Acne is one of the most common skin conditions in both adolescents and adults. It occurs when hair follicles become blocked, inflamed, and in the worst case, infected. Not only is it a dermatological problem, but, depending on its severity, it can also have emotional repercussions on those who suffer from it.
In the process of writing this shopping guide, we have analyzed the very best acne creams currently available on the market based on their ingredients, efficiency, and price, among other factors. We have also answered the most frequently asked questions regarding this skin condition and acne creams. In addition, the final section of this article will detail the primary purchasing criteria you should keep in mind when buying one of these products.
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- While many people still believe that acne only affects teenagers, adults of all ages suffer from it as well.
- Acne creams are useful in cases of mild to moderate acne, while also supporting topical treatments for severe acne.
- There are various factors to take into account when searching for your acne cream. These include both your type of acne and skin, the formulation of the product, or whether it contains a sun protection factor or not.
The Best Acne Cream in the United Kingdom: Our Picks
With such a wide array of acne creams available on the market, you may feel like most are similar. However, they do not all act in the same way, nor are they all as efficient as you might think. The active ingredients will vary from one product to the next, which in turn influences the price. In the following section, you will discover our selection of the best acne creams currently available out there:
Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Acne Creams
What is acne exactly?
- Heredity: Acne is a hereditary condition. If your parents or siblings have suffered from it, you are more likely to have it too. This type of acne isn't easy to fight but can be counteracted.
- Hormonal changes: They are one of the leading causes of acne, especially when experienced during adolescence. These changes affect sebum production, which can trigger the process of inflammation and infection.
- Diet: A poor diet can also favor the appearance of acne, although this is less common than the two previous factors. Try to avoid saturated fats and very spicy foods.
- Infection of hair follicles: These can often become infected in areas of the body that have hair – armpits, pubis, legs, or chest and back in men – especially after hair removal.
How does acne manifest it?
|Type of acne||Characteristics|
|Hormonal-related acne|| Inflammation, especially in the chin and jaw area.
Cyclical occurrence linked to the menstrual cycle in women.
It can be treated with antibiotics or contraceptive drugs.
|Subclinical acne|| Few blackheads and pus-filled pimples that are barely visible.
Small skin blemishes.
|Comedonal acne|| Blackheads and pus-filled pimples that may appear reddened.
|Mild acne|| Several inflamed pimples.
Less than 20 pus-filled spots or blackheads.
15 inflamed pimples or less.
Less than 30 non-inflamed pimples.
|Moderate acne|| Numerous pimples and pustules.
Between 20 and 100 pus-filled spots.
15 to 20 inflamed pimples.
20 to 125 non-inflamed pimples.
|Severe nodular acne|| Inflamed pimples and pustules, as well as deep nodules that can be felt under the skin.
More than five cysts on the face (areas hardened by subcutaneous acne).
|Severe cystic acne||Many cystic nodules that leave scars.|
What are the most common active ingredients in acne creams?
- Benzoyl peroxide: It is one of the most common ingredients in this type of cream because it prevents bacterial growth and controls excess sebum.
- Salicylic acid: It works as a chemical exfoliant by breaking down accumulated dirt and sebum, thus preventing pores from clogging.
- Alpha-hydroxy acids: They help remove dead cells and stimulate new skin growth, significantly improving the appearance of pores and scars.
- Sulfur: Sulfur will also remove dead cells and excess sebum. While it is efficient, sulfur can cause dry skin and has a pungent odor that can be unpleasant to some.
- Tea tree oil: Tea tree oil has powerful antibacterial properties. Note that it can cause irritation or even allergies if it is not diluted in water or carrier oils.
What types of acne creams are there?
- Moisturizing cream: This type of lotion moisturizes the skin while preventing the spread of bacteria on the face. They are recommended in cases of mild to moderate acne.
- Exfoliating cream: Exfoliants contribute to cleansing your face by removing dead cells and blemishes.
- Local cream: These creams are applied only on pimples and blackheads. They are quite powerful, which is why their use on the whole face or other areas of the body is not advised.
- Face mask: They are generally applied at night and often include clay in their formulas, which can reduce blackheads and control sebum production.
What are the benefits of acne creams?
- Acne creams moisturize the skin, hindering the mobility of bacteria.
- They decrease swelling to notably improve the aspect of the face.
- Products containing antibiotics not only fight acne but any disease or bacteria present in the face.
- Creams act directly on the pimples and are therefore a localized treatment, in contrast to pills.
Do acne creams have any contraindications?
- They can't be used forever. If they don't work, it is best to discontinue use or try a different product. Once your situation has improved, it is also recommended that you stop using them, as they may irritate your skin or create a dependency.
- Tolerance is one of their main problems. Dermatologists often advise their patients to change cream every few months so that their skin does not get used to it.
- As various specialists have pointed out, not all spot-drying cosmetic products work because you should pay attention that they are non-comedogenic and free of fat and alcohol.
- Acne creams are not effective for all types of acne and are only indicated for mild to moderate acne. In severe cases, they are a support method but not a treatment on their own.
Why doesn't my acne cream work?
We also recommend that you be patient, as these products are rarely effective overnight. Some creams can even take up to four months to deliver their full potential. As we mentioned earlier, always read the instructions and follow the indications of the manufacturer or your health professional.
With so many different acne creams on the market, it is important to remember that they are not all suitable for everyone. Just like any cosmetic or health product, it is essential that you evaluate several factors to choose the right cream for you. We have detailed these criteria in the following section:
This is the most important factor. All skins are different, and each cream is specially formulated for a particular skin type. People with oily skins that don't need moisturizing will use creams with salicylic acid, while lower concentrations are recommended for dry skins.
On the other hand, sensitive skins require acne creams with milder active ingredients. These are some examples to show you how much your skin type should influence your final decision. If you have any doubts, please check with a specialist.
As you may have realized, the type of acne you suffer from also determines the product you should buy. Creams are only suitable as standalone treatments in cases of mild to moderate acne. For severe acne, they are considered a support method for the primary treatment.
You should also find out whether the acne you suffer from is hormonal – such as that suffered during adolescence – or whether there are other causes behind it. It may be related, for instance, to medications you are taking. Depending on the cause of your acne, you should use a specific type of cream or none at all.
The ingredients present in the acne cream are what differentiates one product from another, which is why this is a critical factor in your purchase. While the packages vary from each other, what really matters is what's inside the cream. Any acne product – including creams – should be non-comedogenic and minimally oily.
That way, it will not contribute to clogging your pores. Also, the active ingredient should be one of those we discussed earlier: benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, alpha-hydroxy acids, sulfur, tea tree oil, or clays of different types are the most common ingredients for acne creams.
As we mentioned in the previous section, most creams should be applied to the entire area affected by acne. However, there are also local options that should only be used on blackheads and pus-filled pimples. In that regard, you must read the instructions of the manufacturer of the product carefully to confirm its indicated use.
It is essential that you follow these instructions since localized creams often have stronger formulas that can cause irritation when used on healthy skin. Similarly, if a cream is meant to be applied over the whole affected area, you should do so in order to maximize its effectiveness.
Acne is a skin condition that affects a vast majority of us at some point in our lives. While it is more common among teenagers, it also occurs in adults of all ages. Severe cases of acne not only affect the skin's health but can also cause mood swings, low self-esteem, anxiety, and even depression.
We all know how difficult not looking at our best can be. The good news is that you have solutions available if acne is the cause. These creams are very effective, especially in cases of mild to moderate acne. If you suffer from severe acne, they are also a very useful support to other treatments, such as hormonal methods or pills.
If you found our guide on acne creams helpful, feel free to leave us a comment in the section below. You can also share it on your social media!
(Source of featured image: Roman Iegoshyn: 94480568/ 123rf.com)