As an aesthetician, I can tell you that one of the most tempting things to use on your face, if you have acne, is anything that you may feel will make it look better faster.
But is that actually a good idea?
Does using Neosporin help to heal your face? Or will it cause more damage?
The answer is that it is almost certainly not a good idea to use Neosporin if you have acne, but let’s talk about the reasons why.
In this post, we will also discuss other options available to you to help soothe your skin and treat your acne.
Let’s jump in:
Why is it so tempting to use Neosporin for acne?
Well, with the promise that Neosporin can heal cuts quicker than your body, it’s tempting to think it may work on your acne as well.
But, it’s just not the case.
To understand why that is we need to talk a little bit about acne.
The best advice you can get when it comes to acne is to simply leave your skin alone!
If you pick at your face around a blackhead or a whitehead, you run the risk of damaging the skin and causing local inflammation.
This inflammation is referred to as cellulitis when it is located on the skin.
When you mess around with your face you cause irritation, inflammation, and it actually makes your pimple look even worse.
Not only that, but you also run the risk of pushing the substance inside of the pimple even farther into your skin which takes it even longer to come to a head.
And that’s when Neosporin looks enticing.
Why not use a triple antibiotic ointment to try and help your skin heal even faster?
Doesn’t that sound good?
It does until you realize that acne isn’t an infection! And that antibiotics can actually cause a worse reaction on your face and skin.
And that’s exactly why I don’t recommend it.
Antibiotics are designed to treat infections in the skin, not inflammation.
When you have acne, the redness that you see is the result of local inflammation (often made worse by picking at your face).
So, using an antibiotic will have no positive benefit in these situations.
What’s even worse is that antibiotics are not necessarily harmless substances either.
Especially not when placed on the sensitive skin of your face including the nose, eyes, and neck.
In fact, it is estimated that up to 20% of people react to the polymyxin found inside of Neosporin and other triple antibiotic ointments.
People who react negatively to Neosporin often react with a rash, swelling, or worsening redness!
Does that sound like something that you want to have happened if your primary goal is to heal your face even faster?
The answer is obviously no and this is probably the number 1 reason I don’t recommend the use of Neosporin for acne.
But what else is in Neosporin?
Neosporin and other triple antibiotic ointments contain a combination of 3 antibiotic ingredients.
Usually, they contain the following: Polymyxin B, Neomycin, and bacitracin.
These antibiotics may be great if you suspect that you have a superficial (small) infection after a cut or bruise, but they should not be used on your face if you do not have an infection.
We know that the indiscriminate use of antibiotics (oral or topical) can lead to changes in the bacterial concentration in your gut and on your skin.
What you may not realize is that bacteria live on your skin and this bacteria contribute to the glow, look, and feel of your skin.
Killing off this bacteria (and allowing bad bacteria to grow in) will only cause more harm down the road and may increase your risk of developing acne.
So what are you supposed to do instead?
My recommendation is to take a more holistic and safe approach to treat acne and putting ointments on your skin.
In many cases, you may want to simply avoid using anything other than a cleanser or an astringent on your skin (this helps keep bacterial levels healthy and prevent excess oil production).
But what if you want to use some spot treatment?
Spot treatment is the use of targeted ointments and creams directly on your pimple (or pimples) without affecting the surrounding tissues.
Certain ingredients can actually accelerate the development of your pimple and help it come to a head even faster.
Ingredients which can do this include:
These therapies can help treat isolated pimples but should not necessarily be used on your entire face.
It’s also important to realize that some oral supplements (such as Zinc, Vitamin C, and probiotics) may help treat your acne.
But those recommendations only target the pimples that you are already suffering from.
What are you supposed to do about preventing future pimples from occurring?
In order to do this, you may need to change the way that you evaluate acne.
I tend to get the best results with clients by taking an approach which takes into account both the inside of the body and the outside.
In this approach, acne is the cause of something wrong with the inside of your body and the pimples are a manifestation of that problem.
The good news is that you can treat this issue, but it does take a unique approach and one that includes both topical ointments and serums but also a look at what you put into your body.
To treat acne you will want to take a look at the following:
Instead of using Neosporin as a ‘quick fix’ for your pimples, make sure you treat the root cause and prevent future breakouts from occurring!
But, beyond just what you put on your skin, or inside of your body, there are also other therapies which can definitely help prevent breakouts but also help to heal your skin even faster and even out your skin tone and texture.
I’m a huge fan of these therapies, partly because I do them on a daily basis, but also because I think they are amazing and work great!
Other therapies for acne which may help include:
The bottom line?
You’ll want to avoid the use of Neosporin if you have acne and instead focus on other therapies designed to treat the underlying cause of your acne or pimple.
Avoiding Neosporin is important because it can worsen inflammation, increase irritation, increase redness, and delay the healing time of your pimple.
Better options include using targeted gels and serums directly on your pimple and to stick to using cleansers and astringents on your face in the morning and night.
Now I want to hear from you:
Have you used Neosporin for acne in the past?
Did it work for you?
Why or why not?
What other treatments have helped reduce or cut back your acne?
Leave your questions or comments below!
Are you hoping that proactiv plus will actually help you treat your acne?
If so there are a few things you need to understand about proactiv before you actually purchase the product.
Does it actually work? should you be doing more with your acne? do other products work better?
In this proactiv plus review we are going to go over ALL of this and more (including products I think work way better than proactiv plus, and that’s from a person who has used proactiv for 10 years):
If you’re reading this it’s probably because you’re wondering if proctiv plus is going to finally be THE facial product that will clear up your skin.
In fact you’ve probably been burned by other facial products in the past that may have slightly worked but still left you with acne that you need to get rid of.
If that’s the case then I think you will find this review incredibly helpful!
Because we are not only going to take a look at proctiv, but we are going to evaluate WHY you might have acne and what other steps you can do to treat it – things you probably haven’t looked into before.
So let’s start with the obvious question:
Does proactiv plus really work?
The answer is that it CAN work, but it may not work for everyone.
In terms of its raw potential I will say that it has more potential to help you than other facial creams and products.
Like you are probably figuring out, each person needs a different skin regimen that is personalized to that persons skin type, skin type and oil production.
The reason proactiv products tend to work so well is because they contain a powerful anti bacterial therapy known as benzoyl peroxide.
This is THE active ingredient in proactiv plus products and is one of the main reasons that it works so well for so many people.
But just because it works, doesn’t necessarily mean it should be used in every person…
I have personally struggled with acne in the past (both as a teenager and into my adult years).
Thankfully through hours of research and experimentation I have figured out how to deal with my acne and I will share some of the advanced things that I learned below.
But what’s important for this discussion is how proactiv fits in.
I am a personal user of proactiv products and even used their products for 10 years.
For my skin type (which is oily) and skin tone (very fair) it actually worked quite well.
But that’s not the main problem…
The problem with proactiv is that it is a product that should NOT be used long term.
And this is unfortunate because that’s exactly how proactiv products are branded:
As long term solutions to acne.
Despite this, there is good data to indicate that long term anti biotics should not be used to treat mild to moderate acne.
Because antibiotics (like benzoyl peroxide) kill ALL of the bacteria on your skin.
And persistent and long term use of proactic will result in permanent damage to your skin microbiome.
You are lead to believe that acne is caused by bad bacteria and that the treatment is to kill this bacteria.
But what you probably didn’t realize is that people who have acne and those who don’t have acne still have the same bacteria on their skin.
The difference is the relative concentrations and other issues going on in their body (hormone imbalances, inflammation, etc.).
Proactiv takes a very general approach:
To kill all bacteria on your skin.
And the issue with this approach is that it works temporarily but it isn’t a long term solution.
This is why people who stop taking proactiv later in life end up with WORSE acne.
This has to do with the severe damage that occurs to your skin as a result of the powerful antibiotics inside proactiv plus.
Just because proactiv kills off bacteria on your skin doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it.
Proactiv actually works quite well for those people who are dealing with inflammation and have an overgrowth of BAD bacteria on their skin.
It also helps certain people who have high oil production (because benzoyl peroxide and witch hazel can help reduce this oil).
But what you need to understand is that acne is an INTERNAL problem.
Acne is a manifestation of other issues going wrong INSIDE your body.
And no amount of lotions, or creams will permanently remove or reverse your acne if it’s caused by something on the inside of your body.
This is why proactiv plus will work for some people and NOT for others.
Because it depends on the CAUSE of your acne.
People that do really well on proactiv are those who actually do have some degree of skin issues.
Those with an overgrowth of bad bacteria and those with heavy oil production.
If your acne is caused by hormone problems, too much testosterone, not enough thyroid hormone or gut issues – then proactiv is NOT the best product for you.
One of the main beauties of the proactiv plus system is the 3 step system they created.
The system consists of the following:
The active ingredient during the exfoliative phase is benzoyl peroxide at 2.5% strength (which we have discussed previously).
Now, you can use pretty much anything during the first phase – you don’t HAVE to use benzoyl peroxide.
So other products like glycolic acid, alpha hydroxy acids, lactic acid, etc. can all be used with some success during this phase.
The other inactive ingredients are meant to help with absorption of the benzoyl peroxide and to provide a barrier (dimethicone) to the skin.
The second stage (the toner) also has the active ingredient of benzoyl peroxide at the 2.5% strength.
The toner is meant to add back pH to the skin to normalize it after the exfoliating phase strips off the acid mantle.
The final stage is the moisturizer which contains 0.5% salicylic acid.
Salicylic acid, in this setting, is simply used as an adjunct therapy to the benzoyl peroxide.
Studies have shown that salicylic acid is helpful for the treatment of mild acne and can reduce the number of lesions if used by itself.
The beauty of the 3 step system is that this combination of therapies can be used with OTHER and more effective products.
What you will find is that other products and brands have created better active ingredients (those that are less harmful to the skin if used long term) to treat inflammatory skin conditions like acne.
I do believe that proactiv brought this concept into the main stream, and it works really well due to the layering of products on top of one another, but it doesn’t mean you HAVE to use their products to get the same benefit.
Just because I’ve been critical of proactiv plus doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily a bad product.
Quite the opposite:
I think proactiv plus is a great product for CERTAIN people and only if used correctly – meaning for less than 90 days.
So who should actually use proactiv plus?
It’s best if you use proactiv plus if you fit any of the following criteria:
Who should NOT use proactiv plus:
If you determine you fit the criteria above then you can give proactiv plus a shot…
Also remember that proactiv has a big budget and uses celebrities to endorse their products.
Generally you should be weary of any product line that uses this kind of marketing tactic because these brands can spend more money on marketing their products than on developing them!
Decent quality, but not the highest quality products (still uses cheaper inactive ingredients)
Reasonable price for the quality
Why I Like it
Works well for SOME people but should not be used long term
Pros and Cons of using Proactiv Plus:
Now that we’ve discussed proactiv plus and WHO should use it, it’s also worth mentioning other BETTER products.
In addition it’s important to realize that in order to adequately treat your acne you need a comprehensive approach.
Below I go over what I think is the best approach to managing your acne (and it is the same plan that I used to take care of mine):
As you can see we take advantage of the 3 step system that proactiv plus uses but we change up the actual products and instead add several other therapies.
The other therapies are designed to tackle acne from ALL areas and this is what really gets great results.
I should also point out that if you decide to use proactiv plus (if you fall into the categories listed above) please also make sure you add other things to your regimen like the supplements AND lifestyle changes below.
Before we jump into those areas, I want to go over what I think is a better all around product and that is the Obagi 360 system.
This is a 3 step system (much like proactiv) but from a brand that dermatologists and plastic surgeons use.
Obagi is a seriously high end brand with high end ingredients that actually work.
Why do I like the Obagi 360 system?
First off the system uses products that have been tested and scientifically proven to help reduce acne AND help nourish the skin in the process.
In addition Obagi products are endorsed by physicians because they actually work.
In studies, as little as 12 weeks of therapy reduced photodamage, break outs and pore visibility compared to other leading brands:
In addition, other studies show that patients experienced the following benefits while using Obagi 360:
While no product is perfect, the reason I like the Obagi system is because it’s designed to be used LONG term and it’s not harmful to do it (unlike proactiv).
The ingredients like retinol help reduce photo damage and reverse the aging process, so your skin will look better in addition to treating your acne.
You can also see before and after pictures of the Obagi system in action below:
One thing I would draw your attention to is the quality and texture of this persons skin in her after picture.
The softness and glow to the skin is from the retinol containing products which act to reduce the signs of aging especially from photodamage.
The obagi system is superior to the proactiv plus 3 step system because it uses less harsh ingredients, it can be continued long term and because it will also help treat scarring and the aging process.
Contains Vitamin A (Retinol) to help reduce aging and directly treat acne
High price but very high quality ingredients – your face is worth the splurge
Why I Love it
This product was critical in treating my acne
Whether you choose to use my recommended product or use Proactiv plus you should ALSO consider using supplements and these other tips.
Because as I’ve mentioned before treating acne takes a comprehensive approach – one that takes into account what is going on INSIDE your body.
The next thing you should consider is the use of supplements.
Certain supplements can help treat acne by reducing inflammation, providing your skin with basic nutrients to heal faster and reduce the impact that hormones have on the skin.
Below I will go over what supplements I use and why they work (scientifically).
Consider using supplements in ADDITION to facial creams, lotions and serums:
If you are serious about treating your acne I recommend using ALL of these supplements in addition to either proactiv plus or the Obagi 360 system.
In addition to using a skin care regimen you also want to take basic steps to improve your skin by working on lifestyle factors.
Believe it or not these factors are probably MORE important than what you put on your skin.
Because these factors indirectly influence your hormones which can directly contribute to acne.
Take for instance your cycle:
Heavy stress before your menstrual cycle can cause issues which may result in a delayed cycle and therefore more estrogen resulting in more acne.
#1. Drink plenty of water
You should be drinking up to 1 gallon of water per day!
Water is AMAZING for your skin.
Water helps naturally moisturize your skin while helping your body detox out any harmful endocrine disruptors you may come into contact with throughout the day.
Make sure to drink enough so that your pee is clear!
#2. Eat healthy and organic food
Lots of people will tell you that your diet does NOT influence your acne and this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
You have to consider that general and non organic products contain growth hormones and other artificial hormones that DO have impact in your body.
These chemicals are known as endocrine disruptors and they can impact the hormone receptors in your body.
Make sure to avoid those chemicals by eating CLEAN, that means organic and natural whole foods.
#3. Exercise regularly (you want to sweat)
Exercise helps your skin because it acts as a natural way to detox.
Through your sweat.
Your body can eliminate toxins through your skin (via sweating or through acne!) or through your pee and stools.
Make sure to eliminate any excess crap by sweating it out instead of having your body form pustules and pimples (acne).
#4. Reduce your stress and get enough sleep!
Lack of sleep actually has been scientifically linked to acne and here’s how:
Lack of sleep causes increased cravings for processed and refined foods.
These foods directly damage your intestinal lining causing something called increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut).
Because of this permeability toxins and other products are absorbed and either directly damage your skin cells or must be released through the skin as acne.
Next up on the list of things you should also add to your skin regimen is certain therapies that have been clinically proven to also help reduce acne and acne scarring.
First up on the list is microneedling.
Microneedling is done by taking a pen with 10+ small hypodermic needles which pierce the skin thousands of time to the level of the dermal epidermal junction.
This process directly results in a decrease in sebum production and has been proven to reduce acne scarring and pock marks.
Microneedling is also a powerful anti aging therapy and should seriously be considered if you have acne.
You can find more about the benefits of microneedling here.
#2. Chemical peels
Chemical peels can also be used in conjunction with supplements, lifestyle changes AND with a 3 step therapy.
Chemical peels help exfoliate excess epidermal dead skin cells which reduces the chance of your pores being clogged.
It also helps reduce acne scars (but not as much as microneedling).
The good news about chemical peels is that you can do lighter and more gentle peels at home and they are effective.
In order to get the deeper chemical peels you may need to see a plastic surgeon or a dermatologist, however.
Dermarolling is like the microneedling procedure in terms of how it works, but it’s not quite as effective.
Instead of using a mechanical pen to poke the skin thousands of times, this procedure uses a ball that has lots of little needles which poke into the skin as it “rolls” across your face.
The benefit of using a dermaroller is that you can use it at home, the downside is that it’s not quite as powerful as microneedling in terms of reducing acne scarring.
Proactiv plus is a good product, but it’s not THE best product.
Long term use of proactiv can result in damage to your skin microbiome and make coming off of proactiv very difficult.
Because of this I generally recommend a more balanced product like the Obagi 360 3 step system which is superior.
If you decide you want to use the proactiv system just make sure you don’t use it for longer than 90 days at a time.
Also, if you are treating acne, make sure to add other therapies including lifestyle changes, supplements and medical therapies for the best results!
Now it’s your turn:
Do you have acne? Have you tried proactiv plus?
Did it work for you? Why or why not?
Leave your comments below!