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The Best Lotions for Acne on the Skin

The Best Lotions for Acne on the Skin The Best Lotions for Acne on the Skin The Best Lotions for Acne on the Skin

Most people experience some form of acne during their lifetime. Acne not only affects teenagers but also adults. There are four basic acne triggers--excess oil, bacteria, inflammation and clogged pores. Acne lotions contain various ingredients that treat different symptoms. A variety of acne lotions are available in both prescription and non-prescription formulas. The best acne lotion is the one that contains the ingredient suited to your specific acne problem.

Alcohol & Acetone

Lotions containing alcohol and acetone are effective in treating mild acne. The acetone is a degreasing agent, and alcohol is antimicrobial and helps reduce bacteria on the skin surface. Both ingredients must be used together to have an effect on acne, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Another treatment for mild acne is benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide works to unclog pores, remove excess oil and kill bacteria that cause inflammation, according to the Mayo Clinic. The main side effects are excessive skin dryness and bleaching hair or clothing.


Acne lotions containing sulfur have been an effective treatment for mild acne for over 50 years, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Mainly they are used in combination with other acne creams such as resorcinol, alcohol and salicylic acid. The down side to using sulfur is the smell. This is another reason it is used with other acne lotions. Sulfur removes dead skin cells, helping to unclog pores and remove excess oil.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid returns skin to normal shedding by slowing cell turnover, helping to unclog pores and prevent lesions and further outbreaks. It does not work on excess oil or P. acnes bacteria and must be continuously used to be effective.

Alpha Hydroxy Acid

Lotions containing alpha hydroxy acids remove dead skin cells by exfoliating the skin surface. This clears the pores, reduces inflammation and stimulates the growth of new cells, according to the Mayo Clinic. The Food and Drug Association recommends using a UVA/UVB sunblock of SPF 30 or higher while using lotions containing alpha hydroxy acids. They increase sun sensitivity in the skin, which causes an increased risk of sunburn. Sun sensitivity lasts up to two weeks after discontinuing use.

Topical Tretinoin

Tretinoin is a prescription retinol cream that works on moderate to severe acne. It comes in gel, cream and lotion form. It causes the skin to slough off the surface cells, unclogging the pores. It keeps the pores clear, which prevents new outbreaks. Tretinoin also causes sun sensitivity, and a broad-spectrum sunblock should be used with this lotion. Products containing sulfur should not be used while using tretinoin. These include benzoyl peroxide, dandruff shampoos and salicylic acid.

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