Breakouts! They’re enormously frustrating and enormously common. Despite the popularity, there’s still a lot of confusion around which ingredients will help calm and soothe congestion.
So! To cut through all that, we’ve pulled together a handy list of five ingredients that are known for their breakout busting abilities.
But first! An adorable and helpful warning! You’ll spot a couple of chemical exfoliants in this list. And while they are very good for treating congestion, it’s best to go easy. (Especially if you’re new to the AHA/BHA game.) Introduce only one new ingredient at a time, and start out just once a week, gradually building up as your skin can handle it.
Got it? Great! Now onto the ingredients..
Willow Bark Extract
A plant-based powerhouse derived from the willow tree. Willow bark extract is a natural exfoliant that contains salicylic acid (ahem, which you’ll be hearing a little more about in just a minute..). It helps your skin shed dead skin cells and clear pores. A brilliant, gentle option for particularly irritated skin.
The first chemical exfoliant to grace the best-for-breakouts list is lactic acid. A naturally-derived Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) is much loved for its ability to assist in cell renewal and skin rejuvenation, keeping skin soft and fighting premature ageing, but it’s also very beneficial for clearing away congestion.
How? Like the good (great) chemical exfoliant it is, lactic acid exfoliates the skin’s surface to prevent build up causing congestion. It also has a rep for being the most gentle of all the AHAs, something very helpful for skin that’s already irritated.
A naturally derived clay that’s brilliant for frequently breakout-y skin. Kaolin clay works hard to draw out excess oil, sebum, and any other impurities from the surface of the skin. In turn, this helps to cleanse and clear the pores and prevent congestion from recurring. Most often found in face masks (ahem, like our very own The Removalist) or dedicated spot treatments, kaolin clay is an excellent team player.
The super soother! Zinc oxide is often thought of as just an ingredient that is used in physical SPFs, but that’s far from the case. Zinc oxide is a naturally-occurring mineral and nutrient with a whole lotta calming skin benefits.
If your skin is red, angry, or irritated thanks to some pesty little pimples and you just want to give it something - anything! - to help calm things down, zinc oxide is 100% your guy.
Salicylic acid is a chemical exfoliant enormously well-known for acne-prone skin. It comes from the Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) family, which means it’s brilliant for giving your pores a real thorough clear out which can help stop pimples occurring in the first place. As an exfoliant it will also assist in clearing away dead skin cells and encourage cell turnover.
Salicylic acid is particularly excellent for blackheads and whiteheads so if your congestion comes in the shape of either of those, adding a salicylic acid product into your routine is a very clever idea indeed.