Skin Tip 101: Acne
Now let me put this out there for you, because the products worked so well for me, I mean I have real personal results, I became a consultant for this brand so that I could get the products at the cheapest possible price. Because I don’t know about you, but if someone tells me there is a pretty simple way to get my every day necessities at a cheaper price and there are no draw backs then SIGN ME UP!!
There are 3 main topical acne-fighting ingredients:
salicylic acid, and
Did you know that each does a different thing? Here’s a little summary to explain the differences.
Benzoyl Peroxide kills the bacteria that causes acne (the bacteria is called P. acnes, which stands for Propionibacterium acnes). It works by releasing oxygen into the pore, which kills the bacteria because it cannot live in the presence of oxygen.
You will see Benzoyl Peroxide products at up to a 10% concentration, but be careful if you use a product that contains more than a 2.5% concentration. It can irritate pores, causing inflammation – exactly what you don’t want to do if you have a breakout!! (An active breakout is a case of full blown inflammation.)
Sulfur also kills bacteria. Like Benzoyl Peroxide, it is an ingredient considered a drug (i.e. active ingredient) that is regulated by the FDA. Max concentration is 2% (for OTC).
Salicylic Acid exfoliates inside a pore, which loosens up a clog and allows sebum to flow out more freely. It does not kill bacteria but has an antibacterial effect (e.g. inhibits their growth).
Salicylic Acid comes in a range of concentrations, sometimes as low as 0.25%, and up to a maximum of 2%. Like Benzoyl Peroxide and Sulfur, it is also a regulated drug ingredient. This means the concentration should be stated on the label.
Willowbark is a gentle plant-derived alternative to Salicylic Acid but is weaker. This is the ingredient that appears in many natural/organic brands.
Which Ingredient Should You Use?
If you have acne, it is recommended to include at least two:
– Benzoyl Peroxide or Sulfur (to kill bacteria)
– Salicylic Acid (to unclog pores)
If you have blackheads but no breakouts, you need only one:
– Salicylic Acid (to unclog pores)
Why do we love Sulfur so much?
Sulfur is a naturally occurring amino rich mineral that can be found in high concentrations around hot springs and volcanic regions. This mineral is also present in our bodies. Our hair, skin and nails contain high concentrations of the ingredient since they contain keratin, which is rich in sulfur compounds. “Sulfur has both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, making it useful in skin care,” says Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City “It can help reduce levels of acne causing bacteria on the skin, which explains its effect in treating acne.”
What makes sulfur so special is that it combines the benefits of other major acne fighters like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid into one singular product. Benzoyl peroxide helps kill acne by inhibiting the growth of acne-causing bacteria and salicylic acid works by deep cleaning pores. Sulfur does both because it’s an effective antibacterial agent that also helps to slough off dead skin cells. This is all thanks to its keratolytic activity. This essentially means that when sebum and acne block your pores and the skin cannot properly shed the excess dead skin cells, sulfur helps by regulating that process through the breaking down of the keratin.
Plus, it’s a more gentle alternative to benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid so those with more sensitive skin will want to give it a try. “It’s non-irritating, making it useful even in people with extremely sensitive skin,” says Zeichner. “Sulfur can be combined with products that contain benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid for optimal results in treating acne.”
The Klog has a great article that highlights the benefits of sulfur, especially for sensitive skin people.
So why is this important to you as a person struggling with acne?