What to Look For in an Acne Product!

There are only three ingredients that have been approved for treating Acne topically are (both topical vitamin A derivatives & antibiotics are sometimes also given by doctors):

  • Benzoyl Peroxide – works as a peeling agent. It increases skin turnover, clearing pores and reducing the bacterial count (specifically P. acnes) as well as acting directly as an antimicrobial.
  • Salicylic Acid – derived from willow tree bark it is an anti-inflammatory and an agent that causes the cells of the epidermis to shed more readily, opening clogged pores and neutralizing bacteria within, preventing pores from clogging up again by constricting pore diameter, and allowing room for new cell growth.
  • Sulfur – is an inhibitor of growth of the P. acnes bacterium – it is a mild “antimicrobial.” It interferes with of sulfhydryl groups on the proteins involved in the bacteria. For acne treatment, the sulfur is almost always combined with another antimicrobial called sodium sulfacetamide. This compound acts to stop paraaminobenzoic acid (PABA), an essential part for bacterial growth.


That’s not all that you need to look for however. Many people make the mistake of thinking by applying overly drying acne products to the skin it will fix the problem.  In the very short-term it will help but after a day or two it will make acne worse!!!




Those three ingredients treat the problem, but you also need a product that protects the skin’s acid mantle which is part of the skin’s barrier function. The acid mantle is a slightly acidic film that has highly organized lipids, acids, hydrolytic enzymes and antimicrobial peptides on the surface of the skin acting as a barrier to bacteria, viruses and other potential contaminants that might penetrate the skin. It is secreted by sebaceous glands. The pH of the skin is between 4.5 and 6.2, so it is acidic. These contaminants and other chemicals are primarily alkaline and the skin’s moderate acidity helps to neutralize their chemical effects. In addition to the acid mantle the skin’s barrier function also, helps to stop oxidant stress (UV light), protect the immune system, prevent transepidermal water loss.

By creating a physical barrier through keratinocytes attached together via cell–cell junctions and associated to cytoskeletalproteins, is what gives the epidermis (top layer of skin) its strength as a barrier. The amount and distribution of melaninpigment in the epidermis is the main reason for variation in skin color in humans. Melanin is found in the small melanosomes, particles formed in melanocytes from where they are transferred to the surrounding keratinocytes. The size, number, and arrangement of the melanosomes varies between racial groups, but while the number of melanocytes can vary between different body regions, their numbers remain the same in individual body regions in all human beings. In white and oriental skin the melanosomes are packed in “aggregates”, but in black skin they are larger and distributed more evenly. The number of melanosomes in the keratinocytes increases with UV radiation exposure, while their distribution remain largely unaffected.

Look for a product that doesn’t interfere with the skin barrier function by containing hydrators, plus antioxidants (to help against free radical oxidation) and anti-inflammatory ingredients to help reduce the inflammation that the acne causes.


Such as – Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid), E (tocopherol), A (retinoids), green tea, Niacinamide (vitamin B3)

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories:

Such as – chamomile, aloe vera, calendula, mallow, indigo, willow bark

Summary:  look for a product with benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and or sulfur that is hydrating, and has antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.

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