Active Ingredients in Acne Products

Acne is a condition that has no definite origin, and thus is potentially caused by many different things. People also have different skin types, so no two cases of acne will be exactly the same. Acne products, therefore, are also different from one another. One of the most basic ways that these products differ from one another is the active ingredient, which is the primary component of the treatments and is what acts on acne. There have been numerous facial skin treatments and ingredients over the years, but some have become fairly common in the industry.

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is known to act against whiteheads by removing dead cells inside hair follicles. Numerous acne products have this as a main ingredient, though it is not effective in all cases. Most products contain a maximum of 2% of this substance. This low content is because the chemical can cause stinging and redness, and these reactions can be particularly severe in sensitive skin. Some people find that their skin does not have this problem and can handle stronger mixtures, but this isn’t often the case.

Benzoyl peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is often cited as the most common ingredient in acne products, though it rarely appears in acne prevention treatments. It is used as an anti-bacterial agent, removing bacteria from follicles and dissolving the early signs of the condition. Some products may contain up to a 10% concentration, though this number can go as low as 2.5%. This is to accommodate both the varying intensities of acne and the sensitivity of the skin. Like salicylic acid, this can cause redness and swelling, and has sometimes been known to have a “bleaching” effect.


This is a component that is rarely used alone in acne products, and is not known to act as a treatment on its own. It is usually included as a supplementary ingredient, because it can remove dead skin cells and excess oil from the surface. While this can help in prevention, it is also known to have a number of side effects. Soreness, particularly at the start of use, is a common issue, and it gets worse when skin is more sensitive.

There are other common ingredients for acne products, each with varying degrees of potency for varying severities of the condition. Sometimes the best way to find a working treatment is to give everything a shot. Talking to a dermatologist should probably the first step before doing this. Sometimes, the doctor can prescribe acne prevention treatments, stopping the problem in its tracks before it gets worse.


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