Acne Ingredient Cheat Sheet

It’s easy to be confused by an ingredient list. It’s filled with long words that are hard to pronounce. If you are looking for products that are going to help keep your skin acne-free, look for these ingredients.


Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid, or BHA. It’s used to dissolve dead skin cells that may be stuck together and clogging hair follicles. It also helps draw out excess dirt, oil and impurities. Salicylic acid’s anti-inflammatory properties are similar to aspirin, which means it helps soothe and calm the skin instead of causing redness and inflammation. Look for salicylic acid in serums and cleansers.


Lactic acid is derived from milk, fruit and botanicals and is one of the most popular alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) in skin care. Gentler than the familiar glycolic acid, it helps reduce acne breakouts and the appearance of lines, wrinkles and rough skin through exfoliation. The benefit of lactic acid is that it helps keep skin hydrated by improving the skin’s natural lipid barrier while evening skin tone. Acne-prone and oily skin types can use Lactic acid cleansers daily to keep breakouts away.


Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxyl acid found naturally in sugar cane and is used in skincare to gently remove the outer layers of skin. Glycolic acid chemically loosens the bonds between skin cells, causing the skin to shed dead or damaged cells through exfoliation which in turn encourages and uncovers new skin. Glycolic acid cleansers reduce acne breakouts by helping exfoliate skin and unclog pores. However, a glycolic acid peel is not recommended for acne because it can increase redness and irritation.


Benzoyl peroxide helps reduce mild to moderate acne, reduce breakouts and oil production and unclog pores. It is the signature ingredient in the Proactiv skincare systems. It’s a popular treatment for acne because it kills existing P. acnes bacteria inside pores as well as improves exfoliation to prevent breakouts cause by clogged follicles. Be warned. Benzoyl peroxide reportedly causes unnecessary irritation, dryness and redness. Some people have found they are allergic to it. And, it can discolor your clothing, bedding and towels.


Retinol is a vitamin A derivative that helps stimulate the skin’s natural metabolism and helps encourage collagen production. Retinol serums vary in concentrations depending on skin needs. COSMEDIX has two types of retinol delivery systems: LG-Retinex is a microencapsulated retinol for drier, sensitive skin and AGP Complex (short for arabinogalactan-proteins) is a retinol for oily, congested and acne-prone skin. Both help visibly reduce the appearance of sun damage, brown spots, lines, wrinkles, acne blemishes and large pores while improving the skin’s texture and tone for a smoother, clearer, more even-toned look. Consult a physician to determine which type of retinol and concentration is right for you.


Fruit enzymes such as cranberry, blueberry, papaya and pineapples all contain low levels of acid, making them perfect for exfoliating sensitive skin. For those wanting natural manual exfoliators, look for poppy, jojoba or date seeds in your ingredient lists. Both help clarify skin, remove dead skin cells and improve skin texture. Plus, exfoliating away rough surface skin helps improve uneven skin tone left behind by acne blemishes and improves penetration of acne-fighting serums and skin brighteners.


10 Ways To Get Clearer Skin

1. Wash Your Face Before Bed.

Cleansing your face washes away the sweat, grime and makeup that can clog pores while you rest. If you’re feeling extra lazy, apply a layer of exfoliating cleanser to your face before you brush your teeth. When you finish brushing and flossing, add water to the cleanser with your hands to lather the cleanser and then rinse your face. Your flash mask just did all the work for you!

2. Remember to rinse with warm, not hot water.

Hot water dries out the skin. Cold water doesn’t open the pores, hindering you from getting the dirt out of them. Rinsing with warm water is a happy medium, allowing you to get a deep clean without being too harsh.

3. Rewash your face in the morning.

Unless you sleep with your hair in a bonnet and don’t sweat at night, a good wash in the morning is necessary. You wouldn’t skip a shower after a workout if you feel the need to wash your hair the next day, you should probably wash your face too. The products in your hair have transferred to your pillows and are now sitting on your skin. Do a quick wash 30 to 45 seconds and don’t forget to tone.

4. Tackle your t-zone with toner.

Besides getting rid of any residue or cleanser, toner helps keep oil and shine at bay. Look for salicylic acid in the ingredient list if you are breakout prone.

5. Exfoliate in the shower.

We’re busy people and we like multitasking. The steam from the shower will open the pores so that manual exfoliators can get out the dirt, and chemical exfoliators like salicylic acid can penetrate deeper into the skin for more effective results.

6. Unclog pores with clay.

Acne blemishes occur when oil, dead skin cells and dirt clog pores. Clay can help draw out oil, impurities and bacteria for a clearer complexion. A clay face mask usually takes less than 10 minutes and can be used up to 3 times a week.

7. Make sure your mask has sulfur in it.

Clay and sulfur are best buds. Sulfur is naturally anti-bacterial and has some of the same properties as clay. It helps clarify the skin by drawing out impurities and excess oil. Teamwork makes the dream work!

8. Say no to Benzoyl Peroxide.

We know. We know. You’ve seen all the Proactiv commercials and all the YouTube videos. We aren’t saying that it doesn’t work to improve the look of acne, but do you want redness and irritation as a side-effect to clear skin when there are other ingredients that deliver the same or even better results without the irritation? Plus, the stuff stains your clothes and sheets! Look for acne-fighting ingredients such as hydroxy acids, retinol and tea tree oil to curb breakouts.

9. Moisturize.

It’s a misconception that oily skin doesn’t need a good moisturizer. Your skin can overproduce sebum in efforts to moisturize and lubricate the skin. Oil-free moisturizers and moisturizers for acne-prone skin can help balance oil production and keep skin hydrated and clear.

10. Use an oil-free SPF daily.

Oil-free sunscreens offer the protection you need from sun damage and early signs of aging without the oil that can aggravate your skin and cause breakouts.

How to Manage Your Acne Like A Boss

It’s time to think of your acne as an employee instead of a bully. It should no longer be the part of your appearance that makes you insecure. It shouldn’t be something that makes you want to hide. Instead, think of your acne as an employee. Your employee. And just like all good managers, new employees need training to be successful. So, let’s take some advice from Peter Economy, the biz writer at We’ve adapted his tips from “7 Keys to Becoming a Remarkably Effective Leader” on to manage your acne.

Delegate Wisely

“The key to leadership success is to learn to effectively delegate both the responsibility for completing assignments and the authority required to get things done,” Peter writes. He goes on to explain that we don’t always have to do it ourselves. In terms of your skin, working with aestheticians allows them to use their skin care knowledge to recommend treatments to help you reach your skin goals faster and in a healthier way. Speaking of goals..

Set Goals

Let’s be clear: set realistic goals. Acne free by the weekend? Not likely. However, a proper assessment of your skin to determine the cause of your acne is a good start. If your dermatologist or aesthetician can determine the cause, you can work with these professionals to create a realistic treatment and home care regimen that will decrease your acne and the scars they can leave behind in a safe and reasonable time frame.


Be up front with your aesthetician about your lifestyle. Share with them your diet and exercise habits, medications you may be taking or if you are feeling particularly stressed recently. This may all affect how your skin is behaving.

Make time for your regimen

Peter recommends making time for your employees. We’ve adapted this to be about your regimen. Most regimens include a day and night routine and a treatment series to give you a clearer, healthier complexion. It’s tempting to skip steps or treatments all together when you are in a hurry or if you have a busy schedule. Understand that these regimens are training your skin to be less reactive, and this training takes time.

Recognize achievements

Is your skin less red? Are your breakouts less frequent? Is your skin less oily? Celebrate the small victories along the way to your skin goals.

Think about lasting solutions

“No matter how difficult the problem, there is always a quick solution, and leaders are happiest when they are devising solutions to problems,” Peter writes. “The trouble is that, in our zeal to fix things quickly and move on to the next fire, we often overlook the lasting solution that may take longer to develop.” We love this quote! There are always going to be new acne treatment fads and DIY masks and peels, but even though you may see results, these quick fixes may be doing damage to your skin long-term. COSMEDIX’s treatments and regimens give you the results you desire without compromising skin health.

Don’t take it all too seriously

Everyone has improvements they would like to make to their appearance. Keep in mind, though, that these improvements aren’t necessary if they aren’t affecting our health or our happiness. Let your inner beauty radiate and don’t let a few pimples stop you from smiling big and taking charge.

acne treatment

Learn more boss moves by following Peter Economy on Twitter @bizzwriter – and hear more tips in our video below.

Peptides for Skin: Superheroes for Collagen Growth

Collagen that magic word associated with baby soft, thick and supple skin. Unfortunately, as we age, collagen is destroyed and it does not automatically regenerate. Sun, dehydration and other environmental factors can break down collagen in the skin, allowing lines and wrinkles to appear. Helping to replace collagen in the skin can improve the appearance of the skin smoothing out fine lines, wrinkles, folds and furrows.

So, while rebuilding collagen is difficult, tricking the skin to stimulate collagen can be achieved, and most importantly, preserving the collagen is paramount. When collagen a protein breaks down, it forms peptides. Peptides are composed of amino acids and are smaller than proteins, allowing them to deeply penetrate the skin. Applying peptides topically can help stimulate skin cells called fibroblasts and tricks the skin into thinking that it has lost collagen and needs to produce more.

According to the R&D team at COSMEDIX skincare, the best way to preserve collagen is to get plenty of sleep, don’t smoke or be around second-hand smoke, wear a broad spectrum sunscreen, and keep your stress level down. This is what lead to the creation of one of COSMEDIX’S newest and most powerful solutions – Peptide-Rich Defense Moisturizer. Containing not one but a blend of two peptides, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 and Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, this powerful duo stimulates the synthesis and replenishment of the skin matrix. Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 slows down the degradation of the skin matrix while Palmitoyl Oligopeptide not only acts as a signal, but helps to speed up the production of collagen. Together, the peptides work to dramatically restore the look of healthy, radiant skin and keep signs of aging at bay. Plus, with a super high Broad Spectrum protection of SPF 50, you are not only treating but preventing future collagen loss.