Acne Treatment Ingredients

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There are quite a few acne treatment ingredients that are proven to reduce and eliminate skin problems such as acne, blackheads, whiteheads, and rosacea. These ingredients vary in how they work, what their side effects are, and how effective they are in treating acne. Here is a brief synopsis of the most common ingredients that are used in acne treatment products:

Alpha Hydroxy Acid

Alpha hydroxy acid is a chemical compound that exfoliates dead skin and acne buildup. Glycolic acid is the specific alpha hydroxy acid that is used in over the counter skin care products at lower concentrations and in chemical peels at higher concentrations. This compound is known to cause as much as a 50% increase in sun sensitivity and can produce irritation in the skin.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is very effective in clearing pores and breaking down the bacteria that causes acne. It is one of the most common acne treatments and has been used in skin care products for nearly a century. Benzoyl peroxide treatments are available in a range of concentrations from 2.5% to 10%. This compound is found in gels or creams.

Beta Hydroxy Acid

Beta hydroxy acid can be found in a variety of products that reduce the presence of acne and wrinkles by exfoliating the affected skin areas. It is recommended for those who have whiteheads or blackheads due to an oily complexion. Beta hydroxy acid is gentler on the skin than alpha hydroxy acid and carries a lower risk of skin inflammation.


Isotretinoin is a highly controlled and regulated compound that is used in prescription products that are designed to treat moderate or severe cases of acne. It reduces output from the sebaceous glands that contribute to acne growth. Isotretinoin can produce a host of side effects that range from minor to severe and is known to cause birth defects in fetuses when used by pregnant women.


Retinol is an over the counter skin care cream and is used for the treatment of acne and the reduction of wrinkles caused by sun damage. It can be used on various parts of the body including the face and chest. Those who use Retinol can become sensitive to the sun so it is best to apply the cream in the evening and to use a sunscreen in the daytime.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is an organic compound that is highly effective in clearing acne from the skin. It eliminates whiteheads, blackheads, and other acne by loosening the top layer of skin so that buildup can easily be washed away. Salicylic acid is widely used in the product forms of creams, gels, and pads. It is not associated with side effects that can impair health.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a natural organic agent that is derived from the melaleuca plant. When diluted to 5% strength in topical skin formulas, tea tree oil performs similarly to benzoyl peroxide in the treatment of acne. It also has beneficial antifungal and antiseptic properties. Tea tree oil is also found in herbal supplements that help to keep skin healthy.


Triclosan is an antibacterial compound that is a common ingredient in face and body wash products. Triclosan works by killing harmful skin bacteria and is able to remain on the skin after it has been rinsed with water. This compound is best used in conjunction with stronger acne treatments such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.