To help you save time, money, and frustration, we’ve looked through the archives to find the best over-the-counter acne treatments that dermatologists say really help get rid of pimples – unexpected or otherwise – to a minimum. Keep scrolling through the list of those worth investing in right now so that you have exactly all you need the next time an unexpected pimple pops up its ugly (red, painful, inflamed) head – no shipping costs overnight.
Best for persistent breakouts
Differin gel – $ 13.00
Of all the acne treatments in existence, none is as beloved as Differin Gel … so much so that board-certified dermatologist Mona Gohara, M.D., said retinol is the only product she will save from her home in a fire. Differin Gel contains 0.1% adapalene – the strongest retinoid available without a prescription – and works by stimulating cell turnover to replace dead, pore-clogging cells on your skin’s surface with healthy ones. Aside from being great for facial acne, it can also be used on the back, shoulders, and buttocks, which means that just one $ 13 bottle may be all you need to fight acne.
Best for sensitive skin
Kate Sommerville Eradikate Daily Facial Cleanser – $ 38.00
Since many acne-fighting ingredients tend to dry out and irritate, treating acne on sensitive skin can be a delicate balance – which is why dermis recommend sulfur to get the job done. “Sulfur soothes inflammation and reduces acne-causing bacteria without causing inflammation, so it’s helpful if you have sensitive skin.” Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist from New York, said in a recent Instagram videos about the best acne ingredients for different skin types. The Triple Threat ingredient improves redness, reduces acne-causing bacteria, and helps get rid of dead skin cells, which means it can get rid of all kinds of pimples without causing dryness or irritation.
The best for body acne
Neutrogena Body Clear Body Scrub – $ 10.00
What is the best place to start treating body acne? In the shower. This dual-action scrub combines exfoliating beads with chemically exfoliating salicylic acid to work together to melt and remove dead skin cells. Aside from the fact that it’s only $ 10, dermatists love it because it actually really works.
Best for black and white points
Drying Lotion Mario Badescu – $ 17
There’s a good reason this OG eel slayer has stood the test of time. Its star ingredient is salicylic acid, which Dr.Pimple Popper (also a renowned dermatologist) Sandra Lee, M.D.) said, “Can work miracles as a spot treatment.” The beta hydroxy acid is small enough to penetrate deep into the pores, effectively cleansing everything dead skin cells, debris and oil that tend to build up in them (and eventually cause acne). Because salicylic acid has chemical exfoliating properties, this remedy not only removes acne but also hastens the fading of dark spots.
Best for inflammatory acne
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Dual Acne Treatment – $ 20.00
If you’re dealing with inflammatory acne – as big, angry, red acne that seems to have a mind of its own – you need an ingredient that will help kill the acne-causing bacteria underneath the skin’s surface. Enter: benzoyl peroxide, which this cream offers at its peak. It combines powerful antibacterial properties with Lipo Hydroxy Acid to help exfoliate and help remove dirt, dead skin cells and oil.
The best technological treatment
ZIIP GX Series – $ 495
There are several things about a ZIIP device I can not do. Although it is primarily known for its sculpting abilities, it is also great for clearing up acne. It uses microcurrent technology to remove pimples before they start … and can help reduce their appearance after they appear. According to dermatologists and beauticians, if you are going to invest in a single device for skin care at home, you should make it that way.
Best for acne scars
Avène Cicalfate + Scar Gel – $ 28
Dr. Gohara calls this cream from the pharmacy the “Olympic link” in acne treatment due to the fact that it promotes wound healing in four different (and effective) ways. He starts to work miracles before a scar begins to form and is formulated with ingredients such as silicone, cycalfate and hyaluronic acid to prevent permanent marks on pimples.
Best at Preventing Acne
Universal daily peeling Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta® Universal Daily Peel Add to Cart – $ 88.00
When dead skin cells build up on the surface of your skin, there is an increased risk of acne-causing bacteria lodging under the surface, which is why the dermis recommends regular exfoliation as an important part of acne prevention. “A full-face treatment means you can prevent acne, not just treat the acne you already have,” says Dr. Zeichner. One of the Well + Good Editors’ favorites of all time, these exfoliating wipes contain alpha and beta hydroxy acids that dissolve dead skin cells for a clear and vibrant complexion.