In this article you will touch on a lot of ingredients used today in skin care products.
1. Benzoyl peroxide
First and foremost, is benzoyl peroxide. This is probably the dermatologists' favourite acne treatment ingredient and it is most traditionally used and most commonly used in a lot of acne skincare products. So let's take a look at how it actually works.
As soon as you apply the benzoyl peroxide on the skin, it breaks down into two different components- one is benzoic acid and another part is oxygen and this oxygen part is what makes it a little bit interesting or what makes the entire antibacterial, anti-inflammatory effect. Bacteria thrives in an oxygen less environment and as soon as your pores get clogged it kind of creates that oxygen less environment which is very favourable and warm for the bacteria to grow and flourish. This is when the white blood cells in our systems come to the rescue and really attack these bacteria and then that is what causes the entire inflammatory response leading to white pus and the cystic acne. The oxidized action of the benzoyl peroxide is what destroys the bacteria and can disrupt the entire activity of white blood cells. In a way it is very anti-inflammatory. Benzoyl peroxide is known to be effective from 2.5% all the way up to 10%. There are various different concentrations in the market for you to choose from however there are some researchers saying that 2.5% is as good enough as using the 10% concentration with much lower irritation. One is highly recommended to start with a lower percentage and use it only on the spots or on the area that one has cystic acne on.The side effect can be serious
- Irritation and
- Damaged and weakened skin barrier
There is another commonly used ingredient in a lot of conventional acne skin care products and you guessed it right, it is BHA or salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is basically a fat soluble chemical exfoliant that is originally derived from willow bark tree but nowadays it is mostly synthesized in the lab and since BHA is oil soluble it has the ability to really go down deep inside the pore, clearing out the gunk in the pore lining so therefore you can definitely see improved blackheads or whiteheads. Also, salicylic acid is known to have a mild anti-inflammatory effect as well. Fun fact, oil soluble ingredients penetrate deeper than water soluble ingredients or water-based ingredients. Salicylic acid is also a keratolytic agent as well. It just basically means that it allows the thickened and really scaly plaque of skin to shed more easily. In conventional products the maximum concentration that you will find is 2% and while these products might not be able to clear up your acne directly it can somewhat help these symptoms by unclogging the pore and also promoting the skin cellular turnover.Side effects might be a
- mild dryness
- the irritation
- profile seems to be pretty low and it is known to be well tolerated to the majority of the population out there however if you are a breastfeeding mom or if you are pregnant if you are allergic to aspirin or if you do have rosacea salicylic acid is not for you.
Next we have the royal family called retinoid also known as vitamin A family. Mainly for anti-acne purposes there are two most common vitamin A ingredients that are commonly used which are tretinoin and adapalene. Adapalene is even available over-the-counter and you can just buy it without any prescription in the United States. Mainly retinoids clear up acne by helping regulate cell turnover. In case your skin was kind of too lazy to turn over and to shed off that skin cells vitamin A is more like a personal trainer that just gets your skin moving. It doesn't really give your skin a chance to even clog the pore and also normalizes the keratinization process. Additionally, vitamin A can help regulate the sebum production as well. Side effects can be quite major and depends on the kind of ingredient that you're using.
4. Azelaic acid
Next on the list is azelaic acid. Azelaic acid is one of the most underrated active ingredient when it comes to clearing up acne and also clearing of fungal acne. The exact mechanism of how it actually works on the skin is not fully studied yet however it is quite similar to how retinoids work on the skin. It promotes the skin cellular turnover with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. And some degree there are even a lot of resources backing up its skin brightening effect. It is known to be used from the concentration of 10% and above. Azelaic acid is especially a good news for those who can't use benzoyl peroxide, retinoids and salicylic acid particularly if one's breastfeeding or is pregnant and also someone who has rosacea.