This post is all about the best acne products for beautiful, clear skin that really work!
Do you struggle with acne?
I think we can all agree on that.
But it’s even worse when it keeps coming back and nothing you’ve been doing can make it stop.
I’ve been there.
I’ve tried probably every acne product you can think of and after almost a decade of trial and error, I think I finally have some solutions figured out.
Right now, I’m the happiest with my skin that I have been in a very long time and it’s thanks to the best acne products I’ve listed below.
I hope that these recommendations help you on your journey to clear skin!
I would also love if you left a comment on this post letting me know if these products were able to help you too!
Or if you have any holy grail products to share with others that aren’t on this list.
There is a summary of the overall best acne products here at the top (in case you don’t want to read my comprehensive – aka hella long – post).
I’ve also segmented the list by product type to make it easier if you’re looking to just replace one step in your routine.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read my disclosure policy for more information.
Overall best acne products:
Best acne products by category:
1. YTTP Superfood Cleanser
This is the daily cleanser I use and LOVE!
It is one of the best acne products for me (and millions of others) because it gives a deep clean without stripping the skin (which can lead to acne).
This cleanser is super highly rated on pretty much every website you can find it on.
It was also the Influenster Reader’s Choice 2019 winner and the Allure Reader’s Choice 2020 winner!
Youth To The People (YTTP) was founded in 2015 and is a California-based skincare brand that blends premium, nutrient-filled superfoods with vegan actives.
Quick facts about this award winning face wash:
- Works for all skin types: Normal, Dry, Combination and Oily
- Helps with blemishes, dullness and pores
- Removes makeup
- Packaging can be recycled or reused (refill the glass pump jar)!
- Made with cold-pressed antioxidants:
- Kale: Full of phytonutrients and vitamins C, E and K for glowing skin
- Spinach: Soothes skin with cooling properties and conditions through essential fatty acids
- Green Tea: Rich in antioxidants that combat visible signs of aging
- Maintains the skin’s natural pH balance
- Gel formula
It’s usually pretty hard to find since it sells out super quick at Sephora.
If it is sold out and you want to buy it on the YTTP website, click here to get $15 off your $50+ order.
2. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Gel Cleanser
La Roche-Posay (LRP) products are developed in partnership with dermatologists and are recommended by over 90,000 dermatologists worldwide!
Quick facts about this cleanser:
- For acne-prone, oily and sensitive skin types
- Respects skin’s pH balance
- Zinc Pidolate removes excess oil/shine and purifies the skin
- Gel formula
Another great cleanser for acne-prone skin by LRP is their Toleraine Purifying Foaming Facial Wash (for normal to oily skin) or their Toleraine Hydrating Gentle Face Cleanser (for normal to dry skin).
3. Kate Somerville EradiKate Daily Cleanser
The whipped texture cleanses without over-drying the skin and it fights acne with 3% sulfur.
I’ve read many people say this is one of the best acne products out there.
4. CeraVe Salicylic Acid Cleanser
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly cleanser, then this one is it!
- Contains salicylic acid for soft and smooth skin
- Formulated with ceramides 1,3 and 6-II
- No harsh beads/grains
- Gentle, non-irritating formula
CeraVe is also the #1 Dermatologist recommended skincare brand!
5. Neutrogena Acne Wash Cleanser
I wanted to throw in one more budget-friendly option in this list of cleansers.
This cleanser deep cleans without over-drying or irritating the skin and is formulated with 2% salicylic acid for stubborn breakouts.
6. Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
This liquid exfoliant is LIFE CHANGING!
If there’s one thing you buy from this list, it should be this product!
That’s a big statement, I know.
But both my brother and I use it religiously and the results we’ve seen from using it are unmatched.
This product was what finally got rid of the clusters of tiny bumps/pimples I had on my forehead.
For that, my (now) smooth forehead and I are forever grateful lol
- Paula’s Choice’s #1 product worldwide
- Brightens skin, evens out skin tone, quickly unclogs pores, and smooths wrinkles
- Salicylic acid and BHA (beta hydroxy acid) exfoliate built-up skin layers
- Lightweight and absorbs quickly
- There’s also a lotion (for dry skin) and gel (for oily skin) formula of this product available if you’d prefer those
- I’ve used the lotion one for the winter (when my skin is more dry) and it’s equally amazing!
I REPEAT: THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST ACNE PRODUCTS OUT THERE!
Seriously, get it and thank me later!
7. Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant
Stef, didn’t we just talk about this one?
I know this product looks familiar, but what sets it apart is that its made with 8% AHA (not 2% BHA).
What’s the difference?
I’m glad you asked!
According to our pals at Paula’s Choice, who put together this helpful guide to determining the right exfoliant for you:
- BHA is:
- a mixture of beta hydroxy and salicylic acid
- targets acne and bumps
- unclogs and reduces pores
- works both on the surface and in the skin
- AHA is:
- a mixture of alpha hydroxy and glycolic acid
- reduces sun damage
- improves skin smoothness dramatically
- works on the surface of the skin
This product also helped reduce the bumps/acne on my face (when I had run out of the 2% BHA exfoliant), so I wanted to include it as well as an alternative.
There’s a lotion version of this one too for dry skin as well.
8. The Ordinary 10% Niacinamide + Zinc 1% Serum
This serum is awesome at reducing acne, congestion and pores!
It’s also the most affordable item on this list.
- Niacinamide reduces acne, pores and congestion
- Brings down redness, inflammation and blotchiness
- Brightens skin tone, retains moisture and strengthens the lipid barrier
- Minimizes fine lines and wrinkles
- Boosts collagen
At this price, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose!
9. Farmacy Honeymoon Glow AHA Resurfacing Serum
This product is another AHA that’s great for getting rid of texture, clusters of bumps, and hormonal acne.
It’s a three-in-one night serum that resurfaces, hydrates and clarifies skin overnight.
- For all skin types: normal, dry, combination, acne-prone and oily
- Serum formula
- 14% AHA/BHA/gentle flower acid blend:
- gets rid of dead skin cells
- targets hyperpigmentation
- reduces pores, fine lines and wrinkles
- Hyaluronic acid hydrates skin and prevents moisture loss
- Proprietary honey blend soothes and moisturizes
10. Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Pore Exfoliating Treatment
Exfoliation smooths, softens and brightens your complexion.
It also helps reduce acne by exfoliating away dead skin cells and sebum (which clog pores).
This exfoliant gets a lot of hype – but it actually lives up to it!
While it is one of the more expensive products in this list of best acne products, it only takes a pea-sized amount so the tube lasts quite a while.
- For all skin types: normal, dry, combination and oily
- Skincare concerns: combats dullness, uneven skin tone, pores, fine lines, and wrinkles
- Papaya, pineapple, and pumpkin enzymes exfoliate without overdrying
- Lactic acid, salicylic acid and silica exfoliate dead skin cells
- Aloe vera, honey and vitamin E soften skin
- Scrub formulation
I have this scrub and it’s been one of the best acne products I’ve ever purchased!
But don’t just take my word for it, check out over 1,600 more five-star reviews here!
11. First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads
These are a great option if you prefer pre-soaked, ready to go exfoliating pads, rather than something in a tube.
Each facial radiance pad exfoliates, tones and brightens the skin with lactic and glycolic acids.
- Skin types: normal, dry and combination
- Combats dullness, uneven texture, dark spots and pores
- Wipe formula
- Key ingredients:
- Improve skin texture and brighten with glycolic and lactic acids
- Brighten skin through lemon peel (natural extract)
- Tone skin with Indian gooseberry (natural extract)
They’re quick and easy to use before work.
I also love bringing them when I travel in a plastic baggy (to keep them from drying out).
You just bring as many as you need for that trip and then you don’t need to bring any product back with you (yay more room!)
I’d recommend trying out the smaller, 28-pad container first to see how you like them and going from there.
12. GlamGlow Supermud Charcoal Instant Treatment Mask
I always come back to this mask time and time again, because it’s just THAT GOOD!
This clarifying mask is especially effective on hormonal acne and is GlamGlow’s #1 best selling charcoal mud mask.
- Best for acne-prone, combination and oily skin types
- Skincare concerns: pores, acne and oiliness
- Has six exfoliating acids (lactic acid, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, mandelic acid, tartaric acid, and pyruvic acid) which minimize and unclog pores
- Activated charcoal removes impurities, toxins and dirt from the skin
- Eucalyptus leaf extracts oils from pores without over-drying the skin
It’s also kind of neat (but also gross) to see all the oil the mask is pulling out of your pores.
As the mask dries those spots that are pulling out oil show up darker.
So you really see this mask working!
Again, don’t just take my word for how amazing this mask is for clearing acne.
13. Queen Helene Mint Julep Mask
My brother was actually the one that first introduced me to this amazing, green acne-fighting mask!
In addition to making you look like the Grinch, this mask also absorbs excess oil and minimizes pores just as well as any high-end mask does.
I also always have fun scaring whoever is home when I have it on lol
Use it 1-2 times a week as a full mask or just use it as a spot treatment overnight.
Most nights I just use it as a spot treatment and my pimple is pretty much gone in the morning!
Don’t let the low price fool you!
The GlamGlow mask above still beats this one out in my opinion, but this one comes a very very close second.
Especially for the price, it’s still an important addition in my best acne products arsenal.
Read all the positive reviews on Amazon if you need more convincing.
But you’ve really got nothing to lose at this price!Spot treatments
14. COSRX Pimple Master Patch
I’ve been using this set of pimple patches for years now and they are such a good value!
They’re not as intense as the ones below, but for the price, they still work phenomenally to significantly reduce the size of a pimple quickly.
However, due to their low price and strong effectiveness combined, this is still my pick for spot treatment winner in the overall best acne products leaderboard at the start of this post.
The patches use hydrocolloid which promotes faster healing by calming redness and keeping skin moisturized.
If you need a bit more punch, then read on to the patches below.
15. ZitSticka Killa Kit
These acne stickers have a fun name, really cute packaging and work quickly to kill your pimples like the name suggests.
The Killa Kit has also been featured in Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Nylon and Into The Gloss so you know it’s legit.
- Powered by ZitSticka’s signature microdart technology
- Microdarts dissolve and bring targeted ingredients to the zip to clear it up before it gets bigger
- What does it do?
- Accelerates the pimple’s lifecycle – makes it come to a head faster
- Reverses the journey – catches pimples early and reverses them
- Significantly improves the pimple’s appearance – shrinks it
- Kit also contains Cleana swabs to prime the area before application
How do these differ from the pimple patches above?
ZitSticka says their microdart technology reaches deep into the skin where traditional hydrocolloid patches can’t access.
They also have a Hyperfade kit to fade dark spots post-pimple that I would recommend checking out as well.
The best part is they also offer free shipping in the US!
16. Clinique Acne Solutions Gel
The Clinique Acne Solutions Gel is getting raving reviews everywhere!
With salicylic acid, witch hazel, and laminaria saccharina extract it zaps pimples as well as any prescription could.
- Good for all skin types: normal, dry, combination, acne-prone and oily
- Best for those concerned with acne and blemishes
- Lightweight gel formula
If you’re still on the fence, read more reviews here about how this acne gel has saved people’s skin!
17. Kate Somerville EradiKate Acne Treatment
With the highest level of sulfur allowed for clinical acne control, this spot treatment works fast to clear acne, reduce redness and keep future breakouts away!
It’s Kate Somerville’s #1 spot treatment and has proven to diminish breakouts in just one hour!
If your acne isn’t responding to salicylic acid or other common acne fighters, trying a product with sulfur is a good next step.
While Mario Badescu’s drying lotion is a cheaper alternative to this spot treatment, the reviews and results are not as great as the EradiKate treatment.
Personally, I would invest the extra $10 and buy the EradiKate treatment for the best results.
18. Clean & Clear Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment
This low-cost, drug store spot treatment contains 2% salycilic acid and witch hazel to zap pimples fast.
While it works well if you’re on a budget, I would recommend the other spot treatments above before this one (just keeping it real!)
However, I don’t want to steer anyone away from this product.
It’s super affordable, so get it and try it out for yourself first!
19. Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micellar Water
This makeup remover suggestion isn’t isn’t a zip zapper, but it will help prevent future breakouts through proper makeup removal.
Washing makeup off properly is essential to making sure no makeup or dirt is left behind to breed pimples.
I’ve tried a few different micellar waters, but none of them came close to working as quickly or effectively as this Bioderma one.
If you liked this post then please share it or pin it for later!
I would love to hear which one of these products you purchased and how it helped clear you skin!
Or if you have any holy grail products to share with others that aren’t on this list, please share the knowledge in the comments below.