Acne skincare products can be overwhelming. From drugstore options to luxury brands to celebrity-endorsed products to new, supposed “breakthrough” launches, the market is seemingly oversaturated with what feels like too many options. Finding what works best for you, be it a spot treatment or an entirely new regimen, is no easy feat. It takes patience and time: a fair amount of trial and error will be involved for positive, long-term results to be seen.
There is no easy way to find the miracle worker (no such thing exists anyway), but there is a means to narrowing your search. Always read the label: the key lies in the active ingredients. Acquainting yourself with what each main ingredient is and does is fundamental to the search for the right cleanser, toner, moisturizer and spot treatments.
Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic Acid are the first to come to mind given that they are the ingredients most commonly associated with anti-acne products. The two are often put head to head in a Benzoyl Peroxide vs. Salicylic Acid type of situation, when in reality, there isn’t one that is “better” than the other. These are two differentingredients that happen to help treat acne; the one you choose is simply a matter of which works better with your skin.
Look For These Active Ingredients
Benzoyl Peroxide is an antibacterial ingredient that penetrates deeply into the pores to kill the bacteria that causes acne. Although concentration may amount up to 10%, research shows 2.5% concentrations are just as effective without being as stripping on the skin as a stronger formula would be. Even so, it is more than likely the skin will experience dryness. Always work your way upwards in strength, keeping in mind that gentle can be effective, and achieving good skin takes both patience and diligence. Over-drying the skin will only further irritate the skin and cause more breakouts.
Salicylic Acid’s gentler nature has made it the preferred ingredient in anti-acne products as of late. While it may still cause mild dryness in some skin types, it is far less stripping when compared to Benzoyl Peroxide. Salicylic Acid is a beta hydroxy acid that promotes cell turnover; it works to gently dissolve away dead skin cells, dirt, oil and any other residual buildup as a traditional exfoliant would sans the graininess. Blackheads, whiteheads and blemishes are reduced to decrease chances of inflammation for a clearer complexion.
The latest foray in ingredients popular in acne treatment is Glycolic Acid, an Alpha Hydroxy Acid derived from sugar cane. Like Salicylic Acid, it helps refresh, stimulate and exfoliate to promote cell turnover and decongest the skin. Standout properties include the ability to improve texture, fine lines and discoloration to brighten overall complexion, making Glycolic Acid a go-to ingredient for individuals with acne scarring or hyperpigmentation.
Sulfur is a mild antiseptic often found in spot treatments. Regardless of product form – i.e., liquid-based or a dry powder – sulfur is highly absorbent and therefore effective in reducing oil and preventing deep, cystic blemishes.
Editor’s Note – read our review of Dermify Acne Treatment which contains Sulfur Colloid.
Look For Products That Balance And SootheUnderstanding the importance of finding products that balance and soothe is just as important as identifying the most efficient ingredients for targeting acne.
Your skin is already sensitive – introducing any anti-acne products comes with the possibility of not only drying out the skin, but further aggravating it as well.
Thus, it is imperative that every drying product is countered with one that heals and soothes.
Keep skin hydrated – no matter how oily – without clogging pores by investing in an oil-free moisturizer with SPF protection. Be sure to look for acne facial treatments with ingredients like Aloe, Calamine, Balsam Peru, or Cucumber Extract for their soothing and cooling properties.
Read the labels, and consult with a dermatologist, if necessary, before using any treatments. Introduce new products one at a time to gauge your skin’s sensitivity to the ingredients, and most importantly, remember to be patient. Long-term results take time: remember to keep your skin in check throughout the process, and with an effective regimen in store, you will see a healthier, clearer complexion.
This is a guest post by Kim Yang who is a blogger, sometimes freelance writer and full-time business school and journalism student. Previously the fashion editorial intern for two boutique magazines and now writing for Mario Badescu Skin Care.Alison Graham on Google+