Among the common ways people deal with acne is using an acne face wash regularly. It keeps the skin clean and healthy and helps treat and prevent acne. However, looking for the best acne face wash for adults is almost as difficult as looking for the Holy Grail. When you search the net or scrounge through products in a store, the plethora of products available can be overwhelming. More often than not, you have no other recourse than to perform countless trials and errors until you find the perfect product for you.
You can narrow down your choices, so you wouldn’t have to spend a lifetime on a crusade, by obtaining a bit more in-depth knowledge about what to look for in skincare products—what they do, and which ones are best for your specific skin type.
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.
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.
Another way to narrow down your list of acne kits for adults is to identify your skin type and the severity of your acne. Most people who suffer from acne have oily or combination skin, although even those who have dry skin may have bouts of acne. Those with sensitive skin may require specially formulated medication. So, how do you determine which skin type you have?
Find your skin type
The best way to identify your skin type is to go to a dermatologist for a proper assessment. A doctor can also easily classify and identify the severity of your acne. But, you can also do a few skin type tests and observations.
Oil blot test
Wash your face, leave it bare, and then, after one hour, do a simple oil blot test using a piece of tissue. Dab the tissue on your forehead and nose first. If there’s no oil and your face feels tight, you most likely have dry skin. If there’s any sign of oil, you have either oily skin or combination skin. Oily skin will feel greasy after a few hours.
Amount of shine
Stand in front of a mirror with good lighting. If your face is shiny all over, you have oily skin. If only some parts, particularly the forehead and nose, are shiny, you have combination skin. If you see red and flaky patches, you have dry or sensitive skin.
Touch and feel
Dry skin tends to feel taut right after cleansing, while oily skin tends to feel cleaner. If your cheeks feel taut while your T-zone feels clean, you have combination skin. If your skin reacts to most of the products you have tried, you have sensitive skin.
Choose the most appropriate wash
Once you have determined your skin type, you can now choose the most appropriate facial wash for it. If you have oily skin, gel-based and foaming cleansers are the most effective solutions for stripping away excess oil and clearing pores. But if your skin tends to be dry, avoid foaming cleansers, as they can dry the skin even more. Instead, choose cleansers that contain glycerin and hyaluronic acid. These ingredients help draw moisture to the surface. You can also try cream or milk cleansers that provide intense moisturization.
If you have combination skin, opt for water-soluble cleansers that are either gel-based or mildly foaming. For sensitive skin, choose only fragrance-free products. Even botanicals or plant-based fragrances can cause irritation. Also look for those with glycerin, which protects and hydrates the skin without any side effects.
Acne skin care sets should always come with instructions on proper use and dosage. If they don’t have any, you may want to cross them off your list. If you’re opting to mix and match products instead of purchasing a kit, follow this sequence for your daily skincare regimen:
Gently cleanse your face using the face wash you have chosen to be the most appropriate for your skin. Use your fingertips to apply the cleanser and gently massage it for 30 to 60 seconds. Carefully rinse with lukewarm to warm water. Make sure that the water is never too hot that it irritates your skin. Pat–not rub–your face dry with a soft towel. Do this twice daily: once in the morning and once before bedtime.
Since most acne kits are targeted towards people with oily skin, they often come with toners that help deliver antioxidants, vitamins, and other ingredients that can help restore skin pH after cleansing. Alcohol-based toners tend to strip oils and dry out skin though, so it might be wise to choose water-based toners instead.
For cystic acne or severe acne, spot treatment may be necessary and should be used before applying any other product on the skin. Most products for spot treatment contain high concentrations of salicylic acid and/or benzoyl peroxide, which would be less effective if used on top of creams or other skin products.
Whatever skin type you have, and even if your skin is oily, you need to keep your skin moisturized. You may want to opt for water-based or oil-free moisturizers though. Do this step while your skin is still a bit damp so your skin can lock in more hydration.
Your last step for your morning regimen should always be applying sunscreen. It is essential to protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun. There are products that combine the effects of moisturizers and sunscreens, so you can also consider those to simplify your regimen.
Your quest for the best acne face wash may be long and frustrating, but there are plenty of products out there that would be suitable for your needs. Keep in mind that consistency is important when finding out whether a product works or not. Do not expect overnight miracles, but be consistent in your use of a product until you see visible results. If there is still no improvement after a few months, consider trying another product or seeking a skincare professional for advice.
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