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How to Pick an Over-the-Counter Acne Product

By September 21, 2015May 9th, 2023Skin Care, Uncategorized


There are so many over-the-counter acne treatments at the drugstore or supermarket. They’re convenient and cost-effective, but will they really solve your acne problem? The right product will certainly help, especially in conjunction with a treatment program at The Dermatology Clinic. Here’s how to select a product that works for you.

Choose the Best Ingredients

Many over-the-counter acne treatments rely on a single active ingredient to fight acne. The most recommended ingredient to start with is benzoyl peroxide, which kills the bacteria that cause acne and comes in dosages as low as two percent. Salicylic acid, or beta hydroxy acid, clears your pores by exfoliating dead skin cells. Sulfur clears pores as well as suppressing the bacteria that cause acne.

Choose a Product Type

Benzoyl peroxide is available in washes, creams, gels, and cloths. Salicylic acid is available in washes, creams, facial scrubs, cloths, or cleansing pads. In either case, the danger is that the product may leave your skin too dry. This can be a problem in products containing common inactive ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids or retinol. Pads, toners, and gels may also be too drying. If dryness is a concern for you, lotions or ointments may be a better choice.

Sulfur is available in leave-on products and designed for use as a spot treatment, not to treat a large area of skin.

Change Your Regimen

No matter the product, you’ll get improved results if you make sure to moisturize twice daily, using a noncomedogenic or non-acnegenic brand. Use a non-foaming cleanser, which is gentler on your skin, only once a day, so that you don’t strip your skin of its natural oils. And be sure to use a noncomedogenic or non-acnegenic sunscreen when you head outside.

Remember, over-the-counter acne treatments can help, but they may not completely solve your problem. If you’ve tried OTC treatments, and your acne hasn’t been resolved, the board certified dermatologists at The Dermatology Clinic can help you find a solution that works for you.