If there’s one thing that we hate about getting older, it’s adult-onset acne. And the only thing that we hate more than a side of zits to go along with our wrinkles? Wasting our money on acne products that don’t actually work. Because seriously, who has time for that?
So in order to aid you all on your quest for perfectly clear skin, we went through our own medicine cabinets to bring you acne treatments that actually work. We’re covering all the issues, from cystic zits to hormonal spots, and spanning every price point. We’re comfortable saying that these products are going to turn your skin struggles around, stat: these are the BEST acne products out there today.
These products are going to turn your skin problems around, stat.
We’re going to go out on a limb here and say that, for most of us, our introduction to exfoliating was with the very same (and terrible) drugstore product. It wasn’t until years later that we realized that the harsh, sharp edges of those scrubby particles was doing us more harm than good, exacerbating acne rather than fighting it. We can say with one hundred-percent confidence than Arcona Cranberry Gommage ($52, arcona.com) will do no such thing. It manages to feel both gentle and like it’s seriously getting the job done—which it is. Massage in circular motions, then rinse for skin that’s exactly as clean and soft as it looks.
X Out Wash-In Treatment ($20, xout.com) is a cleanser that can also be used as a mask and spot treatment, making it a real triple threat. It features prescription-grade benzoyl peroxide that kills the bacteria that causes acne, plus exfoliating microbeads and essential fatty acids to hydrate and keep skin from getting scaly. So if you've ever wondered "Does X-Out really work?," then here's your answer: yep, sure does.
We hate nothing more than an acne treatment that leaves our skin burning or peeling, so we're grateful for SkinMedica Acne Lotion Treatment ($52, skinmedica.com), which gets rid of unsightly blemishes without the nasty side effects, leaving smooth, clear, well-moisturized skin in its wake.
We've said it before, and we'll say it again: The Bliss No 'Zit' Sherlock mask ($38, blissworld.com) is amazing. Whenever we're having a bad skin day (which is more often than we'd like to admit), we mix the powder with a little water, apply it to our face, wait 10 minutes, and then start peeling it off, which is unarguably the most enjoyable part of the process. It clears us up without fail every single time—you can thank the seaweed and tea tree extracts for that.
The Philosophy Clear Days Ahead face wash ($20, sephora.com) is one we tried years ago and have been meaning to get back to, since we remember how much better our skin looked with it. It's free of oil and full of salicylic acid—so basically the best combo—and it smells amazing.
Sometimes one zit-zapping ingredient just isn’t enough—La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Dual Action Acne Treatment ($36.95, laroche-posay.us) features a tag team of blemish fighters that work together to visibly reduce pimples in as little as three days. Micronized benzoyl peroxide is fast-penetrating to help clear pores and kill acne-causing bacteria, while lipo-hydroxy acid exfoliates the dead skin cells that can lead to flare-ups.
Like most young adults, we gave Proactiv a try years ago. While the 3-step system as we knew it wasn't for us, there was one hero product from the brand that we continue to go back to. The Refining Mask contains sulphur, which has an immediate clearing effect on the skin. We suggest using it on those days when you're experience serious eruptions. You'll notice a big difference after one use.
You're probably sick to death of hearing about BB creams, but the OSEA Blemish Balm ($42, oseamalibu.com) doesn't have much in common with the others. The antiseptic moisturizer isn't makeup, but rather a skin-perfecting moisturizer, so you're able to wear it day and night. It keeps skin hydrated but never oily, and leaves your skin feeling clean and refreshed.
If you experience deep, painful pimples around the chin area once a month, your problem is most likely hormonal acne. This type of acne needs to be treated in a different way than regular surface bumps. We've seen a huge improvement since trying Medik8 BetaGel ($80, aylabeauty.com), and have even convinced many of our friends to try it.
Sensitive skin and acne are a horrible combination, but we've finally discovered a product that's gentle enough to use. The AcneFree Sensitive Skin 24 Hour Acne Clearing System ($19.99, acnefree.com) didn't clear us up in 24 hours exactly, but we were blemish-free 36 hours after using... which is a pretty good start.