Choosing an effective acne product

The acne product that's best for you depends on many factors, including your skin type, the type and severity of your acne, and your skin care preferences. Here are some general guidelines for choosing and using acne products:

  • Begin with benzoyl peroxide. If you're not sure which acne product to buy, start with one that contains benzoyl peroxide. It's effective and well-tolerated by most people. Give it a few days before expecting to see results. Check product labels for the type and amount of its active ingredient. Stronger isn't always better with benzoyl peroxide. In some cases, a 2.5 percent product works as well as those with stronger concentrations — and with fewer side effects.
  • Start with lower strength acne products. This can help minimize redness, dry skin and other skin problems. If needed, slowly — over several weeks — increase the strength of the product you use and how often you use it. This helps your skin adjust to the treatment gradually.
  • Use products with different active ingredients to treat stubborn acne. Acne ingredients work in different ways, so you may find it helpful to use varying products and ingredients to treat stubborn acne. Apply one product in the morning and a different one at night to prevent skin irritation.
  • Be patient. Treating acne with acne products takes time and patience. It may take two or three months of daily use of an acne product to see results. And acne may look worse before it gets better.
  • Experiment with what works. You may need to try different products with varying active ingredients before you find what works for you.

Skin care tips when using acne products

Acne products are just one step in your skin care routine. When using acne products:

  • Wash problem areas twice daily. Use a gentle nonsoap cleanser and don't overdo it. Excessive washing and scrubbing can worsen acne. Scrubs that dissolve during washing are the least abrasive. Scrubs with ground fruit pits and aluminum oxide tend to be more abrasive.
  • Try cleansing cloths or towelettes. These are gentle alternatives to cleansers and washes. Cloths with an open weave are good for dry, sensitive skin. Cloths with a tighter weave are better at removing dead skin cells.
  • Consider pore-clearing adhesive pads. These products (Biore Deep Cleansing Pore Strips, others) are intended to remove dirt, oil and plugs from pores. You apply the strip to wet skin, let it dry and then peel it off. Further study is needed to prove their use in treating and preventing acne. Don't use them more than once every three days.
  • Don't use too much. Apply just enough acne product to cover the problem areas and apply it just after cleansing the skin. Some cloths and towelettes come with benzoyl peroxide and other active ingredients in them, so you don't need to apply more product with these active ingredients after cleansing.
  • Use an oil-free, water-based moisturizer. This helps alleviate dry, peeling skin.
  • Avoid oily cosmetics, sunscreens and hair products. Use products labeled water-based or noncomedogenic.
  • Don't pick or squeeze blemishes. Infection or scarring may result.
  • Watch what touches your face. Keep your hair clean and off your face. Also avoid resting your hand or phone against the side of your face.

If your acne doesn't improve after two or three months of home treatment, consider seeing your doctor or a skin specialist (dermatologist) for a prescription lotion or medication.

July 09, 2015 See more In-depth