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The Best Skincare Ingredients for Oily, Acne-Prone Skin

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, 5 min read

The Best Skincare Ingredients for Oily, Acne-Prone Skin

Acne is often a source of insecurity among those who struggle with it. Long associated with the awkward, hormonal teenage years, acne afflicts people of all ages and phases of life, not just teenagers.

Symptoms like oily skin and pimples accompany this skin condition, and long-term consequences like scarring are a possibility. In other words, acne can bemore than just a temporary inconvenience for chronic sufferers. There are also other medical conditions that can include acne symptoms. Making sure to speak with your doctor is key in determining if this is due to common acne or another issue.

If you want to boost your confidence and improve your quality of life by safely and effectively combating your oily, acne-prone skin, there are a plethora of skincare products available. The problem is, the skincare market is saturated with cleansers, moisturisers, breakout stoppers, and more. Every product claims to be a miracle that will transform your skin. Sorting through the options and the marketing can be overwhelming.

To ensure you choose the best skincare products for your acne-prone skin, it is important to look for options that contain the right ingredients. While there are a handful of superb ingredients you should add to your skincare routine, especially as acne treatment, there are three that stand out from the rest. Check them out below.

Benzoyl Peroxide

One of the most common and popular skincare products for acne-prone skin recommended by dermatologists is benzoyl peroxide. There are several reasons why this particular ingredient is a go-to among dermatologists and those with acne, making it a compelling option for those seeking the best.

Available as a prescription or over-the-counter acne medicine, benzoyl peroxide is available in numerous forms. Creams, face washes, gels, lotions, and more are all available, allowing you to choose the perfect product to fit your lifestyle and skincare routine.

This ingredient reduces the amount of acne-causing bacteria on your skin and removes dead skin cells, reducing the possibility of your pores clogging. These two benefits make it a powerful anti-acne ingredient that yields fantastic results for many people who use it.

As a bonus, benzoyl peroxide is relatively mild. The vast majority of people who try the product are receptive to it and do not suffer from any negative side effects. The most notable downside of this particular skincare ingredient is its bleaching effect. Hair and fabrics alike can be bleached if they come in contact with benzoyl peroxide, so be careful upon application! It is possible to have drying of the skin, redness, irritation, peeling, and in some cases an allergic reaction. Testing the product on a small area of skin that is affected for a few days is suggested before general use.1

Salicylic Acid

This skincare ingredient may be classified as an acid, but it’s entirely safe to use as an acne treatment. In fact, it is one of the best ingredients available for those with acne thanks to its powerful exfoliating ability.

With a primary use as an exfoliant, salicylic acid is primarily employed to keep pores clear. It works by penetrating into the skin, then dissolving dead skin cells. This effectively unclogs pores and keeps them clean with continued use. The end result is a reduction of blackheads and whiteheads, as well as a diminished risk of future breakouts.

While highly effective, salicylic acid does require time to see maximal results, so patience is key. Your GP or dermatologist will give you a good idea of how long you may wait to see results, keep tabs on your progress, and make adjustments to your skincare regimen if progress isn’t as expected. 

Like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid is available in different forms that range from lotions and ointments to pads and soaps. Because it is an acid, there are inherent risks to using salicylic acid, but significant side effects are rare. Still, be sure to discuss them with your GP or dermatologist to make sure you have a comprehensive picture of the product and how it works.2 It’s also important to know that using salicylic acid can make your skin more sensitive to the sun so always apply sunscreen when using it and be careful when outside. 


Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are great at cleansing pores and clearing dead skin cells, bacteria, and other substances that can cause clogs that lead to acne. In order to maximise the effectiveness of your skincare routine, you must address all aspects of your skin. For those with acne, that typically includes oily skin.

Oily skin is more likely to develop acne than other skin types, so it stands to reason that reducing the excess oil will benefit your skin in numerous ways, including acne prevention. Notice, however, that oil itself is not the problem. Healthy skin has oils, and dry skin is just as bad as excessively oily skin. The goal, then, should be to find the right balance of oil.

Often referred to as sebum, oil in the skin is produced by the sebaceous glands. If your sebaceous glands are overactive, you are likely to have oily skin. When your skin’s oil glands get blocked, acne is likely to occur. As such, there is a correlation between oily skin and acne, and reducing excess oils to more natural levels can help fight the frequency and intensity of breakouts.

Niacinamide is one of the best ingredients for balancing the production levels of the sebaceous glands, thereby bringing excess oil into check. As a result of this reduction in sebum, especially collected in pores, acne will likely improve. When used in conjunction with ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, these positive effects are even more profound.

Best of all, niacinamide is a B vitamin that is already part of your diet. Because it is naturally occurring and already included in your diet, it is safe to incorporate into mostskincare routines. However, please note, there is special care taken with children and pregnant women whom are considered vulnerable.3

Brighter Skin, Brighter Future

Choosing the best skincare ingredients for your acne-fighting routine is the first step toward brighter, clearer skin. Benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and niacinamide are all fantastic building blocks upon which to build your skincare regimen. As these proven skincare staples help your skin clear and you feel happier and more confident, there’s no doubt that your future will look a little brighter, too.

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  1. NHS, About benzoyl peroxide, published September 2022
  2. British Association of Dermatologist, Acne, published July 2020
  3. Acne Support, Niacinamide, reviewed January 2023 

The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.

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