Best Acne Spot Treatment

Best Acne Spot Treatment

The best acne products are essential for adults suffering from bad skin. While some women are lucky enough to outgrow teen acne (or skip it entirely — jerks), the rest of us need help dealing with the recurring blemishes in our 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond. That’s when this list of the best acne products — along with the ones you should avoid — becomes especially handy. With it, we can navigate the endless acne treatment options out there and hone in on the best acne products that will help us treat everything from cystic acne and the occasional monster zit to chin acne or recurring breakouts.
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Best Acne Spot Treatment

This three-piece set may not be the most comprehensive acne solution available, but we liked the balanced approach to fighting acne while also protecting skin. The Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution is mostly water, but its 2 percent salicylic acid is enough to eat through oil and slough off the dead skin cells clogging your pores — and it boasts a higher concentration than nearly every other kit we looked at. It sloshes out quickly (so have your cotton balls at the ready), but stroking it over your face and neck per the instructions is pure heaven. It’s cooling on the skin and leaves a lingering tingle that never turns into a burn. Sodium hyaluronate, the super-moisturizing humectant we fell in love with in our review on the best face moisturizer, also caught our eye sitting smack dab in the middle of the ingredients list. Rounding out the Clear Acne kit is the Daily Skin Clearing Treatment, an all-over 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide cream that also touts calming bisabolol and allantoin to alleviate the dryness and irritation that can crop up mid-treatment. Anyone frustrated with oil-slick skin will also love this part of the regimen — it creates a satin mattifying effect, instantly transforming shininess into a glow. The three-piece set doesn’t come with an SPF, but Paula’s Choice has one in the line, the Clear Ultra-Light Daily Fluid SPF 30+. “Sun protection is really important, especially with acneic skin,” says Townsend. “In many cases, stronger acne products can make the skin photosensitive to the sun.” This isn’t your normal gloppy white sunscreen. Its fluid formula slips over tender skin, doesn’t need a ton of rubbing in, and also leaves a mattifying finish. If you give the Regular Strength kit a try and don’t see the results you want, Paula’s Choice also has an Extra Strength Clear Acne Kit that boosts the Daily Skin Clearing Treatment up to 5 percent benzoyl peroxide (and replaces the sodium hyaluronate in the exfoliant with green tea extract) to give your acne a real kick. But we recommend starting with the regular strength version. “When it comes to strong products, less is more,” Townsend says.
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Best Acne Spot Treatment

Nobody thinks popping pimples is a good idea. But it’s just so satisfying — mostly because you can actually see something happening. Contrary to the marketing promises of “blemish banishers” and “zit zappers,” immediate results are not the trademark of acne treatments, a frustrating truth to anyone suffering through a breakout. And while pimples are personal (your stress-induced spots will look and act differently than your best friend’s breakout), the best acne treatments will include a regimen of products to hit all of acne’s root causes. Our top pick, Paula’s Choice Regular Strength Clear Acne Kit, is a three-part system designed to unclog pores, heal breakouts, and soothe redness. Acne vulgaris is the catch-all term for everything from angry red lesions to tiny white bumps, which are the results of hair follicles and their sebaceous glands becoming blocked and inflamed — how vulgar indeed. Genetics plays a big part in who gets acne and how severely, but each blemish can be blamed on some combination of sebum production, a bacteria called Propionibecterium acnes (P. acnes), plugged follicles, and inflammation. Finding a good treatment is really about finding the right combination of ingredients to troubleshoot each of those issues.
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Best Acne Spot Treatment

Keep in mind that even if some products market themselves toward severe acne breakouts, all the kits we looked at are definitely designed for mild to moderate acne. Dr. Lawrence Green, board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at George Washington University, warns that even moderate acne can be beyond what an over-the-counter treatment can handle, and recommends seeing a specialist. Granted, if you’re in the middle of a breakout, every pimple seems pretty severe (and if your acne feels out of control, you might be desperate to try anything). Good thing the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology published a study to determine if people could self-diagnose their level of acne. The researchers found that, with this handy chart, you can!
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Best Acne Spot Treatment

4 Of 12 Nerd Skincare Acne Treatment$85 BUY NOWHands down the best acne treatment this editor has ever tried, all it takes is one application of Nerd’s acne treatment lotion to look like impurities never happened. Why it’s genius? This anti-acne solution works with every individual immune system to clear up the mess; no benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or side effects.
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Best Acne Spot Treatment

facebook dialogPinterestCopyright Richard Pierce. All Rights Reserved.Neutrogena Naturals Acne Spot TreatmentThis 93 percent natural treatment uses a low concentration (1 percent) of salicylic acid to fight pimples, so it doesn't exacerbate redness or dryness. The citrusy scent is also much more pleasant than the medicinal ones acne treatments often get stuck with.facebook dialogPinterestYes to Tomatoes Clear Skin Acne Roller Ball Spot StickThe cooling rollerball applicator feels soothing as you swipe on this clear liquid treatment. Though it packs both a 2 percent concentration of salicylic acid and tea-tree oil, it won't turn your skin into a flaky mess, we promise. Aloe and lavender oil create enough of a buffer that all you notice are the pimple-shrinking results—and the surprisingly fresh tomato-y scent (we know this sounds weird, but trust us, it's good).
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Best Acne Spot Treatment

Nobody thinks popping pimples is a good idea. But it’s just so satisfying — mostly because you can actually see something happening. Contrary to the marketing promises of “blemish banishers” and “zit zappers,” immediate results are not the trademark of acne treatments, a frustrating truth to anyone suffering through a breakout. And while pimples are personal (your stress-induced spots will look and act differently than your best friend’s breakout), the best acne treatments will include a regimen of products to hit all of acne’s root causes. Our top pick, Paula’s Choice Regular Strength Clear Acne Kit, is a three-part system designed to unclog pores, heal breakouts, and soothe redness.
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Best Acne Spot Treatment

facebook dialogPinterestPhilosophy Clear Days Ahead Fast-Acting Salicylic Acid Acne Spot TreatmentA favorite of Zeichner, this milky gel is about as light, invisible, and nonthreatening as an acne treatment gets. The combination of salicylic and glycolic acids sloughs skin and degunks pores while dimethicone and squalane moisturize. Plus, it's so fast-acting that it can shrink a major zit overnight. Yep, we said it.facebook dialogPinterestDermalogica Concealing Spot TreatmentWe're fans of anything that shortens our morning routine (more sleep, yay!), so this tinted multitasker—it's a treatment and a concealer—appealed to the lazier among us. It immediately makes blemishes less noticeable by masking redness and creating a smooth finish, then goes to work fighting the offending spot with sulfur. And sure, sulfur is typically drying, but here, it's paired with glycerin, niacinamide, and panthenol, all of which help skin retain moisture.
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Impatience for acne to be better right now usually results in less-than-healthy habits. Your pimples need TLC too. That 2013 study on acne vulgaris found that, in an attempt to dry out acne lesions, patients often use too many products or apply excessive amounts to problem areas, resulting in further irritation and overdrying the skin. Vigorous scrubbing and using harsh exfoliants (remember that St. Ives Apricot Scrub we were all crazy about in the early 2000s?) can make acne worse by rupturing whiteheads and blackheads, and turning them into painful red ones. And remember: No matter how satisfying it is, picking and popping your zits will also increase their inflammation and opportunity for infection. Resist!
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We looked for kits with at least two active ingredients proven to fight acne. There are two big guns used to take down acne (and a few little Berettas), and they are both great at doing entirely different things. Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid that comes from willow bark, which is just to say that it’s naturally occurring and works primarily as an exfoliator, breaking down fatty acids like sebum so your pores don’t clog. (Glycolic acid works similarly, but is less effective.) These acids do their thing on comedones — whiteheads, blackheads, and other non-red bumps. Benzoyl peroxide attacks the P. acnes bacteria. Once it’s on your face, benzoyl peroxide breaks into oxygen and benzoic acid, which rip through the bacteria’s membranes. Sulfur and azelaic acid are less common and less severe alternatives to benzoyl peroxide, which can sometimes leave skin dry and irritated. “I use sulfur-based treatments a lot in adults,” says Dr. Peter Lio, assistant professor of clinical dermatology at Northwestern University. “It’s a good fit for patients who can’t tolerate the side effects of benzoyl peroxide.” All three of these ingredients go after those big red pimples. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology states that salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are by far the most common acne ingredients and they’re effective in double-blind studies of patients with mild-to-moderately severe acne. We looked for kits that included at least one ingredient targeting each camp: the comedones and the pimples.