5 Active Ingredients that Help Regenerate Acne-Affected Skin

There are active ingredients that can revitalize and renew skin affected by acne. Salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and retinoids are some of them. Learn more here.
5 Active Ingredients that Help Regenerate Acne-Affected Skin
Leonardo Biolatto

Reviewed and approved by the doctor Leonardo Biolatto.

Written by Editorial Team

Last update: 24 June, 2023

Proper skin care is essential in order to improve its appearance. In this article, we’ll focus on active ingredients that have proven to be effective in regenerating acne-affected skin.

Acne is a skin condition characterized by the appearance of inflammatory and non-inflammatory lesions. These active ingredients that we’ll discuss are found in topical products and act through several mechanisms:

  • Reducing inflammation
  • Stimulating healing
  • Promoting cell renewal

The active ingredients that help regenerate acne-affected skin

The causes of acne are multifactorial, as explained by the Mayo Clinic. This includes hormonal factors, genetic predisposition, excessive sebum production, and bacterial colonization, among others.

One of the biggest concerns is the scars and marks that remain after the lesions heal.

However, it’s encouraging to know that there are active ingredients, backed by science, that can provide significant benefits to acne-affected skin. Let’s take a closer look at them.

1. Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is an active ingredient used in acne skin care products because of its exfoliating and anti-inflammatory properties. It works by penetrating pores and dissolving excess sebum, dead cells, and blockages that contribute to the formation of comedones.

By gently exfoliating the outer layer of the skin, salicylic acid unclogs pores and prevents future clogging. In addition, it has anti-inflammatory properties that decrease irritation and redness.

Salicylic acid is available in several forms, such as facial cleansers, toners, serums, creams, and even as part of a combination of active products within the same product.

A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that the use of facial cleansers with 2% salicylic acid can decrease acne lesion counts. Another study published by the journal Clinical Therapeutics suggests that using it on pads reduces the number of lesions associated with mild to moderate acne vulgaris.

2. Benzoyl peroxide

Its mechanism of action is based on the ability to fight the bacterium Cutibacterium acnes, which is one of the main ones responsible for the development of acne. Benzoyl peroxide helps to release oxygen into the skin pores, creating an unfavorable environment for the microorganism. Reducing the colonies of this bacteria reduces inflammation.

Although it’s an effective active ingredient, it’s important to take some precautions when using it. It may cause dryness, flaking, and reddening of the skin, especially at the beginning of treatment.

It’s recommended to start with a lower concentration and apply the product sparingly. In addition, it’s essential to apply sunscreen during the day, as it may increase sensitivity to ultraviolet rays.

3. Retinoids

Retinoids are derivatives of vitamin A and are used in the treatment of acne-affected skin due to their exfoliating and cell turnover-stimulating properties. By increasing the rate of cell turnover, they help get rid of dead cells and prevent clogged pores. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) and the European Dermatology Forum (EDF) agree that their use plays a key role.

They can be found topically, as in serums, creams, and masks, and also for oral consumption. Topical retinoids are applied to clean, dry skin before bedtime, as they can also be photosensitizing.

It’s recommended to start with a lower concentration and increase gradually according to skin tolerance.

Dryness, flaking, and redness may be experienced initially, but these effects usually diminish over time. In the case of oral retinoids, their prescription is reserved for moderate to severe acne, with the supervision of a dermatologist.

4. Glycolic acid

Glycolic acid is an active ingredient that belongs to the alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) family and helps regenerate acne-affected skin. Its low molecular weight allows it to penetrate deep into the complexion and gently exfoliate the surface layers.

In addition, it stimulates collagen and elastin production, which helps improve overall texture and appearance. A study conducted by the Department of Dermatology at the University of Cagliari in Italy, conducted on 80 women, concluded that “chemical peels with glycolic acid are an effective treatment for all types of acne.”

5. Niacinamide

Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, is a versatile and beneficial active ingredient for acne-affected skin. This compound acts in several ways to promote regeneration and improve appearance.

First, it has anti-inflammatory properties, which helps reduce redness. In addition, it regulates sebum production, thereby preventing pore clogging and the formation of comedones.

It also stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, which improves skin elasticity and firmness.

According to an article published in Practical Dermatology, its sebum-regulating action and its ability to repair the protective barrier make it an effective ingredient. But not only for treatment during outbreaks, but as a sustaining one, after the lesions have been removed.

When to see a dermatologist?

While the active ingredients mentioned are promising for regenerating acne-affected skin, it’s important to note that each case varies in severity and requires an individualized approach. It’s recommended to seek professional care if you experience severe, persistent, or unresponsive acne that doesn’t respond to conventional approaches.

In addition, if there’s severe pain, significant inflammation, or extensive scarring, oral medications may be necessary. Similarly, if quality of life and self-esteem are negatively affected, guidance from a specialist will be key.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.