best ingredients for acne

Top 5 Best Ingredients for Acne You Need Now

What are the best ingredients for acne?!

As somebody who has suffered from acne for over 10 years now, I have tried everything I could before going to see a doctor. My aim has always been to treat it through skincare and some of these ingredients have had amazing effects on my skin, but never treated the issue completely. Everyones’ acne is different and mine has resisted until now, but that is not to say that these products are ineffective. On the contrary, I am a firm believer these can cure some forms of acne.

Here is a list of ingredients I found to be most effective against acne. Some of these I have tried over the years and some are more recent. But I stand by them and recommend giving them a try!

Disclaimer: recommendations are based on my own experiences and one product might work for me but not for you. Please do your research to further decide if this is something you wish to try.

Best 5 ingredients for acne


When I first launched into skincare and started exoloring active ingredients retinol came up a lot. However, it came up as a recommendation for wrinkles and dark spots, or age spots, and essentially for mature skin. This was before Instagram was a thing for me.

What incited me to try it was that it helped with scarring and I had a lot of it from acne. So I took the plunge.

What I have learned since is that retinol is a perfect active ingredient for acne. It has the power to work both on the surface and in the deeper layers of the skin, cleaning up clogged pores, dead skin, and accelerating the skin cell turnover. This in turn can cause a purge as the deep-set pimples will come to the surface faster, but in the long run, it will improve acne, acne scarring and skin texture.

I find that it is an often-overlooked ingredient because it is marketed towards improving wrinkles. But, if you do go to a dermatologist they can prescribe it for moderate to severe acne, in the form of adapalene or tretinoin topical creams. Accutane is also a form of synthetic retinoid called isotretinoin.

Bellow you may find some retinol creams/serums I have used in the past and recommend trying.


The Ordinary introduced me to this ingredient. I believe they were the first to make it popular and especially accessible through their low prices. And I was stupefied at how extraordinary it proved to be for my skin. It is in my opinion one of the best ingredients for acne.

Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B. It has a myriad of beneficial effects. In terms of acne it will:

  • reduce inflammation
  • reduce redness
  • balance the production of sebum
  • help with hyperpigmentation

Studies have shown that as little as 2% niacinamide in serums can help reduce oil production. 4% can help treat moderate acne.

There are serums on the market that boast 10% niacinamide content. Below are some that I recommend.

Note: after repurchasing The Ordinary serum I found that the formulation didn’t work for my skin anymore. It didn’t layer well and it made my skincare pill on top of it even if I used only one drop. I know that for many others it remains an HG product, this is just my experience.

Salicylic acid

The Holy Grail of all the ingredients for acne, the salicylic acid. I think everyone at some point has tried it to reduce their acne, black heads, white heads, and just exfoliate their skin in general.

The thing that makes salicylic acid so effective is that it binds to oil, aka sebum. This allows it to work in the pores and clean out the dirt, dead skin cells, and sebum, effectively unclogging the pores and preventing pimples. Compared to it, AHAs or glycolic acid works on the surface of the skin.

It is important to take note that it is an acid, and like with any active ingredient that removes dead skin cells, one can go overboard and damage the skin barrier.

Bellow you can find some products I have tried and loved in the past.

Glycolic acid

Of course, we cannot avoid talking about AHAs as well. The king of them all being the popular glycolic acid.

This one, you may have guessed it, is water-soluble. Glycolic acid will work on the surface of the skin, weakening the glue between the dead skin cells and making it easier to shred them. Dead skin cells are usually the number one cause of clogged pores. Effectively eliminating them will not only help keep the pores clean but also reveal a new layer of skin cells, rending the skin more luminous and even-toned. Both BHAs and AHAs help refine the skin texture.

If your skin is sensitive and you cannot use glycolic acid, the recommended solution is mandelic acid. The brand By Wishtrend has one, that I have tried in the past and found it very gentle.

NEW in best ingredients for acne: Tranexamic acid

I have been raving about this ingredient for a while now and for good reasons. It zaps hyperpigmentation out of existence. If you want to know more about how to fade acne scarring I have an article tackling that problem. But tranexamic acid also has anti-inflammatory proprieties so at the same time it works on lightening hyperpigmentation, it prevents new spots from forming, and also new pimples from forming. Win-win.

I have not included here another product that is often recommended, benzoyl peroxide, just because in my opinion and experience it’s too messy and just a dread. Benzoyl peroxide bleaches any textile it comes in contact with. I believe there are so many more options out there, like the ones I described above, that will perform as good if not better, without destroying your towels.

IMPORTANT NOTE: do not use more than 1 or 2 active ingredients in one routine. Please do your research on which actives can be combined with others, in order to avoid burning off your face.

Hope you enjoyed this new post!

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