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Ingredients 2 min

Last Updated Nov 16, 2023

What ingredients should I look for in an acne treatment?

Author
|
Board-Certified Dermatologist
Dr. Muneeb Shah

In over-the-counter products, the best ingredients to look for are adapalene, salicylic acid, and benzoyl peroxide.

Acne is one of the most common skin conditions in the world, affecting nearly 50 million Americans every year. Depending on the severity, it can be difficult to treat and often requires a combination of treatments 


Salicylic Acid 

Salicylic acid helps exfoliate the surface of your skin, unclog pores, and reduce inflammation. It is one of the few exfoliating acids that is oil-soluble, meaning that it can get into your pores to eliminate acne. Salicylic acid can be found as a leave-on product or as a cleanser - both options are effective at treating acne. 


Benzoyl Peroxide 

Benzoyl peroxide is an antibacterial agent that kills acne-causing bacteria, decrease inflammation, and helps to exfoliate the skin. Benzoyl peroxide can be found as a leave-on product or as a cleanser - both options are effective at treating acne. 


Retinoids 

Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives that help speed up cell turnover, decrease skin cell “stickiness,” decrease inflammation, and control oil production. Adapalene is the only FDA-approved acne retinoid available over-the-counter. Use a pea-size amount over the entire face at night and wait 2-3 months to see results.                                

    Doctor's Note

    In over-the-counter products, look for: 

    Adapalene 0.1%

    Salicylic acid 0.5-2%

    Benzoyl peroxide 2.5-10%

    See your board-certified dermatologist for prescription strength treatments that are even more effective to treat acne

    The Research

    https://www.jaad.org/article/s0190-9622(15)02614-6/fulltext

    Dr. Muneeb Shah

    Board-Certified Dermatologist

    Dr. Muneeb Shah headshot

    Dr. Muneeb Shah

    Board-Certified Dermatologist

    Dr. Muneeb Shah is a double Board-Certified Dermatologist and Micrographic Dermatologic Surgeon in Hudson Yards, New York. He is passionate about educating the public on common skin issues and has accrued a following of 21+ million across his social media platforms on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube.

    Location: New York City, NY

    Doctor's Note

    In over-the-counter products, look for: 

    Adapalene 0.1%

    Salicylic acid 0.5-2%

    Benzoyl peroxide 2.5-10%

    See your board-certified dermatologist for prescription strength treatments that are even more effective to treat acne

    The Research

    https://www.jaad.org/article/s0190-9622(15)02614-6/fulltext

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