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Acne Treatment and Solutions

Updated on July 23, 2009

I suffered from acne for over a decade and nothing-NOTHING-helped. I tried every over the counter cream, pad, gel, you name it. I tried Proactiv. I was afraid of accutane, and retin-A helped a bit after months of use, but without health insurance it was too much of a drain on my short funds. Finally I read the book The Acne Cure, and, combined with internet research, I created a system that works for me. I have been clear of acne for over 4 years now (except for the occasional pimple) and it has been commented on numerous times by people who've known me for years. I feel better and my skin looks great. Everyone is different, but I hope this information can help others-no one should have to suffer with acne! Here is what works for me.

Mayo Clinic diagram of a pimple
Mayo Clinic diagram of a pimple


Wash with 2% salicylic acid face wash

I found that using a benzoyl peroxide face wash is sort of pointless, as most of the medicine gets washed away. Salicylic acid actually works with the water to loosen nodes in your pores. Add a few drops of water and gently rub the face wash into your skin for at least a minute, then rinse with tepid water. I use Neutrogena Face Wash, but there are a ton of options out there with the same 2% formula that should work.

8%-10% glycolic acid

Glycolic acid, an alpha-hydroxy acid, is often used in anti-wrinkle creams, as it encourages skin renewal and promotes the shedding of the top layer of dead skin. Because acne is caused by the blockage of pores with oil (sebum) and dead skin, encouraging the sloughing off of dead skin helps prevent its accumulation on the surface of your face, and therefore, the blockage of your pores. It also stimulates your cells to make collagen and elastin fibers, and over time can help with any scarring. Over the past few years, many of my scars have vanished or become minimized, possibly aided by the daily use of glycolic acid. And it is derived from sugar cane, so is completely natural! I use Alpha Hydrox AHA Enhanced Lotion or their mousse, which are about $12-$16 here in the states, but there are plenty of options that would work just as well.

SPF 15 at least!

If you're using glycolic acid (and really, even if you're not) you need to use a sunblock with SPF 15 or higher. Be sure to get an oil-free, noncomedogenic one so you're not treating your acne and then blocking your pores with mineral oil or something. There are plenty of options now that skin cancer awareness is so high. I use Oil of Olay Complete All Day Moisture Lotion, SPF 15. If I'm going to the beach or the park where I'll be in the sun all day, I bring it with me to reapply.

That's it for the morning! Make sure your make-up, if you wear it, is oil-free and noncomedogenic.


Wash with 2% salicylic acid face wash (same as Morning)

2% Benzoyl Peroxide

The percentage of benzoyl peroxide in your night lotion is VERY important. Many over the counter creams are 10% strength-this is too much and will irritate your skin. It sounds good-stronger must mean it's better, right? But studies have found that 2% is just as effective as 10% with much less irritation, which means less redness and flare-ups. It is important not to skimp on the cream, but slather it on, concentrating on each area of your face until it is absorbed. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find lotions with 2% strength. I buy mine online here, which costs about $20 with shipping, but it lasts a couple months.


This is SO IMPORTANT!! Drying your skin out encourages clogged pores and irritation. Once the benzoyl peroxide has dried, replace everything you've taken out with a good, oil-free, noncomedogenic (see the theme here?) moisturizer. I recently started using Burt's Bees Radiant Night Cream, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to someone who is just getting their acne under control, as it is heavy (but I'm older than I used to be!). There are, again, a wide variety of options for moisturizer, so find the one that works for you.

That's it! Remember that the skin you'll see in a month is already underneath the skin you're seeing right now, so you probably won't see instant results, but you should see gradual clearing as you stick with the program. Be patient and stick with it!

Some notes:

  • Icing a breakout can actually help. Just as you ice a swollen, inflamed sprained ankle, icing a swollen, inflamed pimple eases pain, reduces redness, and lessens the swelling. There is also a tendency for the skin to get clogged around an already existing pimple (so unfair isn't it?), because the swelling of the pimple causes a compression of the surrounding pores, causing them to become more easily blocked. Icing a pimple will help prevent this sort of spreading of a breakout.
  • If you have oily skin, avoid packing on a bunch of powder to control shine. Oil blotting papers are great, inexpensive ways to control shine, and don't introduce a bunch of new materials to the surface of your skin to clog your pores. The best blotting papers I've found are the Papier Poudre, which contain a touch of powder.
  • Be aware of face touching-this goes for hair, hands, and phones. If you wear your hair over your face, wash it regularly. Some of us tend to absentmindedly touch our faces a lot-the oil from your hands gets on your face and voila, breakout! Try to be aware if you do this. And if you're on the phone, be aware if the receiver is touching your face and hold it away. Many people rest the phone against their faces when they talk, and this can cause pimples to erupt in that area.
  • For tips on over-the-counter scar treatments and preventing scars, read the Over-The-Counter Acne Scar Treatment hub.
  • For natural acne solutions, check out the Natural Acne Solutions hub.


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    • profile image

      franklin41 6 years ago

      The most natural acne treatment for is dieting. Minimize eating on fried foods, caffeine, chocolate, carbonated drinks, salt, wheat, and even milk can make acne worse. It's better to eat more vegetables and fruits instead of salty or sugar packed foods. It is also recommended to increase your vitamin A, zinc and Vitamin B6 levels in your body. And you may also take some supplements, but by consuming foods that are high in these three vitamins will drastically help your skin condition. It is one of the most natural acne treatments.

    • profile image

      acne on chin solution wanted 7 years ago

      I just wanted to say that i really enjoyed your hub on acne treatment and solutions. You have covered a huge variety of acne creams and treatments.

      You have obviously done your research!:)

      I really enjoyed reading your hub. Some really excellent tips and advice on curing acne. Well written hub as well. Thank you!

    • hms86 profile image

      hms86 8 years ago

      Glycolic acid can cause skin dryness and can worsen acne symptoms. Always remember to use a moisturizer.

      Prevention is better than cure and having a diet that is high in natural food such as vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts can help us to cure our acne. I used to depend on over the counter products but I find that they only provide us with short term solution.

      After altering my diet and following the directions in the program that teaches me to detox my body, my acne healed miraculously. My acne that I couldn't heal in years just healed up in weeks. So always keep in mind to take note of your diet. If you take care of your body, it will take care of you.



    • profile image

      trose 8 years ago

      Very good information. I just started using a glycolic acid cream and hope to see a difference in my skin.

    • jonaitis profile image

      jonaitis 9 years ago from San Francisco

      Good luck April Fool--I hope they work for you!

    • April Fool profile image

      Subbalakshmi Kumar 9 years ago from Pune, India

      Thanks jonaitis, I'll try your tips