What is the best acne/pimple treatment? If I want my face to be acne free.

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Though this question is not necessarily academic in nature, I will answer it from both a consumer and health/scientific standpoint so that you will have a few things to consider outside of general "customer reviews."

First of all, the leading ingredient in acne face wash is salicylic acid.  If you look at a bottle of ProActive, Clearasil, Oil of Olay, or the cheapest store brand of acne face wash, this will likely in the first five ingredients listed.  That said, despite the wide range of prices, most of these products work the same way (and are almost equally effective in my experience).  Their sole purpose is to keep pores from getting clogged by dirt and oil (both naturally occurring and product build up).  This means that paying more for face wash does not necessarily mean you are buying a better product.

Benzoyl peroxide is another common treatment for acne, which usually comes as a topical cream or gel (not a wash).  The basic purpose of this product is to kill the bacteria that cause breakouts.

If a basic washing regimen does not clear up your face within a few weeks you might want to seek the help of a dermatologist.  A dermatologist will hopefully give you many options (in addition to acne medication) for potential causes of your breakouts.  Though most of us have read in one magazine article or anotherthat chocolate does not contribute to acne, there is certainly something to be said for the idea that what we put into our bodies does in some way affect us.  Therefore, diet is considered a factor.  Stress and lack of sleep are another leading cause of skin breakouts.  The fact that you are in college is unsurprising as this seems to be a time when many women experience major hormonal and lifestyle changes that greatly effect things like hair, skin, weight, and temperament.

A dermatologist can recommend and possibly prescribe a treatment that cannot be found over the counter.  Whether it is a gel or cream, or a hormonal treatment, the two most common side effects of prescription acne treatment are excessive dryness and sun sensitivity.  You will want to combat both by staying hydrated and wearing SPF regularly.

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