Digg is an independent, advertiser-supported website and may receive compensation for some links to products and services throughout this website.

Best Acne Treatments

Acne has a variety of different causes that all require their own specific kinds of treatment. But how do you choose among the hundreds of products that are available online? We've combed through these solutions to bring you the best acne treatment products for your skin.

Our Top Picks For Best Acne Treatments

Ads by Money. We may be compensated if you click this ad.AdAds by Money disclaimer
Staying healthy has never been more important
Protect yourself and your loved ones with a comprehensive and affordable health insurance plan. Click your state to learn more.
HawaiiAlaskaFloridaSouth CarolinaGeorgiaAlabamaNorth CarolinaTennesseeRIRhode IslandCTConnecticutMAMassachusettsMaineNHNew HampshireVTVermontNew YorkNJNew JerseyDEDelawareMDMarylandWest VirginiaOhioMichiganArizonaNevadaUtahColoradoNew MexicoSouth DakotaIowaIndianaIllinoisMinnesotaWisconsinMissouriLouisianaVirginiaDCWashington DCIdahoCaliforniaNorth DakotaWashingtonOregonMontanaWyomingNebraskaKansasOklahomaPennsylvaniaKentuckyMississippiArkansasTexas
View Rates

Best Acne Treatments Reviews

Get Started

Best for Sensitive Skin: Curology

  • Customized formula based on your goals and skin type
  • Work with an actual dermatologist from the comfort of your own home
  • 30-day free trial
  • Complete three-step routine
  • More expensive than similar solutions
  • Your skin may need to adjust, causing dryness or irritation in the first week or two
  • If your formula needs adjusting, you'll need to order a whole new kit

Why We Chose It: Developed by licensed dermatology providers, the standard Curology kit includes a cleanser, moisturizer and medicated lotion with customized ingredients that won't irritate sensitive skin.

This online acne treatment service includes an assessment from a real dermatologist and a customized formula shipped directly to you. On top of helping with your acne, the formula can address issues like wrinkles, dark spots or skin texture, making it a real bang for your buck. The standard kit includes a complete three-step routine with enough of each product for a 30-day supply, so by the time you run out, your next month's supply should already be at your door.

The real kicker? Full-time students under age 25 can get Curology for free for up to two years. Even if you're not a student under 25, you can get a 30-day free trial to start. Once you start a paid subscription, the custom formula will run you $29.95 per month; the accompanying cleanser and moisturizer are another $10 monthly. You can also add an acne body wash for back acne treatment and emergency spot patches.

These products are a little expensive compared to over-the-counter products, but many reviews say it's worth it because it works when nothing else will. However, some customers warn there's an adjustment period as your skin gets used to the formula.

The most significant benefit of Curology is the access to a dermatologist to adjust your formula as needed, though if you do need to adjust the formula, you'll have to invest in a whole new kit — even if you haven't finished the previous one.

Get Started

Best Spot Treatment: Tula Go Away Acne Spot Treatment

  • You can wear your makeup over it while it's working
  • Contains tea tree oil and probiotics to reduce inflammation and improve skin health
  • Very little product needed per treatment
  • Low odor and gentle on sensitive skin
  • May bleach or stain fabric pillowcases if worn while sleeping
  • Some ingredients may cause allergic reactions

Why We Chose It: With nearly a thousand positive reviews, this popular spot treatment reportedly works in less than a day and is designed to dry clear and keep working even underneath makeup.

Tula's Go Away Acne Spot Treatment has recently been featured in beauty subscriptions like Ipsy. It uses a combination of benzoyl peroxide, niacinamide, azelaic acid, tea tree oil and probiotics to treat pimples from every angle while still being gentle on the skin. The price is a bit steep at $22 per 0.5 fluid-ounce tube, but subscribing to auto-delivery can save you an extra 15 percent.

Many customers say this treatment worked within 24 hours, while others say it took two to three days. Though most saw no dryness or redness, some people had adverse reactions to some ingredients, even those without sensitive skin. Make sure you don't have any allergies or sensitivities to the formula by testing it on less visible skin, like the inside of your wrist, before using it on your face.

The most effective use for Tula's Go Away Acne Spot Treatment seems to be a twice-per-day application — once in the morning and once at night — until the pimple disappears. Some users noted that nighttime applications might stain pillowcases, so apply it early enough to dry before bed or cover your pillow with an old towel or blanket to protect it.

Get Started

Best with Benzoyl Peroxide: Proactiv Solution 3-Step Routine

  • Gentle formulas uniquely designed for multiple skin types
  • Low price for good-sized bottles
  • Decades-long history of effectiveness
  • Subscriptions require you to buy 90-days at a time
  • Some claim the multi-step routine is confusing or over-complicated

Why We Chose It: Proactiv's 3-Step Routine is affordable and uses benzoyl peroxide for gentle treatment on a variety of skin types.

People have been singing praises about Proactiv's products for decades. The three-step routine comes with a cleanser, toner and repair treatment, which are specially designed to build on one another to clear existing acne and prevent future breakouts.

This is one of the most affordable complete acne routines at $24.95 per month with a subscription (or $36 per month without). Proactiv also offers affordable blackhead, dark spot and scar reduction options, which can be purchased separately or added to your monthly subscription. Be aware that the subscription is billed every 90 days for a three-month supply rather than one month at a time, so it's a bit of a commitment.

Some users claim the multi-step routine is a little over-complicated. However, many acne treatments require multiple products for the best results. Other complaints included dryness or irritation with this formula, so if you're particularly sensitive, you may want to use the brand's sensitive skin formula, Proactiv+, instead. Fortunately, that formula has the same options and price points as the original.

Get Started

Best Facial Mask: Dr. Brandt Pores No More Vacuum Cleaner

  • Shrinks pores to reduce the likelihood of collecting debris
  • Smooths and softens skin
  • Great for oily or combination skin
  • Turns blue to indicate when it's ready to wash off
  • Expensive
  • Some users dislike the smell

Why We Chose It: The Dr. Brandt Pores No More Vacuum Cleaner mask is known for shrinking pores down to nothing, making skin smoother and softer after only one use.

Users report the name of this product is apt, as it sucks buildup right out of your pores. The mask works by removing oils and buildup from pores and shrinking them to prevent future debris collection.

Though it's somewhat expensive at $44 per one-ounce tube, it's not meant to be used on a daily basis, so it should last you a while. Recommended use is two to three times per week, either in the morning or evening, by massaging it into your skin until the beads break. The mask is ready to wash off when it turns blue.

Another thing that makes the Dr. Brandt Pores No More Vacuum Cleaner stand out are its overwhelmingly positive reviews: we found no one- or two-star reviews for the product. Some reviews say it smells a little odd, but it was no deterrent, while many others report that they loved the smell. Though some find it a little drying, it seems largely safe for sensitive skin. If you're concerned, try it out on a less visible area like your inner wrist first.

Get Started

Best Pimple Patches: Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch

  • Contains no chemicals, only hydrocolloid, making it safe for sensitive skin
  • Works overnight
  • Affordably priced
  • Protects pimples to prevent picking or popping
  • May fall off if you move around a lot in your sleep
  • No active ingredients means it may not be effective on certain types of acne

Why We Chose It: These patches are small but indeed mighty. Reviewers say the Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch works in as little as one night and is chemical-free, meaning those with allergies or sensitive skin can rest easy knowing this product is safe to use.

Many customers of the Mighty Patch laud its effectiveness. Most claim it cleared up their zits overnight, though some say two or three treatments were required for more severe cases. The patch is designed to be left on for six to eight hours; when you see it turn white, that's your cue to remove or replace it.

Since the Mighty Patch's only ingredient is the hydrocolloid gel that absorbs oil and bacteria from your pores, there are no chemicals that could cause irritation or allergic reactions. This makes it a very mild treatment suitable for sensitive skin.

You can get a 36-pack of patches for $12.99 or a 72-pack for $21.99; subscribing will save you an extra 20 percent, making it super affordable compared to other popular patches.

Some reviewers who move around in their sleep said the patches fell off during the night, and those with oily skin saw similar sticking issues. Other users said the patch was ineffective, though if you do need a medicated patch, Hero has you covered there, too.

Ads by Money. We may be compensated if you click this ad.AdAds by Money disclaimer
A Health Insurance Plan has never been more important. Sign up for yours today.
Protect yourself and your family with a quality Health Insurance Plan. Get more information now by clicking below.
View Rates

Other Acne Treatments We Considered

These treatments may be ones we — and other reviewers — liked, but they didn't make the cut when compared to others we evaluated. Some were more expensive relative to similar products. Others caused significant dryness or irritation, required more frequent use or simply weren't reviewed as well by customers.

Tula Level 3 Acne Regimen Kit

  • Gentle formula
  • Works on all skin types
  • Treats multiple causes of acne
  • Pleasant smell
  • Expensive
  • Requires more frequent applications
  • May cause dryness

This salicylic acid-based acne routine has tons of positive reviews, and the cleanser was recently featured in FabFitFun. However, its high price tag — $98 per kit — took it out of the running for our top list.

Tula recommends using the products twice a day, while comparable kits only require once-daily use to be effective. Still, reviewers said this product was highly effective, and many commented that it's gentle, smells great and works on all different skin types.

Starface Hydro Stars

  • Charming design
  • Portable carrying case
  • Draws attention to blemishes
  • More expensive than similar alternatives

These hydrocolloid patches recently went viral for adding a bit of whimsy to the otherwise dismal issue of acne. They come in a convenient smiling compact, complete with a mirror, so you can easily apply them on the go.

Many users love the fun star shapes of these patches, but some reviewers didn't like the way they draw attention to themselves and found it inappropriate for professional settings. Though we think they're very adorable, they're more expensive than the patch option we finally chose — $15 will only net you eight of these little stars.

Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask

  • May be available locally
  • Highly affordable
  • Multi-purpose
  • Not great for sensitive skin
  • Only effective for minor issues

We liked that this product can be used either as a daily cleanser or an intensive mask. At only $10.73 per bottle, it's certainly affordable, and you don't have to order it online or sign up for a subscription to try it out because it's likely available at your local pharmacy.

Its major downside is that users with sensitive skin said this made their skin feel really dry or irritated. Others added that while it's good for minor issues like blackheads or whiteheads, it's not really effective for more severe cases like cystic acne.

Acne Treatments Guide

Want to know more about treating your acne? Here are the basics.

What Is An Acne Treatment?

Acne is an inflammatory skin condition where pores become clogged with oils, bacteria or dead skin cells. Acne treatments seek to clear up these infections via a variety of methods. Some common types include moisturizers, antibiotics, cleansers, astringents or hydrocolloid patches. Some treatments can be purchased over the counter, while others must be prescribed by a dermatologist or another doctor.

Prescription-strength treatments tend to be stronger, and some (though not all) may cause serious side effects, so they're generally reserved for more severe cases. Some prescription treatments include antibiotics, retinoids and even medications designed for other purposes like birth control or hypertension. For many people, over-the-counter options work well enough.

There are two groups of acne treatments: daily regimens and as-needed therapies.

Daily regimens are incorporated into your daily routine, including oral prescriptions and daily face washes, lotions and gels. As-needed therapies include procedures performed by your dermatologist, such as facials, chemical peels, extractions and light therapies. Also included in this category are home remedies such as spot treatments, pimple patches and face masks. These are things you might not use daily but can apply during breakouts.

You should include some kind of skincare in your daily regimen, whether that's simply washing your face with a gentle cleanser or more complicated routines like skin cycling. Although as-needed treatments can be very helpful, you probably don't want to rely on them completely for acne control.

How Do Acne Treatments Work?

How an acne treatment works depends on what kind of solution it is, as each type of acne may require different treatments. For example, hormonal acne treatment may include hormone therapies such as birth control, while stress-induced breakouts may require extra moisturizers to combat dryness from excess cortisol. Fungal acne treatments may involve specifically anti-fungal medications or steroids.

Antibiotics work by killing off bacteria living within your pores that cause them to become inflamed. These can be either topical or oral.

Medications like benzoyl peroxide lotion work by clearing debris from the pores, killing bacteria and drying up excess oils. Other popular medications include salicylic acid, azelaic acid, glycolic acid and niacinamide, all of which work in slightly different ways.

Moisturizers provide a barrier over your skin, trapping moisture so that your skin doesn't need to produce as much oil of its own. If you have especially oily skin, you may be surprised if your dermatologist recommends a moisturizer. However, providing your skin with the moisture barrier it needs signals your body to produce less oil in the first place.

Pimple patches do two things. First, they create a barrier that keeps bacteria and debris from entering the already-inflamed pore. Second, they use hydrocolloid gels that absorb oils and bacteria from within the pore, pulling them into the patch. This is why pimple patches turn white when you use them — that's the sebum extracted from your pore combined with the hydrocolloid. When the patch turns white, it's time to change it.

Those with acne in places other than their face may require specialized products. Scalp acne treatment, for example, may involve medicated shampoos, while back acne might be treated with a special body wash. These may work using a combination of moisturizers and some of the medicated ingredients listed above.

The Main Types Of Acne

There are three main kinds of acne. Comedonal, inflammatory and nodulocystic acne manifest in different ways and require different types of treatment, so it's important to know which one you have. Talk to a dermatologist if you're not sure what kind you struggle with.

Comedonal Acne

Comedonal acne tends to be closer to the surface of the skin. This type of acne generally includes things like blackheads or whiteheads. These are usually less painful and go away quickly. Whiteheads are pores filled with small amounts of pus or sebum, while blackheads are hard, usually consisting of dirt or dead skin cells. The names come from the ways they appear on your skin. Whiteheads appear as white bumps that protrude slightly from the skin, while blackheads appear as small black dots.

Inflammatory Acne

Inflammatory acne occurs deeper under the skin, where pores or hair follicles fill with excess oils, dead skin cells, bacteria and other debris. This can include cystic acne, but it doesn't have to. This type of acne may appear as a raised bump or a hard nodule deep beneath the skin that may or may not be raised.

Nodulocystic Acne

This type of acne involves deep, pus-filled masses lodged under the skin. They can be painful and usually indicate a bacterial infection underneath the skin in addition to oil or dead skin lodged there. This type of acne may require treatment by a professional, which could include antibiotics and retinoids to help nourish the skin and prevent scarring.

Are Acne Treatments Worth It?

Whether it's worth treating your acne depends on how severe it is, if it's affecting your self-esteem and whether it can be handled with as-needed methods.

If your acne is very mild or can be kept at bay by simply keeping your skin clean, you might get away with a regular cleansing routine and maybe a light moisturizer. It might be a good idea to get a spot treatment or some pimple patches for when breakouts do happen, but you might not need a daily treatment.

If your acne is noticeable enough to bother you, it might be time to invest in a proper acne routine. Even if your breakouts aren't physically painful, as they are for some people, they can really hurt your self-esteem. Although most people struggle with some kind of acne, many people find their zits embarrassing. You may benefit from adding an acne treatment to your daily routine just to give you the confidence of clear skin.

For severe or painful acne, treatment is a must. Frequent or severe breakouts can cause scarring, discoloration and even skin disease, as well as emotional side effects such as depression. If over-the-counter products aren't working for you, talk to a dermatologist to find out if prescription treatments may be necessary, and make sure there aren't related issues that might require additional treatment.

The earlier you treat your acne, the better. This is why acne treatment for teens is the most common. However, adult acne treatment can be just as important. Even babies may require acne treatment, though that's less common.

Failure to treat your acne early can cause it to get worse or lead to lingering issues. If you're noticing breakouts, it's a good idea to check with a dermatologist to determine if you should be concerned. It may be worth adding an acne treatment to your routine just to prevent issues in the future.

How To Choose The Best Acne Products For Your Skin

First, figure out what skin type you have. Is your skin particularly oily? Do you find your skin is typically dry and itchy? Or do you see a combination of the two, with oily patches in places like your forehead or chin and dryness elsewhere? Different acne products are formulated for different types of skin. You don't want something that causes dryness if your skin is already pretty dry, while oily skin might need a lighter moisturizer.

The right acne products will also depend on your acne type. Treatments for inflammatory acne, for example, might include medications like benzoyl peroxide or azelaic acid. Cystic acne treatment, on the other hand, might require antibiotics or steroids.

Acne Treatments FAQ

What Causes Acne Breakouts?


Many factors can cause acne. It may result from hormone fluctuations causing the overproduction of oils in the skin or it could be stress-related due to elevated cortisol levels drying out the skin. Genetic predisposition may also influence your skin condition, as well as poor hygiene. Not cleansing your skin regularly or frequently wear makeup and forgetting to wash it off may lead to a buildup of oils or debris.

Some dermatologists think diet may be partly to blame — consuming too many sugars or simple carbohydrates may contribute to acne, as well as dairy products such as cow's milk. Scientists think this may be due to the body's inflammatory responses to sugars or hormones. It's also possible that where you live may be causing your clogged pores. Studies show that poor air and water quality and overexposure to ultraviolet radiation may cause you to break out more.

How Do You Treat Acne?


How you treat your acne often depends on the type of acne you're dealing with, but most treatments generally involve a combination of daily routine and spot treatment. Your daily regimen might include a cleanser to remove dirt and debris from your skin, a medicated treatment to fight bacteria and inflammation and a moisturizer to rehydrate and protect your skin to prevent future breakouts. If your skin is especially oily, you may also use an astringent to cut down on that excess oil.

Spot treatments might include medicated gels that are applied to individual zits. Hydrocolloid pimple patches fall under this category and are used for draining excess oils or sebum from inflamed pores. You may also use a facial mask in addition to your daily routine during breakouts or when you think a breakout might be imminent.

For some with more severe acne, prescription methods may be required. This might include medicated lotions, as well as oral medicines that treat the cause of acne. This is especially common for hormonal acne, where oral treatments are used to regulate hormones and reduce oil production.

Can Acne Be Cured Naturally?


Although acne may come and go based on factors like stress and hormone cycles, it generally can't be cured without some kind of treatment. Yes, pimples will go away on their own if you leave them alone, but the temptation to pick at them, combined with painful inflammation, can make this method less than ideal.

Untreated acne may also cause scarring or discoloration once the actual zit clears. Some popular home remedies, such as honey masks or aloe vera, are largely untested, and results may be psychosomatic or anecdotal.

If you're concerned about chemical treatments due to allergies or sensitive skin, consider using chemical-free options like hydrocolloid patches for minor breakouts. If you're seeing more than a few zits at a time, though, you may need to consult a dermatologist to find a lasting solution that won't irritate your skin.

How We Chose The Best Acne Treatments

We based our selection of acne treatments on several factors, including:

  • Affordability – We found the treatments that give you the most product for your investment.
  • Effectiveness – We scoured customer reviews to see if each product worked and on what skin types it worked best.
  • Frequency of treatment – We looked at how often you need the treatment for it to be effective and prioritized options with fewer applications.
  • Mildness – We aimed for ingredients that work well without irritating your skin.

We evaluated these criteria using official product websites, as well as product reviews from both professionals and customers.

Summary of Digg's Best Acne Treatments

This content is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or for diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of health conditions. Consult with a healthcare professional before making health-related decisions.