Assuming out which acne product to buy can be as confusing as shopping for a new cell phone. There may be an irresistible number of options, but for both phones and break out remedies, you have to understand a product’s types before you buy. As a skincare nerd, it really takes testing and patience to find products that work for any skin type, but especially for those who tend to break out, have clogged pores, and fight with oily skin.


Acne is caused by many issues ranging from stress levels to our regular diet. However, unknown to some, a cause for acne is due to the ingredients in the beauty products that we use on our face. Some ingredients are highly comedogenic, which means they tend to clog and block pores which finally forms blackheads. Note that there are chemical ingredients that are effective to fight your acne, but remember that you are fighting your acne not your skin so we believe that there are a lot of natural remedies that you can choose from that will be more gentle for your skin. So here we list out some of the best and worst acne ingredients we think you need to know:





  • Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs)

AHAs slough off dead skin cells that cause acne-producing clogged pores and leave you with softer, smoother skin. They can be used all over the face. Types of AHAs include lactic acid and glycolic. Although those acids can be derived from natural source, the synthetic form is used most often in skincare products because it’s easier to stabilize and ensure consistent results.

In Metapora products, we are using natural extracts that behave like AHA and dissolve dead skin cells that cause blemishes and break-outs. Like White Willow Bark Extract on our Be Free Blemish Cream, Quandong Extract, and Papaya Enzymes.


  • Benzoyl peroxide

It’s the most effective ingredient for actually treating acne as opposed to only avoiding it. It kills bacteria, exfoliates dead skin cells and removes excess oil. You’ll find it in strengths ranging from 2.5 percent up to 10 percent in acne-fighting facial cleansers, creams, gels, lotions, and spot treatments. But if you see any damaging effect on your skin, it is still best to look for natural alternatives like aloe vera, our one key ingredient in our Hydrating Mist which helps calm your skin and hydrate it throughout the day, pineapple powder that you can find in our Exfoliating Powder and calendula.



  • Clay

It’s not just for making pottery – clay is a soothing ingredient in acne treatments (usually face masks) thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. Clay helps to calm and heal the skin, draw out impurities and temporarily reduce oil production.


  • Salicylic acid

This beta-hydroxy acid is a powerful and effective exfoliant that helps keep pores clear by exfoliating inside the hair follicle. Salicylic acid is related to aspirin, which has anti-inflammatory properties, so it’s typically better tolerated than glycolic acid. There’s a natural salicylic acid blend that you can find in our Moisturizer made of white willow bark, licorice, and pineapple that does exactly the same as this topical.

  • Sulfur

The mineral decreases inflammation and excess oil and helps to exfoliate dead skin cells. Sulfur is particularly helpful for people with both rosacea and acne. While sulfur is killing the acne bacteria, it’s peeling off the top layers of your skin making the pimples dry out and heal faster overnight. Unfortunately, the rotten-egg smell of sulfur isn’t as attractive as the results it gets, but products usually pair sulfur with other ingredients to help fight the odor.


  • Tea-tree oil

The natural acne-fighter has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties to help calm acne. Tea-tree oil is one of my favorites. It penetrates your pores to deliberately kill the bacteria that causes your acne. Research has shown that 5 percent tea-tree oil has results similar to 5 percent benzoyl peroxide. But this natural remedy can be too severe for some; people with eczema or sensitive skin should be careful about using tea-tree oil. To be sure that it’s not too strong for your skin if you put it directly, you can add some base oil like olive oil, argan oil or coconut oil.



  • Antibiotics

Antibiotics kill the P. acnes bacteria that bring on breakouts. They come in oral (doxycycline, minocycline, tetracycline, and erythromycin) and topical form (clindamycin, erythromycin). Antibiotics are often used in tandem with other acne medications such as tea-tree oil and sulfur. Most effective natural substitute for antibiotics are grapefruit seed extract which is recommended to prevent the growth of any bacteria and fungi and vitamin c that helps fight hyperpigmentation which diminishes dark spots and improves your skin texture.


  • Azelaic acid

This type of acne treatment exfoliates the dead skin cells and kills bacteria that can plug up pores. It works to reduce P. acne, so it’s like an antibiotic, which comes in gel and cream form, is best for mild to moderate acne.


  • Oral retinoid

Isotretinoin (Amnesteem, Sotret, Claravis, and the no-longer-available Accutane) is a pill form of a retinoid designed to prevent severe acne after all other treatments have failed. About 85 percent of acne patients see permanent clearing after one treatment. The powerful, stand-alone treatment works by halting the production of oil. The main cause of acne is oil. It doesn’t matter how much bacteria you have or how much clogging you have – if you can stop oil production, you shut down acne at the source. It’s able to treat acne permanently.


  • Topical retinoids

The vitamin-A-derived topical retinoids, including tretinoin (Renova, Retin-A), adapalene (Differin), and tazarotene (Tazorac, Avage) not only smooth wrinkles and fine lines, but they also exfoliate the dead skin cells that cause clogs and lead to acne. As with any exfoliating acne treatment, retinoids can cause skin dryness, irritation, and redness, especially if you have sensitive skin, use too much product or use too high of a concentration. You should add a non-comedogenic moisturizer (one that doesn’t clog pores) and sunscreen to help fight the side effects of peeling and sun sensitivity.




  • Coconut Oil

Many people use coconut oil as a form of makeup remover, be it a moisturizer or cleanser. It is also used as a hair product to make your hair smooth and shiny. However, coconut oil is highly comedogenic. If you have oily skin, it’s best to avoid coconut oil as it produces extra sebum. If your skin is dry to normal, it’s OK to use coconut oil as your pores do not get clogged easily.


  • Fragrance

Many products contain fragrance to cover the unpleasant smell of some ingredients or to make the product smell decent. The problem is that fragrances are irritating to sensitive skin. If you have dry skin, using products with fragrances might result in itchy and blotchy skin. It is good to select products without fragrances but not all fragrances cause acne. You need to recognize fragrances that cause acne and avoid using them altogether.



  • Silicones

Silicones are often found in products like sunscreens, primers, and many more. Many people think that silicones help produce a silky soft texture on your skin but it actually causes flare-ups. Products containing silicones layer on your face and can block your pores over time. This can leads to your occasional breakouts and acne. Some examples of silicones in product are cetearyl methicone (non-water soluble silicone), dimethicone (silicone oil), and cyclomethicone (synthetic silicone oil). It is good to totally avoid using silicones and use chemical-free cleansing products instead.


  • Mineral Oil

Mineral oils are also comedogenic. It does not provide any hydration although it stops moisture loss from your skin. As it continues, your skin is being masked and the skin condition worsens, causing even photo-aging and acne breakouts.


  • Alcohol

Alcohol removes oil on your skin, causing your skin to become dry and irritated. The reason why many people like to use products with alcohol is because it creates a mattifying effect for the skin – a fast and effective finish. If you have sensitive skin, it’s suggested not to use products with alcohol because it might irritate your skin. If you have dry skin, it’s best to avoid alcohol as it makes your skin dry. Many people think that alcohol-based products are effective for controlling oily skin but they actually enlarge your pores and cause breakouts.


  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, also called SLS, is a foaming agent. It is commonly used in many kinds of toothpastes, shampoos and face products. It has been identified as a skin irritation as it strips away oils from your skin. People with acne-prone skin can cause more breakouts even with the slightest amount of irritation. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is even used as a comparing ingredient in test labs. If they want to test if a particular ingredient causes problems for skin, they compare the results against Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.


  • Isopropyl Myristate

This ingredient helps to create a soothing and softening effect on your skin. However, it is highly comedogenic and is likely to cause acne. Repetitive use of this product may lead to skin irritation and clogged pores. Many like to use products with this ingredient because of the silky finish that it produces, but observe of the consequences in the long run.



  • Lanolin

Lanolin is an oily abstract from the lamb’s wool. It works as a moisturizer for the skin that produces a smoothing effect on your face. The disadvantage to it is that it clogs pores easily and for those people who are prone to acne, it can cause breakouts and flare-ups. Products usually have synthetic lanolin. Hence, it’s best to find 100% pure lanolin oil as a harmless option.


  • Exfoliating beads

After a long day, giving your dull skin to some much-needed exfoliation sounds like a treat. But rather than softly sloughing away dead skin cells, exfoliating beads can be too harsh, producing irritation and even breakouts. Exfoliating beads are bad for acne because they inflame the skin, making the condition worse and more stretched.


  • Almond Oil

Whilst almond oil is natural, it has pore-blocking abilities when used on the face. However, almond oil is great when used as an ingredient in natural, healthy body moisturizers as it does provide that additional bit of hydration for very dry skin. It is rated 2 on the comedogenic scale so avoid it using it on your face as well as your back and chest where acne flare-ups can also often occur.


Now that you have read through this list, you might want to find all your beauty products and examine the ingredients list! Take a look at your current set of products from your shampoo to your laundry cleanser and see if they contain any cloggers. If they do, it’s time to look for somewhat acne safe. Don’t ever put anything on your skin without checking the ingredients first, even if it says “Non-Comedogenic” or “Won’t Clog Pores” on the bottle.

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