Acne, the most common skin condition in the world, can be caused by a variety of factors. Overproduction of oil (which leads to clogged pores), inflammation and bacteria can all contribute to breakouts. Mild noninflammatory acne (whiteheads and blackheads) can be cleared with OTC products that contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Moderate inflammatory acne (pimples and pustules) often requires prescription-strength topical retinoids or oral retinol. Severe inflammatory acne (cysts and nodules) requires oral antibiotics or a topical prescription by a dermatologist.
If you’re in search of the best acne treatment for your specific type of acne, we spoke to board-certified dermatologists for their recommendations. They helped us narrow down the best over-the-counter (OTC) skin care options that will clear up your complexion in no time, as well as some prescription blemish fighters.
1. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo + 2% Benzoyl Peroxide
This formula is a great spot treatment option for those who suffer from mild to moderate inflammatory acne. The benzoyl peroxide works to break down bacterial cells, which helps reduce redness and inflammation. Plus, the inclusion of 2% salicylic acid is a fantastic chemical exfoliant that dissolves bonds between dead skin cells and clogged pores, allowing them to slough off.
If you’re looking for a more intensive formula, this acne cream from Korean skincare brand CosRX contains 10% benzoyl peroxide in a lightweight gel that spreads easily on the skin. It also contains ferulic acid, which helps to reduce discoloration from acne spots and other hyperpigmentation. If you’re new to using a stronger benzoyl peroxide product, we recommend starting with a lower strength—like 5% or less—and gradually increasing how frequently you use it over a few weeks. best acne treatment