Those who suffer from acne probably see an anti-acne cream with a big “S” for ‘savior’ inscribed on it. (You thought we were going to say ‘superman’ right?) Even though people who have acne-ridden skin appreciate the importance of an anti-acne cream, picking one can be somewhat tedious. This buying guide will walk you through on what to look out for when next you get an anti-acne cream.
What is Acne?
Acne occurs when the follicles of your hair get blocked with oil and skin cells that are dead. It can be found on different parts of the body such as face, chest, forehead, shoulders and upper back. It could lead to skin scars and emotional grief; although this is dependent on how serious it is.
Causes of Acne
Understanding the cause of a thing will enable you prevent it effectively. When it comes to acne, there are four major causes which we’ll list below:
- Acne bacteria production
- Excess sebum production
- Presence of excess dead skin cells.
Types of Acne
It is necessary for us to differentiate between the types of acne we have out there. What do we benefit from this? Well, this knowledge will enable you know what you need to do in order to readily combat any of these types. So without further ado, let’s meet those sworn enemies of our skins.
These are the most common kind of acne and are of two types: blackheads and whiteheads. ‘How do they occur?’ you might ask.We’ll tell you. Your skin is constantly producing its own oil known as sebum with its production center in your oil glands. This oil clogs up your skin pores alongside the skin cells that are dead which cause comedones.
How do we distinguish a blackhead from a whitehead comedone? It depends on the location of the clog. If the clog is found under the skin of the pore that has been closed up then you have a whitehead. If the clog is found on the skin of the pore that is NOT closed, the reaction of air upon it causes oxidation. And before you know it, the color begins to change from brown and finally, you have a blackhead.
Ask anyone who has had a run in with seborrhea; they’ll probably tell you a sad story about their encounter. This is because seborrhea can be truly terrible as it only happens in severe acne cases. Basic sign of this is scaly red skin which is more visible on the face. It is recommended you see a dermatologist also for better help.
The sebum produced by your skin can get all trapped as one with the dead skin. This prevents the sebum itself from passing through to the top of the skin because the skin pores are already clogged. When this happens, the skin becomes irritated and inflamed which leads to the formation of pimples. Basically we can say that pimples are comedones that got inflamed.Some people believe pimples only plague teenagers; this is so untrue. It can happen to any age group whatsoever.
Ingredients your Anti-Acne Cream Should Contain
When treating acne, there are certain types of anti-acne cream that may be employed depending on the severity of the condition. Certain products are only sold on prescription while others can easily be gotten over the counter. The ingredients in the anti-acne cream usually determine if it is a prescription product or an anti-acne cream. So we’ll divide the ingredients that are found in an anti-acne cream into two to enable us distinguish between the kinds of ingredients when we encounter them.
- It serves as an exfoliator. An exfoliator is an ingredient that removes the upper skin layer, especially the dead skin cells. Benzoyl Peroxide performs this function thereby preventing the pores from being blocked.
- It gets rid of surplus oil in the skin
- It destroys bacteria that cause acnes. The proprioni bacterium causes acne and benzoyl peroxide destroys it by adding oxygen to the skin.This bacterium can NOT live in an environment that has oxygen; benzoyl peroxide effectively combats this menance called proprioni bacterium.
However, benzoyl peroxide can have a drying, peeling and irritating effect. To some it might cause certain allergies such as causing the skin to become swollen and red. Therefore when using this if you possess a sensitive skin, you need to apply caution.
A group of acids that are excellent exfoliators are beta-hydroxy acids and salicylic acid is one of such acids. Salicylic acid performs its exfoliation job by working in the follicle of the skin’s hair thereby keeping the pores clean. This causes your skin to become smoother and it gets rid of acne blemishes and skin discoloration. Its anti-aging properties also remove fine lines and dark spots.
It also inhibits bacterial growth by stopping any form of manufacturing of bacteria protein and metabolism.Most times it is preferable to glycolic acid (an alpha-hydroxy acid) and benzoyl peroxide because it can be tolerated well. Those with sensitive skin can take comfort from the effects of those stronger ingredients by using salicylic acid. Some anti-acne cream products list salicylic acid as willow bark. When you come across willow bark on the list, it means salicylic acid.
Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
Alpha-hydroxy acids are excellent skin exfoliators that remove those dead skin cells that are responsible for those acnes. Examples of Alpha-Hydroxy acids are lactic and glycolic acid.
Sulfur is an ingredient that can be regarded as multi-talented if it were human. It functions as an anti-inflammatory ingredient. Apart from that, it is serves as an exfoliator that gets rid of skin cells that are dead. Furthermore it reduces surplus oil in the skin.
Just like humans that are laden with weaknesses and shortcomings, the rotten-egg odor sulfur produces doesn’t make it everyone’s MVP. Yet some anti-acne cream employs other ingredients that reduce or eliminate this odor.
Equipped with anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, tea-tree oil was born to battle acne with no mercy. This ferocity might be the reason it tends to be somewhat harsh for certain skins. Apply caution if your skin is eczema-plagued or sensitive when making use of this ingredient.
It regulates the production of sebum and gives the skin a complexion that is shine-free.
Antibiotics are NOT only the oral prescribed drugs we take for infections and diseases. They are also used in anti-acne cream and applied topically upon the skin. These antibiotics get rid of those P. acnes bacteria that cause acne breakouts. Examples of such antibiotics used in anti-acne cream include clindamycin and erythromycin.
This is used in exfoliating the skin cells that are dead and it also gets rid of P. acnes bacteria.
These are ingredients gotten from forms of vitamin A. Examples of these retinoids include adapalene (Differin), tazarotene (Avage, Tazorac) and tretinoin (Renova, Retin-A). These ingredients are exfoliators that rid us of the skin cells that are dead which readily block the pores. However, these ingredients may cause redness, dryness and irritations if used in very high concentration. This is also a problem especially for those with sensitive skin
Percentage of your Anti-Acne Cream Ingredients
In treating acnes via the use of an anti-acne cream, the right ingredient percentage is equally important as the ingredients. Therefore, careful attention must be paid to observe the percentage of active ingredients a product contains. Why is this important?
A low percentage will have no effect on your acne; rather, it will have an effect on your pocket. Low percentage will cause you to waste money on such an anti-acne cream.A high percentage can have a serious effect on NOT just your acne but also your skin. High percentage can lead to serious skin damage such as some form of burning. Most times, a high proportion is only used for serious cases and is usually by prescription by dermatologists.
In a good anti-acne cream there are two major active and highly effective ingredients your cream should have. These are benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. If either of these two is NOT in your anti-acne cream, it means you purchased something else. Therefore, we will look at what percentage is right for just these two ingredients.
In anti-acne creams, benzoyl peroxide usually comes in a percentage of 2.5 percent to 10 percent. First thought of one who isn’t knowledgeable about the effects of ingredients percentage would be to pick a higher percentage. (This should NOT apply to you after reading this buying guide).
However, that is NOT right because lower percentages are as efficient as higher percentages. Why is this? Hydrogen peroxide kills bacteria and once the bacteria are killed raising the percentage does jack to the bacteria. Heck, they are already dead what more do you want? Maybe except damaging your skin in the process.
So what percentage do we recommend? Instead of just one percentage to always look for, we’ll give you a percentage range. Just imagine you’re going through all sorts of products in search of let’s say a 2.5% of benzoyl peroxide. We think that will be a bit stressful.This range would also give those with more serious cases the chance to get rid of their acnes. We recommend a percentage range of 2.5 percent to 4 percent benozyl peroxide.
Although salicylic acid isn’t as hard on skin as benzoyl peroxide, the rule of higher percentage is NOT more efficientis still applicable. The percentage range of 0.5 percent to 3 percent is what is found in anti-acne creams for salicylic acid. So what percentage range do we recommend? We suggest choosing an anti-acne cream that falls into0.5 percent to 1 percent. Buying an anti-acne cream that has more salicylic percentage is more expensive. This is a waste since lower percentage has the same results.
Ingredients That Balance the Negative Effects of your Anti-Acne Cream
The major ingredients used in an anti-acne cream usually have side effects such as irritations and drying to the skin. Therefore, amazing brands include certain ingredients that will balance these effects into their anti-acne cream. So look out for anti-acne creams that contain these balancing ingredients that soothe and moisturize the skin. These ingredients include: glycerin, vitamin B5, aloe vera, arnica, chamomile, passion flower extract, calendula etc.
A good anti-acne cream would combine both the main ingredients we listed above and these balancing ingredients. This does the job of effectively getting rid of acne but still ensures your skin is NOT damaged while doing so.
Ingredients to Keep Away From in your Anti-Acne Cream
Before we share on ingredients that should NOT be in your anti-acne cream, let’s let you in on a secret.
Most anti-acne cream lists their ingredients in descending sort according to their concentration level. Top placed ingredients are more concentrated while bottom placed ingredients are less concentrated. Why is this important? When certain harmful ingredients are at the top, it gives you an idea about the magnitude of damage they’ll cause.
Now that that cat is out of the bag, let’s move on to those ingredients you need to avoid.
Ingredients that clog pores
There are certain ingredients that can clog up your skin pores thereby preventing the skin from passing out sebum effectively. This can lead to the formation of acnes like we found out when we looked at the types of acne. Examples of such ingredients include silicones and paraffin.
However, this is an advantage to those who have dry skin. If you have dry skin, then you need to lock moisture up in your skin. Nevertheless, you have to do this with caution as well as proper knowledge of these ingredients placement in the ingredients’ list.
- If the ingredient floats at the top, it is not to be used.
- Ingredient located in the middle, is manageable.
- If found at the bottom, it is fine and assuring.
But remember that we only recommend such minimal usage by those with really dry skin.
If you’ve gone through any of our guides, you’ll notice we don’t support the use of alcohol in skincare products. (If you haven’t, you need to read them). Yet brands keep using them and I’m sure you must have wondered why. Well alcohol has the ability to give your anti-acne cream a comfortable feel as well as removing excess oil.
Despite this, the use of alcohol is destructive when looked at based on futuristic perspective. And by futuristic we are not talking about ten years; rather we refer to even weeks or months. You could easily lose the joy you get from using this product if it contains alcohol. This will happen when your skin produces more oil than you originally had to battle the degreasing effect of the alcohol.
Furthermore, the combination of alcohol and either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide will leave your skin dry as the desert.
Tips to Remember
- If the negative effects of your anti-acne cream seem excessive, add a bit of the gel from aloe-vera. The aloe-vera added should be either twice or thrice the original amount of your anti-acne cream. For instance you should add aloe-vera of1ml to 2ml or 3ml of your anti-acne cream.
- Do NOT neglect constant use of your anti-acne cream until you get complete solution.
- Stick to one brand of anti-acne cream. Do NOT use two or more brands of anti-acne cream at once.
- If your acne case persists after three or four months of using a goo anti-acne cream, then you need to see a dermatologist.
Has this guide been helpful? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section.