I’ve been dealing with acne for so long that oftentimes, I forget what my clear, baby-faced skin once looked like back in middle school. If you, too, have been dealing with acne for most of your adult life (according to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne occurring in adults is steadily increasing), you’ve probably tried every over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription treatment available in an attempt to keep your breakouts at bay.
As you probably already know, benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are the two most widely used ingredients within the dermatology field, and have been proven to kill acne-forming bacteria underneath the skin. The vast majority of skin-care products feature these two powerhouses within their acne-focused formulas, and while they do work for some folks, they aren’t the cure-all for everyone.
No, the list of ingredients below are not all necessarily new to the dermatology world, but they are all new developments in recent acne-fighting formulas — many scientists and dermatologists are just now discovering the potential efficacy that these ingredients can have in treating and minimizing breakouts, without the added irritation that comes along with ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. If these powerhouse ingredients aren’t working for you, it might be time to try something new.
Whether it’s adding probiotics, thyme and oregano, monk’s pepper, honey, or clascoterone to your skin-care regimen, read on to discover the multiple alternatives research has suggested have the potential to also fight against acne, each in their own unique way.
Probiotics and Prebiotics
The connection between your gut health and skin health only seems to be growing, and many probiotic-focused skin-care brands, including Aurelia Skincare and Ellis Day Skin Science, are developing products to create balance outside the gut microbiome, onto the skin microbiome.
“An imbalance of bacteria in the gut can lead to leaky gut, but an imbalance of bacteria on the skin can lead to something I call ‘leaky skin,'” explains Whitney Bowe, a board-certified dermatologist in the greater New York City area and author of the book The Beauty of Dirty Skin. “When your skin microbiome is off-balance, meaning that the healthy balance of good bacteria on your skin is not intact, this can compromise your skin’s natural barrier. This leads to inflammation, which, in turn, results in chronic skin conditions like acne, eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis.”
An unhealthy skin microbiome can not only trigger chronic, ongoing inflammation in the skin, but it can also allow unhealthy, inflammatory microbes to take hold and thrive. “Specifically, in the case of acne, microbial balance on the skin is critical because it helps prevent inflammation, helps maintain a healthy skin barrier (which is so important in preventing acne), and it keeps inflammatory microbes like P. acnes from overgrowing and exacerbating papules and pustules in the skin,” explains Bowe.