The Best Ingredients For Clearing Breakouts
If you’ve struggled with acne, chances are that you’ve tried a lot of different things to get it under control. Maybe some of your remedies have worked, maybe some haven’t -- but it goes without saying that getting rid of those stubborn spots can be tough, and finding the right treatment can often feel like a guessing game.
The good news? There are certain ingredients and products that will work, hands down. You just need to understand what you’re really dealing with and what to look out for.
There are a lot of factors that can contribute to acne - and if you’re doing something inflammatory in your diet or in your day-to-day routine, it will be difficult to keep it at bay (even with the best active ingredients out there).
Some major lifestyle contributing factors include:
- Eating a sugar-heavy diet
- Lack of sleep
- Improper skin hygiene
You may be experiencing hormonal imbalances that could be causing the problem too. If you suspect this is the case, see your dermatologist.
More often than not, though, it comes down to a series of day-to-day bad habits, along with using the wrong skincare products for your skin type.
What to Address When Treating Acne
There are a few things at play when you’re dealing with acne:
- Bacteria buildup inside the pores
- Pores clogged by dead skin, sebum, and debris
- Sebum imbalance, with your body either producing too much or too little natural oil
- Inflammation and irritation from all these factors
- A compromised skin barrier from hot water, harsh products, or other environmental factors.
All of this must be addressed as part of an effective acne routine. You can’t just use a spot treatment and expect your skin to look great. Instead, you must address the source of the problem and all associated symptoms.
That requires a few different ingredients.
Salicylic Acid and Glycolic Acid
For: Bacteria, Clogged Pores
A powerful BHA, salicylic acid is the ultimate acne-busting ingredient. Unlike AHAs, which are water-soluble, salicylic acid is oil-soluble. This is critical for treating acne since it allows salicylic acid to penetrate deep within the pores and get rid of any bacteria that’s lodged in there.
For: Sebum Imbalance, Compromised Barrier Function
Hyaluronic acid is one of the ultimate non-comedogenic humectant moisturizers. Many guys think that they have to get rid of all extra moisture and oil if they’re dealing with acne - and that is wrong, wrong, wrong.
If you do this, your skin will overcompensate and produce more oil to make up for the dryness. That will tighten your skin, clog pores, and make any acne worse. Bad stuff.
Instead, incorporate lightweight hydrating ingredients that will balance your skin and provide humectant, emollient, and occlusive moisture - of which hyaluronic acid is the best.
For: Compromised Barrier Function
Along with vitamin C, vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin from free radical damage, assists in cellular restoration, and reduces the appearance of scars and burns.
It’s also a moisturizer that enhances and protects your skin's natural barrier.
Willow Bark Extract
Working as both an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent, this natural ingredient soothes acne and calms irritated skin. It can even help with conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea.
Tea Tree Oil
For: Bacteria and Inflammation
This naturally powerful, anti-inflammatory ingredient reduces irritation caused by acne - resulting in fewer breakouts.
But be mindful when you use tea tree oil. Like all fragrant essential oils, it can be irritating when applied topically in high concentrations. That’s why you’ll want to find products that contain tea tree in smaller quantities for all the benefits with none of the irritation.
For: Sebum Imbalance
When it comes to clearing breakouts, you need to restore your barrier function and make sure that you’re soothing any redness, dryness, or irritation.
Jojoba oil is an excellent ingredient for that purpose. Jojoba is biomimetic - its composition is very similar to your own sebum - and packed with nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin D, and fatty acids. This makes it excellent for regulating sebum production, soothing dryness, and nourishing the skin.