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  • Writer's pictureAnjana Rajbhandary

Best acne products

Acne products

Acne and breakouts can happen for several reasons. However, due to the stress from the pandemic coupled with mask usage, you may have more pimples than before. That’s why taking care of your skin is so important, especially during times of high stress.

But knowing which products are best for your particular skin type can be a challenge. Below, you’ll find a roundup of the top acne-fighting products as well as tips for managing a breakout with care and patience. What is acne?

Acne is a skin condition caused by clogged hair follicles under your skin. Dead skin and oil clog the pores to create small lesions. These are more commonly known as pimples, zits or blemishes. Acne can affect people of all ages. However, teenagers and young adults tend to be affected by acne the most.

What causes acne?

There are many factors that contribute to acne. From stress to diet to medications, there are plenty of reasons you may have more breakouts. However, studies suggest that hormonal changes are the main cause of acne development. Most acne lessens significantly after puberty, but some people struggle with acne into adulthood.

Types of acne

Inflammatory acne includes pimples and cysts. These can be painful and typically appear red and swollen. Depending on the severity, inflammatory acne might require more powerful treatment options, such as prescription topicals or oral antibiotics.

Noninflammatory acne includes blackheads and whiteheads. These do not swell as much, and you can manage them with over-the-counter (OTC) treatments.

Acne treatments vary in price and range anywhere from $5-$100. Ultimately, it’s a good idea to round out your skincare routine with a nice cleanser, a good toner and a restorative moisturizer. You can also add in night serums or additional spot treatments as needed.

Here are some of the best products to treat all kinds of acne based on your skin type.

Best acne products for oily and combination skin

Clinique Acne Solutions Clinical Clearing Gel: available at Ulta Beauty and Sephora This light gel is just as effective as prescription-strength formulas. The witch hazel helps tighten your pores, and the brown algae extract reduces oil buildup.

Caudalie Vinopure Natural Salicylic Acid Pore Minimizing Serum: available at Sephora, LovelySkin and SkinStore This pore-minimizing gel has 100% natural salicylic acid and uses grapeseed to limit excess oil and prevent breakouts. It can also help brighten and even out your skin.

Best acne products for sensitive and dry skin

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Adapalene Gel 0.1% Topical Retinoid Acne Treatment: available at Amazon, Ulta Beauty and LovelySkin This oil-free and fragrance-free adapalene gel can help clear blackheads and blemishes. It's non-comedogenic and works well on sensitive skin.

SUNDAY RILEY U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Acne Treatment Face Oil: available at Ulta Beauty, Sephora and LovelySkin Some acne treatments can dry out your skin. But this medicated oil treats and prevents acne without causing extra dryness. The licorice can help brighten your skin while reducing skin discoloration.

Best products for teen and adult acne

ProactivMD® 3-Piece System: available at Proactiv, Sephora and Ulta Beauty This skincare system has a cleanser with benzoyl peroxide to exfoliate your skin and kill acne-causing bacteria. It includes a toner to remove excess oil and a repairing treatment to prevent new acne from forming. It's suitable for all skin types.

Dermalogica AGE Bright Clearing Serum: available at Sephora, LovelySkin and Dermalogica This serum has salicylic acid to help prevent breakouts and promotes brighter skin. It is suitable for those with normal, combination and oily skin.

First Aid Beauty FAB Pharma White Clay Acne Treatment Pads 2% Salicylic Acid: available at Ulta Beauty, Sephora and SkinStore This daily facial pad has maximum-strength salicylic acid to treat and prevent breakouts. It has kaolin clay to absorb oil and Evermat to minimize the appearance of pores.

Best acne products for spot treatment and clogged pores

Murad Rapid Relief Acne Spot Treatment: available at Murad, LovelySkin and Ulta Beauty This spot treatment can reduce blemish size within 4 hours. It has salicylic acid to help exfoliate and clear your pores. This gel formula also works well under makeup.

COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch: available at Amazon and Ulta Beauty This waterproof pimple patch uses a hydrocolloid bandage that encourages pimples to shrink by absorbing excess oil and impurities.

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Resurfacing Night Serum: available at Sephora and SpaceNK This serum exfoliates your skin and utilizes salicylic acid to unclog pores. This resurfacing serum also removes dead skin to prevent future breakouts.

Mario Badescu Glass Bottle Drying Lotion: available at Amazon, Sephora and Ulta Beauty If you are looking to treat blemishes overnight, this drying lotion combines salicylic acid and sulfur to dry surface blemishes quickly. In addition, it has calamine to prevent the affected area from becoming irritated.

Best mask for acne

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay: available at Amazon This mask is made with 100% natural calcium bentonite clay and soaks up excess sebum to leave your skin feeling fresh. If you have sensitive skin, do not leave this mask on for more than 10 minutes.

Best salicylic and retinoid treatments for acne

Differin Acne Treatment Gel: available at Amazon and Ulta Beauty This gel treatment is the only FDA-approved prescription-strength retinoid that is available over the counter. It can reduce redness while treating pimples.

Derma E Acne Control Treatment Serum: available at Ulta Beauty This serum is packed with salicylic acid and beta hydroxy acid to help with cystic acne. It's vegan and helps prevent future breakouts.

Best product for maskne

Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant: available at Sephora and Amazon Many people have started to notice acne around their lips, chin and cheeks due to wearing masks for the pandemic. Otherwise known as "maskne," this can be a frustrating development for many people. This daily leave-on exfoliant can remove dead skin and unclog pores. It also has green tea to soothe and hydrate irritated skin.

Best products for blackheads and whiteheads

Dermalogica Clear Start Blackhead Clearing Fizz Mask: available at Dermalogica and Ulta Beauty This mask uses sulfur to treat mild to moderate blackheads. It also has turmeric and sage that helps reduce inflammation.

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution: available at Ulta Beauty, Sephora and SkinStore This toner offers mild exfoliation, which prevents the formation of whiteheads. It is alcohol-free, and with regular use, it can improve your skin's appearance.

Best gel moisturizer

belif Problem Solution Moisturizer: available at Amazon, Ulta Beauty and Sephora For those struggling to find a moisturizer for acne-prone skin, this moisturizer has white willow bark extract and tea tree oil that targets blemishes while hydrating your skin.

Best oil-free sunscreen

Neutrogena Clear Face Oil-Free Sunscreen SPF 50: available at Amazon and Ulta Beauty This light sunscreen protects you against sunburn without causing breakouts. It is non-comedogenic and works for all skin types. Sunscreen is incredibly important for all skin types and should be used year-round.


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