What are the best topical acne medications for getting clear, staying clear?

Information on Topical Acne MedicationsIn the area of acne treatment, there are two different types of acne medications. The first type is over-the-counter acne medications. These are common medications used in acne treatment products that you can buy in stores and on the Internet. The second type is prescription acne medications. These can only be obtained through a prescription from a dermatologist. Unless you have severe acne, it’s always advisable to begin with an over-the-counter acne medication in a topical skin care product. Continue reading for a summary of the most common over-the-counter acne medications and their impact on your skin.

Salicylic Acid: Murad’s Preferred Acne Medication

Salicylic Acid is the primary acne medication used in Murad acne treatment products, including Murad Clarifying Cleanser, Murad Exfoliating Acne Treatment Gel and the rest of the Murad Acne Complex® regimen. Salicylic Acid is a BHA (beta hydroxy acid) that works best on non-inflammatory acne.

How It Works: Acne occurs when the dead skin cells inside of a follicle clog the pore and allow oil and acne causing bacteria to form. Salicylic Acid encourages cell turnover to slough away those dead skin cells, essentially working as an exfoliating agent to keep the follicle and pore clear and unblocked. Basically, it clears acne from its source beneath the skin’s surface. And because it’s working beneath the surface, it can stop clogged pores and prevent inflamed acne from surfacing by clearing the pore before bacteria or an infection begin to form. This not only helps prevent acne from forming, but also helps the ingredients that fight acne causing bacteria to be delivered more effectively and efficiently.

Why It’s Recommended: Unlike harsher acne medications that can dry your skin, such as Benzoyl Peroxide, Salicylic Acid treats, heals and prevents acne without over-drying or irritating skin, which can cause more acne breakouts.

On the Murad Skin Deep Blog: Why are Beta Hydroxy Acids like Salicylic Acid ideal for acne treatment? Get the facts.

Murad Clarifying Cleanser: An Acne Face Cleanser with Results

Sulfur: Murad’s Preferred Spot Acne Treatment Medication

Once blemishes form, the best way to heal and get rid of them is to dry out the trapped oil and get rid of the inflamed or infected skin cells. Sulfur has been used not only as an acne treatment remedy but also as a general skin care remedy for various other skin concerns for literally hundreds of years. Even the Romans bathed in sulfur as a way to improve the health of their skin. As the primary acne medication in Murad’s Acne Spot Treatment, Sulfur not only helps reduce and eliminate visible blemishes; it can also help heal blemishes that aren’t visible yet and reduce the risk of dark spots, post-acne marks or hyperpigmentation.

How It Works: Sulfur reduces the severity of blemishes and encourages the skin to clear by drying and healing skin at the same time.

Why It’s Recommended: Unlike harsher drying agents such as Benzoyl Peroxide, Sulfur fights blemishes without over-drying or irritating the skin.

On the Murad Skin Deep Blog: Three acne-fighting ingredients to understand.

Heal and Treat Blemishes on the Spot with Murad Acne Spot Treatment

Retinol: Promoting Healthy and Acne-Free Skin

Retinol is the chemical name for the antioxidant Vitamin A.Antioxidants are key in the fight for healthy skin, and Retinol in particular has been shown to help exfoliate skin to reveal the newer, healthier skin beneath. Additionally, a daily sloughing of skin cells reduces clogged pores, helping to minimize acne breakouts. Retinol is found in many Murad acne fighting products, including Murad Exfoliating Acne Treatment Gel.

How It Works: Retinol encourages cell renewal, which helps to eliminate clogged pores and bring newer, clearer skin to the surface.

Why It’s Recommended: Retinol helps control acne breakouts and restores clarity without irritating the skin.

Complete Reform Exfoliates for Healthy, Clear Skin

Alpha Hydroxy Acids: Nature’s Acne Medication

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are natural acids found in fruits, milk, sugars and plants. The most common ones include Glycolic Acid (sugar cane), Lactic Acid (milk), Malic Acid (apples and pears), Citric Acid (oranges and lemons) and Tartaric Acid (grapes). AHAs are commonly used in Murad’s acne treatment and skin care products for their ability to exfoliate the top layer of skin. This helps eliminate the dead, dry skin cells that can contribute to clogged pores. AHAs also help acne medications penetrate more deeply and work more effectively. The top layer of your skin is always the least healthy, so the more that you actively work to exfoliate the top layer of skin away to reveal healthier skin beneath, the more radiant and clear your skin will be.

How It Works: AHAs dissolve the “intercellular glue” that holds dry skin cells together, working to gently slough away dead skin cells.

Why It’s Recommended: Exfoliating the top layer of skin is necessary for effective acne treatment, but textured exfoliating agents and cleansers can irritate acne prone skin. AHAs exfoliate the top layer of skin without causing irritation.

On the Murad Skin Deep Blog: What are AHAs?

Exfoliate for Clear, Healthy Skin with AHA/BHA Cleanser from Murad

Benzoyl Peroxide: A Harsh Acne Medication

Benzoyl Peroxide is commonly used in many over the counter acne treatments. It works to kill acne-causing bacteria as well as to dry and exfoliate the skin. However, Benzoyl Peroxide is a harsh chemical that was first used to treat acne in the 1920s. While it can kill the bacteria responsible for breakouts, it can also be very drying and irritating. In fact, it’s so strong that it can actually bleach hairs and fabrics. (Think of your pillow cases the morning after sleeping with a harsh Benzoyl Peroxide product on your face!)

Murad acne medication products don’t contain Benzoyl Peroxide. The Murad skin care and acne treatment philosophy is that clear skin is healthy skin. It’s nearly impossible to have healthy skin if you’re using harsh chemicals that over-dry your skin. While Benzoyl Peroxide is a popular topical acne medication, there are other acne treatment medications that can clear acne breakouts without damaging or over-drying the skin.

If you are using a Benzoyl Peroxide acne medication, be sure to follow-up with a topical, oil-free moisturizer and to hydrate yourself and your skin internally by eating your water.

Ready to learn more? Next we’ll discuss back and body acne treatments and treatments for acne scars and post acne marks.

back to top

What Did You Just Learn About Acne Treatment Products?

In this section of the Murad Acne Resource Guide, you should have learned the following key points:

  • There are two types of acne medications. Over-the-counter acne medications can be obtained
    without a doctor’s prescription and are usually found in topical acne treatments. Prescription acne
    medications require a doctor’s prescription.
  • Salicylic Acid is Murad’s preferred acne medication for its ability to lift away dead skin cells and
    fight acne-causing bacteria without irritating or over-drying the skin.
  • Sulfur is Murad’s preferred acne medication for the spot treatment of blemishes because of its
    simultaneous drying and healing properties.
  • Retinol is used as an acne medication in Murad products because of its ability to slough away
    dead skin cells.
  • Alpha hydroxy acids work like a natural acne medication to exfoliate the top layer of skin and
    reveal the healthier skin beneath.
  • Benzoyl Peroxide is a topical, over-the-counter acne medication that, while popular, has been shown
    to over-dry and irritate the skin.

back to top

Acne Treatment Product Resources

In addition to the product recommendations included in this section, you may find the following Murad products helpful in your acne treatment program.

Exfoliating Acne Treatment Gel

Murad Exfoliating Acne Treatment Gel

This powerful acne treatment combines three premier acne medications—Retinol, Salicylic Acid and the AHA Glycolic Acid—for healthy, acne-free skin.

Buy Exfoliating Acne Treatment Gel Now
Acne Spot Treatment

Murad Acne Spot Treatment

Sulfur treats acne blemishes on the spot, healing acne blemishes both below and above the skin’s surface.

Buy Acne Spot Treatment Now
Buy Acne Complex Kit Now

Murad Acne Complex® Kit

Murad’s proven and popular complete acne treatment solution. 92% of users saw a reduction in breakouts in just three days.* Address all your acne treatment needs, from reducing clogged pores to fighting acne-causing bacteria.

Buy Acne Complex Kit Now
*In a Murad-sponsored clinical study.

back to top