How to Choose the Right Products for Your Acne Breakouts

Acne Breakouts

If you have acne, you know how frustrating it can be — especially if you’re an adult. Because let’s face it, acne doesn’t discriminate and many people have it well past they’re teen years. In fact, some women experience blackheads, pimples, and cystic acne, even in menopause. But the good news is, there are ways to combat acne breakouts, regardless of your age. 

As you know, there are hundreds of products out there claiming to banish acne once and for all. And while some of these products are effective, you can’t believe everything you see in an advertisement. It’s important to be an informed consumer so you know what works and what to look for. This article will cover what ingredients to avoid, what products to buy, and how you can get your acne-prone skin under control: 

1. Turn To Prescription Medication 

Acne medication is a game changer, especially if you haven’t seen results with other products. Unlike what you would find at a local drug store, prescription treatments contain higher doses of powerhouse ingredients that reduce oil production and/or treat bacterial infections. 

There are many different types of acne medication. Depending on your condition, a healthcare provider may recommend a prescription for topicals, oral antibiotics, retinoids, or even birth control. All of these options are effective treatments. However, they work differently. 

Topicals stop the growth of acne-causing bacteria. Oral antibiotics work from the inside out to target acne-causing bacteria, and retinoids increase cell turnover, which removes a major cause of acne — dead skin cells. And finally, birth control works by regulating hormones to avoid fluctuations that can lead to breakouts. 

2. Focus On Active Ingredients

When choosing products, you want to pay attention to their ingredients, specifically the active ones. Active ingredients are meant to treat a specific skincare problem. While other components are present in skincare, they could just be making up the delivery method. Let’s say a cream is intended to get rid of hyperpigmentation, the active ingredient would be the one that helps brighten the skin, often hydroquinone. The moisturizing factors and other components that make up the cream, would likely be inactive.

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When it comes to choosing acne treatments, it’s important that the active ingredient is one that actually treats acne. This could be sulfur or alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). Sulfur targets dead skin cells and sebum (an oily substance that could lead to acne). AHAs are water-soluble acids. They’re considered a chemical exfoliant and work to cleanse pores, which prevents breakouts from forming. 

Focusing on a product’s active ingredient is crucial, as some products claim to be effective but don’t have the ingredient list to back it up. So, pay attention to what’s listed and the order it appears. The components at the top of the ingredient list are more prevalent than those toward the bottom of the list.

3. Use A Cleanser

Many people think they can scrub acne away, and they purchase heavy-duty cleansers to keep their face clean. Unfortunately, using a strong cleanser can actually irritate your skin and lead to worse breakouts. You’re probably wondering exactly what makes a cleanser “harsh.” It has to do with the surfactants, or the chemical compounds, in the cleanser. 

You may not know it, but most cleansers contain certain chemical compounds because they’re effective at removing dirt and grime. That said, the wrong surfactants can over-strip the skin, drying it out. When shopping for a cleanser, pay attention to the ingredient list and look out for harsh surfactants like sodium lauryl sulfate. These are typically listed towards the end of the ingredient list, so make sure you’re being thorough. 

As a rule of thumb, make sure you’re using a gentle cleanser on your acne-prone skin. Look for products labeled “gentle,” “non-comedogenic,” or “dermatologist-approved.” These are typically ideal for acne-prone skin, and worth trying out. 

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4. Don’t Forget About Sunscreen

Sunscreen is crucial to maintaining healthy and clear skin. Unfortunately, people with acne-prone skin sometimes steer clear of sunscreen thinking it can lead to breakouts. But it’s important to remember that it may not be sunscreen, in general. It may be the type of sunscreen you’re using. 

If you have acne-prone skin, it’s important to use sunscreen that won’t clog your pores. Look for products that are oil-free and non-comedogenic. When something is labeled “non-comedogenic,” it means it doesn’t contain ingredients that are known to clog your pores. With a non-comedogenic sunscreen, you don’t have to stress. 

Additionally, make sure you’re using sunscreen meant for your face and not your body. Body sunscreen is generally thicker and heavier than face sunscreen, which isn’t ideal.

5. Be Gentle With Your Skin

As mentioned, it’s important to be mindful of the products you apply to your skin. You may think the best way to combat acne is by using the strongest skincare products. But that’s just not true. You want to use lightweight products and gently apply them to your skin. 

Many people with acne-prone skin make the mistake of over-washing/over-scrubbing their skin. You may think, “The more I wash, the cleaner my skin will be.” Sorry, but it doesn’t work like that. Just the opposite, in fact. 

The more you wash your face, the more likely you are to over-strip the skin and damage the protective barrier. Not only can this lead to breakouts and irritation, but it can also cause dull and uneven skin. Dermatologists recommend washing your face twice a day at most. This should be enough to keep your skin clean without over-stripping.

Acne is common, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to combat this annoying skin condition. The tips above can help you get your acne under control so you can feel confident in your skin. 



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