Benzoyl PeroxideProducts containing benzoyl peroxide unclog pores, remove bacteria and reduce inflammation. These products come in strengths of 2.5 percent, 5 percent and 10 percent. The higher the strength, the more irritation can result. Experts recommend using the lowest dose possible.
Benzoyl peroxide has been available over the counter since 1962. It is FDA approved. Benzoyl peroxide is a common main ingredient in many acne-fighting face washes. Washes containing benzoyl peroxide include Proactive Solutions, Clearasil and Fostex. Prices can range from $5.99 to $30 (as of 2010).
Salicylic AcidSalicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid. It works as an exfoliator to loosen clogged pores. It is regulated and approved by the FDA. The acid may cause irritation and drying of the skin. Salicylic acid is a popular ingredient in face washes to help fight acne and clean the skin. Look for the acid in acne products from brands such as Neutrogena and Clean and Clear. The products usually cost less than $10.
SulfurSulfur washes unclog pores, reduce inflammation and remove acne bacteria. They may also help reduce redness and swelling by decreasing the formation of fatty acids. They have been approved by the FDA. Like most acne fighting agents, these washes can cause dryness and irritation. Sulfur washes are found in products like Proactive Solutions and Sulforcin lotions and can be affordable, ranging in cost from $10 to $30.
HydroquinoneAcne scarring can be treated with skin lighteners containing hydroquinone. The ingredient is designed to get rid or abnormal skin colors without affecting your normal skin color. Products to try include Esoterica, Porcelana and Proactive Solution skin lightening lotion. These products average at $25.
RetinoidsAcne scarring can be helped by using products with topical retinoids, such as retinol, which is available over the counter for under $15. Other products containing retinoids include Retin-A and renova, which is only available by prescription, and can be more costly.
Cosmeceutical ProductsWashes containing other ingredients like glycolic acid, green tea and Vitamin F have been documented as being effective in the treatment of acne and acne scarring. Glycolic acid helps to unclog pores. Green tea reduces redness and inflammation. Products containing Vitamin F may help regulate oil production. These ingredients are not FDA approved as acne-fighting ingredients. Physician's Formula has an acne wash containing green tea that costs about $6. Many face washes also include glycolic acid, which will run you about $15.
WarningsAll of the acne-fighting washes and products can cause irritation, redness and excess drying or peeling of the skin.
Not all types of acne will respond to over-the-counter washes and medication. Severe cases of acne require medical assistance. If you have a severe or persistent case of acne, talk to your doctor or dermatologist for the best, and most affordable, treatment method.