Facts Checked By Freewill Beauty Experts - Written by Gopika Suresh (Journalist) on 05th Oct 2020

Topical Treatments for Skin and Acne - Feed Your Skin Healthy Ingredients

Topical Treatments for Skin

Every few months, a new component is discovered to benefit your skin. Although you don't try them all, one must invest in a few topical treatments as per their skin requirements.

Topical medications are creams, gels, lotions, and serums that must be applied to the skin. Let's take a look at a few; check out our exclusive Minimalist advice to know how to use them and what would suit your skin.  


Dead skin, dirt, and oil can clog the pores on the surface of your skin, causing pimples or localized infections.

Topical acne treatments work on clearing away the bacteria and excess oils.

The treatment given depends on your condition - mild, moderate, or severe acne. 

1) Ingredients that reduce blemishes

For several years, battling acne consists of active ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide over the counter products.

Check out Minimalist's Benzoyl Peroxide 2% + Glycolic Acid 5% that gently exfoliates your skin, killing the bacteria and giving the skin a fresh glow.

However, one recent product that seems to be an all-rounder is niacinamide. Research suggests that 2% of niacinamide could help in reducing sebum production on our skin. These three ingredients fight inflammation and reduce the occurrence of blemishes on the skin. Minimalist's Niacinamide 10% + Zinc daily serum is full of vitamin B3 to transform your skin. If you are looking to keep your skin healthy, you must check it out.  

2) Scar treatment 

However, we all know that the acne journey involves treating the pimples and the scars they leave behind. Often dealing with those can be more challenging than the blemishes itself.

However, with ingredients like kojic acid and hyaluronic acid, the process is much faster. A study stated how hyaluronic acid was safe to use on moderate to severe acne scars and showed improvement on them as well.

Kojic acid does an exciting job as a tyrosinase inhibitor; it slows down the production of pigments on your skin that could lead to unwanted pigmentation and scars.  

3) Minimalist advice

Now that you know of the critical ingredients, Minimalist will guide you on using them for the best results.  

  • If you suffer from acne and have dry to normal skin, apply hyaluronic acid to a clean face every morning. In case you have scars, apply kojic acid after five to ten minutes. At night, you could use benzoyl peroxide on the affected areas and not the whole face. You may start every few days till your skin adjusts to the product. Follow up with hyaluronic acid after, to avoid drying of the skin. We wouldn't recommend kojic acid if you don't have scars. But if you do, consider trying Minimalist's Kojic Acid 2% + Alpha Arbutin 1% that dramatically reduces pigmentation left from aging, sun damage, or acne. 
  • If you have oily skin, replace hyaluronic acid with niacinamide as it can help with oil production.  
  • If your skin is sensitive, mix both benzoyl peroxide and hyaluronic acid to avoid any adverse reactions. Once the acne is gone, you may use hyaluronic acid and niacinamide. Hyaluronic acid is one of the best ingredients you could rely on. It gets better when you put it together with vitamin B5. Try out Minimalist's Hyaluronic Acid 2% + Vitamin B5. 
  • If you have acne-prone skin that causes blemishes to arise at times, you could use salicylic acid as a primary ingredient instead of benzoyl peroxide. You could use Minimalist's 2% Salicylic acid as it gently cleanses the skin from excess oils. 

4) Prescription gels and creams 

Sometimes OTC products aren't strong enough to clear acne. Then, prescription treatments can be used, such as gels and creams. These may contain tretinoin, which is obtained from vitamin A.

It is proved to help in the therapy of acne. Clindamycin, a more robust version of benzoyl peroxide, is also used. This could be more effective in treating moderate to severe acne.  


Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) are animal and plant-based acids. They are used in several skincare products such as toners, serums, creams, chemical peels, and anti-aging.

The seven types of AHAs that are most commonly used are 

  • the citric acid 
  • glycolic acid
  • hydroxy caproic acid
  • hydroxy caprylic acid 
  • lactic acid  
  • malic acid  
  • tartaric acid

Out of these, glycolic and lactic acid are said to produce promising results. According to research, the two are also less likely to irritate the skin. Due to this, almost all OTC AHA products contain lactic and glycolic acid.  

What do AHAs do?

AHAs primarily help in exfoliating, offering scope for cell regeneration. However, not all of them exfoliate the same. Look at the number of AHAs. The product has to see how well it would do its job. They also help in the following areas.  

Promotion of collagen 

Collagen is a protein-rich fiber that keeps our skin soft and supple. However, with age and sun damage, it is lost, leaving the skin saggy.

AHAs can work in the middle layer of your skin or the dermis where the collagen is present. Thus, enabling the production of new collagen cells.  

They help brighten skin

When AHAs exfoliate your skin, the fresh, radiant skin is revealed, and the dead skin cells are removed.

AHAs containing glycolic acid could reduce dead cell build-up, and citric acid can bring more brightness to your skin.  

AHAs reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles

A study in 2014 explained how 9 out of ten participants experience smoother skin after using AHAs for three weeks. However, it is essential to note that they work only on surface lines and wrinkles and not deeper ones.  

They help minimize and correct discoloration 

As you age with time, you are more likely to get brown spots and discoloration on your face, neck, and chest. The discoloration may also be caused due to acne scars.

As AHAs increase skin cell turnover, The American Academy of Dermatology recommends glycolic acid to reduce discoloration.

AHAs may also provide relief from acne and increase product absorption.  

Minimalist advice!

If you have dark spots, pigmentation, or acne scars, use AHA and BHA once a week at night. Apply 25% AHA + 5% PHA + 2% BHA on a clean, dry face and wash it off after ten minutes with lukewarm water. Make sure to use a sunscreen of good SPF at least 30, every day.  


Research has proven time and again that retinoids are excellent for the skin. From helping with collagen stimulation to treating acne and pigmentation and softening wrinkles, retinoid is your skin's favorite food. They are known for increasing the production of collagen and providing an overall glow.  

1) When to expect results? 

It may take six months for one to see results from over the counter retinoids. However, the wait is worth it, believe us. It depends on skin to skin; however, we recommend you not to give up. Studies have suggested how 12-week usage of retinol drastically improved wrinkles.

Minimalist advice!

Check out the retinoid routine that you can follow to gain the best of results.  

Step 1: Wash your face with a face wash or cleanser of your choice.

Step 2: Apply an eye cream of your choice with your ring finger. Since the area around the eye is too delicate, you must protect it.

Step 3: Wait for a few minutes until your skin is dehydrated. This step is crucial as applying retinoid on damp skin will make it get deeply absorbed. Thus, giving rise to irritation sometimes. You could apply moisturizers and serums to damp skin but never use retinoids on it.

Step 4: Next, take a pea-sized amount of retinoid and starting from the chin, apply it on your skin in upward motions.

Step 5: Now, you can hydrate your skin with a moisturizer of your choice.

Step 6: Lastly, but not the least, remember to apply sunscreen if you are doing this routine in the morning.

With this routine, you should achieve great results from retinoids in the shortest amount of time.  

Possible side effects!

Sometimes, when retinoids are used on sensitive skin, it could cause stinging and itchiness. If one uses it excessively, it may cause redness and peeling, so it is essential to use minimally. In those suffering from eczema, topical retinoids may aggravate it. In some cases, users reported acne at first, which settled later.  


If you think about revamping your skin, vitamin C or ascorbic acid may be your golden ticket. It is a multipurpose ingredient that would both repair and enhance your skin. It doesn't mean you should be placing lemon slices on your cheeks; that is not even safe. However, when introduced in products like serums and moisturizers, it provides excellent benefits.

A study recommends using vitamin C serum every eight hours or even twice a day to provide the best protection for your skin. 

Benefits of topical vitamin C

  • reduces wrinkles 
  • protects collagen and increases production
  • aids wound healing 
  • helps protect against sun damage
  • reduces hyperpigmentation 
  • evens skin tone
  • brightens complexion 
  • acts like armor against pollution and other free radicals

How to pick the right concentration of vitamin C?

Look for a product that provides at least 10 to 20 percent of vitamin C. You want to look anything below eight percent as it isn't going to make a significant change. At the same, do not opt for a product with more than 20% of vitamin C as it irritates.  

Minimalist advice!

Try out Minimalist's Vitamin C 20% (SAP) + Ferulic Acid that is both fragrance-free and non-comedogenic. This daily serum will boost your skin's look by reducing uneven skin tone, dull skin, and surface imperfections.