Acne tries to make life hard from clogging pores to leaving scars. It is a lifecycle with four stages which means each stage requires a different solution. But all is not lost. Let’s take a look at the anti-acne ingredients and which work the best for each acne stage.
With tons of anti-acne products popping up, it could get overwhelming as to which one to add to your skincare routine. Well, to make it easier, let’s first look at each stage of acne. Then let’s get into the one main hero ingredient that works best for each stage.
Four stages of acne
Like any skin concern, there are certain stages for acne as well. Once you know what stage of acne you are at, it makes life much easier to deal with them. After all a salicylic acid serum won’t help scars while exfoliating is a no-no during breakouts.
Stage 1 - Acne-prone skin
There are tons of reasons as to why we end up with sensitive skin that is prone to acne. Whether it is less sleep and hormonal imbalance or just puberty, the common denominator is that you end up with oily skin and buildup of dead skin cells.
Stage 2 - Pre breakout
You know what happens when you have open pores, excess sebum and dead skin cells? Your pores get clogged which lead to blackheads and whiteheads. And while you may think they are harmless, if left untreated, they can turn into acne.
Stage 3 - Breakout
Did you try to pinch out a blackhead and get it inflamed? Or did that bump under your skin finally turn into a full-fledged pimple? Welcome to the breakout stage as bacterial growth leads to forming of acne.
Stage 4 - Post breakout
Say that you finally got rid of that stubborn acne on your cheek. But it probably has left behind a scar or a blemish that may take longer to remove. You may also experience hyperpigmentation since inflammation causes melanin production where the acne was formed.
Hero ingredient for each stage
Have you finally figured out what stage your skin is at? You can also identify what stage your acne is at by taking a dermatologist-made quiz on Acne Squad’s website. Well, then the next step is to see what ingredient works for which stage.
Stage 1 - Niacinamide
If you are still at stage 1 and only have acne-prone skin, you still have time to prevent acne from forming in the first place! You can do this by exfoliating, deep cleansing your pores and controlling oil production. Well, your best bet is a 10% niacinamide product like the Acne Squad’s Super Shield Serum and Super Saviour Spot Corrector which are co-created with dermatologists. Niacinamide does all that and more from like oil control, even skin tone and moisturising your face.
Stage 2 - Salicylic acid
If you already see blackheads and whiteheads, don’t fret as clearing clogged pores just became easier. Turn to a 2% salicylic acid serum or cleanser as it dissolves the grime clogging your pores. Salicylic acid also controls oil production and avoids future breakouts. It is an extremely popular anti-acne ingredient and is found in the Kick-Start Cleanser, X-Foliating Scrub, Incredible Peeling Tonic as well as the Breakout Blocker Serum and the Breakout Terminator Spot Corrector. They are all non-comedogenic which means they are specially created to clear pores.
Stage 3 - Thymol T
If you are already at the breakout stage, you can restore your skin’s health with Thymol T essence. It kills the acne-causing bacteria and reduces inflammation. Found in the Breakout Terminator Serum and Kick-Start Cleanser, it can actually reduce acne in 3 days, such is the power of Thymol T! It also removes the damaged layers so you don’t have to worry about stage 4 for long.
You can double up on the defense with the Breakout Terminator Spot Corrector as it also contains zinc and salicylic acid which eliminate up to 99.9% of the acne-causing bacteria, reduces excess oil and evens your skin tone.
Stage 4 - Triple concentrate formula
Before you finally take a sigh of relief after clearing your skin from acne, we still have a little way to go. For the last stage, reach deep into your arsenal to reduce hyperpigmentation and dark spots with a triple concentrate formula. The Super Saviour Serum and its spot corrector counterpart are the triple-kills you need to win the last stretch of the battle.
Their triple concentrate formula makes use of a patented blend of three powerhouse of ingredients! First, we have niacinamide which we know evens skin tone. To amplify its benefits and to further control excess melanin production, the second formula it takes the help of is the organic chemical hexylresorcinol. Finally, the third formula which sounds equally complicated is retinyl propionate but it makes life easy. It's actually a form of vitamin A which boosts growth of new skin cells which means a fresh layer of smooth and even skin!
How to use each ingredient
Now that you know which ingredient you need for each stage, let’s take a look at how we can add them to our routine.
Step 1 - The most basic rule of the thumb is to always start with a fresh and clean face no matter what stage you are at. For that, wash your face in the morning and night with the Kick-Start Cleanser that is gentle and suitable for all skin types.
Step 2 - Next, dab some Wonder Toner on your face and neck twice a day after washing your face. Loaded with 4% PHA, it not only tightens pores but also clears clogged pores and controls excess sebum.
Step 3 - Now, depending on your acne stage, apply the relevant serum. The Super Shield Serum works for stage 1, the Breakout Blocker Serum is for stage 2, the Breakout Terminator Serum is for stage 3 and for stage 4, go for the Super Saviour Serum. Shake well and put two to three drops of the relevant serum all over your face. Similarly, follow this step twice a day after applying the toner.
Step 4 - Top it off with the Multi-Tasker Moisturiser + Sunscreen. With SPF 25 and vitamin B3, it not only protects against harmful UV rays and oxidative stress but also builds the skin’s barrier. Apply it generously on your face before you head out.
Step 5 - If you are one for an intense routine which doesn’t give any leeway for acne to linger, finish up your routine with a spot corrector. Use the Breakout Terminator Spot Corrector on the acne if you are at the breakout stage, and the Super Saviour Spot Corrector on blemishes and scars.
Do you have a wedding to attend next week or not seeing the results you expect? If you have hormone-induced acne or a severe case of breakouts, you can boost your routine with additional help. Exfoliate once a week with the X-Foliating Scrub after washing your face with the cleanser if you are at stage 2. While it is gentle, it easily unclogs pores and prevents breakouts.
If you are stage 3 and are praying to the beauty gods to soothe tender and stubborn acne, Incredible Peeling Tonic is your saviour. Apply it before the Wonder Toner for best results. The tonic is powered with 5% AHA, 1% BHA and 1% PHA. No, you don't have to brush up on your chemistry to use it. Basically, these ingredients smoothen the skin’s texture, unclog pores and exfoliate skin without irritating the pimples.
Well, now that you know which ingredient works best for which acne stage, what are you waiting for? Add the right products to your skincare routine and say goodbye to acne.
Written by Lopa K on Oct 20, 2022