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Whether it’s caused by hormonal spikes (think puberty, your monthly
cycle, or pregnancy), a bad reaction, wearing a protective mask or just life,
we’re pretty confident to assume that you’ve probably tackled a breakout (or ten) at some point
in your life. With picking and popping—no matter how satisfying—off the cards, it’s important
that you’re schooled up with the right tools to banish breakouts swiftly and mercilessly.
Consider class in session, as we’re taking you through our top five skincare ingredients for
treating and preventing acne.
If you’re looking for the difference between blackheads, cysts, and everything in between, read this.
When it comes to active breakouts and build up, trusty salicylic acid should always be your first
port of call. Derived from the bark of the willow tree, salicylic is the only beta-hydroxy acid
(BHA), which—unlike alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) that slough away dead skin cells from the
surface of the skin—are able to ‘unglue’ the cells of the epidermis from deep
inside your pores, where your build-up actually lies. This is because unlike
water-soluble AHAs, salicylic acid is an oil-soluble exfoliator, allowing it to penetrate deep
into and exfoliate sebum-filled pores, which will typically show up on your face as blackheads,
whiteheads, or pimples.
Salicylic acid is generally the key ingredient in the treatment of all types of acne as it is
calming and antibacterial, as well as a proven superstar in preventing and reducing congestion.
Our favourite acne fighters with salicylic acid are:
Perricone MD Blemish Relief
Combination Therapy 90 Day Regimen
Sunday Riley UFO
Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil
Dr. Dennis Gross DRx
Blemish Solutions Breakout Clearing Gel
Juice Beauty Blemish
Drunk Elephant T.L.C.
Framboos™ Glycolic Night Serum
viewing of products
A potent derivative of vitamin A, retinol
is a cell-communicating ingredient (and a protective antioxidant) which instructs damaged skin
cells to produce healthier cells faster. While we stock ‘over-the-counter’ formulas which tend
to skew on the more gentle side (known as retinol), stronger vitamin A derivatives are
often prescribed by dermatologists (typically known as retinoids) to assist in the
clearing of severe breakouts. Because retinol increases cellular turnover, it means that your
pores are less likely to become blocked or infected with dead skin cells, and thus blemishes are
less likely to form.
With increased cell turnover comes increased sensitivity to the sun, so the condition when you
incorporate retinol into your skincare routine is that you wear SPF (at
least broad spectrum
30, but 50+ is
preferable), every single day, without fail.
READ MORE: Derms rave about retinol; learn how to add it to your skincare
Our best acne treatments with retinol include:
VERSO Cleanse and Refine Kit
Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping
Sunday Riley A+ High-Dose
A-Passioni™ Retinol Cream
Sulphur is a natural mineral commonly used to treat acne and skin congestion by inhibiting the
activity of oil glands and acne-causing bacteria as well as dissolving the top layer of dead
skin cells. As a mild antibacterial agent, it helps to reduce the risk of a pore becoming
infected, while absorbing the oil build-up that can come with more cystic breakouts. Sulphur
also reduces the swelling, redness and irritation of a breakout while preventing bacteria from
spreading and forming new blemishes elsewhere on your skin.
If you find ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide too harsh or irritating on your
skin, you’ll find that treatments formulated with sulphur will make for a great anti-blemish
Our top acne solutions with sulphur:
Sunday Riley Saturn Sulfur Spot Treatment
Mario Badescu Drying
Kate Somerville EradiKate
Malin+Goetz Acne Treatment
Kate Somerville EradiKate
Derived from the hemp variety of the cannabis sativa plant (coming from the seeds, CBD oil comes
from the leaves), cannabis sativa seed oil is an emollient rich in fatty acids, effective
in soothing stressed, irritated, problem skin, including blemish and acne prone skin. Important
for overall skin health, fatty acids form the building blocks for healthy cell membranes, lipids
and oils, which are essential for general hydration and healthy barrier function.
With such calming properties, the oil helps to dramatically reduce the angriness and subsequent
obviousness of a raging breakout, relieving redness, discomfort, and even surface irritation
caused by a treatment that might’ve been too strong. Cannabis sativa seed oil is non-comedogenic
too, so you can be sure it won’t cause breakouts, instead protecting and nourishing healthy skin
cells to prevent unwanted build-up.
READ MORE: Why cannabis sativa seed oil is the skincare ingredient you need
Find cannabis sativa seed oil in these MECCA favourites:
Kiehl’s Cannabis Sativa
Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate
Kiehl’s Cannabis Sativa
Seed Oil Herbal Cleanser
Eve Lom Radiance Face
Cosmetics 27 Recovery
Mecca Cosmetica Nourishing
Niacinamide might just be the ‘it’ ingredient of the past
year, but the hype isn’t just a fad—this all-rounder is the real deal. Also known as vitamin B3,
niacinamide is an essential nutrient with a seemingly endless list of benefits for your skin,
including the calming, balancing, and fading of acne. This comes in addition to strengthening
the skin barrier, retaining moisture, protecting from environmental aggressors, balancing oil,
reducing hyperpigmentation, and counteracting general dullness and dryness. *Exhales*.
If you experience moderate acne that tends to linger, the inclusion of niacinamide in your
routine will help to alleviate and reduce the appearance of redness and irritation, while also
regulating sebum production—the over or under production of which can cause breakouts. It’s also
a pro at reducing the risk of acne scarring and fading older marks.
READ MORE: What can’t niacinamide do? Meet the ingredient that takes your skin
from blah to brilliant
Get a dose of Niacinamide in your routine with:
Dermalogica Age Bright
Drunk Elephant F-Balm
Summer Fridays CC Me
Dr. Dennis Gross B3Adaptive
SuperFoods Stress Rescue Super Serum
Apot.Care Vitamin B3 Pure
If you're looking for the ultimate acne-fighting
routine, this livestream from our
Beauty Lab is your chance to find and shop your skin solutions with the help of our