What Is the Best Product for Acne?

Medically Reviewed on 8/5/2021
best acne treatment
The best acne treatments include products with gentle, fragrance-free, pH balancing formulas that contain these proven acne-fighting ingredients.

The best acne products should include gentle, fragrance-free, pH balancing formulas that contain the proven over-the-counter acne-fighting ingredients: retinol, benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. Together and when used consistently, they can deliver clearer skin.

Here are the best treatments for curing acne:

  • Salicylic acid
    • This ingredient is known to help exfoliate dead skin cells from the surface of the skin (which can contribute to clogged pores).
    • Salicylic acid is present in various types of skincare products, including cleansers, scrubs, creams and cleansing wipes.
    • The face washes or serums containing one to two percent salicylic acid work well for daily use.
  • Benzoyl peroxide
    • Benzoyl peroxide helps kill bacteria that can cause acne.
    • It can be found in several products, such as face washes, creams, gels or pre-moistened tissues.
  • Retinoids
    • When it comes to acne, retinol is often one of the best products to fight breakouts, scars and fine lines.
    • Retinoids help unclog pores by improving skin cell turnover.
    • It also allows other medicated creams and gels to work better.

Some other products can be used along with these to fight acne. The following can help prevent outbreaks and keep the skin clear and glowing.

  • Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs)
    • They keep the pores unclogged and treat associated hyperpigmentation by removing dead skin cells
    • Usually found in cleansers, toners and serums
    • Examples include glycolic acid, lactic acid, etc.
  • Beta hydroxy acid (BHA)
    • Can reduce acne by reducing oil and inflammation
    • Usually found in cleansers and toners
    • Examples include salicylic acid and beta hydroxy butanoic acid
  • Vitamin C
    • Can manage inflammation and pigmentation
    • Usually found in serums
    • The antioxidant properties of vitamin C may help with skin aging
  • Niacinamide
    • Can regulate oil production and reduce inflammation and redness associated with acne and appearance of pores
    • Usually found in serums and lotions
  • Sulfur
    • Can treat whiteheads and blackheads, which can prevent acne from forming
    • Commonly used in spot treatments and cleansers
  • Tea tree and rosemary oil
    • Has an antibacterial property that may help with acne treatment, especially for people resistant to antibiotics
    • Used commonly in cleansers and toners
    • Works effectively against acne in many cases.
  • Zinc
    • Can soothe inflammatory acne and suppress sebum production
    • Commonly used in lotions and spot treatments

Probably the most useful lifestyle change one can make is never to pick or squeeze acne. Playing with or popping pimples, no matter how careful and clean one is, nearly always makes bumps stay redder and bumpier longer. People often refer to redness as "scarring," but fortunately, it usually isn't permanent. It is just a mark that takes months to fade if left entirely alone.

What is considered severe acne?

Dermatologists divide acne into grades depending on the lesions, the depth of the lesions and involvement of body parts other than the face.

The different grades of acne include:

  • Grade I (mild): Mostly whiteheads and blackheads with a few papules (bumps) and pustules (pus-filled boils), typically seen only on the face, mostly the forehead and jawline.
  • Grade II (moderate or pustular acne): Multiple papules and pustules, mostly seen all over the face.
  • Grade II (moderately severe or nodulocystic acne): Numerous papules and pustules along with occasional, red, larger bumps (nodules). It may also affect the back and chest.
  • Grade IV (severe nodulocystic acne): There are numerous large, painful and inflamed pustules and nodules all over the face. It may involve the back, chest and, in some cases, the buttocks. The lesions are deep and often cause scarring.

The grade III and IV acne are often considered severe and need oral medications and interventions by a dermatologist.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 8/5/2021
WebMD. Acne Treatments That Work. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/acne-treatments-that-work

American Academy of Dermatology. 10 Tips for Clearing Acne in Skin of Color. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/diy/skin-color

InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Acne: Overview. 2013 Jan 16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279211/