Of all the skin care woes, acne has to be the hardest to deal with. But even worse than having it is the struggle to find treatments that actually work. If you're anything like us, you've spent hundreds of dollars on products that have irritated your skin, exacerbated your breakouts, or just done absolutely nothing — no more. While you should definitely get a dermatologist's opinion about your complexion, we've found the best over-the-counter treatments for every kind of breakout, from bacne to blackheads and everything in between.
For Weekly Maintenance
If you thought you don't have enough time to take proper care of your skin, think again. In just five minutes a few times a week, the clay-based Clinique Acne Solutions Oil-Control Cleansing Mask ($22) works to prevent breakouts, soak up grease, and treat existing blemishes. We like using it while we're making breakfast in the morning!
For Managing Cystic Acne
These painful pimples are probably the worst kind of breakout you could face, but regularly using the salicylic acid-packed Stridex Maximum Strength Daily Care Acne Pads($4) will get your complexion under control.
For Brightening Dark Spots
Blemishes can leave troublesome hyperpigmentation behind. We like to use the superlightweight Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Vitamin C Collagen Booster ($48) in conjunction with our regular skin treatments. We see brighter, clearer skin after just two weeks of use, and the citrus scent is almost addictive.
For Clearing Away Blackheads
We get perverse pleasure out of seeing all the dirt lifted away by a good pore strip, and we must say that Biore Deep Cleansing Charcoal Pore Strips ($7) are some of the most powerful we've ever used. Not only are they less irritating than the standard strip, but they also include purifying charcoal to detoxify and degrease skin.
For Daily Protection
Many people believe that tanning improves their acne, but that's completely illogical — why would you harm your skin in the name of making it look better? Skinceuticals Physical Matte UV Defense SPF 50 ($34) protects your complexion from harmful rays with a noncomedogenic formula that'll keep you shine-free all day. Bonus: it makes a great primer for makeup!
For Deflating Whiteheads
We've sworn by Mario Badescu Drying Lotion ($17) since middle school! The formula has a superhero-like ability to shrink a formidable breakout in mere hours. Still not convinced? Whip up your own version at home.
For Conquering Body Breakouts
Not only do we swear on Vivant Skincare's Mandelic Acid 3-in-1 Exfoliating Cleanser ($33) for our keratosis pilaris, but it's also an effective remedy for bacne, booty blemishes, and any other body bumps that ail you. Just be warned: the formula is strong and may irritate your skin upon first use.
For Concealing (and Healing!)
Everyone who's ever tried to hide a pimple with makeup knows what a struggle it can be: oil causes the concealer to slide off, which causes you to apply more . . . leading to gross (and obvious) caking. Cover FX Blemish Treatment Concealer ($25) lasts, looks natural, and even contains salicylic acid to destroy the pimple once and for all.
For Shrinking Enlarged Pores
After years of trying pore-minimizing products and being disappointed, we were skeptical after hearing the 100 percent satisfaction claims made by BeautyRx by Dr. Schultz Dermstick For Pores ($29). But it only took one click of the pen for us to get hooked. The stretched-out pores around our nose and the gunk inside them seemed invisible after a day or two, something not even makeup had been able to achieve.
For Preventing Blemishes
Using a laser on your skin sounds scary, painful, and difficult, but we swear it's none of those things. reVive Light Therapy Acne Treatment System ($69) features a blue LED light device that kills off breakout-causing bacteria simply by passing it over your skin.
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