5 Killer Acne-Fighting Ingredients You May Not Know About

Rachel Krause
Westend61/Getty Images

Westend61/Getty Images

Treating and preventing acne is an ongoing struggle, and what works for one person may very well not work for another. If the usual acne-fighting suspects aren’t getting the job done, you’re not alone—that’s why we suggest giving these five alternative options a try.

We won’t lie: Sulfur isn’t one of the most pleasant-smelling skin treatments out there, but it is a time-tested powerhouse when it comes to fighting and preventing pimples while preserving the integrity of even the most sensitive skin. Sulfur obliterates bacteria deep within the skin while also working as a sponge to draw impurities from the pores and calm inflammation—so really, the only drawback is that notorious “rotten egg” smell.

Our Pick: Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Acne Treatment Masque, $40, sephora.com

Glycolic Acid
Glycolic acid works by accelerating the skin’s natural exfoliation process, and gentle exfoliation is key for addressing acne, as it’s important to shed old, bacteria-ridden skin cells in favor of new ones so as not to clog pores and contribute to breakouts. Glycolic acid also helps to balance skin and retain moisture thanks to its water-binding abilities, which keep the skin from drying out as a result of environmental stressors or other topical treatments.

Our Pick: Caudalie Glycolic Peel Mask, $39, caudalie.com

Bentonite Clay
Certain types of clay don’t just make for super effective acne treatments—they’re also relatively easy and inexpensive to DIY. Its naturally healing properties bind with water to absorb toxins both on the surface of the skin and within the pores to clear up breakouts and unclog pores without drying. Basically, bentonite accomplishes everything you could possibly want out of an acne treatment and more.

Our Pick: LUSH Herbalism Face and Body Cleanser, $13.95, lushusa.com

Peptides are amino acid-based antimicrobials—that means the body uses them as a defense mechanism to protect against infection when applied to the skin. Copper peptides are wildly effective in speeding along wound healing and stimulating collagen, which makes them ideal for eliminating acne scars. They also work wonderfully in conjunction with other acne treatments, like salicylic or lactic acid.

Our Pick: Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair, $62, esteelauder.com

As a super gentle, soothing acne treatment, aloe utilizes antibacterial and antifungal properties to treat inflammation and protect acne wounds against bacteria. Its anti-inflammatory powers also minimize redness and alleviate itching or burning feelings, and reduce the appearance of irritation overall. Surprise: aloe also contains salicylic acid, which unclogs pores, regulates pH balance, and helps to prevent future breakouts.

Our Pick: The Body Shop Aloe Calming Toner, $14, thebodyshop-usa.com

Read more from Daily Makeover: The Scoop on Cortisone Injections for Acne