We live in a world full of choices—sometimes, too many. With so many acne treatments for men to choose from, it can be downright overwhelming.

To make things more complicated, you also need to be careful about the ingredients listed on the back of your acne cream. The cosmetics industry receives very little regulation, which means that you could be putting harmful chemicals on your face unknowingly.

Here is a breakdown of what you should know when choosing an acne cream:

  • Not all acne creams are created equally. Some ingredients in acne creams are known to irritate the skin and can worsen your acne.
  • Always read the ingredient list of your acne cream. Avoid them if they contain synthetic dyes and fragrances, parabens, sulfates or other controversial ingredients.
  • Remember to test your acne cream on a small patch of skin to ensure that you don’t have a negative reaction.

Choosing an acne cream doesn’t need to feel daunting. All it takes is a quick look at the ingredients to ensure that they don’t contain the following:


No, we aren’t talking about the alcohol you put in a mixed drink. We mean the types of alcohols used in skincare products. Some of them are good, but others you need to avoid.

Simple alcohols such as ethanol, isopropyl, methanol and propanol are often used for their antibacterial properties. These alcohols can dry out the skin and worsen your acne.

Fatty alcohols derived from vegetables don’t dry out your skin. In fact, they help hydrate it and keep your skin smooth and clear. If you see cetearyl, stearyl or behenyl alcohol listed as ingredients on your acne cream label, you’re in the clear.

noxious chemicals found in cosmetics


Parabens are chemicals that help extend the shelf life of cosmetic products. They were first commercialized in the 1950s and come in many variations.

What’s so bad about parabens? Well, they are said to mimic the effects of estrogen in the body and are considered hormone disruptors. Because parabens can increase the growth effects of estrogen on breast cancer cells, they are a controversial ingredient in the cosmetic industry.

Breast cancer in men may not be common (fewer than 2,500 cases per year), but men have breast tissue and it can happen. Additionally, hormone disruptors aren’t good for anyone.

The most common parabens that you’ll want to look out for include methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben and butylparaben.


Sulfates refer to a large group of ingredients used for their cleansing agents. With over 100 varieties—both synthetic and natural—you can find sulfates in everything from floor cleaners to facial cleansers and shampoos.

Sulfates are controversial in the skin care industry. While some believe that sulfates are harmless, research has shown that they can cause skin irritation with repeated exposure. Whether you have sensitive skin or not, it’s best to avoid sulfates in your skincare products.

coconut oil on table closeup

Comedogenic Oils

It’s often assumed that healthy oils such as coconut oil and avocado oil are always good for your skin. Although both oils can hydrate your skin, they are also highly comedogenic, which means that they are more likely to exacerbate acne.

This doesn’t mean that you should avoid all oils in your acne cream. But if you do have oily skin, use an acne cream like ours that contains good oils such as Kukui Nut Oil.

Artificial Colors and Dyes

Those tinted acne creams seem convenient—hide your pimple while it heals! Unfortunately, many synthetic colors are suspected carcinogens and found in many cosmetic products.

If your label says FD&C or D&C, they refer to artificial colors. These color pigments are made from coal tar, a substance which is suspected to increase the risk of cancer.

What Should You Look for in an Acne Cream?

You now know which ingredients to avoid in your acne cream. What about the good ingredients?

Here are a few beneficial acne cream ingredients that you should look for:

  • Salicylic Acid. A common skin care ingredient which is known for penetrating deep into the skin to clean and prevent acne. Unlike Benzoyl Peroxide, Salicylic Acid is gentle on the skin and won’t cause irritation.
  • Antioxidants. Research shows that free radicals may be the reason for acne breakouts. Acne creams with antioxidants can help fight off free radicals and clear your acne naturally.
  • Natural Extracts. Many ingredients derived from plant sources come with powerful skin benefits. For example, Plantain Extract has natural anti-bacterial properties that promote wound healing, while Alfalfa Extract helps reduce dry skin and prevent further breakouts.

Because we know how complicated modern life can be, we at Tiege Hanley strive to keep men’s skin care uncomplicated. Acne creams for men should be easy to use and work effortlessly with your face care regimen.

Not only that, but they should contain safe ingredients that you feel comfortable putting on your face. That’s why we developed and designed our skin care line to be free of potentially harmful ingredients.

Ready to give our acne system a try? Check out our products and find the acne system that works best for you.