Acne is a common skin condition that plagues up to 50 million Americans each year. It is a complex issue that can be hard to treat with a few simple over-the-counter products, and some forms of acne are more severe and may require prescription-strength treatments or expert advice from a dermatologist. To help you find the best acne treatment for your specific skin type, we consulted with board certified dermatologists to get their expert opinions on everything from spot-on treatments and drying lotions to cleansers and mud masks.
If you’re struggling with papules (solid bumps that are red and filled with pus) or cysts (deeper breakouts that can leave scars), benzoyl peroxide is your best bet, according to dermatologist Geeta Yadav. The blemish-fighting ingredient works to kill the bacteria that causes them by killing excess oil and exfoliating dead skin cells. It’s a great option for oilier skin types, but if you have dry or sensitive skin, it can be irritating.
For mild acne, insider reviews senior reporter Mara Leighton swears by this over-the-counter gel that contains a powerful retinoid. “It fights blackheads, whiteheads, and future breakouts by regulating cell turnover,” she says. It also helps minimize inflammation and reduce post-acne marks.
Unlike most BHA products that tend to be too harsh for dry or sensitive skin, this one from a dermatologist-endorsed brand is gentle enough for all skin types. The formula combines both beta and alpha hydroxy acids to exfoliate, which helps prevent breakouts by reducing the buildup of dead skin cells that can clog pores. It also uses a natural antibacterial called niacinamide to keep skin calm and clear of any unwanted breakouts. best acne treatment