If you struggle with acne you know the impact it can have not just on your skin but on your mental health, mood, and self esteem. Finding an acne treatment that actually improves your skin can be daunting. Then when you try something new and it doesn’t work, you again feel hopeless that you will ever find something that will cure your acne.
As someone who had battled acne for more than 15 years, through painstaking research and trial and error, I found a number of products and life style changes that actually worked for me. And most importantly, almost all of these products have shown to be successful in scientific studies so you don’t just have to take my word for it.
Hopefully this article will be informative and helpful as we push forward in the journey to make acne a thing of the past.
The Researched Backed Acne Treatments that Actually Work
- Blue Light Therapy
- Hydrocolloid Acne Patches
- Benzoyl Peroxide
- Stridex Red Box (For Body Acne)
- huangjisoo Pure Daily Foaming Facial Cleanser – Best Skin Trouble Cleanser for Oily & Sensitive Skin – With Chamomile Extract
- Manuka Honey
- Shower Filter
1. Blue Light Therapy
The following study conducted by Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology showed that daily self acne treatment using Blue Light Therapy for mild-to-moderate inflammatory acne reduced the number of acne lesions significantly. Moreover, the study demonstrated a significant improvement of the subjects’ skin conditions. Subjects included in the study were able to safely and effectively administer self treatment with the device and felt confident doing so.
I’ve personally been using this device for the last couple years, and I have seen good results. I don’t feel as though the device “cured” my acne, but I noticed a significant change as well as improvement in my overall complexion. As a bonus, in addition to the Blue Light which is proven to effectively treat acne, it also comes equipped with 6 others colors which can be used for collagen production, scar reduction, and other conditions.
You mean those big blue bottles filled with red liquid that I see in the doctor’s office? YES! Hibiclens, or chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG), is a disinfectant and antiseptic that is used for skin disinfection before surgery and to sterilize surgical instruments. It’s used both to disinfect the skin of the patient and the hands of the healthcare providers. The rationale in acne treatment is that if it’s powerful enough to disinfect surgical instruments, it can kill acne causing bacteria as well.
It has both bacteriostatic (inhibits bacterial growth) and bactericidal (kills bacteria) mechanisms of action. Chlorhexidine kills by disrupting the cell membrane. Upon application, CHG can kill nearly 100% of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria within 30 seconds.
Because of its incredible ability to kill bacteria and inhibit bacterial growth, many users have reported great success in using Hibiclens to treat their face acne, body acne, and folliculitis.
From personal experience, Hibiclens has been a savior for me and as close to a cure for acne as I have found.
My personal routine:
Wash face or body with Hibiclens in shower and rinse off. Then I will apply Hibiclens again to my face (or problem area) and let it sit for 8 minutes before rinsing it off.
Please be forewarned that this product can be drying, and Hibiclens does not advise you to use this on your face so please do so at your own risk.
3. Hydrocolloid Acne Patches
Lucky, now if I follow my routine I rarely get pimples. However, no one is perfect, and we all still get occasional breakouts from time to time. Whenever I get a pimple, covering it with one of these CosRx Hydrocolloid patches speeds up the healing time significantly.
They work by gently absorbing excess fluids, like pus and oil, from your pimple while at the same time protecting it from bacteria getting in. The patches also help keep me from picking at my face which I can be guilty of.
While there are numerous brands of Hydrocolloid patches, I’ve found the CosRx ones to be by far the best.
4. Benzoyl Peroxide
This one likely isn’t a surprise to anyone. It’s an old standard when it comes to acne treatment – since the 1930s actually. Benzoyl peroxide normally comes in 3 concentrations 2.5%, 5% and 10%. The assumption is often that higher concentrations are more effective, but research shows the contrary. In at least 2 studies 2.5% BP is proven to be just as effective as 5% and 10% with fewer side effects.
While many people have success in using BP on their face I’ve found it to be too harsh for my sensitive skin (even 2.5%). However, I have found it to work incredibly well at treating back acne and also as a spot treatment.
Just be forewarned that Benzoyl Peroxide can and likely will stain whatever it touches (sheets, pillow cases, towels, clothes, etc.)
My routine in treating back acne:
- Wash body using your favorite gentle body wash, personally I love Dove Sensitive Skin Body Wash
- After drying my body I will use Stridex Red Box pad to clean by back
- After my back is fully dry I will apply Benzoyl Peroxide
5. Stridex Maximum Strength (AKA the Red Box)
While I find Stridex to be too harsh for use on my face, it’s been awesome at treating body acne.
Per the instructions above, I will use it after taking a shower. After using Stridex, I will apply Dr. Song’s Benzoyl Peroxide. The combination of these 2 products cured by back acne within a matter of days.
6. Huangjisoo Pure Daily Foaming Cleanser
While I haven’t been able to find any evidence based findings about this cleanser, I personally LOVE IT! Since my skin is sensitive I find that many cleansers cause me to break out. But not this one.
It’s deep cleaning without being over drying or irritating. The ingredients are 95% natural or organic, and all their face washes are EWG Verified.
While they have a full line of cleansers, the Anti-skin trouble with Chamomile extract is my favorite.
7. Manuka Honey
Manuka honey is a “super-honey” known for its powerful antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties. The benefits of Manuka honey range from treating digestive issues, sore throats, cuts, and you guessed it…Acne.
This special type of medical grade honey can improve your skin’s appearance in a number of ways. It can balance your skin’s pH level while its anti-inflammatory effects can decrease inflammation caused by acne.
Studies show that Manuka honey can destroy harmful acne causing bacteria, including antibiotic resistant bacteria.
It can be used in the following ways:
- As a face wash/cleanser
- As a mask (both in treating acne and as a moisturizing mask)
- As a spot treatment
I have personally used Manuka honey as a cleanser, mask, and spot treatment. I see the most benefits in using it as a mask, letting it sit for at least 30 minute before rinsing off with water.
Since it’s more expensive that regular honey I found using it as a wash to be wasteful.
Manuka honey, since it’s considered medical grade, measures its potency in 3 different ways – UMF, MGO, and KFactor. Here is a helpful chart which explains what the numbers mean without going into too much detail. Be sure to get a brand that is strong enough otherwise it may not give you the results you’re looking for.
In my personal experience, this honey has worked extremely well for me.
Like all products, please be sure to spot test before using on your entire face. While allergic reactions to honey are rare, it can happen.
8. Shower Filter
I purchased this shower filter almost 4 years ago, and it’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made.
Unfortunately, in most locations, water coming straight from the tap is known to be “hard water”.
Hard water is a common quality of water which contains dissolved compounds of calcium, magnesium and, often times, other metallic elements.
These elements have a slew of negative effects on the skin.
First, hard water prevents soap from lathering and washing away. That means you are left with soap residue on the skin even after washing which can cause pore clogging and irritation.
Additionally, the impurities themselves, such as calcium and chlorine can cling to your skin causing over drying leading to breakouts.
Do you ever notice a difference in your skin when you travel even though your skincare regime remains exactly the same? The water your are bathing in could be the culprit.
There are lots of different types of shower filters out there, but I’ve found this one to be both affordable and reliable.
Other Important Tips
Keep a Clean Diet
These products have been instrumental for me in treating my chronic acne, however, what’s made the biggest difference over the years is diet. I try to stay clear of dairy, processed sugars, and products that contain gluten.
I’ve also discovered for me personally, keeping to a diet free from all grains (rice, oats, wheat, etc.), dairy, sugars, and refined foods has been key.
Still, if I indulge in the wrong foods, my skin will pay the price.
Keep those Pillow Cases Clean
Change your pillow cases every night. It may sound excessive, but it makes a difference.
While you sleep, your pillow cases absorb sweat and oil from your hair and face. If you don’t keep your pillow cases clean, the following night your are putting your face right back on a dirty surface. It’s a recipe for a breakout.
When you wash your pillow cases, using a natural, non-scented, non-irritating detergent.
These products and lifestyle changes have personally worked incredibly well for me over the years, and I hope that they work for you as well.
Just remember to start slow whenever introducing new products so you know what is working and what is not.
DISCLAIMER: The information in this article is for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.