Yes! You can finally banish breakouts!: Singing the blemish blues? You con't have to. Here's your simple, straightforward, once-and-for-all guide to clear skin you want. (Beauty Blast).
What it does: Exfoliates your skin down to the pore. You have cells that line the follicles of the oil glands in your skin. Breakouts happen when your pores get clogged with dead skin cells your oil glands are trying to shed. Salicylic acid keeps pores clean and cuts down on the shedding.
Works best on: Skin prone to blackheads and whiteheads. If salicylic acid leaves your skin irritated, try a formula for sensitive skin.
Skin smarts: Most salicylic acid products are gentle enough to use every day to prevent breakouts, You can spot treat whiteheads (a clogged pore that looks like a little white bump) and blackheads (a clogged pore that actually goes past the white bump stage and gets exposed to air, turning it black) with a 2% salicylic acid product.
We like: Skinmarket Anti Landmine Battle Plan Anti Acne Face Wash, $8
What it does: Dries out skin by reducing the oil on your skin's surface. Benzoyl peroxide kills bacteria that causes pimples (those awful red, painful inflamed bumps with the nasty little white thing on top) and reduces inflammation.
Works best on: It's great for spot treating. The bad news? It can take a couple weeks to really work, So keep your paws off your pimples, and give the benzoyl peroxide time to work its magic (and it does work).
Skin smarts: Spot treat any pimples you see forming, but don't cover your whole face in benzoyl peroxide or you'll end up with red, scaly dry skin--way worse than a breakout.
We like: Clean & Clear Maximum Strength Persa-Gel 10, $4
What it does: Like benzoyl peroxide, sulfur keeps bacteria in check and works wonders on whiteheads, blackheads and pimples.
Works best on: Skin that can't deal with the harshness of benzoyl peroxide. Sulfur is just as effective as benzoyl peroxide at fighting inflammation, but it also unclogs pores. Cleansers with sulfur are great for keeping skin bacteria-free.
Skin smarts: Sulfur isn't as popular an ingredient as benzoyl peroxide because it costs more. But if benzoyl peroxide turns your face into a bigger mess (flaking, irritation and redness) than when you lust had zits, give sulfur a try--just remember, apply it on the blemish, not your whole face.
We like: Philosophy's On A Clear Day Super Wash, $15
What it does: Cleans without stripping away the good oil in your face. It also cuts down on bacteria to help prevent future breakouts. Triclosan also reduces inflammation.
Works best on: Triclosan works well on almost every skin type. But unlike most acne fighters, triclosan isn't a spot treatment--it's mostly used as an active ingredient in face wash.
Skin smarts: If you mostly get blackheads and whiteheads, stick with products containing salicylic acid or sulfur. If pimples are the prob, incorporate a facial wash with triclosan, and use benzoyl peroxide to spot treat. Triclosan gives you the benefit of removing the bacteria in your face, but it's not as harsh as benzoyl peroxide.
We like: Clearasil Daily Face Wash, $4
TEA TREE OIL
What it does: Acts as a natural anti-bacterial, and helps heal and clear up blemishes, especially pimples you (ahem!) picked.
Works best on: Skin that reacts badly to just about every other treatment option. Tea tree oil can be more soothing on sensitive skin, but it's still strong stuff--5% tea tree oil is just as effective as 5% benzoyl peroxide.
Skin smarts: Some girls swear tea tree oil works better than chemical breakout busters. The downside? Tea tree oil is expensive, so products that contain it as an ingredient cost slightly more per ounce. Some people are allergic, so test on another part of your body before using it on your face, We like: The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil Blemish Pads, $8