List of blemish busters to help you bid acne goodbye.

When we spot the beginnings of an angry volcano threatening to erupt on our faces, we frantically google remedies to get rid of it. But in the midst of popping and picking at your pimples, have you ever stopped to think about how it affects your skin?

In order to solve your acne woes, we’ve come up with a comprehensive guide to clearer and happier skin. Here are some acne treatment ingredients, aka blemish busters, that will do the trick! 

I. Mandelic Acid

Fast Facts

Type: Alpha-Hydroxy Acid (AHA) 

Benefits: Increase in cell turnover, anti-acne, anti-ageing

Suitable for: Sensitive, oily & acne-prone skin

Recommended usage: Once a week

What is mandelic acid you may ask? Now, this isn’t some new, top-secret ingredient you’ve never heard of before. In fact, it is a common form of an ingredient we have all come to love – AHA.

AHAs function to exfoliate the skin, meaning they slough off all the nasty dirt and bacteria accumulated in pores, and are usually combined with other products to help improve skin texture. 

Mandelic acid is derived from bitter almonds, and is classified as a chemical exfoliant, meaning it reacts with the skin to remove layers of built-up dirt and clear clogged pores. Don’t be afraid of the term “chemical” however, as it is a much more gentle alternative to physical exfoliants such as abrasive scrubs. A well-exfoliated skin equates to naturally brighter skin, hence, if you’ve sensitive skin that is easily aggravated by scrubs, try using an AHA cleanser or serum instead! 

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AHA also promotes cell turnover – the shedding of dead skin cells, and subsequent replacement of younger cells. What this does is it helps to reduce signs of hyperpigmentation caused by sun damage or ageing, for a more even-toned complexion, as well as a more youthful-looking appearance.

Do note that AHAs increase sun sensitivity so it is very important not to skip sunscreen after using it. Also, it is not recommended to mix this acid with the following ingredients: Retinols and Vitamin C. 

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II. Salicylic Acid

Fast Facts

Type: Beta-Hydroxy Acid (BHA) 

Benefits: Sloughs off dead skin, removes excess oil, and reduces whiteheads and blackheads

Suitable for: Oily & acne-prone skin

Recommended usage: Twice daily

Any skincare junkie would know that salicylic acid is a form of BHA that works as an acne treatment. But just how much do you know about this skincare hit?

What makes salicylic acid so special is its ability to penetrate deep into the pores to remove blockages. While AHAs are water-soluble and more suited for surface exfoliation, BHAs are oil-soluble, which allows them to cut through oil, penetrating deeper into the skin. 

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Much like its sister ingredient, AHA, salicylic acid helps to slough off dead skin cells which encourage faster cell turnover. The result? A brighter and more even complexion!

Derived from willow tree bark, wintergreen leaves or sweet birch bark, it also removes excess oil and controls sebum production, making it a very popular choice among oily skin type users. It penetrates deep into the skin, and cleans out excess sebum that has been accumulating in the pores. 

Not only does salicylic acid treat existing breakouts, it also prevents the formation of whiteheads and blackheads. On top of that, salicylic acid has some amazing anti-inflammatory properties which help to reduce irritation and redness. 

As with most acids, a key advice would be to work it up slowly. Everyone has different levels of tolerance due to the thickness and sensitivity of your skin. So don’t rush into it, and try starting off with a product with lower concentrations. 

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P.S. Due to the potency of salicylic acid, this ingredient is not recommended for use during pregnancy.

III. Tea Tree Oil

Fast Facts

Type: Essential Oil

Benefits: Kills bacteria & eases inflammation

Suitable for: Acne-prone skin & fungal skin conditions

Recommended usage: Twice daily

Tea tree oil is an essential oil derived from a plant native to Australia, the Melaleuca alternifolia. It has been used traditionally by the Aborigines for centuries, who inhaled tea tree oil to treat coughs and applied it topically for skin healing. There are close to 100 components in the oil, but without getting complicated, you just have to know that that they are all good stuff that has strong anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory effects.

So say hello to your new best friend and let’s find out what it does.

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Acne is caused partly due to bacteria residing on your skin. Yuck! Fortunately, tea tree oil has anti-bacterial properties, meaning it helps to kill said bacteria. It also decreases the inflammatory cascades that stimulate inflammation and redness. Simply put, it reduces swelling and inflammation. 

Here’s another useful fact: it works on both comedonal acne (blackheads and whiteheads) and inflammatory acne (red, angry pimples). Tea tree oil is moisturising, which differentiates it from topical benzoyl peroxide and retinoids, which are usually drying.

Besides having a slew of benefits, this fan favourite is also really easy to use. It works hand in hand with your beloved AHAs and BHAs. Its versatility allows it to be incorporated into just about any skincare routine! However, this powerful remedy should not be applied directly to the skin. Dilute it with other products to experience its benefits without harming your skin.

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IV: Bonus: Clay

Fast Facts

Type: Clay

Benefits: Reduces excess sebum and draws out impurities

Suitable for: All skin types except dry skin

Recommended usage: Once to twice weekly

Clay has a very loooong history in skincare. This remarkable ingredient was used to heal wounds, soothe inflammation, and cleanse the skin from as early as the Mesopotamian era. Even Cleopatra was said to have applied a dead sea clay mask twice weekly to purify her complexion. 

Clay has the unique ability to restore balance to the world your skin. It absorbs excess oil without stripping the skin of its natural oils. The result: a perfectly balanced complexion to die for. 

It also acts like a magnet, drawing out impurities and shrinking pores. Clay is composed of negatively charged particles that bind to positively charged impurities such as toxins and bacteria. This produces an astringent action, that is the contraction of skin cells, that relieves congestion.

So while clay does not actively fight pimples, it is a complementary ingredient to the rest of the acne-fighting must-haves to effectively bring your skin back to that baby smooth finish!

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Now that you’re armed with the right knowledge, check out these product recommendations! Plus, let’s be real, unless you’re in your teens, we really don’t want to be spotting pimples day in and out.

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Try est.lab’s PurClear Anti-Acne Serum, a gentle, non-comedogenic serum made with Tea Tree Leaf Oil, Alpine Willowherb Extract and Advanced Salicylic Acid. What’s so great about this serum is the use of a gentler form of salicylic acid to slow down its release by 42%, thereby minimising any stinging sensation or irritation. And that makes it great for everyone, even those of you with sensitive skin types. Yes, it’s true, you’ve got to try it to believe it!

Try also, the PurClear Detoxifying Mask, a non-drying and non-comedogenic face mask which effectively purge impurities, toxins and pollutants trapped in your pores. Made with only the best ingredients of French Green Clay, Pumpkin Seed Extract, Mandelic Acid and Advanced Salicylic Acid, what you get is a smoother complexion and visibly smaller pores! Most importantly, this mask will not dry and cake on your skin like your regular over-the-counter clay masks, and comes off easily with either a damp towel or by rinsing with lukewarm water.

Take heed and you’ll be zit-free in no time. Have a go at these powerhouse ingredients, and let us know how your skin fairs!

In good hands,