Acne Part one.

May 21, 2020

Acne Part one.

Acne. A pain in the bum and it doesn’t look pretty, am I right? Whether you're experiencing acne now, when you were a teenager or get the occasional spot, we have all experienced acne in our lifetime and can commonly agree that it sucks. I find that going through a pandemic such as this, stress levels are high causing many of my clients to experience acne like they never had before and thought it was the perfect timing to chat about the topic. 

The acne topic is quite lengthy so I’m going to break this up into two parts, beginning with the negatives to get that out of the way so that we can focus on the positives. I know what you are thinking, is there a positive to acne? You’ll find out soon enough! Let's begin with the ingredients to avoid shall we? 


Firstly I want to explain why we want to avoid the ingredients below. Yes each and every ingredient is different in their molecular form but what these ingredients have in common is there drying components. Acne can grow in all different shapes, forms and places. There are also many different types of acne such as hormonal acne, post birth control acne, chronic adult acne, cystic acne, spot acne and stress acne, but what all of these different forms of acne have in common, is the components that make up those irritating bumps, making it a lot easier to stipulate what ingredients to avoid. 

When using products with the ingredients stated below you are risking the potential to make the acne worse, causing irritation, drying out the skin and depleting the skin's natural moisture barrier. When we strip our skin of its natural moisture barrier our skin immediately knows something is wrong and starts producing more oils. When the skin starts producing more oils, it leaves the potential for more acne. Eventually if this continues on and the skin continues to be depleted of its moisture, the body will eventually give up and stop producing oils. We DO NOT want this, not for those who have acne or anyone!


Bad Alcohols: Alcohol as you can assume is bad for the skin but what I have noticed is that commonly bad alcohols are found in acne recommended products. I’m not sure if it is because they have a drying component to them or if they are just cheap ingredients but what I do know is that when bad alcohols are used in products they can cause dryness, irritation, and breakouts. These alcohols can also deteriorate the skin’s protective barrier which means your skin is no longer effective at keeping moisture in.  Yes these alcohols are that harsh. 

Bad alcohols to avoid are: 

  •  Alcohol
  • Alcohol Denat
  • Ethanol
  • Ethanol Alcohol 
  • Denature Alcohol
  • Methanol
  • Benzyl Alcohol
  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • SD Alcohol
  • SD Alcohol 40

 I’m a firm believer that these bad alcohols don't have any place in skincare but --  as if I needed to add more to confuse you.. there are many different types of alcohols. There is also such a thing as good alcohol. Good alcohols are derived from vegetables and look completely different to those “bad alcohols”. We won’t get into this now until the second blog post but please feel free to screenshot these lists for future reference and to avoid confusion. 

Mineral Oil: Mineral Oil is an oil made from petroleum. A by-product of the distillation of petroleum to produce gasoline. Sounds lovely doesn’t it? Just kidding.  Mineral oil is terrible for many reasons but in more relation to this blog post mineral oil clogs pores. This oil in particular has an “occlusive agent” forming a physical barrier over the skin to reduce moisture loss. This sounds appealing in terms of moisture but if there is any bacteria on the skin (which there probably is, some more than others) mineral oil keeps all of that close and tight to the skin increasing the chance of breakouts. 

Silicones: Silicone is an ingredient, again that I find in a lot of my clients acne based products. Silicones are used in cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten the skin making the  product slide on more easily and give the illusion that your skin is well moisturized. Unfortunately these are all just illusions. When silicone is used on the skin it is much like mineral oil creating a physical barrier over the skin trapping bacteria and everything else underneath it. This is like basically saran wrapping your face. Not good for your skin, not good for your acne. 

Fragrance: Fragrance is created from an alcohol base which as we have stated above can irritate the skin but what you also may not know is that the word “Fragrance” in itself covers over 200+ chemicals protected by the Federal Law Classification. We want to avoid fragrance in acne based products because one: we don’t know the ingredients behind this word, two: it is alcohol based and three: most clients I have with acne have very sensitive, irritable skin and since we don’t know the ingredients hidden behind this word we don’t know if it is conclusive of ingredients to avoid. 

Now that we have covered the basis of ingredients to avoid, let's dive into some product brands that we should be avoiding as well. Recently I had a Toxic Tuesday (check out my Instagram if you don’t know what that is) about the Cetaphil line and how it is commonly recommended for those who have acne. When I started researching the ingredients I came to learn that there wasn’t actually anything in the line at all that would help with acne. The entire ingredient list was just full of fillers, preservatives and drying components which is the opposite of what you want for acne prone skin. Some brands that have caught my attention that have been recommended to my clients are: 



Clean & Clear: For an example of this brand and its product labels I looked up the product ingredient list for Clean & Clear Advantage, Acne Control 3-in-1 Foaming Wash (for a full ingredient list please visit here). At first glance I see PEG’s, fragrance, fillers and fillers. This product in particular would completely dry out the skin causing irritation, redness and more breakouts. You probably have not used this brand since you were a teenager, like myself but if you have young adults at home please advise them not to use this product.

Cerave: I had a Toxic Tuesday this past week about the Cerave brand and what I have noticed is a lot of my acne prone clients who are on Accutane or prescribed topical ointments have been recommended this product. I can see why these products would be recommended because there are no scents to their products (a lot of acne prone skin would be irritated by) but it is still full of fillers and preservatives that are not needed. Nor does it have that extra boost of moisture that depleted skin needs.  If you are looking for moisture you need to look for rich ingredients like oat proteins, hyaluronic acid, aloe vera. These ingredients are rich and full of nutrients that your skin needs.

Cetaphil: This brand as well has been Toxic Tuesday over the past couple of weeks and again I have many acne prone clients who have been recommended this product. Again I can see why these products would be recommended because there are no scents to their products but it is still full of fillers and preservatives that are not needed nor benefiting the skin. For a full ingredient list please visit here.

Vichy: Another brand that was recommended to me in my younger years and is a brand that I find a lot of people still use. Due to the topic I wanted to explore the Vichy Toner for acne prone skin and I have to say to get the ingredient list was a little hard to find as it is not available for viewing on the Vichy website. This is a huge RED FLAG. It doesn’t always mean that the brand is being loyal if the ingredients are available on their website but it does allow you the freedom to research the ingredients. When the ingredients are not available on their website it makes you stop and wonder what they are hiding… I’ll have to get back to you on this one as I can’t find the ingredients online so I’ll have to make a trip to shoppers.  

Oxy Pads: This brand just brings back memories of when I was a teenager.  Do you remember the burning sensation after wiping these pads all over your face? Because I certainly do. When I looked up the ingredients to reference for this blog I now realize why this happened, this product is formulated with 50% Alcohol. HOLLY HANNAH! This is SO not good for the skin, depleting everything your gorgeous skin has to offer not to mention the other ingredients such PEG’s, and fragrance. Again you probably have not used this since you were a teenager but if you have young adults at home please advise them not to use this product.

Eucerin: Is a brand that I am not very familiar with but had a recent client use their Aquaphor Healing Ointment to try and replenish her skin's dryness from the prescription Accutane. When I looked up the ingredients I couldn’t help but feel disappointed and upset that someone didn’t teach her nor guide her on what is bad for her skin. The ingredient list is mainly made up of petroleum and mineral oil which (as we know now from above are) horrible for the skin. What she thought this product was doing moisturizing and healing the skin, was actually creating an illusion of a moisturized surface, suffocating the skin. What got me even more about this brand is that they actually have links to describe the ingredients used, justifying the toxins. This is so wrong and misleading. 

As you can see I don’t have a long list of brands to avoid because one thing to be certain of, is that your focus should not be on the brands but on the ingredient list itself. It’s easy for me to point a finger with their mis marketing tactics but it takes one simple flip of the bottle, to see for yourself the ingredients and the ones you should be avoiding. I want to know, What brands have you been recommended for acne? These are the most common brands that I have come to learn over the years  from my clients, but have you been recommended anything different? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear your feedback. 


Lastly I wanted to touch on prescribed topical ointments and oral medications. When my clients have had their wits end with acne they contact their local practitioner to be prescribed a treatment to clear the skin. Accutane, tetracycline — such as minocycline or doxycycline — or a macrolide are commonly prescribed as an oral treatment to acne or topical ointments such as: Differin (adapalene), Retin-A (tretinoin), Retin-A Micro (tretinoin), Avage (tazarotene), and Tazorac (tazarotene). The problem with each of these topical ointments is that they are so harsh they cause major skin irritations such as a stinging sensation to the skin, abnormal peeling of skin, dry skin, and erythema or skin redness. It is important to be mindful of the products and ingredients that are being used in acne base products because these ingredients have most in common is that they are all drying to the skin. When your skin is dry it means that your moisture barrier is depleted and when your moisture barrier is depleted your skin will produce more oils to try and keep up with that you have taken off. Producing more oils will cause your skin to have more breakouts eventually to the point where you skin will just stop producing oils completely because you have deprived the skin too much. We absolutely DO NOT want this!! Don't get me wrong acne prescribed products work, but you want this to be a last resort.

 It is always best to work on your skin from the inside out, sure what you use on your skin to heal acne matters but finding out what's going on IN your body makes all the difference. Consult an Naturopath Doctor to discuss your skin issues and get to the root of the problem. We have beautiful knowledgable Naturopaths like Jillian Cole, who specializes in acne and if you're on the Island Celine Leduc from East ND. If you have already spoken to a naturopath and want to learn more about natural skincare you have come to the right place.  A Natural Skincare Specialist, like myself will have the knowledge of ingredients to avoid and the list of ingredients you can benefit from.

If you aren’t sure about a line, product or a certain ingredient, reach out. I would be more than happy to help you reach your skincare goals. Or for a quick reference simply refer back to this blog for the ingredients list to avoid. I Cannot wait to dive into the next blog post with you, talking about all the skin loving ingredients you should be using for acne prone skin. Until then.. 

Stay tune and stay well,




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