When it comes to health and beauty, finding the solutions to our problems is always easy. You can find a lot of information about the causes of acne, the best treatments, including natural remedies for acne and how to prevent an outbreak.
If you want, you can also search for treatments that don’t work for acne scars. All this information is helpful to some extent. But with so much acne content available in online platforms, you may end up getting contradicting information which makes the whole process of finding the best solution to your acne woes overwhelming.
For instance, you may find out that certain ingredients like sulfur, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and certain oils can work wonders in preventing acne breakouts. It is, however, possible to try all these remedies without solving the problem.
In fact, some of these ingredients may even make the situation worse.
So, the real question is, do acne-fighting products help in the treatment and prevention of acne, or do they end up worsening the situation?
Lets us find out and you might want to pin this post for future reference.
Do Acne Treatments Really Work?
Speaking of acne treatments, you can get a wide range of them in the market but finding the one that can work well for you may not be easy.
What you need to know is that there are plenty of acne products that are proven to be very effective. But this does not mean that all the treatments will work well for you.
There are treatments that are specifically designed for a certain skin type, which means that when another person uses them, they may not achieve any good results.
But even before getting to why these products may not work, here are some of the acne treatment options available:
1. Topical acne treatments
These acne treatments are usually applied directly to the skin. They include creams, gels, and cleansers. The treatments work by reducing oil or killing bacteria (1).
The common acne-fighting ingredients in these products include salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. I have already discussed the different topical treatments in my other post
2. Laser Therapies
Some dermatologists also recommend laser therapy for fighting acne scars, but this depends on your condition.
For instance, the treatment can be a good option for pimples, but they may not work well for whiteheads and blackheads.
Laser therapies are still under research to find out if they are effective for mild and moderate acne scar cases (2).
3. Oral Medication
This is actually interesting and very few people may be aware of it. There are certain birth control pills that are a perfect remedy to acne, especially when the breakout is caused by hormonal imbalance.
This treatment is more effective in case of women but comes with some side effects including headache and breast tenderness (3).
The medication works by altering the body’s hormonal imbalance to reduce testosterone, which is the male hormone.
Why Your Acne Treatment Doesn’t Work
At times, you may end up using an acne treatment product only to realize that the ingredients don’t work, or worse still, the outbreak increase. This is always frustrating, but the good news is that there are ways you can resolve the situation.
As earlier stated, the product may not work because it is not designed for your skin type.
Here are some other reasons why the acne treatment you are using does not work as expected.
You are using the wrong ingredients
As much as you can recognize the different type of acne treatments by name, you may not really know how they work, or what exactly they can do to the skin.
Well, most of the products you find on the internet or your local beauty store are actually used to treat acne break out, but what you need to know is that these treatments work differently depending on the skin type.
What works well for moderate skin may not be a good option for mild skin and so on.
For example, benzoyl peroxide is an antimicrobial that is known to eliminate or kill acne-causing bacteria. It can come in handy if you want to treat pustules and papules (large inflamed bumps).
This means that if you are dealing with whiteheads or blackheads, benzoyl peroxide may not be the best treatment option for you and you should, therefore, consider another acne treatment that works well for your situation.
Since whiteheads and blackheads occur when you have a blocked pore caused by excessive sebum production, you should consider sulfur or salicylic acid for the treatment considering that these products help in skin exfoliation (4).
You Are Using Too Many Ingredients
Acne breakouts are not just annoying but disgusting too. If you are not careful, you may end up trying different types of treatment just to ensure that the problem goes away once and for all.
Well, this can be very dangerous. There are some ingredients that tend to be drying, and overusing them can irritate or dry the skin, which can worsen the breakout.
If we go back to salicylic acid as an acne treatment, the ingredient works by unclogging the pores.
However, it is is also a mild chemical irritant acting as a drying agent. When used too much, it can cause redness of the skin or flaking.
Other ingredients like sulfur and benzoyl peroxide also have the same effects (5).
Salicylic acid also has the same ingredients as aspirin. This means that you should avoid using products with this ingredient if you are allergic to aspirin.
Considering that most acne treatments are also drying agent, are there any alternatives?
This is the very reason you should visit a dermatologist when you see severe acne breakout.
Short contact therapy
The best way to use acne treatments that contain benzoyl peroxide is by trying short contact therapy.
This means that should apply the acne treatment as directed by the physician and wash it off with the use of a gentle cleanser rather than going to bed with the treatment on your face.
The product should only stay on your face for a few minutes, and that is enough for you to get the desired results without experiencing any side effects.
According to studies, short contact application of certain acne treatments (like sodium benzoyl) works the same way as leaving the product on your face for a longer period of time. But how frequently should you use the product?
At first, you should only use acne treatments containing salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and sulfur for up to three times a week.
The application should gradually increase until you apply them once a day, as your skin tolerates.
If the cleansing product requires rinsing off, then you can use them once or twice a day. This is because such products are more readily tolerated. This, however, is an exception to those with sensitive skin, who should only restrict their usage to one application per day.
If you are using masks, apply the product at least once a week, and its usage should not be more than three times a week since this can cause drying of the skin.
You Are Not Using Them Enough
Overusing ace treatments has some negative effects, but not using enough of the ingredients is also advised against. For instance, it may take some time to see results if you are using a retinoid.
In fact, the condition may get worse before it eases up when you are using a product with this ingredient.
Most people who use retinoid state that their acne increased at first, after which the skin was normalized and the acne improved.
The time taken for the acne to completely heal varies from one person to another. This is because everyone’s skin is different.
Some of the conditions heal within a few days, while others can take weeks. It is therefore important to continue using the product even if you do not notice any positive results. Eventually, the condition will resolve itself.
Experts advise that retinoids should be used continuously if you want to see the benefits.
Sticking to your treatment is imperative for acne prevention. When starting out, you should only use retinoids for three nights per week and gradually increase the usage to a nightly basis.
You also should note that sunscreen is important when you are using retinoids, regardless of the applied amount. This is because retinoids tend to be less effective when exposed to direct sunlight.
They also make the skin more sensitive during sun exposure.
They Are Not Working Well Together
Trying everything at once is not always a good option, and especially when it comes to acne prevention and treatment. Generally, you should avoid combining different types of acne ingredients to prevent irritating or drying out the skin.
This, however, does not mean that you shouldn’t use two ingredients once your skin adjusts.
Actually, combining ingredients that target the problem differently can work better. It is, therefore, possible to add an extra ingredient in your usual product and still achieve the best results. Still, ensure that you use these ingredients separately.
For instance, you can use one in the morning and another in the evening. This reduces the risk or irritation.
You also should remember that apart from other ingredients that are generally safe to use together once your skin adjusts, retinoids and salicylic acid should never be combined, because the efficiency of retinoids is usually reduced by acidic ingredients.
You Are Allergic To The Ingredients
Ingredients like salicylic acid and retinoids are rarely allergic. But still, there are people whose skin are sensitive to the ingredients and this can lead to a reaction.
If for instance the skin is irritated by retinoids, you may end up getting the red, dry peeling rashes, which are referred to as retinoid dermatitis. This, however, occurs with the incorrect use of retinoids.
To reduce or avoid the irritation, start with small quantities of the product, and gradually increase your application.
There are however several other acne-fighting ingredients which can lead to allergic reactions. These include tea tree oil and benzoyl peroxide.
If you have been using these products and experience redness, itchy rashes or swelling on your skin, you should tell at once that these are the effects of the products, and you should stop combining them at once.
There are also some allergic ingredients that work well for your skin. For example, tea tree oil which can be allergic to some people can still work wonders for others.
These oils have pore-clogging effects which can trigger an acne breakout. If you have been using tee tree oil without getting better results, then this is one of the possible reasons and you should consider changing the product.
It can also be difficult for a person to know the difference between pore-clogging oils and those that do not have pore-clogging effects.
Some of the acne-fighting products may contain different ingredients making it difficult for a consumer to tell if they are really allergic to some of these ingredients.
You Are Not Using The Right Concentration
According to experts, the concentration of acne-fighting ingredients doesn’t really determine how effective they are. But to some extent, they can. If you have any issues with acne products, then the problem may be the concentration of the ingredients.
It is advisable that you start with the lowest concentration available, and gradually increase the usage as tolerated.
There are people who believe that a 10% concentration of benzoyl peroxide can achieve better results than a concentration of 2.5%.
But the latter can also be more effective without producing any side effects like irritation and drying. Remember that this is something that you cant try out on your own.
If you have used different types of products to cure acne scars with very little success, the best thing to do is get advice from a dermatologist before you start any new product.
Bottom line: In summary, it is possible to control or even treat a blemish once it occurs, but only when you are using the right ingredients and in the right way.
Also, acne scars do not disappear in a day, which is important to be patient and let the healing process run without any interference. Visit a dermatologist and let him do the diagnosis and be patient with the treatment procedure.
This is actually the only way you can achieve a clearer and less scarred skin.