The Best Ingredients For Fighting Acne

Acne is one of the most common skin conditions and there are hundreds of treatments available, which is great, but can make it hard to find the right one. If you experience acne or frequent breakouts and blemishes, look out for these key ingredients that work hard to reduce existing spots and prevent future ones. 

For more information on how to incorporate these products into your daily routine, check out our morning and evening skincare routines for acne-prone skin.


Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic and lactic acids are chemical exfoliants which work by breaking away dead skin cells in the upper layers of the skin. If not removed, these dead skin cells can clog pores and combine with oil, creating a breeding ground for bacteria and eventually leading to breakouts.

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) which acts as an exfoliant, absorbing deep into skin to break down the ‘glue’ that holds dead skin cells together. This helps to clear pores and prevent the buildup of dead skin and excess oil which leads to breakouts. Unlike AHAs, salicylic acid is oil-soluble, wich means it can absorb deeper into the skin and target oil-based congestion.


Charcoal is a powerful cleansing agent which binds to and absorbs impurities in order to remove them from the skin. It’s especially good at removing oil so can help to remove pore-clogging sebum. If you’re worried about charcoal drying out your skin, look out for white charcoal, which is much softer and gentler.


Although retinol is most commonly known as an anti-aging ingredient, it’s also used to treat acne too. The ingredient stimulates cell turnover in the lower layers of skin, which helps to prevent pores from becoming clogged with dead skin and sebum. 

Tea tree

Due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-septic properties, tea tree can help to soothe and reduce existing breakouts, especially inflamed red pustules. It can also help to trigger white blood cells, which speeds up the healing process. 


Zinc is a popular ingredient in anti-acne treatments because it acts as both an anti-inflammatory and an anti-bacterial, helping to calm even the most angry-looking blemishes. It’s best suited to papules and cystic blemishes rather than blackheads and whiteheads. 


Probiotics and prebiotics work by calming and balancing skin inflammation so they’re a great way to soothe a sore, irritated breakout. They also help to strengthen the skin barrier, which can help to prevent future breakouts. 


A source of fatty acids, squalane helps to replenish moisture levels and strengthen the moisture barrier. If skin is well-hydrated then it’s better able to defend itself against bacteria and other acne-triggering external aggressors. 


Also known as ‘tiger grass’, cica helps to calm inflammation, redness, and irritation, and triggers repair in order to heal damaged skin.


As well as absorbing congestion, sulphur is an antibacterial and antifungal, so can help to prevent the growth of the bacteria that causes acne wile simulataneously removing dead skin cells and excess oil.