Finding the best acne soap can be a long and frustrating process that leaves you thinking that you will be forced to deal with acne for the rest of your life. I know that I personally went through over ten different brands before I found one that did the trick for me. This even included some high powered prescription acne soaps that did nothing more than dry out my face completely.
The first thing I want to make clear is that you should completely avoid using regular bars of soap on your face, when trying to get rid of acne. This will most likely be ineffective, and could potentially make things worse, depending on the type of soap used. Some bars of soap contain substances with a similar chemical makeup of the oils naturally produced by our skin. If this is the case they can get into the pores and contribute to worsening the acne.
Another reason to avoid soaps not specifically designed to deal with acne is because they can significantly irritate the skin. Most of these bars will dry out your face much more than necessary. This will cause your skin to flake, which means more dead skin cells that can potentially clog up your pores. Soaps that have scents and fragrances have often been reported to irritate sensitive skin.
My guess would be that if you are reading this article, you have already tried a few different acne soaps or washes in the past. If they worked at all it was probably only for a few days, and the acne came back just as bad as ever. Many acne soaps that you find in the supermarket or convenience store that claim to be good for acne do not contain ingredients that do much for the problem, or contain good ingredients at levels too low to be effective. However, just because a product is super expensive does not mean that it is necessarily a good acne soap.
The best way to find a product that really works for you, is to learn about what the different ingredients do, and then try to find the right combination that works well for you. Here is a list of some of the most popular ingredients you will read on labels of acne washes and soaps, and a little bit of info on how they work.
Common Ingredients Found in Acne Soaps and Washes
Salicylic Acid – In my book this is the most effective ingredient I have found to date. Salicylic acid serves to exfoliate the skin, and is one of the few compounds that can actually penetrate the follicle and do its work clearing out the pore from the inside. The strength of the products vary, usually from .5% to 2%. Stronger versions are available, but do not try those until you have exhausted all other options and consulted a dermatologist.
Benzoyl Peroxide – An acne wash can contain benzoyl peroxide, but it is often applied as a cream, immediately after you wash your face. The bacteria that cause acne cannot live in an environment of oxygen, and the benzoyl peroxide introduces this oxygen into the pore. Over time this kills off the bacteria, and should help clear your face up nicely. 2.5% is the recommended strength that people start with, but it is also available in 5% and 10%. This product will likely dry your face out, so make sure to have a good moisturizer.
Tea-Tree Oil – This is usually the ingredient that is used to replace the two mentioned above, when people are looking for a product with all natural ingredients. Tea tree oil has natural anti-bacterial properties, and some people claim that it is equally as effective as benzoyl peroxide. Many who claim this also say that it has no side effects, which simply is not true. I will not dispute that tea tree oil for acne can work, many people have had great results with it. However, using it will still likely result in dry skin similar to that from benzoyl peroxide use.
Glycerin – This can be a great component in a soap to help moisturize the skin. However, some acne washes contain only this and aloe vera. This may work to give you nice skin if you have no to very mild acne, but without other ingredients it likely will not do much else.
Aloe Vera – Great as a moisturizer and as a way to repair the damage acne causes on your skin. It will also go a long way in preventing scarring. It will not do much to treat acne on its own, but it should be something that is used alongside the other treatments.