When you have to deal with acne, or even when you don’t, it is a common standard of hygiene and skin health to cleanse your face twice per day. Once in the morning and once at night. This washes away dirt, oil, and bacteria. And some washes provide added moisture or anti-aging ingredients to fight wrinkles. For the person battling pimples, it’s important to know what’s in your face wash, because acne is slightly different for everyone. Some things that work for others may not provide the results you want. Knowing about the ingredients in your face wash will teach you just what helps you fight off acne and what doesn’t.
Seven Common Ingredients in Acne Face Wash
This is a type of beta hydroxy acid found in most washes for people with acne prone skin, and generally comes in 2% concentrations. It fights blackheads and whiteheads by dissolving oily build-up, dirt, and debris. Products that contain salicylic acid must not be overused, so as not to dry out the skin.
This fruit-derived alpha-hydroxy acid helps slough off dead skin cells, which can clog pores. The sloughing of these cells helps keep the skin renewed, and also promotes production of collagen and elastin. It is additionally helpful for the prevention of wrinkles and age spots.
Allantoin, also known as 5-ureidohydantoin or glyoxyldiureide, is a chemical compound often found in facial cleansers and other cosmetics. It has been sanctioned by the FDA for use in .5% to 2% concentrations. Considered a conditioner and protectant, allantoin helps ease any irritation while also alleviating dryness and flakiness.
Glycerin, or glycerol, is a sugar alcohol found in many personal care products, including face wash. It mainly functions as a humectant and lubricant to enhance skin smoothness and hydration. Similar to allantoin, it relieves irritation and reduces dryness, which is important to acne prevention.
Sodium Laureth Sulfate
This common ingredient, a detergent and surfactant, is a medium that acts similarly to soap. It is used in shampoos and washes largely as a foaming agent. While it is a cleanser and can help soften the skin, it has come under wide scrutiny and controversy. The movement for safe and organic products reveals sodium laureth sulfate to be an irritant and a component in 1,4 dioxane—a known carcinogen. Some would advocate choosing an acne treatment that do not contain this ingredient.
A 5% concentration of this emulsifier and surfactant is considered safe by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review. It is used in skin care products as a medium to maintain a balanced level of acidity and to blend water-soluble and oil-soluble additives.
Propylene glycol is an organic alcohol frequently found in acne washes and facial cleansers. It is safe in concentrations up to 50%. Its purpose is to lock in moisture and restore hydration to the skin.