How To Get Rid Of Acne: Every Ingredient That Fights Zits

Skin care can be overwhelming. Everywhere you turn there is a friend, an influencer or a brand telling you this product will fix all of your acne problems. But then it doesn’t.

So what works? Why does it work? What ingredient is your magic ingredient? Navigating the world of pimple fighting products is not easy. There are a million of products that do different things. We break down the magical ingredients that are primarily used in acne products.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Good for fighting: Whiteheads

Alpha Hydroxy Acids a.k.a. AHAs are exfoliating acids that fight acne. If you use AHAs you won’t get the same result as a chemical peel. At home AHAs products have a lower acid percentage and will slowly slough off your dead skin.

New York City clinical professor of dermatologist Neal Schultz talked to Allure about AHAs and their purpose. “As the acid dissolves the cement between skin cells, you may have thousands of them coming off at the same timeā€”but the shedding is still invisible to the naked eye,” Schultz said.

AHAs are potent exfoliators that remove dead skin cells so your skin gunk won’t be trapped under your skin causing pimples.

You know you have found the perfect AHA product for your skin when your skin tingles a bit when it’s applied. Glycolic, lactic, malic and mandelic acids are all AHAs.

Azelaic Acid

Good for fighting: Whiteheads

Azelaic Acid is one of the more unknown acne fighting acids. According to Paula’s Choice, Azelaic Acid “significantly lessens factors in skin that lead to sensitivity and bumps and delivers antioxidant benefits.”

Besides exfoliating, it also helps fade acne scars, discoloration and even your skin tone.

Witch Hazel

Good for fighting: Mild acne

Witch Hazel is used as a natural toner to fight acne and oily skin. Witch Hazel antiseptic gets rid of bacteria and it’s very drying. So if your skin has a tendency to be on the oily side using a product with Witch Hazel could help even it out. It also kills bacteria that cause acne, so it sounds like a win-win.

If you just use regular old Witch Hazel as a toner, it could be too intense for your skin because of the high alcohol level, which is what dries out your skin. So this product may not be the best for every day use and always remember to moisturize afterward.

Salicylic Acid

Good for fighting: Whiteheads and blackheads

Salicylic Acid is a classic acne fighting product. It’s oil soluble so it goes underneath the oil in your skin and unclogs your pores and zits. You can find Salicylic Acid in many acne products.

Tea Tree Oil

Good for fighting: Whiteheads

Tea Tree Oil is another natural ingredient like Witch Hazel, but is better for fighting acne. It kills bacteria and is anti-inflammatory a.k.a. it makes zits calm the heck down.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Good for fighting: Whiteheads

Benzoyl Peroxide is a holy grail acne fighting product. It kills acne-causing bacteria but also exfoliates your skin. You can get different concentrations of Benzoyl Peroxide, which is key. If you have sensitive skin definitely grab a lower concentration because this stuff is strong.

Dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe told Teen Vogue, “[Benzoyl Peroxide] can also cause drying, peeling, and redness if it’s not delivered in the right amount, surrounded by the right mix of ingredients.”


Good for fighting: Blackheads

Clay or mud is great to draw out dirt and oil from your skin. You can get clay and mud cleansers or masks depending on your preference. The best thing about clay is that it’s not drying.

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