Surprising Ingredients That Will Clear Your Breakouts

Kelly Dougher
how to get clear skin

Photo: IMaxTree

Whatever your age, it seems like breakouts are an unfortunate fact of life. You may have heard of the most common ingredients used to clear up acne, and you’ve probably tried most of them: BHAs like salicylic acid, AHAs like glycolic acid, and benzoyl peroxide. These can be very effective for dealing with acne. However, if your breakouts simply aren’t going away you may need to think outside of the box. Here are eight acne-fighting ingredients that you may not have considered to give you clear, glowing skin.

Zinc is found in foods like oysters, beans, poultry, and fish. If you’re having a lot of breakouts, try adding some zinc to your meals to see if it helps: a zinc deficiency is common in those who suffer from acne and once the deficiency is resolved, their acne improves. This may be thanks to the high amount of vitamin A in zinc. Vegetarians and vegans are especially at risk for zinc deficiencies. If you’re not particularly enticed by oysters, consider picking up a zinc supplement instead.

Omega-3 fatty acids
If you start eating salmon every week, your acne actually might begin to subside. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in salmon and flaxseed oil and have been shown to help reduce inflammation. Be sure to add plenty of this powerful ingredient to your routine, whether through food or supplements. You’ll probably find that it will help reduce the redness and severity of your breakouts.

Antibiotics and steroids
If you suffer from cystic acne—those are the large, deep blemishes that hurt—you might want to see a doctor about medical intervention. Prescription antibiotics, whether oral or topical, can kill the bacteria that causes acne. If your acne is very severe, your doctor can also prescribe a short course of steroids to help reduce the inflammation and help bring your breakouts under control.

Although retinoids are usually recommended for their anti-aging properties, it can also be very effective if you’re struggling with acne. You can get a topical or oral prescription, but be careful because it can have side effects such as redness, dryness, and sensitivity to the sun. Follow application directions and make sure you always wear sunscreen.

Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has natural anti-bacterial properties, which makes it ideal for fighting acne. Use it as a natural, topical treatment to reduce breakouts overnight. Just be careful if you have sensitive skin, which may be irritated by tea tree oil—and if you’re sensitive to smells, make sure the aroma of the oil won’t bother you too much.

Castor Oil
If you have sensitive skin and want to try an oil cleansing method for your acne, try castor oil instead. You can dab it onto your zits or even use it to remove your makeup and cleanse your face—it’s very moisturizing and helps to remove dirt and sebum without stripping skin, essential for helping breakouts heal.

Yes, clay. An ingredient in many acne-fighting masks, clay has serious anti-inflammatory properties. It will help to soothe redness and shrink your pores and breakouts, as well as reduce the amount of oil your skin produces. Look for a soothing clay mask and use it once a week to start, working up to twice a week for the full results. We really can’t go past Queen Helene Mud Masque Pack ($4.79,; it’s a classic skin-clearer for a reason.

It doesn’t smell great, but this mineral helps control excess oil production and reduce inflammation. Look for products that include sulfur as a main ingredient to help control your acne, and even rosacea. We especially love Mario Badescu Drying Lotion ($17, as it helps heal blemishes without leaving our skin peely or irritated.

More from Daily Makeover: 28 Tips for Perfect Skin in Less Than a Month