If you are considering purchasing one of the acne-fighting systems on the market, you might be wondering about the ingredients. Are they safe? Do they work? Which one is best?

There are a few staple ingredients that are most often used in acne-fighting products. Here is a list of five over-the-counter ingredients known for their ability to tackle even the most severe acne.  

Salicylic Acid: Also known as BHA. This ingredient is one of the two most popular and most effective acne-fighting ingredients. It works best when used on skin that is prone to clogged pores or blackheads. It works as an exfoliator, helping acne-prone skin by encouraging faster cell turnover. Salicylic Acid can penetrate the skin’s follicle, which helps to clear out the clogged pores, thus reducing the life of the blackhead.

Benzyl Peroxide: This is the other most popular ingredient in over-the-counter products. Benzyl Peroxide products work by first, exfoliating the skin and then killing the bacteria that is causing your acne. It works best on people who have pus-filled acne instead of blackheads. Note that Benzyl Peroxide can leave your skin dry, flaky and sensitive. A little goes a long way!

Alpha-Hydroxy Acid: Also called AHA’s, are molecules naturally occurring in the sugars of fruit and milk. The two most common AHA’s to look for in the ingredient list are Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid. AHA’s are used more often in anti-aging products, but can sometimes be found in some anti-acne products as well. Like Salicylic Acid, Alpha-Hydroxy Acid helps promote faster skin cell turnover. Your skin is more sensitive to sunburn when using AHA’s, so be sure to wear SPF when using AHA products.

Tea Tree Oil: Tea tree oil is an essential oil that has antibacterial properties and helps control oil. It is used for many things outside of acne treatment, but it is an effective acne-fighting ingredient. You can find skin care lines devoted to tea tree oil’s effectiveness or you can buy the tea tree oil itself. It is very important to note that you must do your research on using the oil if you want to go the DIY route. Most essential oils cannot be used on the skin alone.

Sulfur: Another common acne-fighting ingredient is sulfur. Sulfur works in two ways; causing your skin to peel and then literally drying out the skin, or, if used as a spot treatment, the pimple itself. It’s known to smell pretty horrible, but it is one of the oldest remedies around.