Instead of flat out endorsing specific products for treating acne or other skin conditions, dermatologists rather recommend ingredients a good over the counter acne treatment should include. Even organizations, like the American Academy of Dermatology, and the Mayo Clinic refuse to simply recommend products, however they do specify the ingredients they recommend.

In order to make it easier for people looking for the best over the counter acne treatment we have listed the four most recommended ingredients by dermatologists.

1. Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl Peroxide is among the oldest of medications used for treating acne. It is effective because of its ability to remove dead skin cells while at the same time it eliminates harmful bacteria, that are causing the acne to manifest and eventually spread out, resulting in an acne outbreak. Products containing at least 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide are most effective. However, due to the bleaching capabilities of Benzoyl Peroxide it is not suitable for all skin types and one should also avoid getting it on clothing. Benzoyl Peroxide is most suitable for use in mild and less severe cases of acne. For severe and extreme acne outbreaks stronger concentrations of Benzoyl Peroxide are available but for that a prescription from a qualified physician or dermatologist is required.

2. Salicylic Acid

Dermatologists often recommend Salicylic Acid for treating acne. Salicylic Acid is effective against acne because it unclogs the pores and is capable of repairing damaged skin cells as well as removing dead ones. Salicylic Acid will also dry up excess sebum. However a dry and irritated skin could be the result, especially when used on vulnerable skin types. Salicylic Acid often is used alongside benzoyl peroxide when dealing with severe cases of acne. Using Salicylic Acid alone works best treating mild cases of the affliction.

3. Sulfur

Sulfur was the first real treatment against acne. It was first applied fifty years ago and is being continued to be used today. Usually Sulfur is used in combination with other ingredients. Sulfur speeds up the process of shedding dead skin cells and it unclogs the pores. It also keeps excess sebum to an absolute minimum which prevents the pores from clogging again. Sulfur therefore is a means to prevent acne rather than treating the outbreak itself. Sulfur is one of the main ingredients in many of the over the counter acne facial masks.

4. Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil is without a doubt one of the most used all natural ingredients for treating acne. It is often recommended to those who’s skin cannot take the bleaching effects of benzoyl peroxide. Studies conducted by the Mayo Clinic concluded that ultimately Tea Tree oil is just as effective as benzoyl peroxide. Tea Tree Oil can be found in many over the counter acne treatments. However, it can also be obtained and used in its pure form. Many people report it to work much better as a standalone treatment against acne.

In conclusion all of the ingredients for treating acne are highly effective in their own right. There is no one ingredient that will perform better than the other. Which one will work best for your particular case of acne is a matter of trial and error. It depends on how severe the acne is and your skin type. In most cases it is advised to consult a qualified dermatologist prior to start using a treatment.