The Best Skincare Ingredients For Stopping Acne Breakouts
Breakouts. A seemingly unavoidable side effect of working out, working in the yard, or just living your life. And, usually, once a breakout hits, there doesn’t seem to be much you can do to minimize its appearance or make it go away.
Well, the good news is that’s not entirely true. There are many ingredients that can effectively calm breakout redness, tackle acne-causing bacteria, and clarify overtired, broken out skin in no time.
Here’s what you should look out for and how to use it.
First, The Ingredients
When it comes to effectively treating acne and breakouts, there are a few things you need to do:
- soothe the red, irritated skin
- exfoliate clogged pores
- get rid of debris
- kill any harmful bacteria that can be causing the breakouts
This requires effective, gentle skincare products for men - the keyword being gentle. Why? Effective products are actually fairly easy to come by; you can stop by any pharmacy or grocery store and find acne spot treatments brimming with salicylic acid or charcoal (more on those later).
But, more often than not, these products are too harsh for the skin. They end up stripping away your protective barrier and leaving your skin raw, dry, flaky - worse than when you started.
That’s why we recommend you skip the cheap stuff and opt for products with effective, balanced ingredients that work.
You need ingredients that soothe, protect, and rebuild your skin. Breakouts often happen when you’ve been too rough on your skin and you’ve stripped it of its natural defenses.
The skin’s natural barrier is essentially a wall of dead skin cells that are held together by lipids. It functions as a security guard, protecting what’s inside and preventing any “bad guys” - like UV radiation, pollution, bacteria, dirt, and toxins - from passing through.
The barrier also maintains proper hydration, balances lipid levels, and maintains your Natural Moisturizing Factor.
Many day-to-day stressors - like pollution, harsh detergents, weather, hot baths or showers, and dehydration - can strip that barrier away and leave the skin vulnerable to irritation, inflammation, redness, and breakouts.
And once you have this problem, it’s a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg conundrum: you’re red and broken out, so you apply products to tackle those concerns, but the products are too harsh and make the core issue worse… and the cycle continues.
The solution is to incorporate ingredients that soothe and restore that barrier. They include:
- Aloe vera: The polysaccharides and phytosterols in aloe vera make it a great ingredient to maintain moisture. Antioxidants in the plant make it effective at fighting free radicals and preventing damage to the skin. This will help maintain skin moisture and health over time.
- MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane): MSM is a natural compound found in the skin that acts as the “glue” that holds together amino acid chains. When applied topically, it inhibits the breakdown of collagen, reduces inflammation, and makes the cell wall more permeable, thereby helping vital nutrients flow through.
- Green tea: A powerful antioxidant, green tea fights free radical damage to calm and soothe the skin. The caffeine in green tea also soothes inflammation for healthier skin over time.
- Vitamin C: This essential skincare ingredient evens pigmentation, resulting in a brightened, balanced complexion. It also combats free radicals, repairs skin damage caused by sun exposure, and boosts the production of collagen, the skin's primary structural protein.
- Hyaluronic acid: An ultra-effective humectant that draws moisture into the skin, hyaluronic acid provides a hydrated, smooth, and firm appearance.
Clarifying and Exfoliating
Next, you need ingredients that exfoliate the skin, buff away dead cells, get rid of impurities, and leave fresh, happy skin - again, without over-stripping. They include:
- Activated charcoal: Activated charcoal-rich skincare products act as a magnet to attract and absorb dirt and oil on the skin. Oil and debris stick to the charcoal and then simply get washed away. Plus, activated charcoal won’t irritate or over-dry the skin like other harsh products.
- Willow bark extract: Working as both an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial ingredient, this ingredient effectively soothes acne and calms psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea.
- Witch hazel: Witch hazel, a natural astringent, reduces inflammation and reduces oil build-up in the skin.
Finally, you’ll need to kill any bacteria that are stuck in your pores and exacerbating acne.
There are many essential oils and botanical ingredients that can help with this without compromising your skin’s natural barrier. These include:
- Salicylic acid: A well-established skincare ingredient that penetrates deep into the skin to eliminate skin debris, unclog pores, and clear acne, salicylic acid targets skin cells with acne and dissolves the intercellular glue that leads to acne buildup.
- Tea tree oil: This powerful anti-viral and anti-inflammatory ingredient helps reduce irritation caused by acne - resulting in fewer breakouts.
- Peppermint: Peppermint soothes the skin and provides anti-septic properties.
- Grapefruit: A natural antibacterial agent that floods the skin with powerful nutrients known to target and eliminate acne
Second: The Routine
You’ll want to make sure to incorporate these ingredients into every step of your skincare routine for effective acne-fighting. Effective products include:
- Cleanser: Start with an acne face wash for men with the gentle acne-fighting ingredients discussed above, including salicylic acid, grapefruit, and tea tree oil.
- Toner: A big problem that guys often have is that they’re constantly throwing their skin off and messing with its pH by using harsh products and unbalanced tap water. The longer the skin has to fight to get back to its proper pH, the weaker it is - and the more prone to breakouts. A balancing toner for men can get your skin right back where it needs to be while also delivering antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and healing ingredients to the skin.
- Treatment: Face treatments or serums provide targeted ingredients to help treat your most pressing skincare concerns. The right acne-controlling face moisturizer treatment will hydrate your skin while treating acne blemishes using ingredients like salicylic acid, willow bark extract, tea tree oil, and vitamin E.
- Moisturizer: An ultra-moisturizing and healing scar clearing moisturizer for men will naturally diminish the appearance of scars, stretch marks, or sun-damage. Look for effective actives and skin-protecting ingredients like vitamin C, MSM, and other antioxidants.
- Spot treatment: If you’re dealing with a breakout or a blemish that your normal routine just can't tackle, treat the area of concern with an acne-controlling spot treatment. Make sure that you don’t choose a treatment that’s overly harsh since the wrong product can do your skin more harm than good.
Then, at least once a week, apply an exfoliant and a mask. First, the right exfoliating face scrub can effectively slough away those dead skin cells, oil, and other impurities that lead to a congested complexion - particularly when applied regularly. Similarly, a weekly activated charcoal face mask for men can remove impurities and diminish the look of pores gently and effectively.
Looking for a comprehensive routine to get started? You can find the basics you need in our Acne Controlling System.