Acne Treatment Products That Work
So how do you know what over the counter acne treatment you should use?
Benzoyl Peroxide (BP)works best for moderate to
moderately severe acne. It deeply penetrates into the skin to kill
tough bacteria, and is best used preventatively. Benzoyl Peroxide dries
and exfoliates the skin and doesn't allow bacteria to build resistance
like prescription antibiotics. However, Benzoyl Peroxide is a very
harsh chemical. It causes redness, dryness, and scaling. Benzoyl
Peroxide can also lighten fabric colors.
Salicylic Acid or "beta hydroxyl acid" (BHA) works
best for mild acne and sensitive skin, as a cleanser ingredient to
slough surface skin cells, and as an agent that prepares the skin for
other acne treatments. It breaks down a protein that holds the skin
cells together. Over time, it exfoliates old skin and allows new
healthy skin to surface. It loosens whiteheads and blackheads and helps
expel them.Salicylic acid is fairly mild. It does not reach down deep into the
skin follicles like benzoyl peroxide. It can take up to 3 months to
loosen smaller whiteheads and blackheads. However salicylic acid works
well if you use it over a consistent and long period of time.
Some side effects of salicylic acid include some skin peeling,
dryness, and irritation when used at concentrations of 2% or greater.
Possible adverse effects include salicylate toxicity, toxic inner ear
damage, and hypersensitivity. Also risk of increases in skin
sensitivity to sunlight.
Look for an over the counter acne
treatment cleanser with concentrations of 2% salicylic acid, in an acid
base with a pH of between 3 and 4.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA)
Side effects include more susceptibility to sunlight and minor skin
irritation or blisters and burns. Fewer AHA products have FDA approval.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids work best for all types of skin, as a mild or strong cleanser, and for healing and preventing acne.
are natural acids which come from fruits, milk sugars, and plants.
Glycolic and lactic acids are the most frequently used in over the
counter acne treatment products, and are the most well researched AHAs
AHA's gently peel away the uppermost layer of dead skin
cells. They make way for the newer skin beneath. Look for a product
with a glycolic acid concentration between 8 and 10% and no other
active ingredients. You should see results in the texture of your skin
within a few weeks.
Retinol is the chemical name for vitamin A - which is
the active ingredient in the prescription drug Retin-A, the favored
topical prescription acne treatment. Retinol works best in high
Sulfur and Resorcinol
Basically, sulfur kills acne bacteria. Resorcinol helps shed the
outer layer of skin, and increases the effect of sulfur. However,
experts aren't entirely sure how it works in combination with sulfur.
Resorcinol alone is not an effective acne treatment. It can be very
irritating to some patients. For those who can't use BP or Retin-A,
sulfur may be a good alternative.
The side effects are minor: dryness and unpleasant odour. It's not
recommended for pregnant women unless their doctor prescribes
resorcinol. There are no major known adverse effects in resorcinol's
combination with sulfur.
For maximum effectiveness, find an acne cleanser containing
salicylic acid or glycolic acid, a leave-on benzoyl product, and an
anti-acne moisturizer with SPF.