Alternatives to Traditional Acne-Fighting Ingredients

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Reader Question: “What products can people with acne prone, sensitive skin use if they are allergic to salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide?” — Amber

Answer: Amber, you’re a girl with problems that I can so relate to, and thankfully there are hard-working acne solutions out there that don’t contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. The key ingredients you should look for are sulfur and alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic and lactic acid. Sulfur “removes dead skin cells that clog pores and helps remove excess oil,” according to the Mayo Clinic, and the AHAs work in a similar way while also helping to reduce inflammation and “stimulate the growth of new, smoother skin, which helps reduce the appearance of acne scars.” The AHAs may still cause some irritation if you are very sensitive, but the sulfur is quite gentle albeit somewhat drying. I personally have had lots of success with both lactic acid and sulfur though. A few of my go-to acne zappers are:

Rosanil Cleanser — prescription only. You’ll have to see a dermatologist to get your hands on this, but it’s so worth it. The sulfur wash is designed for people who suffer from rosacea (I’m one of them), but also helps treat acne (yup, I’ve got this too). It’s super gentle, but keeps zits at bay.

Kinara Red Carpet Facial Kit, $145 — This is a splurge, but it’s the best at-home lactic/malic acid peel I’ve ever tried. When used regularly, I swear it totally helps keep breakouts to a minimum. The three-step process is super luxurious to boot.

And a new mask I plan to try soon
Olay Pro-X Clear Intensive Refining Sulfur Mask, $29

If anyone has tried other sulfur or AHA-infused products they swear by — share them by commenting on this post. Or, if you have a beauty question of your own, share it!

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