Whether you’re a teenager, young adult, or grown-ass human, acne affects the best of us. It may be something you deal with on a regular basis or just occasionally, but rest assured, you have options. Of course, it’s always best to consult with a dermatologist to get a better understanding of your condition (for example, identifying potential hormonal imbalances) and how to best treat it.
However, much can be said about the products you use in your routine. Generally, acne is caused by pores that are clogged with excess oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells. Regular exfoliation and products that are oil- and alcohol-free can go a long way in treating existing blemishes and preventing new ones.
Understanding your skin type is equally important. Acne skincare products are often marketed to those with oily skin, but even those with dry skin can suffer from it. If you identify with the latter, you’ll want to choose ingredients that aren’t as drying, like salicylic acid instead of benzoyl peroxide. Read on for our top product picks and for more advice.
These are the best acne skincare products out there right now
Every skincare routine needs an effective cleanser to prep the skin for optimal efficacy of the other products in your regimen. For acne-prone skin, that often means targeting excess oil. This one by La Roche-Posay uses zinc pidolate (among other ingredients), which aids in suppressing sebum secretion and acne-related bacterial growth. It’s gentle enough to use daily, and suitable for both oily and sensitive skin types.
Mario Badescu’s line of acne products have a solid reputation, which comes as no surprise for a brand that’s been in operation for over 50 years — he makes products that work. The Acne Facial Cleanser combines botanical ingredients, like aloe vera, thyme, and chamomile, with salicylic acid to treat existing breakouts and prevent future ones.
Pores that are clogged up with oil, debris, and dead skin cells are prone to breakouts, so removing these with an exfoliator is a necessary step when treating acne. Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Enzyme Cleanser is a two-in-one cleanser and exfoliator that gently purifies skin. The product starts off as a powder and turns into a foam with the addition of water. A coin-sized amount will do, and used twice a week, it’ll last you longer than you think.
If your skin needs a toner, choose an alcohol-free one to treat acne to avoid overdrying and disrupting your skin’s pH balance. This one by Dermalogica calms the skin and is particularly helpful with redness and inflammation.
Vitamin C does wonders for brightening your skin (which is great for those who have hyperpigmentation) and protecting it from damage caused by free radicals. Recommended by Highsnobiety staffers, this one uses a high potency of 15 percent vitamin C and only uses 11 ingredients that are paraben- and fragrance-free. Apply a few drops in the morning to clean, dry skin, then apply your moisturizer.
It may seem counterproductive to apply moisturizer to acne-prone skin, but you shouldn’t skip this step in your routine. This is especially important for those with normal to dry skin types whose skin may become overdried with the use of acne skincare products. The goal is to add hydration to the skin without adding excess oil, so choose an oil-free moisturizer. Tatcha’s The Water Cream is lightweight and uses a few Japanese ingredients, like Japanese Leopard Lily, which actually helps to control excess oil while moisturizing.
A facial sunscreen that goes the distance should check off a few boxes: provides at least an SPF of 30, is oil-free, doubles as a moisturizer so you can skip a separate moisturizer in the morning, and wears well under makeup. In the case of Supergoop!’s Superscreen Daily Moisturizer, checks across the board.
For a sunscreen best suited for normal to dry or combination skin, Murad’s City Age Defense SPF is an effective, lightweight option. It’s a mineral sunscreen, formulated with zinc and titanium, which means it won’t penetrate skin (unlike chemical sunscreens) and it’s easier to remove at the end of the day.
Pimple patches have gained a lot of popularity in skincare, and there are some valid reasons why. Not only do they provide a targeted solution to blemishes, but they help to contain the spread of acne-causing bacteria to other areas of your face. These by Peter Thomas Roth are formulated with .5 percent salicylic acid, tea tree oil (a natural astringent), and hyaluronic acid.
Another pimple patch option worth trying are these by ZitSticka. They’re said to go beyond ordinary blemish patches by accessing the source of zits and preventing new ones from appearing. These are discreet enough to wear during the day; alternatively, leave on overnight and remove in the morning.
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- Curation by: Sachin Bhola and Klaudia Podsiadlo