It's an all-too-familiar tale: you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror... and you've got an angry red dot staring right back at you. Instead of essentially getting into a physical fight with the thing — which can make the problem even worse — it's better to apply an acne spot treatment that'll do all the hard work for you. And so that you're better equipped the next time a new zit pops up, we asked three dermatologists to share their favorite over-the-counter acne spot treatments.
Benzoyl peroxide is the superhero ingredient in this acne spot treatment: It helps unclog pores and zap acne-causing bacteria. "This is one of the most tried and true spot treatments around," says Dr. Jacqueline Berliner, a board-certified dermatologist at Greenwich Point Dermatologist in NYC. She does note that a little goes a long way, and that it should be used sparingly. "It can be irritating, so decrease frequency if irritating or try benzoyl peroxide in another formulation, like a wash, instead."
Like the above product, this Neutrogena classic uses benzoyl peroxide to zap your zits. "It is a lightweight formula that absorbs easily and is non-comedogenic, so it won't trigger additional breakouts," says Dr. Marisa Garshick, a board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology in New York. Again, a little goes a long way, and it's meant to be used only on spots, not all over.
"This targeted acne treatment uses AHA and BHA, powerful bacteria-fighting acids to effectively clear pores and blackheads from excess sebum and debris buildup," says Dr. Orit Markowitz, a board-certified dermatologist at Mount Sinai in NYC. "I love this product because it is less irritating [than other products], and because it contains tea tree oil which has anti-inflammatory properties."
A product that both conceals and treats at the same time sounds too good to be true, but It Cosmetics has made it happen. "This two-in-one product uses a combination of gentle BHA and AHAs, witch hazel, tea tree oil, and sulfur to help reduce breakouts and eliminate dead skin cells," says Dr. Garshick. "Meanwhile, it provides concealer coverage to improve the appearance of the blemishes. It is a great option to use during the daytime to help fight breakouts while still being able to cover them up."