If you were a teenager in the early aughts, you're probably well acquainted with acne pads. Doused with good-for-you ingredients that would zap your zits and turn you into a grinning, happy teen, these product-soaked pads were touted as the cure-all for all of your skin care woes. Well, you may be older now, but if you're still struggling with breakouts, guess what? These acid-soaked peels are in fact one of the easiest ways to keep your skin in check, so if you're wondering what the best acne pads, check out this highly-curated guide, below. They've gotten so much more sophisticated since your prom days.
Instead of just attacking your zits with one type of acid and calling it a day, today's acne pads are multi-taskers that come with a whole host of ingredients. Some contain things like aloe to soothe sensitive skin, while others are formulated with natural ingredients, like apple cider vinegar. The best thing about these pads is that most of them can be used on your face and body, so if you're dealing with things like "bacne" and keratosis pilaris, you'll definitely want to pick up a pack.
One important tip: exfoliating is great, but be sure not to overdo it. In addition to causing irritation and long-term damage to your skin, over-exfoliating can actually worsen your acne. So, as with any new exfoliant, start by using these pads just once a week and increase your increments until you find a frequency your skin is comfortable with.
Ahead, five great packs of exfoliating pads for your clearest, brightest skin ever.
1. The Best Acne Pads For Most People (& They're Budget Friendly, Too)
You can't talk about acne pads without talking about Oxy Cleansing Pads. These are the ultimate cult-classic in the acne department — and for good reason. With the help of salicylic acid, these pads treat your acne from the inside out. Salicylic acid penetrates your pores and clears out the gunk, which, in addition to helping prevent blackheads and whiteheads, ensures the rest of your cleansing regimen is that much more effective. The pads are also lightly ridged, which provides some physical exfoliation, too. They're definitely the most no-frills option of the bunch, but they really do work — plus, since you get three containers for $15, you can stock up without breaking the bank. Classics are, well, classic for a reason.
2. Gentle Aloe-Infused Acne Pads For Sensitive Skin
One would think that sensitive skin types should avoid acne pads at all costs. And in most cases, that'd be true. But Stri-Dex Medical Pads for sensitive skin are different. They're formulated with aloe, which helps to soothe sensitive skin, and without alcohol, a harsh known irritant. The aloe is also helpful for reducing the size and appearance of pimples, since it's anti-inflammatory and reduces both redness and swelling. Also, it only contains .5 percent of salicylic acid, which is a gentle, but still effective amount. Try them on the back of your arms and legs to retexture any bumpy areas you might have.
3. Maximum-Strength Pads For Severe Acne
Say hello to the ultimate triple threat of acne-fighting power: DRMTLGY Tri-Active Acne Pads. These pads tackle acne in a three-pronged approach. Salicylic acid penetrates your skin and exfoliates from the inside out. Glycolic acid chemically exfoliates the top layer of your skin, which helps your other products penetrate better. Finally, lactic acid is another AHA (like glycolic) that also chemically exfoliates, but it's a bit more gentle, as well as hydrating. When used together, these ingredients are a dynamic trio in the battle against hardcore acne.
4. Botanical-Based Toning Pads For Natural-Beauty Lovers
Apple cider vinegar has been touted as a miracle worker when it comes to skin care (and so much more), and now it's even cropping up in acne pads. These pads are loaded with a bevy of good-for-your-face ingredients, with the hero being apple cider vinegar. But that's not the only ingredient you'll love. The pads are also formulated with aloe and green tea to soothe, as well as the antioxidant vitamin B3, which helps protect your skin from free radicals. If that's not all, they also include probiotics, which are all the rage right now — you can read up on their skin care benefits, here. If you're a natural beauty lover looking for a botanical-based way to fight your acne (these pads are free of fragrance, parabens, dyes, silicones, sulfates, and phthalates), definitely give these a try.
5. Editor's Pick: These Gylcolic Acid Pads Allow You To Customize Your Dose — But They're Pricey
Before we proceed, let's address the elephant in the room: these pads are expensive AF. That said, they're the only thing that's worked so far to get rid of the editor of this piece's keratosis pilaris.
Everyone has an acid that works the best for their skin, and for many, that's glycolic. If you're one of those people, you'll want to try out CANE + AUSTIN Retexture Pads. As their name suggests, they primarily work to even out skin tone and texture. By exfoliating, boosting collagen production, and unclogging pores, your face will look and feel supremely smooth and soft. There's also some salicylic acid in the formula — and get this: Depending on your skin type and desired results, you can choose the amount of glycolic acid in your pads. You can also start with the lowest dosage and eventually, work your way up. CANE + AUSTIN Miracle Pads are available in 10 percent, 20 percent, and 30 percent glycolic acid formulas. They're suitable for all skin types and can be used on both your face and body.
Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Bustle's editorial and sales departments.