What to Look for in an Acne Face Wash
For any product that you’ll use on your face, it is important to choose those that are non-comedogenic, non-acnegenic, and fragrance-free. Then, scrutinize their active ingredients and formulation to make sure they are safe and suitable for your skin.
- Medicated or non-medicated
Those with moderate to severe acne may need to use medicated face wash to treat their skin condition. A medicated face wash can kill bacteria and prevent pimples from developing again. Non-medicated ones, meanwhile, would be enough for people with mild acne or those who simply need to cleanse their skin to minimize breakouts.
Most non-medicated acne face wash use natural ingredients, such as tea tree oil or neem, which have antibacterial properties. If you have sensitive skin with mild acne, you can consider organic skincare products that are chemical-free and fragrance-free.
The first thing you should note in a medicated product is its key active ingredients. Here are the most common ones used in anti-acne products:
Salicylic acid is the main component in most acne treatment for adults due to its efficacy in preventing clogged pores and its fairly minimal side effects. It penetrates into the skin and dissolves dead skin cells that clog pores and cause acne. This makes it the most effective ingredient for dealing with blackheads and whiteheads.
Skincare products contain as little as 0.5% to as much as 5% salicylic acid. The concentration you’ll need depends on the severity of your acne. Do note that you might experience mild stinging or slight skin irritation when you begin using salicylic acid.
In killing bacteria that cause acne, benzoyl peroxide is among the most effective substances. It eliminates and stops the spread of bacteria and removes oil and dead skin cells. Because of its antibacterial properties, benzoyl peroxide works well on moderate acne, especially cystic ones.
However, it has a few side effects, including scaling, redness, dry skin, and some burning and stinging sensation. It can even bleach hair and clothing. So, be wary of using high concentrations immediately. Start with the lowest dose available, which is 2.5%, then increase concentration gradually.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA)
AHAs are derived from natural substances, such as milk and fruits. They not only remove dead skin cells and reduce inflammation, but they also stimulate the growth of new skin. Hence, with AHA products, you can get a much-improved skin tone, smoother skin, and smaller pores. They may not be as potent as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, but they can effectively reduce inflammation and minimize pores. The most usual AHAs used in skin products are glycolic acid and lactic acid. Their exfoliating properties are recommended for sun-damaged and scarred skin.
With antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, sulfur works pretty much the same way as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide do. It reduces acne-causing bacteria and excess sebum, and it removes dead skin cells. However, it isn’t always as effective for severe acne. It might be best for mild acne and sensitive skin.
Always choose a cleanser that’s specifically formulated for the face and not the body. The face and the neck have thinner and more sensitive skin that can easily be irritated by harsh concentrations of body cleansers.
Use medicated face wash that contain benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, or salicylic acid to reduce breakouts and remove pore blockages. But if you are already using an adult acne treatment medication, you may want to opt for non-medicated face wash instead, unless your dermatologist recommends otherwise.
Aside from antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, also look for moisturizing and hydrating qualities. Humectants, such as glycerin, stimulate moisture production, while emollients, such as ceramides and lanolin, help retain moisture. These ingredients counter the drying effect of most acne treatments.
Depending on your skin condition, other ingredients you should consider in your face wash are aloe and chamomile (to soothe irritation), peptides (to make skin firmer), retinol (to minimize wrinkles), and vitamin C (to improve skin glow).
Skin cleansers come in various forms, including bars, gels, and lotions. Some say that bar soaps disrupt the skin barrier and leads to irritation, so they shouldn’t be used on the face at all. However, there are bar soaps that are mild enough for use even on the most sensitive skin.
Gel cleansers have a thick consistency and are often used for deep cleansing. They are able to unclog pores and remove bacteria and excess oil from the skin surface. Foam cleansers, alternatively, are light and airy. They do not disrupt the skin’s protective barrier and are usually gentler and easier to rinse off.
All forms of cleansers basically work in a similar way, so your choice comes down to personal preference. You can choose the type you’re most comfortable with. Just make sure it is specifically formulated for the face and contains no harsh chemicals.