The fight against acne
Win the fight against acne once and for all
Written by Carlyn
Look for these ingredients in your acne-fighting skincare routine:
1. Benzoyl Peroxide (BP)
This very special ingredient will always be #1 on our list. Working to prevent and treat acne by killing bacteria underneath the skin, BP has secured its place as the most effective acne treatment. In particular, BP loves to treat inflammatory acne, which is characterized by swollen red bumps that can be quite painful.
It’s important to note that a little goes a long way with BP. In other words, this sh*t is strong. If you’re prone to skin sensitivity, integrating BP into your routine slowly and gradually is key.
Pro tip: Apply a thin layer of a lightweight gel moisturizer after applying BP. The layer of moisturizer will act as a buffer and protect your skin from possible dryness from BP’s intensity.
When used regularly, Benzoyl Peroxide can take about 4 weeks to work its magic.
2. Salicylic Acid (SA)
This is definitely one of our favourite beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). Due to the chemical structure of salicylic acid, it’s more oil-soluble, meaning that it can better penetrate the pores of the skin. By working deep in the skin, SA can unclog pores and reduce their appearance.
Blackheads especially hate SA because it rocks at dissolving skin debris and dirt buildup. Salicylic acid works as a keratolytic, which means that it breaks down keratin found in the outer layers of the skin. SA softens the keratin found in dead cells that accumulated with sebum to clog pores. The dissolving function helps loosen the blackhead, making the debris easier to remove.
When used regularly, SA can take up to 6-8 weeks to really start kicking in.
3. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs)
Try and say that word ten times fast. Aside from its super ~sciencey~ name, AHAs are pretty straightforward. AHAs are a group of chemical exfoliants which work to reduce the accumulation of sebum (oil), remove dead skin cells, and help prevent the overgrowth of bacteria. AHAs include glycolic acid, lactic acid and mandelic acid, which reduce breakouts by unclogging pores filled with debris—pretty much like a pore vacuum!
Typically, AHAs will produce a more radiant complexion right away. However, AHAs’ full potential can take up to 12 weeks to peak. Be patient!
Retinol can wear a lot of hats, which is why we absolutely love it. Retinol is a type of retinoid, which is a vitamin A derivative. Retinol works by increasing the rate of cellular turnover of the outermost layer of the skin, eliminating dead skin cells and encouraging collagen production. Whiteheads, blackheads, and even inflamed acne can be treated with consistent retinol use. Plus, retinol will improve the overall tone and texture of the skin too!
Be warned, retinol is strong. The rule of thumb is to “start low and go slow” when integrating it into your routine. We also recommend applying retinol before bed, since it can make the skin more sensitive to the sun.
Pro tip: Use moisturizer after applying retinol to give your skin some lubricant to avoid dryness.
While retinol’s anti-aging properties can take longer to work, acne conditions see improvement after about 12 weeks.
Sulfur may just be the best kept secret. Used frequently over two decades ago, sulfur is now making a huuuge comeback. Sulfur has been clinically tested to be an effective antibacterial and drying agent for acne. Results also showed that sulfur is acceptable for our sensitive skin friends too! Look for this ingredient in masks, cleansers and spot treatments to unclog pores by removing the top layer of dead skin cells.
You’ll need to be patient with sulfur too, since it can take up to 10 weeks to see significant results.
One last thing—Everyone’s skincare journey will look different. Just because you haven’t seen any noticeable results in a couple days doesn’t mean that your products aren’t working. Trust the process and stick with it.
If you struggle with persistent and stubborn acne, seeing a dermatologist for medical direction is your best option. That way, you won’t waste your time going through the frustrating cycle of product trial and error. Our go-to dermatologist is DLK on Avenue.
You’ll never regret investing in your skin!
Happy skincaring <3