Acne sucks. Finding the right skincare approach to solve your blemish woes can be a major breakthrough. But between pesky skin reactions and treatments that just don’t work, it can be hard to know what to look for when it comes to treating your acne. The two most common acne-fighting ingredients in over-the-counter treatments are salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Each has its benefits and can be incredibly effective on certain types of acne. The key is in matching the right ingredient to your brand of blemishes.
What it is: Salicylic acid is a Beta Hydroxy Acid generally extracted from willow bark—the same plant from which aspirin is made.
How it works: This exfoliator sloughs off dead and dry skin while encouraging the growth of new skin cells. It dissolves sebum and dead skin inside pores and can prevent the formation of new blemishes.
Added benefits: Salicylic acid is an anti-inflammatory ingredient, which means that it can help soothe red, inflamed, and painful blemishes and won’t cause skin irritation.
Best for: Because salicylic acid can dissolve sebum and skin cells inside and around pores, it is best for blackheads and swollen blemishes that benefit from its anti-inflammatory properties.
What it is: Benzoyl peroxide is an organic compound in the peroxide family.
How it works: This bactericide gets down into your pores and kills acne-causing bacteria. However, it is a very strong ingredient that can cause drying, peeling, and redness when used regularly.
Added benefits: Benzoyl peroxide is a fast-acting ingredient that produces results much more quickly than other treatments.
Best for: Those with a allergy to Salicylates can use BPO as an alternative to help kill bacteria that causes acne. Because benzoyl peroxide can travel deep into pores to kill bacteria, it works best on whiteheads and impacted blemishes. It is not recommended for dry skin or skin prone to reactions and irritation. Use benzoyl peroxide sparingly and always follow with a lightweight moisturizer. Its drying effects can actually make acne worse if you don’t keep skin hydrated while using this ingredient.
When choosing ingredients to treat your acne, remember this: acne is usually caused by a combination of factors and should be treated using a combination of methods. Remember to treat your skin gently, keep it as clean as possible, and moisturize regularly. If you aren’t seeing results with the products you have at home, speak to an esthetician about strategically layering key treatments to target different aspects of your acne.
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