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Best Anti-Acne Products

In order to make the Best Products list, anti-acne products must be able to truly make a difference in breakouts by:

  • Disinfecting to kill acne-causing bacteria
  • Exfolating the skin's surface and inside the pore
  • Not containing needless irritants like alcohol or menthol
  • Not triggering excess oil production
  • Working to absorb excess oil

For killing acne-causing bacteria, benzoyl peroxide is considered the most effective topical treatment. Generally, benzoyl peroxide products come in concentrations of 2.5%, 5%, and 10%. As a general rule, it’s best to start with a lower concentration to see if that works for you. If not, you can then try the next higher concentration.

If you find that the higher concentrations of benzoyl peroxide don’t work, then it may be time for you to consult a dermatologist for a prescription topical disinfectant and/or for other topical acne treatments (e.g., Retin-A, Avita, Tazorac, or generic versions of these [active ingredient tretinoin, and, in the case of Tazorac, tazarotene]). Differin (adapalene) is also a very good prescription option.

For exfoliating inside the pore lining and helping with blackheads, BHA (salicylic acid) is preferred over AHAs (such as glycolic acid) because BHA is better at cutting through the oil inside the pore. Penetrating the pore is necessary to exfoliate the pore lining. However, some people (including those allergic to aspirin) can't use BHA, so an AHA is the next option to consider. If that describes you, please refer to the list of Best AHA Exfoliants elsewhere on this site.

For absorbing excess oil, use gentle, non-drying cleanser and, when needed, mattifying products or absorbent masks. Oil-blotting papers are also an excellent way to keep facial shine in check when you're away from home.

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