I really thought that once I hit my 20s, my acne days would be long gone. Boy, was I wrong. And like me, I bet any acne-sufferer has tried every treatment under the sun and thought it was hopeless. But clearing up breakouts and calming troubled skin isn’t a lost cause. In fact, I hunted down the top favorite acne products of people who personally dealt with these skin issues themselves, in order to find the acne products that actually clear up skin in real life.
As someone who's struggled with acne for my teen years and early adult life, I understand the stress of trying (then throwing away) tons of skin products that will get rid of acne. I was blessed with clear skin for days until I hit about 15, when it started to become an issue. I’m talking about white heads and those underground blemishes that flared up even more during face washing. Over the years, I was in and out the dermatologist's office, taking everything from antibiotics to heavy prescription medication, until I gave up. Thankfully, it turned out acne was hormonal and an easy fix (hey, thanks birth control), but that doesn’t mean I’m not prone to the occasional pimple.
What's awesome about these products is that people swear by them. I asked women about their favorite skin products for acne, blackheads, and other annoying skin care problems. They range from face masks to spot treatments, and gentle facial cleansers. And the best part is that they're all affordable and easily accessible. It worked for them, so why not you?
1. A Mask That Targets Blackheads
The Pick: ORIGINS Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask, $31, AmazonThe Issue: "I had acne all over my face; white heads, black heads, and those painful ones under the skin, but the worst was my T-zone," says Natalie F. "I have combination skin, so it was difficult to adjust to my skin's needs and find products that wouldn't dry it out or make it too greasy."Why It Works: "The charcoal sucks the dirt out of your skin and my skin feels brighter and smooth afterwards," she says. "In retrospect, I think using so many aggressive products was stressing out my skin and making me break out more."
2. An Acne Product That Isn't Typically an "Acne Product"
The Issue: "I used to be on Retin-A, but then the prescription got too expensive," says Genny G. "This is my drugstore brand fix that has a retinol, even though not as high dosage as the prescription ones. It does a good job keeping my skin mostly acne-free and it prevents wrinkles, which is even better."
Why It Works: Retinoids work hard to clear away dead skin and build-up, which in some cases, can lead to clogged pores and breakouts. When the pore-clogging debris is cleared away by retinoids, breakouts may become less of an issue.
3. A Three-Step Fix
The Issue: "So, I’ve had acne problems since middle school and I’ve tried everything to the point where I was on medication for while," says Marianna A. "Maybe about a year ago I started this acne kit, and it worked wonders."
Why It Works: Recommended by dermatologists, this kit is hypoallergenic and fragrance-free, which makes it a good match for even the most sensitive skin types. Used twice a day, this kit uses a three-part system to cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturize troubled skin.
4. A Simple Face Cleanser
The Issue: "Whiteheads, blackheads, I get them all," says Samantha W. "And after trying so many acne treatments, I always go back to this facial cleanser. It's gentle, and removes and most stubborn makeup that's been on my face all day."
Why It Works: Like all Simple products, this cleanser swaps the harsh chemicals and fragrances for better ingredients like chamomile and pro-vitamin B5 to keep your skin in check.
5. A Moisturizer With Salicylic Acid
The Issue: "I get occasional zits on my chin, and I would use this moisturizer as a spot treatment, and it always worked because of the salicylic acid in it," says Briana P. "Recently, I've noticed more pimples appearing on my forehead and I started applying the moisturizer on my entire face morning and night. By the next day, they're gone."
Why It Works: What's great about this moisturizer from Clean & Clear is that it's perfect for drier skin types who are prone to pesky acne flare-ups.
6. A Spot-On Acne Treatment
The Issue: "Usually my skin stays clear most of the time until I get my period," says Chalisa O. "This drying lotion works great to prevent scarring when my acne pops up."
Why It Works: This effective spot treatment is formulated with salicylic acid, a power acne-fighter, and calamine to soothe irritation and inflammation. It's a must-have when breakouts (cyclical or otherwise) arise.
7. A Lazy-Girl Face Mask
The Issue: "I use it in the shower and it gets rid of excess oils in just a minute," says Sam W. "Plus, I love that it heats up, feels good on my face."
Why It Works: This face mask feels like a fancy spa treatment without the sky-high prices. If you're one of those who find that putting on a face mask is the most time-consuming thing, than you need this mask.
6. A Face Mask That Unclogs Pores ASAP
The Pick: First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Deep Cleanser with Red Clay, $24, Amazon
The Issue: As mentioned before, I have the worst acne. While birth control has solved most of my acne woes, I'm still a target for blackheads and clogged pores. I noticed my skin acting up when I got back from a Costa Rica trip and used this cleanser that's been sitting in my cabinet for forever. Little did I know how awesome it was!
Why It Works: It's made from clay, rosemary leaf oil, and botanical antioxidants, so it does the trick of absorbing the dirt and grime while maintaining a good complexion. After two uses, my skin cleared up in a week.
Images: Fotolia (1); Sephora (1), Amazon (7)
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