There is no shortage of over-the-counter medications to treat your acne. You can get cleansing lotions, gels, foams, and towelettes, leave-on products, and more. So what product should you use? A good place to start is learning about how these products work and what ingredients to look for:
- Benzoyl peroxide. This ingredient is believed to work by killing the bacteria that causes acne. Additionally, it helps to remove dead skin cells and excess oil from your skin. If you don’t know which product to choose, one that contains benzoyl peroxide is a good place to start. Not only is it effective, but it’s also well tolerated by most people. But be careful while applying it, as it can bleach your hair and clothing.
- Salicylic acid. Salicylic acid helps to correct the abnormal shedding of cells, unclogs pores, and prevents them from becoming clogged.
- Alpha hydroxy acids. There are two types of alpha-hydroxy acids that are commonly used in OTC acne medications. These are glycolic acid and lactic acid. They work by removing dead skin cells and reducing inflammation. They also help to stimulate the growth of new skin, which helps to minimize acne scars and gives the impression of smaller pores.
- Sulfur. Sulfur helps to remove the excess oil and dead skin that clog pores. Sulfur is commonly combined with other ingredients on this list.
You will likely need to try several different products to figure out which one works best for you. With stubborn acne, you may even want to try a combination of treatments, applying one in the morning and the other at night. To minimize unwanted side effects - such as redness, dry skin, and irritation - it is wise to start with lower strength acne products and increase the strength gradually. Also, be sure to use an oil-free, water-based moisturizer to keep your skin from drying out. Lastly, patience is a must. Even with these products, it may take two to three months to see the results you’re after, and it may even look worse before it gets better. Don’t get discouraged. With consistent use, you will see improvement.