The good news is that you can do something about acne. The bad news is that some products that purportedly improve complexion actually make acne worse. For instance, cleansing scrubs and astringents, or most products that irritate your skin, will exacerbate the problem by making your face redder. And, in terms of washing, one might assume that more is better. But research has shown that washing your face twice a day is all you need. Any less won't be as effective, and any more could make acne worse.
Also, not all acne cleansers were created equal. Some kinds are better for certain skin types. An alcohol base is best for those with oily skin, while those cleansers with a cream, foam, ointment, aqueous or gel base are best for normal to dry skin. Lotions can work for any skin type.
But these bases will only constitute the inactive ingredients of a cleanser. They help the product apply easily, but don't have to do with controlling acne directly. On the other hand, the active ingredients in most over-the-counter acne cleansers can dry oil, kill the bacteria that causes inflammation of whiteheads and blackheads, and help get rid of dead skin.
Some of the most common active ingredients include benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, sulfur, and resorcinol. Other medications available over-the-counter include mild retinoids and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic acid. Prescription products can include oral antibiotics and stronger retinoids, most notably isotretinoin (Accutane).
Some of the acne medications are marketed specifically toward men, but other than the packaging, there isn't a significant difference in the products. Consider Proactiv, which is an acne medication containing benzoyle peroxide that became popular by its celebrity endorsements and infomercials. Proacitv is marketed to both females and males, evidenced by its celebrity endorsements from Jessica Simpson to Sean Combs.