Acne is characterized by the onset of blackheads, whiteheads, pustules and cysts. They can appear anywhere on the skin, but most commonly on the face. Although there are many over the counter acne products on the market, some are more effective than others.
Benzoyl Peroxide Cream
Benzoyl peroxide creams work by depositing oxygen into the pores of the skin, thereby killing off acne-causing bacteria inside. There are many strengths of benzoyl peroxide cream, including 10 percent, 5 percent and 2.5 percent concentrations. It may seem logical to use the higher strength benzoyl peroxide creams, but higher strength applications can cause irritations on the skin, such as peeling, burning or redness. The most effective over the counter benzoyl peroxide cream for everyday use is the lowest strength, which is the 2.5 percent cream. Apply it twice daily to clear acne breakouts.
Diluted Tea Tree Oil
According to the Department of Dermatology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, tea tree oil is an effective alternative to benzoyl peroxide cream, and works by killing off acne causing microbes and bacteria in the skin. Tea tree oil is an over the counter acne fighter that is bottled in its pure form, which is directly extracted from the Australian tea tree plant. To use it on acne breakouts, dilute it into a 5 percent concentration. To do this, mix 8 ounces of water with 5 drops of pure tea tree oil. Apply the solution to acne-prone skin up to three times per day.
Salicylic Acid Gel
Salicylic acid gel is effective in increasing the skin's ability to slough off dead skin cells. Dead skin cells can clog the pores, potentially resulting in acne breakouts and blackheads. Using salicylic acid on the skin regularly will keep the pores clear and free of blockages. Salicylic acid comes in different strengths and forms, but is the most effective in a gel that has a 20 percent concentration of salicylic acid. A pea-sized amount should be applied to the skin twice per day.