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These Brands Are Changing the Way We Treat (and Talk About) Acne

Gone are the nuclear creams that rid acne but damage everything else in its path. Meet the companies tackling acne in approachable ways.

beauty products treating acne
Gear Patrol

Contrary to popular belief, acne isn't your skin's death sentence. Everyone's faced a hard-to-hide pimple or set of stubborn blackheads before. But few brands act like it. They make acne seem like the end of the world — a condition that kills your confidence, keeps you from seeing friends or dates and damages your skin forever. Traditional brands use messaging that implies your breakout should be a breaking point, where you should panic and your skin should purge. But I'm here to clear the air: Nuclear acne treatments that sear the skin's surface into submission are no longer the sole way forward.

There's a new cohort of companies changing not only the way you treat acne, but the way you talk about it, too. Soft Services, Starface, Peace Out, Bevel and SolaWave obviously see acne as a problem but not one you should stress out about — that'll only exacerbate the issue. This new class of acne treatment brands makes manageable overnight patches that are as playful as they are potent; gentle pore-clearing sheets; high-tech red and blue light wands; creams that cover up while they clear; and serums that repair skin damaged by pimples prior.

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Soft Services
soft services
Soft Services

Founded in 2019 by beauty experts Annie Kreighbaum and Rebecca Zhou, Soft Services is a "targeted" body care company designed to treat a suite of common skin issues: dry skin, keratosis pilaris, irritation, ingrown hairs, discoloration, body acne and beyond. The combination of potent ingredients and custom formulas form create a strong collection of effective products perfect for tough and sensitive skin alike.

Clearing Clay
Soft Services

Soft Services' Clearing Clay is potent but safe for everyday use — or as a spot treatment or a mask. Simply put, it's versatile. Using sulfur as its main active ingredient (10-percent of it), the clay comes with antifungal, antibacterial and skin-softening capabilities, which means it works for oil absorption and exfoliation. 

Clearing Mist
Soft Services

Three ingredients — salicylic acid, zinc PCA and niacinamide — join forces to tackle acne, discoloration and irritation caused by sweat or tight clothing. (Typically, the two come in tandem.) Simply spray it on the impacted area and let it dry. Do not rub it in.

Buffing Bar
Soft Services

If you've noticed that some areas on your body are rougher than others, because of in-grown hairs, dry skin or acne, use Soft Services' Buffing Bar, a micro-exfoliant packaged like a bar soap.

Starface
starface
Starface

Starface shot onto the scene with its star-shaped, acne-treating stickers. Wearers could slap one on when a pimple appears, sleep with it on and remove it the next morning. Many started wearing them out, too, with an air unashamed confidence. It kickstarted a kind of acne nonchalance that's carried into brands established after them.

Hydro-Stars
Starface

Starface's Hydro-Star stickers come in a little yellow case reminiscent of the ones Apple puts its AirPods in — except there's a mirror in there and 32 of the tiny stars. Each one is a condensed hydrocolloid spot treatment designed to absorb and shrink pimples overnight. They also seal the area from other bacterias, accelerating the healing process.

Hydro-Star + Salicylic Acid
Starface

These are the same as the aforementioned Hydro-Stars except for added Salicylic Acid, a beta hydroxy acid capable of clearing bigger and bolder pimples.  

Lift Off Pore Strips
Starface

You've probably seen a Bioré strip before — the ones you see on pimple TikToks (or YouTube videos). They're sticky on one side and soft on the other and you apply them to a place with plenty of clogged pores — usually your nose. Starface's are the same except they're much gentler. 

SolaWave
sola wave
SolaWave

SolaWave and its flagship product, the SolaWave Wand, strive to treat a multitude of skin issues (including acne) with red light, blue light, facial massages, microcurrents and heat. It might sound like heresay, but there's real science behind it all. With a sleek, modern design and even more modern functionalities, the wand can drastically reduce fine lines and wrinkles, pimples, dark spots and dull spots alike.

SolaWave Red Light Wand
SolaWave

Like lightsabers in Star Wars, there are red and blue ones. (Sorry, no green or purple here.) The Red Light Wand — with warmth, microcurrents and facial massaging — works to undo skin damage that comes with age (or negligence): wrinkles, dryness, fine lines or dullness. To use it you move it around like you're shaving, with the head in the "I" or "T" position. (See: "I" here and "T" below.) Just make sure your face is clean and dry before using. 

SolaWave Blue Light Wand
SolaWave

Although we usually consider blue light to be harmful, The Blue Light Wand is actually quite good for your skin. There are no microcurrents with this model, but its light — this time blue — kills one of the bacterias that causes breakouts, drastically reducing the likelihood you'll have them while helping with several other issues.

FRONTMAN
frontman
Frontman

FRONTMAN wants you to put your best face forward — even when you have acne. Their sole product offering thus far, the FRONTMAN Fade, is a two-in-one formula that diminishes the appearance of acne while covering it in a skin-colored cream. The Fade is available in four shades and should only be worn during the day — and you can; It's completely invisible, even if you're not great at applying makeup.

FRONTMAN Fade
Peace Out
peaceout
PeaceOut

As the name implies, Peace Out is a skincare brand dedicated to eradicating the skin of its most common ailments: acne, dark spots, inflammation, wrinkles and the ilk. In fact, you shop the brand's offering that way, by picking your issue and finding products that strive to solve it. Under acne the brand boasts a bunch of solutions: stickers for overnight use, creams for clearing breakouts and balms for reducing the visibility of stubborn blemishes.

Acne Dots - 6 Dots
Peace Out

This Hydrocolloid polymer technology with active Salicylic Acid acts an overnight treatment. Apply it tightly, sleep with it on and see your pimple reduce in size and redness, while healing deep down beyond where you can see. There are only six in this set — perfect for someone wanting to test-run something like this (or someone who rarely suffers from acne).

Peace Out Acne Dots Jumbo
Peace Out

The Jumbo Acne Dots prove big enough to cover a patch of pimples. Have a few blackheads where your mask rubbed? Apply one. A few whiteheads where your glasses sit? Stick one on. The same instructions apply here, by the way: stick it on a clean face, sleep with it and remove the next morning.

Acne Treatment Serum
Peace Out

Sick and tired of all these stickers? Here, try a traditional treatment serum from Peace Out. You can use this formula daily without fear of damaging your skin, because it's made from 2-percent Salicylic Acid and a combination of key ingredients like zinc, vitamin C, triluronic acid and centella asiatica extract.

Bevel
bevel
Bevel

Bevel makes products specifically for Black skin, which they've proved is both sensitive and in need of specialized products. Big beauty brands don't take minority users into account when formulating new products, meaning many could damage skin or could simply not work. Bevel's been mindful of them from the start, formulating a collection of hair, skin, body and shave products that are as sensitive as they are potent — and particularly for Black people.

2-in-1 Spot Fader
Bevel

The Spot Fader works on ingrown hairs, razor bumps and dark spots from acne. Its formulated, with its signature combination of Vitamin C and 9-percent Lactic Acid, to combat issues unique to Black skin. Testers told the brand they felt smoother within a week of using it for the first time.

Exfoliating Toner
Bevel

This is another two-in-one concept from the company. Each wipe exfoliates while it tones, clearing pores and dead skin while it smooths and rejuvenates the new skin. Plus, the mix of lavender and green tea will leave you feeling refreshed.

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