Of all the skin care woes, acne has to be the hardest to deal with. If you also have acne-prone skin like me, and still battling pesky pimples long after your teen years, either because of hormonal imbalance, stress or any other triggers, you know the struggle is real! But even worse than having acne is the struggle to find treatments that actually work.
While it does take some patience and trial-and-error to find the best acne fighting products that work for you, it can be frustrating when some of those formulas actually end up irritating your skin or just do absolutely nothing to clear away blemishes. Not to mention, many of them can cost a pretty penny too!
From cleansing scrubs & masks to spot treatments, here are my favorite tried-and-true drugstore acne-fighting products that help clear up breakouts, unclog pores and get your complexion under control while being gentle on your skin (and wallet!). All of these are under $15 except one.
Clean & Clear Essentials Foaming Facial Cleanser Sensitive Skin ($4.29) – This is a basic everyday cleanser that washes away dirt, oil and makeup easily and the formula is suitable for all skin types including sensitive. It really lives up to its claim of being gentle and doesn’t leave my dry (yet acne-prone) sensitive skin feeling dry or irritated.
Neutrogena SkinClearing Complexion Perfector Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment ($9.99) – This fragrance-free tinted moisturizer is designed to provide sheer coverage while helping to clear breakouts with 0.5% salicylic acid. Although the coverage isn’t enough to hide blemishes or red marks, it’s still a nice product for those of us looking to get lightweight, natural-looking coverage that evens out skin tone and blurs the appearance of pores. The formula is easy to blend and offers a matte finish without making skin look dull or dry. Great for everyday use!
yes to tomatoes Detoxifying Charcoal Mud Mask ($15) – This natural mud mask draws out impurities with charcoal, fights acne breakouts with salicylic acid, and conditions with a botanical blend of tomato, aloe, watermelon, pumpkin, and chamomile extracts. It works to reduce inflammation and redness as it gently sucks up excess oil. The formula is 96% Natural and also free of parabens and silicones.
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Dual Action Acne Treatment ($28) – This is the best drugstore acne spot treatment for me! It contains 5.5% benzoyl peroxide in a micronized format to penetrate clogged pores and clear blemishes. It really helps clears my pimples, reduces the redness and even helps stop the acne forming under the surface of the skin. Although pricey, it does the job well without irritating my skin or leaving it dry or flaky. I just dab a little on any problem spots once or twice a day as needed! It’s also easy to use under makeup. Just apply a thin layer to the blemish and let dry before going over with any concealer.
Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Spot Gel ($8.59) – For spots that just won’t quit, this potent disinfectant with 10% benzoyl peroxide (the maximum amount approved for over-the-counter sales) puts the kibosh on acne-causing bacteria. It has a lightweight, easy-to-apply sheer gel texture and the formula is also fragrance-free. This high amount of benzoyl peroxide can be really drying or irritating, so I use this one only if I am experiencing some particularly nasty breakouts that have been unresponsive to lower strengths (like the 2.5% benzoyl peroxide spot treatment above) or when I need to get rid of a pesky pimple before a special event!
Cetaphil Dermacontrol Oil Control Moisturizer SPF 30 ($14.59) – This is a great drugstore moisturizer with broad spectrum sunscreen for those of us with finicky, acne-prone complexions. It hydrates, protects and controls shine without causing further irritation or breakouts. It’s oil free and has a non-greasy, lightweight texture with a soft matte finish that works very well for oily, acne-prone skin. Best of all, it’s inexpensive and generously sized!
Dial Acne Control Deep Cleansing Body Wash ($6.99) – Sometimes breakouts aren’t just limited to your face. When you need to get rid of acne on other areas of your body like your chest and back, this oil-free body wash formulated with maximum-strength salicylic acid can help! I like that the formula has a rich foamy lather and gives me a squeaky-clean feel but isn’t drying at all! It’s available at Rite Aid stores.
Biore Baking Soda Cleansing Scrub ($8.99) – This powder face wash + scrub does a great job of cleansing and exfoliating clogged pores without over scrubbing (which can cause irritation). It’s a superfine white powder-to-foam formula with a citrusy scent. As you add water and swoosh it all over your face, the tiny grains of powder gradually dissolve so it’s scrubby but not abrasive on the skin. I like to use it two to three times a week for a deep cleansing action to remove dirt, oil and the junk in my pores.
Biore Daily Cleansing Cloths ($8.99) – When my skin is freaking out, I like to reach for these cleansing wipes to get rid of dirt, oil and makeup at the end of a long day. The textured cloths help gently exfoliate and don’t dry out or irritate my skin. These are also handy for a quick cleanse before exercise to keep the post-workout blemishes away!
Olay Fresh Effects Clear Skin Spot Zinger 2-in-1 Acne Spot Treatment ($7.99) – If benzoyl peroxide is too strong for your skin, this spot treatment formulated with 2% salicylic acid can help you kick acne to the curb! It has a fine-point tip that makes it very convenient to zap zits at the source and the lightweight formula absorbs quickly (no mess!). And the little tube is easy to tuck in your purse/gym bag or keep on your desk at work.
What are some of your drugstore must-haves for clearing up acne? See any of your favorites in this list?
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