So, you’ve got some pimples and you decide to head to the bathroom cabinet to reach for your standard zit zapping product – but, are you using the right product for your problem?
Not all break outs are the same, and neither are acne fighting ingredients. There are a few common choices when it comes to active ingredients – but they work very differently. By understanding how they help, you’ll be able to choose the right kind of product for your particular breakouts.
In today’s post I’ll go over the different types of breakouts, and how each of the common ingredients in acne products helps – so you’ll be able to make the best choice for your skin.
Types of breakouts
- Black Heads These are pores with oil stuck in them, however the very top of the pore is open. Because the pore is still open, air gets inside the pore and causes the oils to breakdown and oxidize, which is what turns them black.
- White Heads These are similar to black heads, but the difference is the pore is closed so air doesn’t get inside, so they do not turn black. Neither white heads nor black heads involve bacteria, or too much inflammation. They usually don’t get big and red.
- Pustules, Pimples, Zits, Acne (and a ton of other names…) This is when bacteria is trapped in a closed pore. There is usually inflammation, redness and irritation. These pustules are what most people consider zits.
Now it’s important to understand the differences between these types of breakouts, because ingredients in acne products treat the problem differently and you want the right product for your problem. So let’s go over some of the most common active fighting ingredients.
Types of products
- Salicylic Acid This is a common ingredient in acne products. It is a beta hydroxy acid and helps by exfoliating your skin and dissolving the gunk in blocked follicles. I recommend trying salicylic acid first if your skin problem is more white heads and black heads.
- Benzoyl Peroxide This is another typical acne fighting ingredient. It also exfoliates skin, but it’s main benefit is helping to kill bacteria. That’s why I recommend trying BP if you have more red and inflamed zits. If bacteria are not involved in your breakouts, BP won’t be as useful.
- Retinols Over the counter retinols can also be helpful for breakouts. They increase skin cell turnover and help keep things moving inside your pore, preventing blockage. They also seem to have the added benefit of fading the marks left from active acne, so if you have a combination of white heads, black heads and full zits, retinols might be a good choice for you.
Something to note, all three of these can cause irritation in the beginning. Start with low doses and/or less frequent use to start. You may want to start with application every other night, or every third night, and then gradually increase the frequency once you know how your skin handles the product.
I also don’t recommend solely relying on topical products to control your acne. I think they can help manage occasional breakouts, but at best they treat the symptom, not the actual cause. And, long term use of these products can actually cause acne in some cases! No bueno.
If you suffer from persistent acne, you’re going to want to look at things like your diet, lifestyle and stress levels and other internal and external factors.
If you would like to know more about getting your acne under control, I can help. Just click here to find out how.
If you have questions about products and ingredients, let me know in the comments below!