Dealing with acne-prone skin can be extremely frustrating. No matter what you try – from over-the-counter cleansers to expensive creams – it seems impossible to get a handle on frequent breakouts.
However, there is hope. Many effective acne solutions are readily available at your local pharmacy’s skin care aisle. Understanding which ingredients target different causes of acne can help you find the best pharmacy skincare products for your unique skin.
What Causes Acne In The First Place?
Before diving into what acne products to use, it’s important to understand what’s causing the skin to break out in the first place. Acne forms when dead skin cells, bacteria, and sebum become trapped deep within hair follicles. This clogs pores and leads to swelling, red bumps, whiteheads, and painful pimples.
There are a few key factors that drive this process:
Excess Oil Production: When oil glands are overactive, they produce too much sebum. This thick, sticky substance easily mixes with dead skin cells and bacteria to block follicles.
Bacteria Growth: The skin is covered in bacteria, most of which are harmless. However, certain strains can promote inflammation and infection deep in clogged follicles. Common acne-causing bacteria include propionibacterium acnes.
Inflammation: Swelling around a clogged follicle from bacteria and irritation ultimately forms a large, red pimple. This inflammation can also spread to nearby follicles.
Once you understand what’s going on beneath the skin’s surface, finding the right pharmacy acne solutions becomes much easier.
Cleansers – Remove Surface Oil And Bacteria
Washing your face is the foundation of any good skincare routine – especially if you struggle with acne. Cleansing twice daily removes excess oil, makeup, dead skin, and other debris that would otherwise mix with sebum and clog pores. However, you can’t just use any old soap. Dermatologists recommend gentle cleansers that won’t strip or dry skin.
Look for the following acne-fighting ingredients:
– Salicylic Acid: This beta hydroxy acid penetrates deep into pores, dissolving oil, bacteria, and built-up dead skin. It also encourages cell turnover to prevent future clogs.
– Benzoyl Peroxide: In addition to killing acne-causing bacteria, benzoyl peroxide promotes drying and peeling to keep pores clear.
– Sulfur: This ingredient blocks sebum production and serves as a mild antibacterial to inhibit breakouts.
Some cleansers combine ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide to combat acne on multiple fronts. Massaging one of these pharmacy acne washes over damp skin for 60 seconds then rinsing keeps pores clear.
Toners – Clear Out Lef over Impurities
After cleansing, trace amounts of dirt, bacteria, and old skin cells likely still linger. Swiping an alcohol-free toner over your face with a cotton ball removes these residual impurities from pores so they can’t contribute to new breakouts.
Many pharmacy toners specially formulated for acne prone skin include key ingredients like:
– Witch Hazel: This botanical extract controls oil production and prevents inflammation with antioxidant and astringent properties.
– Glycolic Acid: Speeding up cellular turnover, glycolic acid keeps pores clear of dead skin buildup.
Look for an alcohol-free toner containing witch hazel, glycolic acid, or other acne-fighting ingredients to fully clear pores after washing.
Spot Treatments – Combat Early Breakouts
Sometimes a pimple pops up seemingly overnight. Having a potent spot treatment on hand helps zap these early breakouts fast. Dabbing on a small amount at the first sign of a developing blemish can make it disappear by morning. Spot treatments typically feature one hero ingredient:
– Benzoyl Peroxide: The ultimate pimple-fighting ingredient, benzoyl peroxide eliminates infection-causing bacteria while peeling away dead skin and trapping debris inside pores. Fast-acting spot treatments contain higher concentrations to get the job done.
– Salicylic Acid: This acne warrior clears away oil, bacteria, and skin buildup deep within congested follicles – perfect for shrinking emerging pimples fast.
Grab a tube containing a high dose of benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or other anti-acne active. Having it in your medicine cabinet means never dealing with a full-blown breakout again.
Serums – Hydrate While Treating Acne
One downside of many acne products is how excessively drying they can be – causing flaky, irritated skin. However, skipping moisture entirely can also make breakouts worse by kicking oil glands into high production.
The solution is an oil-free, non-comedogenic hydrating serum specially formulated for acne prone skin. Pharmacy acne serums add lightweight moisture back into the skin without clogging pores or promoting new pimples. Many contain additional acne-fighting ingredients like niacinamide and antioxidants as well.
After cleansing and using any treatment products, smooth a pea-sized drop of a hydrating acne serum over the skin. Follow with your regular moisturizer.
Moisturizers – Maintain A Healthy Moisture Barrier
Hydrating your face adequately remains critical for controlling acne – even when you have very oily skin. Without proper moisturization, your skin ramps up oil production leading to more clogged pores and breakouts.
Look for an oil-free moisturizer designed specifically for acne prone skin types. These lotions utilize non-comedogenic oils that sink into the skin and deliver hydration without blocking pores. Many also contain beneficial ceramides to repair your skin’s natural moisture barrier.
Apply your moisturizer as the final step in both morning and evening routines. If your skin feels too greasy, switch to a lighter, gel-based formula.
Masks & Peels – Increase Cell Turnover
When used once or twice weekly, masks and peels supercharge your daily acne regimen’s effectiveness. By speeding up cell turnover, these boosters reveal fresh, clear skin. They also de-gunk congested pores to stop existing pimples in their tracks.
Look for the following acne-clearing superstar ingredients:
– Sulfur: In addition to controlling excess oil and fighting bacteria, sulfur removes dead skin buildup that traps debris in pores.
– Glycolic & Salicylic Acid Combo: Two of the best chemical exfoliants, glycolic and salicylic work hand-in-hand removing surface debris while dissolving deep pore gunk.
Use an acne-targeting mask or peel once or twice per week. Slowly add them into your routine and discontinue if your skin becomes irritated.
A Complete Acne Skincare Routine With Pharmacy Products
Building an effective system for stubborn acne prone skin means combining products that each serve a distinct purpose. With the numerous over-the-counter solutions at your local drugstore’s fingertips, you have everything you need.
Follow this complete daily routine for optimal results:
- Cleanse with a Salicylic Acid Wash
- Tone skin with Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel Toner
- Apply Vitamin C Serum
- Moisturize with Oil-Free Lotion
- Cleanse with Benzoyl Peroxide Face Wash
- Spot treat new pimples
- Apply Hydrating Serum with Niacinamide
- Moisturize with Oil-Free Lotion
- Twice Per Week: Use Glycolic Acid Peel
This comprehensive pharmacy skincare regimen attacks acne from all angles – removing excess oil, killing bacteria, preventing inflammation and clogged pores, encouraging cell turnover, and properly hydrating skin. While it may take 6-8 weeks to see significant improvements, sticking with this multi-pronged approach transforms even the most stubborn breakout-prone complexions.
You don’t need expensive medical treatments or prescription-strength formulas to achieve clear skin. In fact, your local drugstore offers everything you need to successfully fight even the most stubborn acne woes. By understanding what causes pimples in the first place and then combining products targeting each element – from oil production to bacteria growth – you finally gain control over frequent flare-ups. With a little trial-and-error finding products your skin best responds to, building an effective acne-fighting system is easy with widely available pharmacy finds.