7 Top Over The Counter Acne Treatments That Actually Work And Few You Should Avoid


Over the counter (OTC ) acne treatments can be gotten without a prescription and at any drug store, pharmacy or online skin outlet.

These over the counter acne treatment formulas are the first resort for persons who seek to get rid of a pimple or blackhead and they are usually successful in getting mild and moderate acne under control. Over the counter acne treatments are ideal for most persons because they are easily accessible, affordable and can be gotten without the hassles of seeing a dermatologist or any other specialist. In addition, they are great for most persons and for most people, present little side-effects.

The mentioned acne treatments work by limiting bacteria growth, inhibiting sebum production and encouraging the shedding of skin cells to unclog pores while working with a combination of these things. Some acne therapies come with side-effects so when trying out an acne treatment therapy, caution is the watchword. The key is to look for those ingredients proven to combat acne gently yet effectively.

Acne occurs when hormonal shifts cause an overproduction of oil and cells inside a skin follicle, forming a kind of biological bottleneck which plugs the opening of the pore and causes the follicle below to swell. This inflammation causes an overproduction of Propionibacterium acne, the bacteria normally found on the skin, producing irritating chemical substances that fuel the inflammation further.

Common Active Ingredients Found In Over The Counter Acne Products

Acne products work in different ways, depending on what ingredient they are made from. Below are common active ingredients found in over the counter acne treatment products and how they work:

#1 – Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl Peroxide is an organic compound in the peroxide family which unlike other oxygenating compounds is safe for use on the skin. Benzoyl peroxide works by introducing oxygen to P. acnes cells which kill them and also acts as a peeling agent, increasing skin turnover and keeping pores free of dead skin. It works on all kinds of acne but may not be an effective treatment for more severe cases.

Benzoyl peroxide should be used in concentrations of less than 5% to avoid irritation and dryness. Like sulfur, Benzoyl Peroxide tarnishes fabric and some persons may develop allergies during its use. It is also advised to avoid unnecessary sun exposure during its use. Benzoyl Peroxide is used at an ideal concentration of under 5% so as to avoid irritation and dryness which results in most skin types.

#2 – Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) which is a lipid or fat soluble. It was made originally from willow tree bark though now is usually man-made and is used to provide faster and more potent treatment for acne. It works by penetrating into the pore where the oil glands reside thus functioning as a powerful ally in unclogging (or exfoliating) sebum-clogged pores.

It is great for treating pimples, blackheads, whiteheads and large pores. It is a better choice for persons with dry or sensitive skin as it’s less irritating than acne treatments made from glycolic acid. It can be used in conjunction with benzoyl peroxide and isn’t an antibacterial treatment. This ingredient is best used at concentrations of 0.5- 2%.

#3 – Glycolic Acid

Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid derived from sugar cane. It is a natural anti-aging compound and works by breaking the bond between weak skin cells making it easier to exfoliate them and encourage the production of new skin cells. Glycolic acid gently exfoliates the upper layer of the skin, helping dislodge build up from clogged pores, improving the skin’s appearance and clarity over time.

Glycolic acid is best for treating large pores, blackheads, whiteheads and dark spots. Glycolic treatments may create redness of the skin on initial use but clear up after a few days and like salicylic acid, it isn’t antibacterial and can be used in conjunction with benzoyl peroxide. Glycolic acid makes the skin more prone to sunlight so the use of sunscreen is advised during its use. Glycolic acid is best used in concentrations of 8% as any higher concentration is advised only in extreme cases of acne.

#4 – Sulfur

Sulfur is a naturally occurring chemical element that has been used for acne treatment for centuries. It works by absorbing excess oil found on the surface of the skin and due to its antibacterial properties deep clean to remove dirt trapped beneath the pores. It generates a peeling effect on the skin’s surface and calms redness.

It is best for treating inflamed lesions, red spots, and clogged pores. If you have sensitive or extremely dry skin it’s advisable to incorporate other ingredients with sulfur use. Some persons may also find the smell of sulfur unpleasant and it can stain or tarnish fabric and gold or silver and jewelry.

#5 – Azealic Acid

Azealic acid is another popular ingredient found in most over the counter acne treatments. It usually comes in the form of a gel or a cream and has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It can be used as a cure for mild forms of acne but is most commonly used as a treatment for rosacea, a skin condition which affects about 14 million Americans which is characterized by patchy redness and inflammation on the cheek, nose, forehead and skin.

#6 – Topical Retinol

Although not as efficient as its powerful prescription-only alternative, this vitamin A derivative can be found in several over the counter acne treatment products. Retinol is used primarily for its anti-aging properties and it works by stimulating collagen production, reducing wrinkles, spots, and discoloration and exfoliating dead skin cells thus rejuvenating and improving the skin and prevents blemishes.

It is best for acne scars and clogged pores and works as an anti-aging formula. It is advised to start the use of retinol formulas slowly and avoid sun exposure during use.  Also, some retinol products contain ingredients that may clog pores thus it’s advised that you look for those designed for acne-prone skin.

#7 – Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is popular in vegan, original and other natural beauty lines. Sometimes labeled Melaleuca alternifoila leaf oil and is an essential oil that is extracted from the tree plant. Its mode of action is similar to benzoyl peroxide; it acts as an antiseptic, destroying the bacteria that cause acne. Although several studies have proven that tea tree oil is effective for acne treatment and with fewer side effects, you must know that it works at a much slower rate than its man-made counterparts.

It is an excellent treatment formula for persons of any skin type and is effective at concentrations of 5%. You must note however that the plant is not to be mistaken with the plant that is used to make the tree we drink as oil gotten from the tea tree, native to Australia, is poisonous and shouldn’t be ingested.

If you actually want to give a try to only one acne treatment product which contains most of the above-mentioned ingredients you should check out our Exposed Skin Care review at least to think about it as one option for you to try out. They offer amazing 1-year money back guarantee that is not offered by any other skin care company as far as we are informed and 98% of people who tried it got clearer skin.

Is Over The Counter Acne Treatment Actually The Best Choice For You?

A common snag with over the counter acne treatments is that you don’t get professional advice based on your type of acne, and this makes your skin a testing ground for all sorts of products until you get the right one. Over the counter acne treatment users thus have to be alert to possible side-effects and reactions with other skin care products.

Other common problems which may be encountered from the use of over the counter acne treatments are:

  1. Skin care companies are aware that customers are using their products without prescription hence they strive to ensure customers don’t have side effects after using their products and sometimes this leads to the creation of treatment formulas with relatively low levels of active ingredient which aren’t effective enough to get rid of acne.
  2. Over the counter acne products contain antibacterial and exfoliating ingredients like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, sulfur, and Azealic acid which when not used in their right formulas can be very irritating- causing skin dryness, peeling and redness or when they are combined might burn your skin even and leave your acne condition even worse.
  3. Another major problem with over the counter products is that many of them are loaded with pore-clogging ingredients hence while you are treating your acne, more outbreaks may be forming.
  4. Over the counter products also cause sensitivity to sunlight and cause stomach upset
  5. Over the counter product use for more than a few weeks may leave women prone to yeast infections.
  6. Over the counter products are mostly spot treatment products that only offer a temporary solution to acne and cannot eliminate the root cause of acne.
  7. Research has also linked over the counter products to the formation of carcinogenic cells

Over The Counter Acne Products That Probably Are Not Worth Your Money

  • Antioxidants Antioxidant treatments are great for acne-prone skins but they are very deadly because they wash the antioxidants down into your skin which excises cells found in the cell.
  • Cooling masques- They are made with medicinal clay and relieve itchy acne. They are however very expensive and almost any other clay can do the same thing for one-tenth of the price.
  • Dead sea salts and dead sea mud – While these products can soak up excess oil and tiny flakes of dead skin which usually block pores, the major causes of the most form of acne. There are however several cheaper products at par or better.
  • Medicated concealers – Unlike popularly thought, medicated concealers don’t contain any medication which reduces inflammation or kills acne causing bacteria. They do not harm the skin but they don’t help it either.

Few Points To Take Into Account If You Already Have Acne Scars Developed

The use of acne treatment creams comes with several side effects but there are several ways available to improve scars gotten from acne treatment use. Some of these procedures include dermabrasion, use of laser treatments, injection of fillers under the skin and chemical peeling. These products work by removing the scarred skin surface and exposing new skin layers. Dermatologists sometimes use glycolic acid and other chemical peels to loosen blackheads and decrease pimples. Before considering these treatments, however, it is advised you see a health practitioner who will educate you on precautionary measures and likely results.

Few Tips To Prevent Coming Acne Breakouts

Acne is associated with fluctuations in hormone levels hence there is no definite cure for it. Treatments available help minimize it and prevent future outbreaks. It is generally advised that more attention is paid to skin care, especially during adolescence and use of a good antibacterial soap for bathing is also recommended. Other ways you can prevent future outbreaks are:

  • Use of mild facial cleansers twice daily;
  • Use makeups that do not block skin pores (non-comedogenic);
  • Use a daily non-comedogenic body cream;
  • Avoid plucking or picking pimples as it can lead to scars and skin infections;
  • Avoid skin care products that have a gritty or rough surface as they may irritate the skin.

Recommendations For Persons Using Over The Counter Acne Treatments

Several over the counter acne products are available for the treatment of mild to moderate acne or periodic breakouts. They include gels, foams, cleansing lotions towelettes, leave on products and kits. Once you purchase any acne treatment formula over the counter it is advised you first do a test run on a patch of your skin to check for allergic reactions.

Thanks to relentless research efforts, over the counter acne treatment products, are working faster and better than before; however, if you have been using any formula for more than 8 weeks with little or no results then you would need to contact professionals and fill him or her with the product(s) you are currently using so they can tailor a regimen just perfect for you.