The Acne Skin Care Product Glossary: Everything You Need to Know

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Overwhelmed by the abundance of acne skin care products and their benefits? You’re not the only one. So here’s a handy list decoding acne skin care products’ ingredients.

AHA (Alpha-Hydroxy Acid)

  • Natural, water-soluble acids from fruit, dairy products, and sugar cane.?
  • Aids in enhancing skin texture through exfoliation and removal of dead skin cells and unblocking of pores.?
  • Decreases chances of acne and pimple formation.

BHA (Beta-Hydroxy Acid)

  • Oil-soluble acids ideal for oily, acne prone skin.?
  • Dissolves bonds between dead skin cells and normalizes pore lining, effectively combating acne and breakouts.?
  • Anti-inflammatory and antibacterial


  • Lipids that help bind cells together to enhance the surface layer of the skin, also known as the epidermis.?
  • Also helps retain moisture and protect against environmental aggressors like pollution.?

Citric Acid

  • A type of AHA, extracted from citrus fruits.?
  • Primarily used to adjust a product’s pH level.
  • Promotes skin peeling and regrowth.


  • A major skin component that provides firmness and hydration while strengthening the skin.?

Glycolic Acid

  • A type of AHA, derived from sugar cane.?
  • Exfoliates and smooths out fine lines and uneven texture.?
  • Can also boost moisture content, making the skin’s surface barrier hydrated and strong.

Green Tea

  • A powerful antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

Hyaluronic Acid

  • An oil-free molecule that increases the skin’s moisture content.?
  • Can hold 1000x its weight in water.?
  • Revitalizes the skin’s outer layers, resulting in softer, smoother, and hydrated skin.

Kaolin Clay

  • A type of natural clay, first obtained in China.?
  • Can absorb oil and drive out impurities.?


  • An iron-binding, naturally occurring protein in the body.?
  • Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and repairs damaged skin cells.?
  • Also reduces inflammation and sebum production.?

Lactic acid

  • A type of AHA, derived from milk.?
  • An anti-wrinkle and pigmentation-fighting ingredient for improved skin tone and reduced pore appearance.


  • A type of Vitamin B3 that reduces the appearance of large pores, uneven skin tone, fine lines, and dullness.?


  • A term used to describe products that are formulated to not clog pores.


  • Implies that the product is free from natural and artificial oils.

Retinol (Vitamin A)

  • Exfoliates and reduces formation of acne scars by aiding in the production of collagen.?
  • Must be used together with SPF as it increases the skin’s sensitivity to sun.

Salicylic Acid

  • A popular acne-fighting ingredient that can prevent future comedones from forming.


  • A synthetic or plant-derived cleansing agent that creates a lather to remove dirt and oil.

Tea Tree Oil

  • Derived from Melaleuca alternifolia tree.?
  • Can help prevent acne lesions and reduce swelling brought about by inflammatory acne.?

Vitamin E (Tocopherol)

  • A powerful antioxidant that helps fight free radical skin damage.?
  • Regulates collagen and helps prevent skin dryness.
  • Also helps protect skin from sun’s UV-induced photodamage.


  • A chemical nutrient that has oil-regulating properties to help improve skin appearance.?
  • Also helps boost and enhance the immune system.?

The next time you find yourself stumped by your acne skin care products’ ingredient list, this glossary is just a click away!

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