Best Acne Treatment Guide – Covers Teens, Adults, Men, Back, Creams, Scar and Natural Products

Acne is a skin condition in which pores become clogged with dead skin, bacteria and oil and then become inflamed and can turn red and swell up. There are many things you can do to treat your acne. Below is a guide with product recommendations and information to help you fine-tune your skincare routine. The products recommended are in no particular order, and were chosen based off consumer reviews and quality of ingredients.

Salicylic Acid Overview and Information

Salicylic acid is a BHA, or beta hydroxyl acid, and chemical exfoliator. Chemical exfoliation is much less harsh on your skin than physical exfoliation is and can be more effective. BHA’s help remove layers of dead skin, and help unclog pores. BHAs are also known for being quite drying. BHAs are typically preferred for oily, acne prone skin due to these properties. They are great for treating blackheads and white bumps on your face because of their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Those suffering from Rosacea might also want to try incorporating a BHA into their routine to even out their skins texture.

There can be minor irritation associated with the use of BHAs, so it is very important that you remember to moisturize your skin after use, even if you have oily skin. BHAs have been shown to work better in lower concentrations so that they do not cause too much irritation. As with any skincare item, you should patch test (more on this in the How To Patch Test section) to ensure no reaction takes place. Purging can also take place when using this product so make sure you know the difference between purging and having a reaction (more on this in the Purging vs. Having A Reaction section).

If you want to layer your AHA and BHA treatments, put the AHA on first and BHA second. BHA’s do not cause as much photosensitivity as AHAs so they can be applied in the morning or at night (or both).

#1 Salicylic Acid Products – Highest Rated, Best Products and Treatments

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid Exfoliant for All Skin Types – 4 oz

Description
Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant rapidly exfoliates both the skin’s surface and inside the pore, reshaping the pore lining, unclogging pores and improving skin cell turnover rate. The result is a dramatic improvement in the skin’s appearance, feel, and function which leads to healthier skin. There is a great deal of research indicating that BHA (beta hydroxy acid) increases collagen production and drastically smooths the surface of skin. Additionally, BHA has antibacterial properties that attack blemish-causing bacteria. The lightweight, non-occlusive formula allows for a faster and deeper exfoliation rate than our gel or lotion BHA products, so it’s an ideal choice for stubborn clogged pores or blackheads. This product is 100% fragrance- and colorant-free with a pH range of 3.2-3.8.

Review

This BHA liquid is intended to be used all over your face, followed by a moisturizer. This product evens out skins texture while fighting acne at the same time. It can help slightly fade scars and pigmentation but not much as it is not intended for that purpose. It also helps minimize the appearance of large pores. This formula can be used on any skin type, but if you want something targeted more towards your skin type, there are other options.

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4.4 Stars – 193 Reviews

Cerave Sa Renewing Skin Lotion, 8 Ounce

Description
Cerave Sa Renewing Lotion exfoliates, smoothes and softens extremely dry, rough, bumpy skin- like those “please don’t touch” rough patches on your upper arms and legs, typically referred to as “chicken skin.”

Review

This body lotion is great for those of you who suffer with body acne and keratosis pilaris. It really helps smooth the bumpiness and redness associated with these issues whie at the same time moisturizing dry skin without a greasy residue. There is no scent and no filler ingredients so it is great for sensitive skin. Be sure to use a sunscreen while using this product, as it can cause some photosensitivity.

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4.5 Stars – 646 Reviews

Stri-Dex Medicated Pads, Maximum Strength, 90-Count Containers

Description
Super size pads to clean more dirt, sweat and oil, the stuff that can clog pores and cause pimples and blackheads. Treat acne pimples with the highest level of acne fighting medication allowed withou

Review

These pads are coated in a 2% salicylic acid liquid, but they do contain alcohol and fragarance. They can sting a little bit upon first application, and can be extremely drying. Those with dry skin may want to avoid this product. They do help even out your skin texture and reduce acne, but unlike other products men

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4.4 Stars – 196 Reviews

Clean & Clear Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment

Description
Clean & clear advantage acne spot treatment. This treatment contains breakthrough technology that actually dissolves oil and allows the maximum strength acne medicine to penetrate into your pores. This formula works fast to reduce the visible signs of acne.

Review

This 2% salicylic acid spot treatment is a great drugstore spot treatment. While it does not reduce acne as fast as other treatments, it does reduce the redness and size of the acne greatly. It was a bit drying but not as drying as the other treatments tested. This is definitely not for severe acne, mild to moderate acne could find this treatment helpful. It can be worn during the day under your moisturizer and at night.

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4.0 Stars – 643 Reviews

#2 Benzoyl Peroxide Overview and Information

Like Salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide unclogs your pores by killing the bacteria that causes acne and inflammation. In fact, it works incredibly on white heads. Just be aware, it can bleach your towels and other fabrics. It is often considered the most effective over the counter acne treatment because of its ability to penetrate hair follicles to really clear the bacteria with minor irritation. Those with sensitive skin should patch test and use mainly as a spot treatment.

Treatments containing benzoyl peroxide typically have concentrations ranging from 2% up to 10%. If you have never used benzoyl peroxide before, it is a good idea to start with a low concentration and work your way up to higher concentrations.

The benefits of benzoyl peroxide can be amplified when using another acne fighting treatment such as salicylic acid or retinols. Just make sure to keep an eye on redness or flaking skin. If this occurs, either use on product in the morning and one at night or stagger the nights you use each product.

Top Rated Benzoyl Peroxide Products

Proactiv+ Emergency Blemish Relief

Description

Emergency Blemish Relief is an invisible spot treatment for unexpected blemishes that contains a powerful double dose of microcrystal benzoyl peroxide to target acne-causing bacteria inside pores to clear up acne blemishes.

Review

This spot treatment contains 5% benzoyl peroxide, so it can cause slightly more irritation than the 2.5% treatments but not as much as the 10% treatment. It contains anti-irritation ingredients to help counteract the drying tendencies of benzoyl peroxide. This does contain fragrance, unlike most treatments, so sensitive skin be aware.

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4.1 Stars – 57 Reviews

Neutrogena On-the-Spot Acne Treatment

Description

Emergency Blemish Relief is an invisible spot treatment for unexpected blemishes that contains a powerful double dose of microcrystal benzoyl peroxide to target acne-causing bacteria inside pores to clear up acne blemishes.

Review

This spot treatment contains 5% benzoyl peroxide, so it can cause slightly more irritation than the 2.5% treatments but not as much as the 10% treatment. It contains anti-irritation ingredients to help counteract the drying tendencies of benzoyl peroxide. This does contain fragrance, unlike most treatments, so sensitive skin be aware.

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4.1 Stars – 154 Reviews

Alpha Hydrox Oil-Free Formula

Description

If you’re looking for a concentrated alpha hydroxy acid product that won’t clog your pores with excessive moisturizers, here’s your answer: an Oil-Free Gel that packs a serious dose of glycolic acid (one of the most effective AHAs on the market), plus natural ingredients like red sea kelp, green tea, and vitamin B-5. This powerful combination helps nourish skin while working to rid complexion-dulling flakes and roughness.

Review

This AHA is Alpha Hydrox’s lowest concentration treatment, 10% glycolic acid. It is a great starting point for those not used to using AHAs, and when you get used to this concentration there are higher concentrated treatments in the same line. There can be some purging with this product, but after a couple of weeks spots begin to fade and texture becomes more even. It is not meant to treat acne, so do not expect your acne to go away.

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4.3 Stars – 126 Reviews

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant with Glycolic Acid, Chamomile, and Green Tea

Description

Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant has a sheer, weightless texture that works to exfoliate the skin’s surface and fade signs of sun damage. The ultra-light formula corrects uneven skin tone for a brighter, smoother, more radiant complexion. Substantiated research shows that AHAs improve collagen production for firmer skin and increase skin’s moisture-binding ability. 8% AHA Gel works to sustain the results of professional peels and wears beautifully under a moisturizer or serum. This product is 100% fragrance- and colorant-free with a pH range of 3.5-3.9.

Review

This is a great non-greasy, non-drying AHA treatment. The gel consistency is not moisturizing, and can be quite sticky, so a separate moisturizer should be used. This contains soothing ingredients, so the harsh chemical exfoliation effects are lessened. Acne marks begin to fade with continued use after a couple of weeks, just make sure to use a sunscreen in the morning. If you find this treatment not to your liking, there are a couple of other products in this extensive line that could suit your needs.

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4.2 Stars – 30 Reviews

St Ives Face Care Pads, Exfoliating Pads

Description

Scrub-Free exfoliating pads are non-abrasive and formulated with a natural AHA complex to release dull skin and impurities while leaving healthy, fresh skin intact. Fruit extracts and moisturizing vitamin E help skin feel soft and smooth. After 1 week, skin looks and feels fresher, younger and more radiant.

Review

These pads are soaked in a water-based lactic acid AHA solution. These are gentle enough for daily use, and though the percentage of AHA in this product is unknown it is not harsh at all. The pads are not abrasive so even sensitive skin can use these. The only downside to this product is the added fragrance that lingers even after the product has dried.

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4.1 Stars – 192 Reviews

Acne.org 6 oz. AHA+ (Glycolic Acid – 10%)

Description

Glycolic acid (a.k.a. alpha hydroxy acid – AHA) powerfully exfoliates and helps bring new skin cells to the surface, which helps the complexion appear smoother. This 10% glycolic acid is pharmaceutical grade and completely non-comedogenic. It goes on clear and spreads easily. AHA+ also contains licochalcone, a licorice root extract which helps calm acne-prone skin. It is fragrance-free and dye-free.

Review

This treatment can be used on your face or your body. It has a high conentration of AHA so it can be irritating at first if you are not used to using AHAs. This product is much less drying than other glycolic acid treatments due to its moisturizing ingredients. Due to this, it might be greasy for those with normal to oily skin. It also has potential to break you out, so patch test before using.

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4.3 Stars – 108 Reviews

#3 Acne Friendly Masks

Masks can be a great way to treat acne and clogged pores. Clay masks are great for those with oily, acne prone skin. If you have dry or sensitive skin, you can still benefit from using masks. You would just need to use the mask for less time, less frequently or as a spot treatment. Clay masks really pull all of the dirt an bacteria out of your skin and are great for blackheads. Clay masks containing sulfur are also a great option.

Perhaps the most common clay used in masks is bentonite clay, which is a highly absorbent clay that is supposed to help purify the skin and draw away oils, toxins and dirt that clog pores and cause acne. Some clay masks require you to mix the powder clay with a liquid such as water or apple cider vinegar. Others come already mixed.

It is important not to over use masks or leave them on for too long because they can cause irritation. In the above-mentioned products, the Aztec Secrets mask causes your skin to tingle (pretty intensely at times) while it sits on your face and upon removal causes the skin to be bright red for a little while after.

Top Rated Acne Masks

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Deep Pore Cleansing

Description

Aztec secret Indian healing clay is bentonite clay from Death Valley, California, where it is sun- dried for up to six months in temperatures that sometimes reach 134 degrees. Facials, acne, body wraps, clay baths, foot soaks, chilled clay for knee packs and insect bites. Enjoy the benefits of clay in your own home. Beautify and refresh.

Review

Mix equal parts of this and apple cider vinegar in a plastic bowl (with plastic utensils) or plastic bag for the most intense mask you ever experience. This clay mask begins to tingle more and more as it dries, and those with sensitive skin might not want to use this mask or leave it on for smaller amounts of time because of this. It works incredibly well at reducing inflammation and redness of acne, though immediately after removing your skin will be bright red. Also, the next day a couple of your pimples may be worse, but will quickly heal. Pores seem to shrink and oil production is lessened when using this mask. Use on a weekly (or multiple times a week if your skin can handle it) basis for improved results

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4.4 Stars – 3,933 Reviews

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Deep Pore Cleansing

Description

The world’s most scientifically advanced super mud clearing treatment. Clinically developed by Glamglow dermatological chemist to help fight all common skin concerns. Glycolic acid – helps restore photo damaged skin and improves skin texture. Salicylic acid – helps de-clog to minimize pores and new skin rejuvenation. Lactic acid – helps pigmentation, moisture, stimulation and skin collagen.

Review

The ingredients in this mask are beneficial to those with oily and dry skin, though the mask itself can be drying (like any clay mask). When you apply this mask, it has a runny texture. As it dries, you can see dark spots where the mask is pulling gunk out of your pores. It tightens your pores and brightens your complexion. It also helps minimize the appearance of pesky blackheads. If you don’t mind the price, this is a nice mask. Though this one has AHAs, if you are looking for something that helps with dark spots, the green one is better

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4.0 Stars – 1,198 Reviews

Mint Julep Masque 8 Ounces

Description

The original natural home treatment, developed by a dermatologist, that will actually dry up acne pimples, rinse away blackheads and even help shrink enlarged pores.Simply apply Mint Julep Masque to your face and neck.  Within minutes it firms and hardens, as its suction action draws out waste matter from the pores.  Minutes later, rinse the masque away with warm water and a washcloth.  After the masque is removed your  skin will feel clean…refreshed and smooth.

Review
This clay mask you do not need to mix, it comes in a cream form. This mask tightens and unclogs your pores while giving off an amazing mint scent (which might be irritating for some). This mask can also help with blackhead reduction. It can be quite drying so if you have dry or sensitive skin, use less frequently and follow up with a thick moisturizer. It does tingle as well, but not as much as the indian healing clay.

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4.4 Stars – 866 Reviews

Mint Julep Masque 8 Ounces

Description

The original natural home treatment, developed by a dermatologist, that will actually dry up acne pimples, rinse away blackheads and even help shrink enlarged pores.Simply apply Mint Julep Masque to your face and neck.  Within minutes it firms and hardens, as its suction action draws out waste matter from the pores.  Minutes later, rinse the masque away with warm water and a washcloth.  After the masque is removed your  skin will feel clean…refreshed and smooth.

Review
This clay mask you do not need to mix, it comes in a cream form. This mask tightens and unclogs your pores while giving off an amazing mint scent (which might be irritating for some). This mask can also help with blackhead reduction. It can be quite drying so if you have dry or sensitive skin, use less frequently and follow up with a thick moisturizer. It does tingle as well, but not as much as the indian healing clay.

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4.5 Stars – 53 Reviews

AHA Treatments

The above ingredients and products are great for treating acne, but what about the pigmentation left behind? That’s where alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs) come into your routine. They exfoliate the surface layer of your skin, which helps reduce the pigmentation and flakiness on your skin as well reduce signs of aging. They are often preferred for people who suffer from dry skin because of their gentle nature. AHAs are also less drying than BHAs; some even improve your skins moisture barrier.

AHAs have many sources, but the two main sources are glycolic acid and lactic acid. Glycolic acid is the most common form of AHA. It is derived from cane sugar and has the smallest molecule size of any AHA, which allows it to penetrate the skin deeper. Facial peels utilize vey high concentrations of AHAs (or BHAs), but using treatments and serums with lower (around 10%) concentrations on a regular basis can show similar results. Glycolic acid can cause purging, so make sure to patch test.

Another AHA source is lactic acid. It is much more gentle than glycolic acid. Lactic acid is derived from milk, fruit, vegetables and other plants. It hydrates, increases natural barrier lipids in the outer layer of skin, and lightens and brightens skin. If you find glycolic acid to be too harsh and irritating, try using lactic acid. Lactic acid has a larger molecule size so it doesn’t penetrate the skin as deep as glycolic acid.

For AHAs to be effective their pH has to be low, around 3-4. They also increase photosensitivity A LOT, so it is very, very important to use sunscreen while using AHAs. Because of this, it is not recommended to use AHAs in the morning. Also using any AHA with products such as retinols needs to be done with caution, as this can cause severe irritation. Use of products needs to be staggered to minimize negative effects.

Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, 1 fl. oz.

Description

The Drying Lotion is a fast acting, effective acne spot treatment. Formulated with salicylic acid, calamine and other quick-drying ingredients, this product will shrink ugly whiteheads virtually overnight while you sleep.

Review

This treatment is submerged in a carrier fluid, the bottom pink portion is the actual treatment. Dip a cotton swab into this pink portion and dab onto your acne. This product is meant to be left on overnight, so it can be quite drying on your skin. Again, this is a great spot treatment for thos stubborn pimples that will not go away. This product clears up acne very fast, overnight reduction in size and redness can be clearly seen.

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4.3 Stars – 601 Reviews

CeraVe Moisturizing Facial Lotion PM

Description

CeraVe facial moisturizing lotion PM helps repair damaged skin and maintain the skin’s natural protective function with ingredients not commonly found in other moisturizers. Its patented multivesicular emulsion (MVE) technology releases theses ingredients over time, penetrating deep into the skin to hydrate and nourish.

Review

Though this product is marketed for nighttime use, using it during the day is also great as long as you use a separate sunscreen. This product contains niacinimide, which helps fade dark spots with continued use. It is marketed towards dry skin, but those with oil skin might like this light weight moisturizer as well. It miosturizes without leaving your face greasy, but if you have severe dryness and flaky skin it might not be enough. It wears well under sunscreen and makeup. This brand also does not add filler ingredients or fragrance to their products so they work great for those with sensitive skin.

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4.6 Stars – 1,523 Reviews