One of the hassles of going through puberty and the teen years is having to deal with pimples. But—surprise, surprise!—these skin problems can plague you even in your 20s, 30s, and beyond. Find out what may be causing your breakouts as well as some natural acne remedies and best ingredients for acne.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), acne comes from dead skin cells that clog our pores. The combination of dead skin cells trapped in a pore plus the sebum, or natural oil, that our skin produces results in acne. The AAD further explains that bacteria called p. acnes also get inside the pore and ultimately cause it to become red and swollen.
While pimples (or pustules) are normally used interchangeably with acne, other skin issues like blackheads, whiteheads, papules, cysts, and nodules are also considered acne. Having acne doesn’t just leave a pesky mark in the form of stubborn dark spots or permanent scars—it may also lead to low self-esteem and depression, states the AAD.
There is no evidence that oily foods can cause acne and thus the AAD doesn’t recommend any dietary changes to address the skin issue. But some limited data suggests that high glycemic index (i.e., sugary) diets and some dairy (particularly skim milk) may be linked to acne.
As with any type of skin care, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for acne as it depends on the severity of your acne and your skin type. If your acne is particularly worrisome, it’s best to consult with a dermatologist to come up with a treatment plan.
That being said, below are some of the ingredients that may be effective against acne:
Salicylic acid. The best face wash for acne and pimples will probably contain this beta-hydroxy acid. Salicylic acid works by getting rid of excess oil and cleaning out pores—all that in a package that is great for sensitive skin. However, it’s still best to use this ingredient in moderation as too much of it can dry out skin.
(Try Alba Acnedote Deep Pore Wash, which contains salicylic acid, available at Healthy Options.)
Glycolic acid. This alpha-hydroxy acid can also unclog pores with its gentle exfoliating powers.
Vitamin C. If you’re looking for the best face wash for pimples and dark spots, one with Vitamin C might do the trick. This antioxidant can minimize the appearance of dark spots and provides protection from the sun and pollutants.
Hyaluronic acid. It’s a great hydrator for those with oily skin, providing moisture without the added oil and bringing balance to the skin’s surface.
Benzoyl peroxide. More popularly known as a spot treatment but now making an appearance in cleansers, benzoyl peroxide can help fight the bacteria that causes inflammation and redness. This ingredient can be pretty harsh on skin though, so go for a formulation that’s 2% or less.
Vitamin A. Sometimes listed as retinol or retinoid, Vitamin A is a wrinkle-fighter that can also keep your pores clear, and address redness and dark spots.
Aloe. This plant is not just good for soothing sunburns; it can also treat acne.
Apple cider vinegar. This pantry ingredient can be used as a toner to help get rid of acne-causing bacteria but it can be very harsh. Experts advise doing a spot test before using it on your face and mixing it with four parts water so that it won’t burn your skin.
Aside from using anti-acne ingredients, the AAD recommends the following tips:
- Wash twice a day and after sweating, as sweat can exacerbate acne.
- Be gentle! Use your fingertips to cleanse your face and ditch anything abrasive like a washcloth or loofah. Also use gentle, alcohol-free products that won’t dry out your skin.
- Shampoo your hair every day if you have oily hair.
- Stop touching your face and picking on your acne! It may be tempting to pop that pimple but you’ll only make the problem worse, possibly causing irritation and/or leaving a permanent scar.
- Stay away from ultraviolet rays by avoiding the sun and tanning beds.
A solid skin-care routine with the best face wash for acne and pimples, and healthy skin habits can help keep your skin clear and acne-free.