Emma Wedgwood

The best acne fighting ingredients for your skincare routine

June 29, 2023

June is Acne Awareness Month and as a sufferer of acne myself, I understand the impact that acne and acne scarring can have on your life.

This month, both of our blogs will focus on how to improve acne and acne scarring.

There are lots of treatments which can help with acne, but as always, treatment always begins at home with your skincare routine. In this first article, I’ll list some of the most powerful ingredients to look out for when selecting skincare products.

Acne can begin at any time of life and is a very distressing condition. It’s not only uncomfortable and upsetting when it’s happening, but it can leave scarring which can be difficult to combat.

Thankfully, there are some powerful ingredients which help to fight acne when it is active, as well as minimise scarring available in both over the counter and prescription skincare products.

Benzoyl peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is one of the most widely used ingredients in acne skincare, and with good reason. Proven to kill bacteria while also removing dead skin cells, this powerful antibacterial also reduces inflammation.

Because it is a haesh chemical, benzoyl peroxide must be used carefully to prevent lightening the skin.

Benzoyl peroxide is present in many high street and over the counter acne treatments in the form of creams, gels, lotions, and washes, it is most powerful in higher concentration, which is only available in prescription strength formulas.

Following a consultation, I can provide a prescription for CLENZIderm Therapeutic Lotion which contains 5% benzoyl peroxide and doesn’t stay on the surface of the skin for very long, making it effective but safe.

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid which exfoliates the skin and removes dead skin cells. This enables the skin to breathe, reduces swelling and inflammation, while helping to prevent the pores from becoming clogged.

When used correctly salicylic acid is very safe for your skin, but it can be quite tingly when you first try it. You also might find that it can make your skin quite dry, so minimise where you use the treatment if you find that this is the case for you.

Look for salicylic acid in cleansers as well as spot treatment products, you might also find it in certain acne-friendly makeup.

Obaji’s CLENZIderm Pore Therapy includes 2% salicylic acid, is available on prescription and is designed to harness the power of salicylic acid without any of the harsh side effects found when using over the counter products.


Niacinamide is another word for vitamin B3. It is a multi-tasking anti-inflammatory ingredient which in the first instance can take out some of the redness and swelling that’s usually associated with acne.

As a nourishing vitamin, niacinamide can also help to hydrate the skin which can be particularly useful to help minimise acne scarring, reduce pore size, which might prevent further breakouts and help protect the skin from environmental pollutants.

Niacinamide is a wonderful all-round ingredient which can be useful for all skin types, with and without acne.

You will find it in many skin care preparations, particularly creams and serums. If you’d like the highest concentration of niacinamide, look for Obaji Daily Hydro Drops, which I can supply at the clinic.


Retinol works on acne is several different ways. Firstly, it exfoliates the skins outside layer, removing dead skin cells and debris which can contribute to acne. Secondly, it penetrates to the dermis (this middle skin layer) to trigger the body’s natural production of collagen and elastin. This helps prevent acne scarring, as well as reduce inflammation and decrease the production of oil.

Retinol can be found in many over the counter skincare products, as well as a prescription grade retinol known as tretinoin. Retinol can cause acne to get worse initially, with some flaking and irritation (this is known as the retinol purge and is simply your skin adjusting to the retinol), but after that, it’s clear skin all the way!

The others

Other ingredients to look out for include: AHA’s (reduce inflammation, remove dead skin, trigger new cell growth), sulphur (reducing oil), vitamin C (antioxidant and anti inflammatory) and tea tree oil (a natural antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory).

Many good skincare brands provide some high performing ingredients which can improve the appearance of acne, and reduce the likelihood of it returning, but all skin is different. The very best way to approach your acne treatment is to have a consultation with a skincare expert and medical professional who can advise on and prescribe the right treatments for you to improve your skin quality and help you fight acne.

If you’d like to make an appointment, do get in touch!

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