Friday, June 14, 2024

18 Best Acne Spot Treatments 2023 to Get Rid of Pimples Fast

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We’ve all been there: Upon seeing a new pimple, you immediately fight back with the best acne spot treatment you can find — and instead, end up with a peeling, irritated, or dry skin that somehow looks even worse.

The good news is that you’re on the right track by applying a spot treatment. Unlike skin-care products that you rinse off, like cleansers, spot treatments deliver a high concentration of ingredients over a longer period of time. Speaking of ingredients: Most acne treatments contain varying percentages of either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide as active ingredients. In a nutshell, salicylic acid is an incredible chemical exfoliator: “Once it has penetrated the skin, it dissolves some of the intercellular ‘glue’ that holds skin cells together,” cosmetic chemist Randy Schueller previously told Allure. Once these bonds are dissolved, these dead skin cells can slough off. For this reason, salicylic acid is a great way to treat acne caused by clogged pores (blackheads, whiteheads — you get the picture).

On the other hand, benzoyl peroxide thwarts the bacteria that cause zits in the first place, so it’s an ideal active ingredient for treating inflammatory acne blemishes. The best spot-treatment products balance acne-fighting actives, which include the above as well as sulfur, tea tree oil, and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), with skin-soothing ingredients to prevent dryness and avoid irritation. With that in mind, scroll on for 18 products that tackle breakouts quickly — without stripping your skin in the process.

Our Top Picks:

  1. Best Overall: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo, $23
  2. Best for Hormonal Acne: Vichy Normaderm S.O.S Sulphur Paste, $23
  3. Best for Blackheads: Origins Super Spot Remover Acne Treatment Gel, $20
  4. Best for Whiteheads: Kiehl’s Truly Targeted Acne-Clearing Solution, $30
  5. Best for Inflammatory Acne: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare DRx Blemish Solutions Acne Eliminating Gel, $42
  6. Best for Cysts: Murad Deep Relief Acne Treatment with 2% Salicylic Acid, $45
  7. Best for Early-Stage Pimples: Hero Cosmetics Pimple Correct, $20

All products featured on Allure are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

  • Best Overall: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo

    Why It’s Worth It: If you’ve experienced dryness from benzoyl peroxide in the past, good news: This formula uses a micronized form of the ingredient, which means it’s broken into smaller particles that can penetrate the pores more deeply than traditional formulas with less irritation. Lipohydroxy acid, the second part of the spot-fighting ingredient duo, gently exfoliates to keep pores clear.

    Editor Tip: It’s gentle enough that you can use it all over the face if needed, too.

    Key Ingredients: Benzoyl peroxide, lipo-hydroxy acid, glycerin | Who It’s For: Someone who wants the targeted power of a spot treatment with the option of all-over use.

  • Best for Hormonal Acne: Vichy Normaderm S.O.S Sulphur Paste

    Why It’s Worth It: This lightweight cream uses 10% sulfur to dry out blemishes without irritation. Instead of working alone, however, the formula pairs it with glycolic acid (which has a light exfoliating effect) and niacinamide, which both calms inflammation and controls excess oil. Thanks to this combo, this formula can both take down active zits and prevent new ones from popping up. (No wonder it was a 2021 Best of Beauty winner.)

    Editor Tip: It’s allergy-tested and fragrance-free, making it a good choice for sensitive skin types.

    Key Ingredients: Sulfur, niacinamide, glycolic acid | Who It’s For: People who have recurring zits

  • Best for Blackheads: Origins Super Spot Remover

    Why It’s Worth It: If you measure the efficacy of zit-zapping products by whether they “feel” like they’re getting to work, consider this the gold standard: The transparent formula imparts a subtle, satisfying tingle. It’s not just a feeling, since the gel is laced with 1.5% salicylic acid and clarifying oregano oil, which both work to purge blemishes on contact. It also gets bonus points for apple and cucumber extracts, which soothe skin and stop hyperpigmentation in its tracks.

    Editor Tip: Since it can clear clogs, this works on blackheads, too.

    Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, oregano oil | Who It’s For: Anyone dealing with different types of acne

  • Best for Whiteheads: Kiehl’s Truly Targeted Acne-Clearing Solution

    Why It’s Worth It: If you want the protection of a pimple patch with the undetectable feel of a liquid formula, try this formula, which creates a seal over the target pimple. Not only does it create a smooth surface beneath makeup, but it also provides skin with salicylic acid to break down the clog in question. To calm inflammation, meanwhile, it offers niacinamide and licorice root.

    Editor Tip: It’s a good option if you want something for the entire life cycle of a zit, from treatment to fading to prevention.

    Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, niacinamide, licorice root | Who It’s For: People who want to take advantage of a patch with the convenience of a dry-down formula

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