Did you know that many of the most effective acne-fighting active ingredients are actually vegan? To be considered vegan, the ingredient must not be animal derived in any shape or form whether or not the animal is actually harmed. This is certainly fantastic news if you are a vegan product devotee or are looking to incorporate more vegan-friendly products into your skincare routine. 

Below, we share more information about these vegan ingredients and how they actually work to treat pesky acne. 


1. Glycolic Acid

Derived from sugarcane, glycolic acid is a potent alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). It chemically exfoliates dead skin cells on the surface of skin hence helps prevent dead skin cells from clogging pores and forming the various types of acne. All types of acne start from clogged pores. Additional benefits of glycolic acid include brighter, more even, plumped skin and reduced pigmentation. 

Glycolic acid also helps draw moisture to your skin, making it an awesome option even for those with drier or more mature skin. 

If you have sensitive skin or are new to this ingredient, know that glycolic acid can be potentially irritating. You might want to consider milder types of alpha hydroxy acids instead. 


2. Mandelic Acid

Another AHA, mandelic acid absolutely deserves more love and attention. Derived from bitter almonds, this particular alpha hydroxy acid is super gentle, yet effective for treating blemish-prone skin. 

Not only does it exfoliate the skin gently to help reduce chances of dead skin cells clogging up the pores, but also mandelic acid is able to dissolve excess oil build-up, bacteria and dead skin cells stuck within the pores thanks to its oil-soluble nature. 

My combination, dehydrated acne-prone skin adores mandelic acid as it is not sensitizing for my skin at all compared to glycolic acid.  


3. Salicylic Acid

Derived from willow bark, salicylic acid belongs to a class of ingredients called salicylates. A beta hydroxy acid (BHA), salicylic acid is a chemical exfoliant that is also anti-inflammatory. 

It has the ability to penetrate into the pores to help clean out the pores of excess sebum, dead skin cells, dirt, bacteria and gunk, thereby preventing pores from becoming clogged. This is in addition to its ability to help get rid of dead skin cells sitting atop the skin. 

Used regularly, salicylic acid helps to unclog existing clogged pores, and prevent new clogged pores from forming. On the flip side, salicylic acid can be quite drying so always make sure your skin is properly hydrated and moisturized. 


4. Sulfur

Common in rocks and minerals, sulfur helps to treat acne-prone skin by reducing excess oils on the skin. It is best for treating mild to moderate acne formed due to excess sebum and the presence of dead skin cells. 

Sulfur is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and has keratolytic properties that help slough away dead skin cells. Widely available in skincare products meant for acne-prone skin, sulfur is inherently stinky. Then again, I’d rather not have artificial fragrance added to my skincare products as those ‘fragrance’ listed in the ingredient list contain up to thousands of chemicals and are known to be skin irritants especially for people with sensitive skin. 


5. Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide works best on treating inflammatory acne like papules and pustules. Benzoyl peroxide works by reducing the amount of acne-causing bacteria, helping dead skin cells to shed, and removing excess oil on the skin. Its antibacterial properties inhibit the growth of acne-causing bacteria that cause these clogged pores to become inflamed in the first place. 

While it may be used in combination with other acne treatments such as salicylic acid, you might want to use one in the daytime and the other at night. Always be mindful not to overuse benzoyl peroxide as it can cause dry, peeling, flaky skin - benzoyl peroxide is drying! 


6. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is an all-natural essential oil that works hard as a blemish fighter. It helps battle acne as it kills bacteria and eases inflammation. The important thing to remember is that you should never apply tea tree oil directly onto your skin - it has to be used diluted. Also, try to get your hands on high quality, pure, unadulterated tea tree oil if you are looking to purchase a nifty bottle of this essential oil. It works well with non-comedogenic carrier oils, such as jojoba oil. 

The nice thing is that skincare products containing tea tree oil are widely available, plus tea tree oil has been shown to be effective treatments for comedonal (blackheads, whiteheads) and mild to moderate inflammatory acne (papules, pustules) given sufficient time to work. 

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