5 Anti-Acne Ingredients and How to Incorporate Them into Skincare Routine

Acne is a common skin condition but doesn’t mean you can’t treat it. Since there isn’t only one type of acne, you need to know which ingredient can be used for each and every acne type. Do you have blackheads, whiteheads, or puss-filled acne? No matter what you’ve got, some ingredients can treat your skin condition. 

Let’s find out which ingredients are the best for fighting acne, how they work, as well as when and how to use them. 

Salicylic Acid

How it Works: Salicylic acid is a type of BHA (beta-hydroxy acid). It has excellent exfoliating properties, great for removing dead skin cells and cleaning clogged pores. 

The structure of salicylic acid is oil-soluble, meaning it can break down the oil on your face, usually collected in your pores. This acid also works on unclogging blockage. 

Products with salicylic acid are great for treating blackheads and whiteheads, in the early stages of acne. It can be used for teenagers or people with oily and seborrheic skin. 

Salicylic acid is great exfoliator. It works by dissolving the glue that usually holds the skin cells in the clogged pores. 

How to Use it: Look for salicylic acid in a 0.5 - 2% concentration. The best products that contain this amount of it are cleansers and gels. Don’t apply large quantities and don’t apply salicylic acid on the whole face. Just on bumps when you use this ingredient as a spot treatment. 

Benzoyl Peroxide

How it Works: Benzoyl peroxide is a perfect antibacterial ingredient that kills bacteria. It works by neutralizing bacteria that cause acne to appear in the first place, but also clog pores. It is proven effective with most types of acne - blackheads, whiteheads, papules, and pustules.


How to Use it: You can find benzoyl peroxide in cleansers and gel formulas. You should follow with a moisturizer for oily skin. Look for 2.5% 5% or 10% strength variations of benzoyl peroxide. 

Tea Tree Oil 

How it Works: Tea tree oil is worldwide known as an anti-inflammatory agent. It is used to treat acne and excess oil on the skin. According to dermatologists, you should use 5% at least for it to be effective. Tea tree oil is helpful in blackhead and whitehead treatment. However, if you have persistent acne, this ingredient might not be the best treatment choice. 

How to Use it: Acne-fighting products contain tea tree oil in low concentration, less than 3%. However, if you want to use this ingredient, it might be good to combine it with some other anti-acne ingredients. Consult with a dermatologist before doing so, just to be sure another product won’t cause an unwanted reaction. 


How it Works: Sulfur is a natural mineral. It is an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory ingredient that works as an exfoliator for acne-prone skin. However, it is effective mostly in the early stages of acne. That means it can treat whiteheads, blackheads, and papules. You can also use it if you have sensitive skin. Sulfur is a bacteriostatic agent and it prevents bacteria from multiplying.

How to Use it: If you decide to apply it topically, it will remove a top layer of skin by drying it out. You can also find sulfur in cleansers and spot treatments. You shouldn’t combine sulfur with other ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide since it can cause allergic reactions. 

Azelaic Acid

How it Works: Azelaic acid is from a family of dicarboxylic acids. It is a great exfoliant with antibacterial and antioxidant properties. In fact, it is quite similar to salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. 

Azelaic acid loosens skin cells on acne-prone skin, allowing them to breathe and slough dead skin cells off. If you have dark spots and blemishes, you can expect them to be reduced as well. 

How to Use it: Serums and creams usually contain about 10% of azelaic acid. Since it can cause dryness, make sure to use a moisturizer or a hydrator. 

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Thick As Thieves Pure Glycolic Acid Lactic Acid Extreme Gel Peel