The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Best Product for Acne

The best product for acne differs from person to person because we all have unique skin needs, but there are some products that are more likely to help than others. We’ve created this guide to help you find the best product for your acne by comparing some of the major skin care brands and their premier products. We obviously believe our products are the best option (if we didn’t, we’d change our formulas!) but we’ve provided a fair representation of your options because we understand that everyone has different preferences, limitations, and needs, and we may not suit everyone perfectly, though we hope we come close. If your current skin care routine just isn’t working for you, peruse this handy guide to find the new perfect products for a new routine.

Bootles and herbs used for skincare in pinkish background
The best product for acne differs from person to person, that’s why we’ve created a guide to some of the best brands and products out there.

What to Look for in the Best Product for Acne

Before we introduce you to some of the top acne skin care brands and products, we have a few tips for what you should be looking for. The biggest things to remember are: prevent irritation, check the ingredients, and be realistic.

When you have acne, the biggest thing you’re looking for in a skin care product is gentleness. Harsh products that irritate the skin aggravate two of the three main causes of acne. Lots of things can affect acne, like stress, diet, and genetics, but at the skin-level, the three main causes are inflammation, oil production, and a particular kind of bacteria called p. acnes. When it gets irritated, the skin tries to protect itself by increasing inflammation and oil production, which could form more acne.

Our second tip can actually help you follow the first, because it can help you avoid irritating ingredients. Checking the ingredients can be tedious because there are often so many, and they’re often listed under their scientific name rather than the common names we know them by, but this is one of the best things you can do to ensure you buy the best product for acne that won’t irritate your skin. We’ll address some of the ingredients to look out for in our descriptions and evaluations of the various brands and products in this guide.

Finally, you need to be realistic when it comes to skin care. Some people thrive on routines, while others find it very difficult to establish and stick to new routines. To get the most out of your skin care, take your personality into account. It’s far better to use two or three simple products that you know you can do every single day than to have six or seven highly specific products that you only use sporadically.

Exposed Skin Care Acne Products

Exposed Kit and their products in white background with petals
At Exposed Skin Care, we offer a wide variety of products to ensure that everyone can benefit from our carefully crafted formulas and gentle products.

The Good:

Our number one recommendation if you’re looking for the best product for acne is our own line of acne treatment products. We combine the best natural and scientific ingredients at concentrations that are strong enough to put an end to acne, but gentle enough to take care of your skin in the process. Many skin care companies make the mistake of using extremely high concentrations of various active ingredients in their efforts to get rid of acne as quickly as possible. To their credit, highly concentrated products do get rid of acne faster—but they also make acne come back. As we said before, the last thing you want to do is irritate the skin, but that’s exactly what high concentrations do. These products cause inflammation and excess oil production, which eventually causes more acne. At Exposed, we like long-term solutions, so our products have gentle, low concentrations that might not clear up acne immediately, but they will clear up acne for good. If you can only handle a one-step process right now, we recommend starting with our Facial Cleanser, because you’ll be amazed at the difference washing your face can make. If you’re ready for a full skin care routine, we suggest checking out our various skin care kits, from Basic to Ultimate.

The Bad:

Using the best ingredients and taking the time to formulate them into the perfect product has one downside: cost. Our prices range anywhere from $9.95 to $34.95, with discounts available when you buy the products in our skin care kit bundles. So while our products are still very affordable, they aren’t as cheap as some drugstore options.

 

Rating: 4/5

 

The Murad Acne Line

Murad acne products
The Murad Acne line is ideal for people with mild acne primarily made up of blackheads or whiteheads.

The Good:

Murad is a skin care company that makes all kinds of products, but we’re going to look specifically at the Murad Acne line. This line includes over 15 individual items and nearly as many bundles and kits, so one of its greatest strengths is the number of products you can choose from. They make cleansers, spot treatments, moisturizers, and more, but what really makes them special is their Post-Acne Spot Lightening Gel. This is a product specifically designed for lightening the dark spots often left behind by acne. We appreciate this product because it can be frustrating to finally clear your acne, only to be left with all kinds of dark spots. Having a specific product designed for taking care of this problem makes the Murad Acne line unique.

The Bad:

Even though they have many different products, when we checked their ingredient lists, we discovered that they are all surprisingly similar. They had differing inactive ingredients that were great for skin care, like grapefruit extract, honey extract, or glycerin, but nearly every product that had an active ingredient used varying concentrations of salicylic acid. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily, after all, salicylic acid is a great, gentle exfoliator that can help remove blackheads and reduce oil buildup, but considering how many different products there are in the Murad Acne line, we were hoping they might have a bit more variety. We also had two other concerns: first, many of their products contain fragrances and dyes, which might irritate sensitive skin, and their cost is considerable. Their products range from $22 to $67, so they aren’t the most affordable brand in the world.

 

Rating: 4/5

 

Burt’s Bees Acne Solutions

Burt's Bees product
Burt’s Bees doesn’t just do lip balm—they also have an awesome line of acne products.

The Good:

From everyone’s favorite lip balm company comes this unique acne skin care line: Burt’s Bees Acne Solutions. Burt’s Bees focuses on using as many natural ingredients as possible to help reduce acne, and generally speaking, we think they choose exactly the right ingredients. They use tea tree oil, witch hazel, and beeswax, of course, which are all ingredients that can help with the skin. Tea tree oil has been proven to kill p. acnes bacteria and help reduce even severe acne like cystic acne, which is why it’s one of our favorite natural skin care ingredients. Witch hazel is an astringent, meaning it absorbs moisture, which can shrink pores and help absorb pus in pimples and cysts. This is a good ingredient in moderation, but too much and it can dry out the skin and cause irritation. Beeswax is Burt’s Bees specialty, so you can trust it to be carefully refined and ready for the skin. Beeswax can help protect the skin from irritation, which is why it’s a great ingredient for helping to prevent acne, even though it can’t necessarily help get rid of acne you already have. Finally, the entire Burt’s Bees Acne Solutions line is very affordable, with products ranging from $7.99 to $17.99.

The Bad:

Even though Burt’s Bees Acne Solutions contain some great natural ingredients, it also contains some not-so-great, not-so-natural ingredients, like denatured alcohol. Various alcohols are often one of the main ingredients in skin care products, but denatured alcohol is not one of the good types of alcohol. Some alcohols are fatty and contain acids that help protect the skin, but others, like denatured alcohol, simply dry out the skin and nearly always cause irritation. Unfortunately, several of Burt’s Bees Acne Solutions products list denatured alcohol as their first ingredient. These products will likely be too drying and may cause just as much acne as they cure.

 

Rating: 3/5

 

Vitex Acne Supplement

Supplements in a glass
Without more research, we can’t recommend vitex as a supplement to help reduce acne.

The Good:

Vitex is a supplement made from the chasteberry tree and is generally used to treat infertility, but some people have discovered that the chasteberry tree can also make a vitex acne supplement. One of the main reasons people look into vitex for acne is because hormones are one of the biggest influences on acne, and yet there aren’t very many hormonal acne solutions available. If you want a hormonal treatment for your acne, you typically have to try birth control, but vitex is an all-natural way to help adjust your hormones. Studies have found that it really can help reduce infertility, and many skin care gurus speculate that the same properties that help increase fertility can also decrease acne.

The Bad:

Unfortunately, there’s just no proof to say that a vitex acne supplement really works. There are no studies that investigate the link between vitex and acne, but the issue goes even deeper than that. Vitex helps boost progesterone production, and some argue that this extra progesterone helps reduce acne, but dermatologists still don’t fully understand progesterone’s role in acne. The complete lack of research makes vitex a poor choice in acne treatment all on its own, but it also comes with serious potential side effects. Any time you mess with hormones, you run the risk of worsening any hormonal conditions, like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) or uterine fibroids, but vitex also interferes with dopamine, a vital neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood, attention regulation and psychomotor coordination. This can cause issues for anyone, but if you have a condition that affects dopamine, like Parkinson’s, ADHD, or schizophrenia, we definitely don’t recommend using vitex.

 

Rating: 1/5

 

Oxy Acne Medication

Oxy Deep Pore Cleansing product
Our favorite thing about Oxy Acne Medication is how well they know their consumers and make convenient products to suit their lifestyles.

The Good:

Oxy Acne Medication is a popular drugstore brand of acne treatment that offers several cleansers, wipes, and spot treatments to help reduce acne. We love that Oxy Acne Medication makes acne wipes and pads because they’re a great addition to your skin care tool belt, especially for people who struggle to stick to routines. Remember, you have to be realistic to find the best product for acne for you. Oxy Acne Medication seems to understand that there will be nights where you crawl into bed, slowly start to drift to sleep, and only then remember that you didn’t do your nighttime skin care routine. Instead of skipping it entirely, you can keep Oxy Deep Pore or 3-in-1 Cleansing Pads by your bed and run one or two over your skin before falling asleep. These are just some of the very convenient products Oxy offers. We like that they clearly make their products with their consumer’s lifestyle in mind.

The Bad:

The trouble with the Oxy Acne Medication brand is how incredibly strong most of their products are. Many of their products contain 2% salicylic acid, which is high, but doable as long as you don’t have dry or sensitive skin, but no one should use their products containing benzoyl peroxide. The lowest concentration they offer is 5%, which is already too high, but some of their products go all the way up to 10%. No matter how oily your skin is or how bad your acne is, no one needs 10% benzoyl peroxide. At that point, it will definitely irritate your skin and could make acne so much worse. Their Sensitive Face Wash contains soothing ingredients like shea butter, which is great, but it also contains 5% benzoyl peroxide, which is just too high.

 

Rating: 3/5

 

Mario Badescu Acne Products

Mario Badesco drying lotion product
Mario Badescu offers a good variety of well-balanced products that fight acne while working with your skin, not against it.

The Good:

There is a wide variety of Mario Badescu acne products, but we were especially impressed by their powders. If you have oily skin and want a light treatment you can hardly feel on your skin, these powders are exactly what you’re looking for. Sometimes acne creams can feel heavy on oily skin, or give them an unwanted shine, but these powders are specially formulated to avoid those issues. Mario Badescu also makes several drying products that contain a delicate mixture of drying and soothing ingredients. Generally we warn people to stay away from drying products, since they almost always overdry the skin and lead to irritation, but the drying products from Mario Badescu contain both drying ingredients, like sulfur and salicylic acid, and hydrating ingredients, like glycerin and water.

The Bad:

Generally, Mario Badescu products contain great skin care ingredients, but there are two specific products we would recommend avoiding based on the ingredient list alone. First is the Healing and Soothing Mask because it contains soybean oil. Soybean oil can help soothe the skin, but it can also clog pores. The Healing and Soothing Mask may work well for people without acne prone skin, but if you’re looking to reduce your acne, this is not the product for you. We also can’t recommend the Acne Facial Cleanser because it contains sodium laureth sulfate. This ingredient can also clog pores, but unlike soybean oil, it’s not soothing at all. Sodium laureth sulfate and similar chemicals like sodium lauryl sulfate are often found in shampoo, toothpaste, shaving cream, and skin care products to help them foam up, but they are actually very irritating to the skin and should be avoided if possible.

 

Rating: 4/5

 

X Out Acne Treatment

X Out Triple Action product
The X Out acne treatment is incredibly convenient, but it’s far too strong and might end up causing more acne than it cures.

The Good:

The X Out acne treatment is supposed to be designed for teenagers, but it’s a great option for anyone who struggles with routine or doesn’t have the time for a complicated skin care ritual. This product works as a 3-in-1. You can use it as a cleanser to wash your face, you can apply it to dry or slightly damp skin and leave it on for 10 minutes to make it a face mask, or you can use a small amount as a spot treatment. One product for all these different uses can come in handy when we get busy or forgetful, as all of us do sometimes. Plus, many people say it’s great to use in the morning because it has a cool, icy feeling because it contains menthol. It also contains benzoyl peroxide to kill p. acnes bacteria, and glycerin and linoleic acid to moisturize and protect the skin.

The Bad:

Although it contains many good ingredients, the X Out acne treatment also contains some bad ones. First, it contains polyethylene beads that are supposed to help exfoliate the skin. In reality, you generally want to avoid products with beads in them. They often irritate the skin and can sometimes even clog pores. But the biggest issue with X Out’s ingredients is the benzoyl peroxide. The X Out acne treatment is made by Proactiv, and it runs into the same major issue as the mainstream Proactiv products do: it is just too strong. It contains 8.5% benzoyl peroxide, which is far too strong to be used twice a day as a face wash, and it should definitely not sit on your face for 10 minutes as a face mask. Benzoyl peroxide at this concentration will irritate even the oiliest, most resilient of skin.

 

Rating: 2/5

 

Clean and Clear Acne Products

Clean and Clear Dual Action Moisturizer
Clean and Clear is a classic acne skin care brand and they offer many effective products, like their Dual Action Moisturizer.

The Good:

Clean and Clear is a popular drugstore brand that has been around since the 1950s, and Clean and Clear acne products are typically some of the gentlest because the brand was originally developed specifically for sensitive skin. This is great because as we’ve seen, many drugstore brands are far too strong for anyone’s skin, and many people with sensitive skin have to resort to fancy (and expensive) products to treat their acne without causing irritation. Clean and Clear is also a great choice if you like having lots of options. With over 40 products, they are guaranteed to have something to suit your needs. They have everything from face washes to spot treatments to acnes pads and wipes. Most of them include great skin care ingredients like salicylic acid, citric acid, aloe vera, and more, and you can mix and match them to make the ideal skin care routine for your life.

The Bad:

Even though we love Clean and Clear for their prices and variety, it’s very important to check the ingredient list of every product before you buy it. Many of their products are completely fine, but others contain all kinds of harmful ingredients. For instance, we were excited for their new lemon-themed line because lemon juice on its own is far too harsh for the skin, but mixed responsibly into a professional formula, it could do a lot of good. However, several of them contain sodium laureth sulfate, which is a problem we ran into when investigating many of their products. We also found that nearly all of their benzoyl peroxide products contained a 10% concentration, which is definitely not safe for sensitive skin. They still have many sensitive skin options, but you have to be careful to check the ingredient list for sure.

 

Rating: 3/5

 

Clean and Clear’s Acne Triple Clear

Clean and Clear triple action product
Acne Triple Clear is a product line from Clean and Clear dedicated specifically to acne.

The Good:

Clean and Clear is a general skin care company and many of their products can help reduce acne, but they also have a line specifically developed for acne called Acne Triple Clear. It includes two cleansers, a clay mask, and a scrub, and they seem perfect for mild to moderate acne mostly made up of blackheads and whiteheads. The “Triple” part of “Triple Clear” stands for the three ways each product helps reduce acne: removing oil, soothing skin, and preventing new breakouts. Based on their ingredients list, we think the Acne Triple Clear products can likely accomplish these goals. They all contain 2% salicylic acid (except for the clay mask, which contains 1% salicylic acid), which may be a little too harsh for highly sensitive skin, but should be perfect for removing excess oil in normal skin. All of the products in the Acne Triple Clear line also contain aloe vera and peppermint extract, both of which can help soothe the skin and prevent inflammation, which then prevents new acne formation. Overall, we think these products probably do exactly what they claim to do.

The Bad:

The only downside is that none of them contain benzoyl peroxide, tea tree oil, or other ingredients to help kill p. acnes, meaning this line is not very good for treating pimples or cysts on its own. If you choose to use Acne Triple Clear products, you will probably have to supplement them with other products designed to kill p. acnes.

 

Rating: 4/5

 

Dr. Bronner’s for Acne

Dr. Bronner Pure Castile Soap
Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Hemp Tea Tree Pure-Castile Soap could be a good cleanser for those with cystic acne.

The Good:

Dr. Bronner’s is probably the most popular all-natural hygiene product brand on the market right now, so many people are giving Dr. Bronner’s for acne a try. Our favorite thing about this brand is actually the thing we’ve had so much trouble with concerning other brands: their ingredient lists. Dr. Bronner’s uses as few ingredients as possible, and the ingredients they do use are exactly the kind of natural ingredients they should be using. Just because something is all-natural, that doesn’t automatically mean it’s great for your skin, so you need to know what you’re doing when you make an all-natural product. Dr. Bronner’s uses ingredients like hemp seed oil, jojoba oil, and saponified coconut oil, all of which are surprisingly good for acne. It might seem counterintuitive to use oil to reduce acne, but the right oils can actually help reduce oil on your skin and help protect it, all without clogging pores. Coconut oil is typically very pore-clogging, but Dr. Bronner’s coconut oil is saponified, meaning it’s turned into soap and no longer has those same pore-clogging properties. Their tea tree and eucalyptus cleansers are great options for acne specifically, and their lotions contain the right ingredients to make good acne moisturizers as well.

The Bad:

Even though Dr. Bronner’s is known for how versatile their products are (they’re called “18-in-1” for a reason), you can’t use Dr. Bronner’s for acne all by itself. Because the cleansers aren’t made for acne specifically, they don’t include any of the classic acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, and their natural ingredients won’t make up for that entirely. The cleansers can also be somewhat harsh, so you’ll definitely need a moisturizer to help protect your skin, and if you have sensitive skin, you may want to avoid Dr. Bronner’s altogether.

 

Rating: 4/5

 

Cetaphil for Acne

Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser
Many Cetaphil products include zinc, a great ingredient for reducing inflammation, so they could be the right product for you if you’re looking to prevent acne.

The Good:

Cetaphil is a popular skin care brand made for all skin types, from fragile baby skin to oily skin, and everything in between. This means they definitely have at least one product that will fit your needs. They primarily make cleansers and moisturizers, which contain all kinds of great skin care ingredients, including several we’ve already discussed, like glycerin and citric acid, and a few that we haven’t, like zinc. Zinc is one of those natural ingredients that definitely should be good for acne skin care, but there hasn’t been enough research done to prove it yet. Zinc helps reduce inflammation, so it can help reduce the primary cause of acne, making it a great preventative ingredient. Cetaphil also makes other skin care products, like cleansing cloths and skin scrubs, but we’re especially fond of their makeup remover. It’s made specifically for sensitive skin, so it will strip away your makeup without taking your natural oils along with it. It contains great ingredients like aloe vera, green tea extract, and cucumber extract to help protect your skin as it removes your makeup.

The Bad:

The biggest downside to using Cetaphil for acne is that it is a regular skin care brand, not really meant for acne. Even though it has several products for oily skin, not everyone with acne has oily skin, and none of their products contain acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. You also need to be careful to check the ingredients, as several of their products contain sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate, which can clog pores and irritate skin.

 

Rating: 4/5

 

Cerave Acne Products

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser
Cerave acne products are perfect for people with dry skin, but they aren’t overly effective in treating pimples.

The Good:

The best thing about Cerave acne products is that they are one of the only brands that caters to people with dry skin with acne instead of oily skin with acne. They have tons of products made specifically for various kinds of dry skin, from psoriasis to eczema to dry skin caused by diabetes. And they aren’t just moisturizers. Cerave has formulated cleansers that help clear your skin of all the dead skin cells and small amounts of oil that collect throughout the day without irritating your skin. The best cleansers for acne specifically are their ones that include small amounts of salicylic acid, though if those are still too harsh, they have other, gentler cleansers, and you can get your salicylic acid through a moisturizer instead. That’s the most innovative thing Cerave does, they include salicylic acid in many of their moisturizers. This can help with a variety of skin conditions, and acne is one of them. When included in a moisturizer, the salicylic acid may be less likely to cause irritation, even in the driest, most sensitive skin. As an added bonus, Cerave acne products can be found in most drugstores for a very affordable price.

The Bad:

The biggest downside to Cerave is that it probably won’t help reduce pimples at all because none of their products contain ingredients that kill p. acnes bacteria. Even when treating blackheads or whiteheads, more intense acne treatment products might be needed to supplement Cerave products, because they’re so gentle. It’s great to have such a non-irritating option, but it may not do the trick if you have anything more than mild acne.

 

Rating: 4/5

 

Aczone Acne Gel

Aczone acne gel bottle
Aczone acne gel is a prescription that treats acne using a totally different ingredient called dapsone.

The Good:

Aczone acne gel is a unique acne treatment that uses an active ingredient we haven’t mentioned at all so far, called dapsone. Dapsone is bacteriostatic, which means instead of killing p. acnes bacteria like benzoyl peroxide or tea tree oil, it makes p. acnes ineffective and unable to reproduce. Studies also show it to be an effective anti-inflammatory, which means Aczone could be a great solution for people with pimples or even cysts. One of the reasons we like Aczone is because unlike many products that affect p. acnes, it doesn’t show serious side effects that might cause it to do more harm than good. Some people noted mild dryness, but when combined with a good moisturizer, this effect is easily treated.

The Bad:

The biggest downside to Aczone acne gel is the fact that it requires a prescription. So far, all of the products and brands we’ve discussed have been over-the-counter, meaning you can get them in most drugstores or online, but to get Aczone, you need a prescription from your dermatologist or family doctor. This is feasible for some, but not everyone has great health insurance, and a special doctor’s visit specifically to get this prescription could be both time-consuming and expensive. Then there’s the price of the Aczone itself. Without insurance, 60 grams costs anywhere from $300 to $700 dollars, depending on where you get it and whether you get Aczone or the generic brand. If you have the means, Aczone can be a good choice, but it definitely isn’t an option for everyone.

 

Rating: 3/5

 

Mary Kay Acne Treatment

Mary Kay cleansing gel bottle

Mary Kay doesn’t only sell makeup, they also have a great line of acne treatment products.

The Good:

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard of Mary Kay, the famous makeup and skin care brand, but did you know there’s a Mary Kay acne treatment? They make all kinds of skin care products, and now that includes products specially designed to treat acne prone skin. Overall, it’s a great line. They don’t list their ingredients on their website, but they’re available on the government website, DailyMed, and as far as we can tell, they use some of the best ingredients for acne, including salicylic acid, glycerin, pumpkin fruit extract, citric acid, and cucumber extract. Most of their products use salicylic acid to treat acne, but they also have an Acne Treatment Gel that utilizes benzoyl peroxide and a Deep-Cleansing Charcoal Mask that uses charcoal and bentonite clay. Their prices range from $10 to $24 for any individual product, making the Mary Kay acne treatment line fairly affordable.

The Bad:

Overall, we really like Mary Kay acne treatment products, but they aren’t without their flaws. As is usually the case, their Acne Treatment Gel is too strong, as it uses a 5% concentration. This is sure to dry out all but the oiliest of skin, and we recommend using a different, gentler brand for your treatment gel. We would also avoid their Blemish Control Toner because its main ingredient is denatured alcohol, which is far too harsh for the skin and could cause all kinds of dryness and irritation.

 

Rating: 4/5

 

Acne Free Terminator 10

Acne Terminator 10 product
With a benzoyl peroxide concentration of 10%, the Acne Free Terminator 10 is far too strong for even the oiliest of skin.

The Good:

For only $6.17 on Amazon, the Acne Free Terminator 10 is a very affordable acne treatment serum. As the name implies, it contains 10% benzoyl peroxide, so it’s often used to treat pimples or potentially cysts. Other helpful ingredients include glycerin, chamomile extract, and ginger extract, which all help hydrate and protect the skin.

The Bad:

A 10% benzoyl peroxide concentration is just too high. No matter how great the price or the other ingredients, we cannot recommend this product because it will almost definitely irritate your skin and could easily cause just as much acne as it cures. Benzoyl oxide works by bringing oxygen molecules below the surface of the skin to create an oxygenated environment. P. acnes bacteria are anaerobic, meaning they can’t survive around oxygen for very long, so this is how benzoyl peroxide kills p. acnes. Unfortunately, this process can strip the skin of its natural oil barrier and cause a lot of irritation, especially at a 10% concentration. Benzoyl peroxide is a great ingredient for fighting acne, but look for products with a concentration closer to 2-4%.

 

Rating: 2/5

 

Acne Free Sensitive Skin Care

Acne Free product in a bottle
Acne Free Witch Hazel Mattifying Toner can give your skin a refreshing, re-balancing, mattifying boost. Works good for people with oily skin in order to avoid shiny-looking face.

The Good:

This particular line of the Acne Free brand is far more friendly to all skin types than the Terminator 10 product. This line includes a cleanser, a toner, a mask, and a scrub, and most of them are ideal treatments for acne prone skin. The cleanser is unique because it’s one of the only acne cleansers we’ve discussed so far that has benzoyl peroxide as its main ingredient rather than salicylic acid, and it’s at a safe, gentle concentration of 2.5%. This is a great concentration for most skin types, and while people with sensitive skin may have to use it every other day rather than every day, it can work for them as well. The toner and the scrub may be a little harsh for sensitive skin, since denatured alcohol and witch hazel are some of the main ingredients in the toner, and the scrub contains sodium laureth sulfate, but they also have some great ingredients like salicylic acid, aloe vera, glycolic acid, lactic acid, and chamomile extract. If you have sensitive skin, we recommend testing these products on your arm before applying them to your full face, but they should work great for non-sensitive skin types.

The Bad:

The biggest issue we have with the Acne Free Sensitive skin care line is the Kaolin Clay Detox Mask because it contains both sodium laureth sulfate and corn starch. We’ve talked about sodium laureth sulfate and its irritating, pore-clogging properties a lot, but we haven’t talked about corn starch yet. Some skin care products include this ingredient, but it’s actually not great for the skin, especially for acne prone skin, because it can very easily clog pores.

 

Rating: 4/5

 

Kiehl’s Acne Products

Kiehl's cleanser product
Kiehl’s acne skin care products are typically most effective when treating blackheads and whiteheads.

The Good:

We like Kiehl’s acne products because they remind us a bit of our own products here at Exposed. They combine scientific and natural ingredients in each of their products, from their Blue Herbal Acne Cleanser Treatment, which contains 1.5% salicylic acid along with ginger, cinnamon, and zinc, to their Breakout Control Targeted Acne Spot Treatment, which contains sulfur and glycolic acid along with aloe vera and licorice root extract. They also offer all of the acne care basics, including spot treatments, cleansers, treatment gels, a cleansing mask, toner, and moisturizer. We think most people could easily use their products and see a decent improvement in their skin.

The Bad:

There are two main downsides to Kiehl’s acne products. First, none of them contain benzoyl peroxide, tea tree oil, or any other ingredient that might help kill p. acnes bacteria. If you have pimples or cysts, Kiehl’s may not do you much good. Second, their cost is on the higher end, with individual products ranging from $18 to $48. Typically the products with the higher price are ones that are relatively optional, like expensive face masks, but the $48 product is actually their Breakout Control Acne Treatment Facial Lotion, which is a basic treatment necessity for acne skin care.

 

Rating: 4/5

 

DermalMD Acne Serum

DermalMD Blemish Serum in a small container
The DermalMD Acne Serum contains many effective acne treatment ingredients, but we aren’t sure if it’s the best product for acne.

The Good:

The DermalMD Acne Serum is meant to both prevent and treat acne, making it a handy two-in-one product. With the addition of a simple cleanser, this may be the only other product you need. It contains some of the best ingredients we’ve discussed so far, like chamomile extract and tea tree oil, along with alpha-hydroxy acids, some of which we’ve already mentioned and which are somewhat similar to salicylic acid. Alpha-hydroxy acids include glycolic acid, lactic acid, citric acid, and more, and they are great at removing the excess oil from the surface of the skin. Unlike salicylic acid, they can’t reach into the pores to break up clogs, but they can keep the skin clear to help prevent clogs from forming in the first place.

The Bad:

Even though it seems to contain some great ingredients, DermalMD doesn’t provide the full ingredient list so it’s impossible to tell for sure what it will be like. It might contain pore-clogging or irritating filler ingredients, but we can’t say for sure, which makes us hesitant to recommend it. Especially once we look at the price tag. It costs $55 for one container, though we can’t say exactly how big the container is either, as no volume is listed. $55 for an unknown amount of a serum we don’t know all the ingredients for seems like a risky investment to us, but if you have extra money for experimenting, it definitely might be worth a try. Before applying it all over your face, be sure to test a small area on your arm to see if your skin reacts poorly to any of the ingredients not listed online.

 

Rating: 3/5

 

ZAPZYT Acne Treatment Gel

 

Zapzyt product in a blue packaging
ZAPZYT Acne Treatment Gel is a harsh treatment option that is very likely to irritate skin and clog the pores, so we recommend staying away.

The Good:

The best thing we can say about the ZAPZYT Acne Treatment Gel is that it comes from a line of helpful acne skin care products—it just isn’t one of them.

The Bad:

Like many benzoyl peroxide acne products, ZAPZYT Acne Treatment Gel uses a 10% concentration that is simply too high. Unlike many benzoyl peroxide acne products, it doesn’t contain other ingredients to help the skin. It only has a few other ingredients, one of which is something called laureth-4. It’s a surfactant included in a variety of personal hygiene products, like sodium laureth sulfate. Surfactants are chemicals that cling to things like oil or plaque and then foam up to rip them away from the hair, skin, teeth, etc. This is typically okay for the teeth, but when it comes to the skin, it’s often harsh and very irritating, and might lead to more acne. Additionally, laureth-4 is extremely likely to clog pores. Most skin care substances can be rated on something called the comedogenicity scale, which ranges from 0 (extremely unlikely to clog pores) to 5 (extremely likely to clog pores). Laureth-4 rates as a 5, so it’s one you really want to avoid. Unfortunately, the first ingredient listed for ZAPZYT Acne Treatment Gel is laureth-4, so we’re going to say this product is a no-go.

 

Rating: 0/5

 

Lush Acne Products

Toner Tab close up picture
You won’t find acne products like Lush’s anywhere else—for instance, this is a toner tab that works through steam.

The Good:

If you’re looking for something different, we definitely recommend Lush acne products. One of the best ways to keep your skin care realistic and ensure that you do it every day is to make it fun, and Lush gets that. They’re famous for their bath bombs, but they also make a wide variety of other cosmetics, including face cleansers, moisturizers, toners, and more, some of which can be used to help reduce acne. These are nothing like the other products we’ve talked about so far. There are cleansing balms, steam tablets, clay scrubs, and so many other quirky products for your skin that you’ll have to check out on your own. We can’t go through each and every product and review them, but we do have a two main tips for buying Lush acne products. First, any product that contains tea tree oil is a good bet for acne, and Lush has several, including cleansers, toners, and masks. Second, avoid the products that have chunks of things in them. These are often used to exfoliate the skin, but they can easily irritate it in the process, leading to inflammation and increased acne.

The Bad:

Lush products are different which is part of what makes them fun, but it also means they’re less reliable. Dedicated acne brands like ZAPZYT or acne lines like Burt’s Bees Acne Solutions are designed with acne specifically in mind, so they are more likely to help. Lush products are typically designed for fun over function, so there may be no guarantee that they actually improve your acne. And while they aren’t the most expensive products on this list, they aren’t the most affordable either. If you’re on a budget, we recommend trying something more reliable.

 

Rating: 4/5

 

Kate Somerville Acne Products

Kate Somerville acne treatment in a small bottle
Kate Somerville acne products are on the pricier end, but if you have some spare money to experiment with skin care products, they are made with many quality ingredients.

The Good:

There are a variety of Kate Somerville acne products made for several different troubles that occur with acne, from blackheads to pimples to scars left behind by acne. Unlike some brands that use solely salicylic acid, they contain a variety of acne-fighting ingredients including salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide of course, but they also take advantage of sulfur, one of our favorite exfoliants. Yes, sulfur is that rotten egg element, but the scent is very diluted in skin care products. We like to recommend it because it gently absorbs the excess oil on the skin, preventing the kind of buildup that causes shiny skin and clogged pores. Unlike surfactants like laureth-4, sulfur doesn’t rip oil away from the skin, causing irritation, it just absorbs it, causing little to no irritation. Beyond its use of sulfur, we also like the Kate Somerville acne line because it comes with every acne-fighting product you could ever need. If they work for you, you’re able to buy a Kate Somerville product for every acne problem imaginable.

The Bad:

Even though Kate Somerville makes enough acne products to cover every acne dilemma in the book, they make it hard to actually buy all of those products because they’re so expensive. Kate Somerville acne products cost anywhere from $26 to $65, meaning buying more than one or two items is probably out of the question for many people. One way you can narrow down which ones you want to buy is checking out the ingredient lists. Even though we love their use of sulfur in the popular product called EradiKate, its main ingredient is isopropyl alcohol, which is essentially rubbing alcohol. This is far too irritating to apply to the face. There are also several products that contain pore-clogging ingredients like colloidal sulfur and red algae.

 

Rating: 3/5

 

So…Which One Is The Best Acne Brand?

At the end of the day, finding the best acne brand is all about you and your individual skin care needs. No brand is perfect, but there may be an acne brand that’s perfect for you. And even if there isn’t, just go back to one of our original three tips: check the ingredients. If none of these brands sound right for you, then forget brands and just start checking for specific ingredients you know you want to use or avoid. If you’re online, search for that ingredient instead of for a specific brand. If you’re in the store, just pick up random products and check the ingredient labels until you stumble upon the right match. We hope this guide could be helpful and we wish you luck on your search for the best product for your acne!