If you are over the age of 12 and are a human, chances are you’ve had acne at some point. And chances are, unless you’re a Buddhist monk, you have not been at peace with your acne. Instead, when seeing a new spot in the mirror, you’ve stifled a scream, ripped open your medicine cabinet, and pulled out 1-3 products that you hope might actually work. After slathering them on, you’ve sent up a silent prayer to the skin gods, while trying to conceal.
If you’re like us, the next day you may end up with it gone — or, it might still be there, angry as ever, but dried out from the product. Which, in turn, dries up your time, money, and self-esteem. To be honest, none of us deserve that. Which is why we’ve all, at some point, spent hours looking for spot treatments that actually work.
Because most of the acne we treat is of the acne vulgaris variety — like closed comedones, blackheads, whiteheads, and cysts — spot treatment should be made with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Salicylic is a heavy-hitting BHA that gets deep into the pore and unclogs it by dissolving the intercellular “glue” that holds your skin cells together. And benzoyl peroxide is its perfect mate, because it kills acne-causing bacteria while also delivering oxygen to the pore. Since bacteria can’t thrive in an oxygen-rich environment, benzoyl is your best friend. The best spot treatments have one or both of these.
Not only does our skin love these patches, but so do our wallets. Peach & Slices microdarts are cost effective and perfect for spots that haven’t yet come to a head or are deep under the skin. Each patch has 176 tiny, self-dissolving darts that inject a combo of salicylic acid, tea tree, willow bark (which is known to calm inflammation), and other calming ingredients. So if your hormonal acne is getting the best of you, try these as soon as you feel a cyst brewing, and you should see a reduction in size and redness.
Did we just talk about patches? Yes, yes we did. But listen, all patches are not created equally — and some are made for different types of acne. While microdart patches are made for under the skin acne, these hydrocolloid patches are made for acne that just needs help coming to a head. Slap on one of these thin patches overnight or for a few hours, and be prepared to be disgusted — and satisfied — when you see the patch has turned white from the extracted blemish. While the patch doesn’t have any active ingredients, it does pull out bacteria and inflammation from pimples, which then leads to a faster healing process.
Dab a bit of this on your surface blemishes (that means everything but cysts or closed comedones!) at night, and be prepared to be surprised, eternally grateful, blown away, and crying tears of joy in the morning. This award-winning stuff packs a powerful combination of salicylic (all bow down!), sulfur, and zinc oxide to dry up pimples. While the salicylic gets deep in the pores, the sulfur gently absorbs excess oils and the zinc oxide calms inflammation. In laywoman’s terms, this is a magical zit-fighting formula that attacks from every angle. Just make sure you’re alone when putting this one on — due to the calamine lotion content, it leaves behind a pink spot that is reminiscent of our childhood chicken pox days. Cute, right?
If you thought we were over salicylic, you were wrong. Like Noah was never over Allie, we will never be over it, because it just works so well. Which is why we love this super concentrated formula: While most spot treatments have about 1-2% of salicylic acid in them, this one is loaded with a whopping 9%, along with oat and sea whip extracts (they’re as soothing as they sound), and glycerine and arginine, which help restore moisture back into your skin. Use at night after cleansing for an easy, powerful acne fighter.
No matter what kind of acne you have, benzoyl peroxide is a good idea — maybe even the idea. Which is why we’re kindly introducing you to the Effaclear Duo. It’s formulated with micronized benzoyl peroxide — which is a fancy way of saying it can penetrate the pore more deeply than other formulas. And on top of that, it’s made with lipo-hydroxy acid, which gently exfoliates the pore. Use a thin layer on spots (or even all over your face!) both morning and night — and instantly feel like you’re multitasking with something that’s actually working.
Fellow hormonal acne sufferers, gather ‘round — this one’s for you. Cystic acne is terrible, terrible, terrible. And what makes it so painful is the inflammation under the skin. But this treatment is formulated with lactic acid, which works deep in the pore to calm that inflammation (hello, relief!). Meanwhile, citric acid does its thing to exfoliate, and methyl gluceth-20 helps the acid actually penetrate your skin. Sounds like a holy grail product to us. Plus, this dries clear, so anytime you feel a cyst coming, use a q-tip to dab on and go about your day in denial like the rest of us.