correct Way to Pop a Pimple in 10 Easy Steps (healthyskinsolutions.com)