5 Harmful Ingredients to Avoid for Acne-Prone Skin

How is acne formed?

The problem starts at the base of a hair follicle. Every follicle has the same 3 main components- the shaft, the hair and the gland that produces oil called the Sebaceous Gland.

There are skin cells that line up the follicle walls and change every 28 days. This is where the issue of acne begins- the cells that line the wall start producing too much keratin (which is produced to help protect the skin from damage). It is this excess production of Keratin that causes the dead skin cells to stick together on the follicle walls instead of leaving according to their 28-day cycle.
Once this happens they mix with the oils from the sebaceous gland, whose function is to also moisturise your skin. This is the oil production many doctors talk about, which generally starts around puberty thanks to hormones now becoming more active.

This mixture of dead skin cells and oils (and sometimes even sweat and makeup) now forms a blockage inside the follicle, whilst the sebum continues to flow, providing a perfect breeding ground for bacteria to now live. Eventually, the blockage breaks through the follicle wall causing white blood cells to rush in and fight off this bacteria. This then becomes the formation of inflammation on the skin and puss.

Is there a fix to the problem?

There’s no super-secret formula, if the problem starts with too many oils being produced by the skin, shouldn’t that be the first thing to get rid of? Absolutely not, your body produces those oils for beneficial reasons and getting rid of them like most skincare products do (by drying out the surface of your skin) is more harmful than helpful. Instead what you need to do is create a balance by reducing your skin's oil production, not eliminating it. By this understanding, there are tons of correct treatments out there that need a closer look with an informed eye.

What if you already have skincare products in your personal care routine?

So you have been following a routine for a while and have products in your bathroom that you’ve been using, but now you’re not sure if those beauty products are the right treatment to fix your acne issues.

Look at the first step in skincare which is the cleanser. Read the label and understand the ingredients used to ensure it does not over strip your skin. Whilst some ingredients are great for the skin overall, they can be very harmful or ineffective for treating acne.

If you're thinking either about manufacturing a product for acne-prone skin or are just interested in taking care of your own skin here are some useful tips.

5 ingredients to avoid if you have sensitive acne-prone skin

1) Bad alcohol- Just like there are good and bad bacteria, the same can be said for alcohol. The ones you should avoid are SD Alcohol, Methanol, Isopropyl, Benzyl and Ethyl alcohol as these dry out the skin, which is not the answer to fixing acne.

2) Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2)- it strips your skin's surface causing damage to your cells and can leave scarring in some cases, preventing healthy healing. Many people think the layer that is removed is “dirt” from their skin surface, when in fact that’s your actual skin that’s being stripped off, so don’t do it.

3) Coconut oil- some say they help and some say they actually caused further breakouts. The truth is this is an oil and seeing as your skin is already producing more oil than you need, the goal is to reduce the amount of oil in your skin, not increase it. Coconut oil clogs your pores and as a result in some cases causes more acne.

4) Fragrances, certain essential oils and plant extracts- these can cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or scarring. Some symptoms include itching, increasing skin sensitivity and inflammation of the skin.

5) Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS)- This is the ingredient responsible for making most soaps and skincare products lather up in your hands, making you believe that you’re using a product that’s going to clean your skin better than any other. It’s the money in any commercial, however, it’s actually not good for skin if you have acne as it can cause irritation and inflammation. On the flip side choosing a skincare product or ingredient that doesn't bubble up is much better and works just as well in cleansing your skin, so don’t be fooled by the bubbles.

What about ingredients that don’t do anything for acne-prone skin?

There are some ingredients that can have zero effect on your acne treatment, they don’t harm your skin nor do they benefit your skin. Let’s give you some bonus ingredients to avoid in treating acne-prone skin conditions:

1) Hyaluronic acid- Not harmful, but does not help treat acne either.

2) Vitamin C and E- these are great for your skin, but after the acne is gone, not for treating the condition.

3) Retinoids- causes a lot of drying and irritation in acne-prone skin, however it is very good for anti-ageing.

Whilst not everybody can afford an appointment with a dermatologist to give specific treatment advice for your specific skin issues, most men and women have a skincare routine, but still get nasty zits/acne and have no idea why they won’t go away.

The answer to this could be right in front of you, within the products you’re currently using and you just don’t know it because of a lack of knowledge of the hard to pronounce ingredients at the back of the label.

By choosing the right products for acne-prone skin based on ingredients that are meant to work with the skin and not against it, you can improve the quality of your product, helping consumers to get rid of acne and avoid the scars that come with it.