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What Acne Products Work?

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There are many acne products but with the right knowledge, you can pick the perfect one to treat your acne.

There are many acne products lining store shelves in all pharmacies and most of these do not require prescriptions to buy. Therefore, without the guidance of a medical expert, it can be difficult for the average person to make an informed choice.

The first thing to know when determining which acne product to buy is that no one acne product works for everyone. Some acne products suit people of certain skin types better than others. Sometimes, there are no known reasons why a product fails for one person and works for another.

However, effective acne products produce positive benefits for most users. A product with a very high success rate is more likely to work for you than another product that ranks lower but there is no guarantee that this will be so.

Before spending on acne products, you should know which active ingredients are known to work, and what side effects to expect from each of them. An informed buyer can make a better choice than the average person.

Apart from herbal extracts, there are 4 major active ingredients used in over-the-counter acne products. These are benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, sulfur, and alpha hydroxyl acids.

These compounds can be combined or solely used in acne products. While combination products provide a better spectrum of action, they often cause more side effects.

Major Active Ingredients of OTC Acne Products

Benzoyl Peroxide: It is included in most acne formulations in concentrations ranging from 2.5% to 10%. It is the most commonly used anti-acne agent and probably the most effective too.

Benzoyl peroxide acts mainly as an antibacterial agent. It kills off Propionibacterium acnes, the bacteria responsible for most acne outbreaks. This peroxide is also effective for cleaning clogged pores by removing excess oils from the skin and sloughing off dead skin cells.

Being a peroxide, this active agent is rather strong on the skin too although it quickly splits into harmless benzoic acid and oxygen when it gets in contact with the skin.

Still, benzoyl peroxide can cause skin dryness, redness, scaling as well as itching and burning sensations. Care should be taken when applying it too as it can bleach clothes and hair.

Salicylic acid: Salicylic acid reduces the rate of keratinization. By this means, it reduces the accumulation of dead skin cells in skin pores. It is effective for removing acne comedones such as whiteheads and blackheads.

Salicylic acid is included in acne products in concentrations ranging from 0.5% to 2%. It may cause skin irritation and a stinging sensation.

Alpha Hydroxyl Acids: There are 2 of these acids commonly included in acne products. These are lactic acid and glycolic acid.

Alpha-hydroxyl acids are mostly combined with other anti-acne medications. They work primarily by removing dead skin cells and preventing skin inflammation. These acids can also promote skin turnover so that new skin growth can fade away acne scars.

Sulfur: Sulfur is also rarely used alone in acne products but combined with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. It prevents the clogging of skin pores by removing excess oil and dead skin cells.

Sulfur has an unpleasant odor and may cause dry skin.

Effective Acne Products


Proactiv is a 3-part acne treatment system that includes a cleanser, a toner, and a treatment. Its active agents are benzoyl peroxide and glycolic acid.

The benzoyl peroxide is supplied as ultrafine microcrystals in the cleanser and treatment part of the acne kit. The cleanser also contains fine exfoliating beads for effective microdermabrasion to remove dead skin cells.

The toner includes botanicals such as aloe, witch hazel, and chamomile to soothe and soften the skin

This three-step treatment is effective for most users. Proactiv clears clogged skin pores, fights Propionibacterium acnes, reduces skin inflammation, and improves skin tone. It is especially suitable for acne sufferers with oily and normal skin types although those with sensitive skin may find the product too harsh.

Proactiv was developed by two dermatologists and they are always available on the company’s website to answer your questions and help you develop a personal treatment plan.

Exposed Acne System

Exposed Acne System is a multi-part acne treatment kit. It ranks very high on all review lists of top acne products.

There are 9 different products in the Exposed Acne System.

These include active acne medications such as the Acne Treatment Serum, Clearing Tonic, Clarifying Mask, and Clear Pore Serum; cosmetic products for preparing the skin and improving skin tones such as Facial Cleanser and Moisture Complex; exfoliating agents such as Microderm Scrub and Derm-X Cloth; and an oral anti-acne formulation called Probiotic Complex.

Because the Exposed Acne System fights acne on all fronts, both internally and externally, with topical and oral formulations and even with a microdermabrasion cloth, it is effective for 98% of users.

In fact, there is universal praise for the Exposed Acne System. It is a total system that uses botanicals, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, resorcinol, and alpha hydroxyl acids in diverse formulations.

ZenMed Derma Cleanse System

The ZenMed Derma Cleanse System includes 3 acne products: an acne gel, a facial cleansing gel, and an oral preparation of herbal remedies.

The herbal remedies are formulated as capsules. They treat acne by promoting hormonal balance and detoxifying the body. Since it is made up of herbal extract, the ZenMed Derma Cleanse System has very few side effects.

The acne gel works by killing off acne-causing bacteria on the skin and reducing acne inflammations while fading acne scars. It contains salicylic acid and glycolic acid.

The cleansing gel is supplied to moisturize the skin and keep it healthy so that future acne breakouts are prevented.

ZenMed Derma Cleanse System is effective for all skin types and it is well-reviewed by users and experts.

Clear Skin Max

Clear Skin Max has 6 different components.

The first of these is the Tea Tree Oil Control Daily Cleansing Gel which contains herbal extracts of Bladderwrack and Chamomile. It has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiseptic properties. It is capable of killing off the acne-causing bacteria on the skin and also providing a deep cleansing action that unclogs pores.

Next is the Skin Soften and Melanin Expel Essence which contains Vitamin B3 and algae extracts. These active agents rehydrate the skin and return the oil and fatty acid contents of the skin to normal levels.

The Acne Vanquisher Mask contains allantoin which exfoliates the skin and heals any damage caused by acne lesions and scars. It unclogs the pores and re-establishes the skin tone.

The Pore Astringent Conditioning Lotion contains witch hazel which provides an antioxidant cover for the skin by removing free radicals that breaks down the skin cells and proteins.

The Acne Treatment Emergency contains squalene oil and Vitamin E. It dries up acne comedones especially blackheads.

Lastly, there is Tava Tea Anti Acne which is an infusion tea. It contains licorice root, peppermint tea, and chrysanthemum. The tea is recommended to be drunk 6 – 8 times daily to help detoxify the body and prevent toxins from harming the skin.

Clear Skin Max is an affordable and effective acne product. By taking different approaches to acne treatment and utilizing a combination of botanicals and conventional anti-acne medications, Clear Skin Max tackles acne by different means.

It comes highly recommended by past users and reviewers.


There are 3 acne products in each kit of ClearPores. There is a facial wash for deep cleansing, a cream for protecting and nourishing the skin, and an oral formulation of herbal acne remedies.

The oral supplement supplied with ClearPores contains 12 herbs including notable acne remedies like burdock root, licorice root, and dandelion root as well as skincare botanicals such as aloe vera.

The herbal supplement treats acne internally. They help regulate hormone balance, flush out toxins, reduce sebum production, reduce skin inflammation, and kill off acne-causing bacterial.

The facial wash is useful for clearing acne spots and scars by reducing sebum production and the buildup of dead skin cells which leads to the clogging of the pores.

The protective cream contains salicylic acid and alpha hydroxyl acids which kill off Propionibacterium acnes, the acne-causing bacteria colonizing the skin. These active ingredients also reduce inflammation and clear the clogged pores.

ClearPores is effective for all skin types and it has a high rating amongst users and reviewers.


Actimine takes a different approach to acne treatment. It is formulated with vitamins, minerals, and herbal extracts which are scientifically proven to be effective for acne.

Actimine is an oral formulation in capsule form. The active ingredients include vitamins A and E; selenium and zinc; and MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) and Gum guggul. Each of these active ingredients possesses a unique set of anti-acne properties. By combining all of them, Actimine can treat both the hormonal and bacterial causes of acne.

Over 90% of its users report that Actimine provides remarkable results in acne treatment.

This high rate of success is due to the special formulation of this supplement combination. For example, some clinical studies have proven that by combining selenium with vitamins A and E, the antioxidant effect observed is far greater than a simple addition of the antioxidant effects of the 3 nutritional supplements.

Zinc is another example of an anti-acne remedy that addresses both the hormonal and bacterial causes of acne. Zinc is a potent antibacterial agent and it also inhibits the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone.

Because the ingredients of Actimine are essential nutritional supplements and natural herbal extracts, it is safe to use.

Unlike the antibiotics and retinoids used for treating acne, Actimine produces very few side effects and delivers excellent results.

General Advice for Effectively Treating Acne

The major factors to consider when choosing an acne product include your skin type, the type of acne you have, how severe it is, and what types of skincare products you prefer.

Generally, it is advised that you start with benzoyl peroxide since it is available in most acne products and is known to work for most people. It is also well tolerated by most users.

Salicylic acid is also a good choice but benzoyl peroxide is a better choice unless you know for sure it won’t work for you.

Whichever acne product you choose, it is best to start with the minimum strength of the active agent. For salicylic acid, that is 0.5% and for benzoyl peroxide, the least strength is 2.5%. By beginning with this minimum strength, you can reduce the side effects which affect new users more than others.

When your skin can tolerate the acne product and the redness, dryness, and stinging sensations have gone down, you can then gradually increase the strength and/or the frequency of applying the acne product.

For stubborn acne, consider using a combination product or combining two acne products. You should even opt for an acne treatment kit that combines oral medications with topical preparations.

Above all, you should be patient. Your acne will not resolve in a few weeks. However, you should see the beginnings of improvement after a few weeks. So take your time to experiment with acne products, different strengths, and application frequencies until you find the perfect regimen that works for you.

Next Article: Aloe for Acne Treatment