The 7 Best Adult Acne Treatments

We all know the feeling: You wake up in the morning ready for the day, and as you start your routine, your eyes are drawn straight to it: a red bump. You sigh and begin that seemingly-never-ending search for the best adult acne treatments. Whether your skin tends to be oil-prone, dry, or a total combination, it's safe to say that pretty much everybody experiences some kind of acne in their life. And many of us know that it doesn't just happen when you're a teenager!

According the American Academy of Dermatology, some people won't even see acne until their adult years, and there are a number of reasons that AAD says "adult-onset acne" can occur: fluctuating hormone levels, stress, family history, hair and skin care products, medication side effects, or an undiagnosed medical condition. If you are noticing breakouts quite often, it's best to consult your dermatologist about the best treatment plan for you. But in the meantime, we've got some recommendations for those spots that just seem to pop up out of the blue.

It's important to keep in mind that when looking for an adult acne treatment, what worked when you were 14 or 15 might not work when you're an adult (in fact, it could do the opposite in some cases). It's also vital to consider your skin type, as well as how diet effects your skin, and what products you use in and on your body — hair treatments, lotions, face cleanser, whether or not you use a form of birth control, etc. For example, some people may be surprised to hear that it can actually be good to use an oil-based cleanser to combat excess oil production. Other times, doctors may point you in the direction of salicylic acid (to flush out toxins) or retinol (to boost skin cell turnover).

No matter your skin type, diet, or any other lifestyle factors, there is a way to control all types of acne. Below, we've gathered a few of the top treatments that may help you say goodbye to those pesky spots.

1. A Spot Treatment That Uses Benzoyl Peroxide and Lipo-Hydroxy Acid To Target Blemishes


La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Dual Action Acne Treatment, $21, Amazon

From award-winning French pharmacy brand La Roche-Posay, this spot treatment cream is unique because, according to the company, it is the only one on the market that contains both benzoyl peroxide and micro-exfoliating lipo-hydroxy acid. The ingredients work together to target and reduce blemishes, and then go deep into the pores to clear both blackheads and whiteheads. Oil free, non-drying, and made for sensitive skin, this spot treatment can be used daily on affected, acne-prone areas.

2. A Cult-Favorite Lotion That Targets Blemishes by Drying Them Out


Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, $17, Amazon

This cult-classic drying lotion uses three key ingredients to zap away unwanted blemishes: sulfur (purifies), salicylic acid (promotes clear, even skin), and calamine (soothes and dries). They work together to combat whiteheads and pimples through a quick-drying, targeting technique. Apply the lotion straight to the affected area before bed (don't shake the bottle, just dip a Q-tip inside) and let it sit overnight so that the formula has time to work its drying powers, and you will wake up with visibly reduced blemish.

3. A Prescription-Strength Treatment That Targets Clogged Pores And Inflammation


Differin Gel, $11, Amazon

This acne-fighting gel is the only non-prescription, FDA-approved retinoid that uses adapalene. We know — what do those words really mean? Retinoids are just a class of chemical compounds relating to Vitamin A, and they help to regulate cell growth. Adapalene is the type of topical retinoid that is used to treat acne. So thanks to those qualities of Vitamin A — promoting cell turnover and reducing inflammation — this cream helps to target those blemishes, quickly reducing their appearance and helping prevent future breakouts.

4. A Blemish Control Treatment That Comes in the Form Of Convenient Facial Pads


First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Blemish Patrol Pads, $26, Amazon

Great for oil-prone skin, these triple-action blemish patrol pads use four key ingredients (three of which are totally natural) to promote clear skin, prevent breakouts, and remove excess oil. Tea tree oil's antibacterial properties fight against new blemishes while witch hazel's astringent properties restore and revitalize skin tone by combating oil. Salicylic acid helps to dry up existing acne, and a small amount of willowbark extract helps to reduce irritation, leaving skin blemish-free, smooth, and happy.

5. An Acne Treatment That Targets Spots While Also Providing Daily, 24-Hour Hydration


Vichy Normaderm Beautifying Anti-Blemish Care, Hydration 24H, $25, Amazon

For those with dry or sensitive skin, this dual acne treatment and moisturizing lotion should be a great fit. Using salicylic acid to combat and prevent acne breakouts, the cream will address excess oil, blemishes, and shine without compromising on hydration, leaving skin soft, supple, and moisturized for up to 24 hours.

6. A Pore-Cleansing Mask That Uses A Centuries-Old Remedy To Treat Acne


Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay, $9, Amazon

Using 100 percent natural calcium bentonite clay from Death Valley, California, this cult-favorite acne treatment has been used to combat skin blemishes for centuries, used by civilizations all around the globe. The clay works in a few ways: it gently draws out toxins, visibly reduces the appearance of marks on the skin, and calms inflammation. Use it all-over or as a simple spot treatment when you're just looking to target a specific area.

7. A Facial Cleanser That Uses a Natural Ingredient to Prevent Breakouts


The Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Facial Wash, $12, Amazon

This vegan facial wash does a lot more than just smell totally divine. It uses Community Trade tea tree oil, an essential oil that has a very long list of benefits, and has been used for centuries to target blemishes and promote clear skin. Similar to the way benzoyl peroxide functions, tea tree oil helps to dry out skin (so that's why it's best to stick to a diluted version when applying to acne). Gentle and ideal for blemish-prone skin, this gel-based cleanser will help to purify by removing excess oil while promoting clear skin.

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