The most important and often overlooked fact about skincare is this: Everyone's skin is different. Therefore, everyone's skin responds to products differently. What works wonders for one may cause more breakouts and irritation for another. If you struggle with acne, it is worth your time to try out each and find your go-to ingredient or brand from the list below.
- Salicylic Acid - An anti-inflammatory ingredient that is also in aspirin (see the connection?). Although many over-the-counter skincare products include salicylic acid, you can also crush up aspirin, mix in water, and create a DIY face cleanser. In addition to being an anti-inflammatory, it also clears out pores, making it great for daily use to clean out any dirt, oil, bacteria and makeup. (Try any of these: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5)
- Benzoyl Peroxide - An anti-bacterial ingredient that works to increase cell turnover. This works better for many people rather than Salicylic Acid, and is also the primary ingredient in all ProActive products. The way that it works to increase cell turnover is by acting as a peeling agent, therefore drying up the skin. It is also a bleaching agent (which may explain all the bleach spots on your towels- trust me, I've had this problem for so long that I only use white towels now). (Try any of these: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6)
- Sulfur/Sulfuric Acid - Similar to benzoyl peroxide if not more so, sulfur is very drying and therefore is best to use for spot-treatment and masks only. I have used it for spot treating and have found that it works really well for me. The main downfall of this ingredient, as you can imagine, is the smell- yuck! (Try any of these: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7)
- Glycolic Acid - An ingredient derived from sugar that peels the top layer of the skin and reveals more glowy skin (versus a dull appearance). It is great for treating congested skin and targets clogged or enlarged pores because it is a chemical exfoliant. It also can help to reduce discoloration on the skin. (Try any of these: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6)
- Retinol/Retin-A - The harshest of them all, be sure to start with a lower percentage amount and work your way up. To differentiate between the two, Retin-A is a dermatologist-prescribed and stronger version of retinol. It is known to be the most effective skin peel and can therefore cause the skin to be red and appear pretty irritated. It engages in rapid cell turnover, making it most popular for decreasing signs of aging and sunspots. Similar to glycolic acid, it reveals more radiant skin since it is constantly peeling off dead skin cells. Since it is the strongest of the five, I recommend to not use this product on a daily-basis, to only use a pea size amount and to use it at night rather than in the morning. A quick warning to also make about this product is it makes your skin much more sensitive to the sun, so you should ALWAYS wear SPF when using retinol. (Try any of these: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5)
Some other skin-treating ingredients to try out are lactic acid, tea tree oil and clay-based masks. Many of these ingredients are often in combination with one of the above top 5. Some people find that owning each of these types of products is beneficial to use in different situations.
General brands I recommend: Neutrogena, Olay, Clean & Clear, Biore, Mario Badescu, REN, Peter Thomas Roth, Ole Henriksen, Murad, Kate Somerville.
Gentle/natural brands I recommend: Simple, Cetaphil, Burts Bees, LUSH, Michael Todd True Organics, Boscia, Origins, Korres, Caudalie, Philosophy
What are your favorite skincare products?