Good acne products, but where do I start?

Where in the world does one start when it comes to their search for good acne products? It’s definitely hard to know, but knowing what kind of options you have helps a lot.

There are three main categories topicals, orals and therapies. They all have their own unique technique, but each and every one has the same goal in mind; to help you become acne free.


Topicals are most likely the first thing that comes to mind whenever you begin your journey for effective products. When you check the beauty section at your local store you find moisturizers, soaps, toners, eye creams, masks, Korean skin products, American skin products, the Avon lady and a million and one other things you apply to your skin; these are all topical products.

What you probably don’t know is that there are both over the counter and prescription products that you can use to help clear your skin.

Over the Counter:They are quite effective and definitely the most used method. 30% of acne patients buy over the counter topical treatments each year. That equals to 3 million dollars spent  in the US alone. That’s a whole lot of topicals purchased throughout the year ladies and gents.

These are so popular, because they are the most easily attainable and they are usually the cheapest out of the options you have. There are tons of good skincare lines out there that help to maintain the acne free lifestyle. Check out my review of one of my favorite lines in this review.

Prescription:Prescriptions are similar to what you would find in the store. They have a lot of the same ingredients and work the same way. Why would they need to be subscribed then you ask? Well, simply because they are a lot stronger than what they are allowed to sell over the counter. It would be the equivalent to buying tylenol and being prescribed pain medication from your doctor.

*Fun Fact: Topicals have been used through the centuries by many different cultures; these date all the way back to the ancient Greeks. Some of the ancient topicals include sulfur, molasses, lime, cabbage and not for the feint of heart, even urine.*


Orals aren’t quite as popular as topical use is. That’s only because they are typically more expensive usually ranging anywhere from 9$ to 1600$. If it is prescribed then you also have to add in the doctors visit copays, and deductible, of course.

The basic use of an oral is to control or help aid a function in the body. In turn this will allow your body to have more resources to help the skin. There are two kinds of orals that you can use when it comes to acne:          prescriptions and over the counter.

Over the Counter: When you think of orals your first thought most likely takes you to doctors and prescriptions. Yes, while these are most certainly viable options, there are also over the counter orals you can get to help with your acne troubles. These range from daily cleanses to vitamins. For more on vitamins check out my Vitamin Guide.

Prescriptions: These are medically prescribed orals (usually in pill form) by the doctor. The two main kinds are either retinoids or antibiotics. Antibiotics are used for treating acne that is likely to leave scars while retinoids are reserved to treat the most aggressive forms of acne.

The way antibiotics work is that they kill the bacteria that helps to cause acne in the first place. This will leave you with less acne and less swelling.

Retinoids, on the other hand, help the skin to grow and molt in a normalized manner. Taken in an oral form be wary, because they can have really strong side effects.

In many cases the oral will be prescribed with a topical form of treatment such as Benzoyl peroxide to ensure the effectiveness.

Some of the most popular in the U.S. are Minocycline (antibiotic) and Isoretinoin (retinoid).

*Fun Fact: Did you know that acne affects 633 million people around the globe. This makes it the 8th most common disease on the planet. So when ya get that pimple don’t worry. There are literally 632 million other people with you. *


Sitting on a couch and talking it out with your acne in a healthy manner definitely does the trick… wait… what? I don’t mean conventional therapy, of course, but there are some alternatives that you can try. However, like conventional therapy most of these will require a professional to be done safely and correctly.

These methods aren’t quite as popular, but it’s not because they aren’t effective; it’s simply because they are pretty new as far as treatments go, at least, in the sense of treating acne. They are also a bit more pricy depending on the therapy.

Acupuncture: This is most certainly the oldest that is listed, but there is a reason this practice has been done for centuries. It’s effective.

It does seem quite odd that sticking needles in certain points in your body can help to clear acne or even prevent it, but that is the power of energy I suppose. Now if you don’t believe in the power of flowing energy then don’t give up on this one quite yet. More research is being done all the time to prove the legitimacy behind the science of acupuncture.

Getting a friend to just stick needles into you isn’t how acupuncture works. You need a trained professional to do it correctly, so please don’t just buy sewing pins and beg a friend. Acupuncturists have to be licensed and go to school to do the therapy safely and correctly.

The downfalls to this is that it can get pretty pricy. Depending on the situation you might need multiple sessions and they can cost anywhere from 65$ to 300$.

Light Therapy: Now, I know you’ve seen that UV mask sitting in the store; it does seem a bit peculiar in a beauty section, but this is a therapy that has popped up in the last couple of years that seems to be grabbing hold.

So, how does it work? It uses a specific wavelength spectrum of light to slow your cell growth and inflammation of the skin. Since acne is an inflammatory disease this can help quite a lot.

When preformed by a specialist they might prescribe an oral drug to help aid the light sessions to be more effective.

These treatments can cost anywhere from 20$ to 1200$. It depends on whether you are doing it yourself with a store bought device or going to a specialist. This therapy is occasionally covered by insurances. You just have to check with your provider.

Chemical Peels:
Chemical peels are exactly what they sound like. A mix of chemicals that peels off the epidermis or first layer of skin to reveal the new skin underneath. The great thing about this is that it not only helps with acne, but it can help with other skin problems as well, such as, wrinkles, sun damage and even acne scarring.

I do not recommend doing these by yourself. These can be very dangerous and detrimental to the skin if not done properly, so they are best left to your local aesthetician.

The downside is that they are usually quite expensive ranging anywhere from 25$ to 2000$; the average is about 400$. They also leave your skin irritated after, so you have the choice of having the day off or working with a red face. Whichever works best for you.

*Fun Fact: Did you know that light therapy is used not only for acne, but even mood disorders and some forms of skin cancer. I bet you didn’t know light was that important to us.*

Be aware that everything has side affects, so please be careful and know what you are using for your body.

I know there is a lot out there, but being educated about your options is extraordinarily helpful when it comes to treating your acne. So which of these have you guys used in the past or are using presently? Which ones have worked for you?

2 thoughts on “Good acne products, but where do I start?

  1. Hey Betsey! I always learn something new when I read your articles, in this case it was what “retinoids” were, for starters. Neither here nor there! Luckily as I’ve aged my acne issues have pretty much taken care of themselves. With that said, I’ve been heavily contemplating getting a chemical peel. I don’t know much about them, I know that there are different types. But if I’m just wanting a smoother look, if my skin looks a bit dull and has lost it’s brightness, what would you recommend? I would love any advice that you may have! Thanks for sharing this and I look forward to hearing from you! Cheers!

    1. I am so happy that you learned something new!! That is what I aim to do for you all. 🙂 For the chemical peels I would recommend having a superficial peel. It takes off only the first layer of skin and is good for a renewed look and those who haven’t had one before. A lot of times, depending on where you go, they can formulate the peel specifically for your skin.
      Thanks for dropping by as always, and keep reading!

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