Addressing acne isn't an easy task, no matter how mild or extreme the breakouts may be. Unfortunately, some cases undoubtedly require medical-grade resolutions only a dermatologist can prescribe. But there's hope for those who only face pimples from time to time. On a broader scale, how we manage stress, what medications we take, what we eat, how much water we drink, what products we use and the environments we work and live in can cause changes in the skin's tone, oil and moisture levels and its ability to cleanse itself — of the bacteria that cause acne included.
Even the most minor adjustments — or irritants — can trigger a stubborn blackhead or whitehead, or a larger breakout. You're also more likely to worsen the issue, and lengthen the pimple's stay, if you try to pop them on your own. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (aka the AAD), "unwanted side effects are likely when you pop pimples at home."
"If you push some of the contents inside the pimple deeper into the skin, which often happens, you increase inflammation. This can lead to more-noticeable acne. Some people develop acne scars and pain. When you pop pimples yourself, you also run the risk of getting an infection from the bacteria on your hands," the association adds. To properly treat acne, they say "many people can clear their acne with treatment that they can buy online or at a drugstore," but that "treatment takes time to work. If you don’t see results in 4 to 6 weeks, a dermatologist can help you clear your skin."
If the issue lingers longer the aforementioned timeline, it's smart to solicit advice from a professional. However, there are plenty of kits out there for folks who will likely see resolve within this window, because of the roughly 85-percent of individuals that experience acne at some point in their adult lives, under 20-percent need prescription-strength treatment plans.
What's Included: Purifying Clay Cleanser, Cactus Toner Wipes, Prickly Patches, 2-in-1 Daily SPF Moisturizer
Designed for people with active lifestyles or acne-prone skin, the Sport Care Skin Set covers the foundational parts of a good skincare routine: cleaning and applying SPF. But, there's much more in here, too. The toning wipes help balance the skin's pH and oil level, remove dead skin and unclog pores. Naturally, the Prickly Patch pouch includes nine patches designed to repair rough spots (acne, blemishes or ingrown hairs).
What's Included: Clearing Clay, Clearing Mist
Soft Services focuses on body acne and the remnants, usually hyperpigmentation, of recovered breakouts. The tandem of cleansing products — the Clearing Clay and Clearing Mist — work together to address acne as it arises but also before it surfaces, too. The mist uses active ingredient salicylic acid to keep areas prone to breakouts in check, while the clay is a more concentrated formula designed to be applied directly to problem pimples.
What's Included: Overnight Repair Moisturizer, Balancing Foam Cleanser, Clearing Spot Treatment
Jack Black makes a wide array of hair, body and skincare products, but it's concentrated its acne-fighting formulas into one collection called Acne Remedy. In this set, which is priced pretty fairly at $65 dollars, you get a 1-percent salicylic acid overnight moisturizer (that you apply before bed), a balancing foam cleanser for the morning and a spot treatment for sudden flare ups or burgeoning breakouts.
What's Included: Everyday Face Wash, Repairing Night Cream
While a few sets on this list feature four- or five-plus items, Geologie's offers a simple two-step acne treatment plan. They pair the Everyday Face Wash with the Repairing Night Cream, which, in tandem, clear the skin of its impurities and repair active breakouts and acne scars alike.
What's Included: Acne-Clear Invisible Dots, Max Complexion Correction Pads, Acne-Clear Oil-Free Matte Moisturizer, Acne Clearing Wash, Acne Spot Treatment
If we were asked to assess these kits by sheer volume alone, Peter Thomas Roth's 5-piece kit comes in first place. You get dots for standalone, stubborn pimples, complexion-correcting toner pads that even your skin tone and lessen the prevalence of lingering hyperpigmentation, a moisturizer that leaves the skin looking matte (and not oily), an acne-focused clearing wash and a spot treatment to apply before you try the dots. All together it's a comprehensive kit that gives you several different options for treatment, letting you be more creative about which you use when.
What's Included: Acne Foam Cleanser, Acne Moisturizer, Acne Clearing + Correcting Gel
Tula sells three different versions of its acne clearing routine: Level 1, 2 and 3. Each offers a different level of protection and potency, and, as expected, at three different price points. Level 3 is the most effective, as it's formulated with FDA-approved and dermatologist-tested salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid and probiotic extracts. All three work together to fight acne when it arises but also protect against potential breakouts, too.
What's Included: Gentle Foam Cleanser, Serum Hydrator, Power Elixir
A lot of acne treatments strip the skin of its natural moisture when the real goal is to remove acne (and a tiny bit of oil if it's causing it). Balm Labs' 3-step system does not. It uses plant-based formulas to fight acne gently and with the skin's appearance post-treatment front of mind. Use the gentle cleanser first thing, the elixir (a liquid exfoliant) second and the serum to hydrate after. The best results are achieved after four weeks of consistent use.
What's Included: Hydrolate, Unifying Serum, Purifying Moisturizer, Rebalancing Cleansing Bar, Targeted Blemish Serum, Purifying Night Serum
Less of a specific treatment plan and more of a package of cooperating products, Typology's Skincare Essentials for Blemish-Prone Skin are just that: the necessary products one would usually buy from a bunch of places pulled together for easy ordering. You can add and subtract items as needed, too, making this one of the more customizable kits on this list.
What's Included: Freshening Face Toner, Exfoliating Face Wash, Targeted Blemish Treatment
Sometimes acne doesn't mean pus-filled bumps or deep, dark blackheads. Subtle red bumps or calm yet definitely clogged pores count. That's where a simple, far-from-prescription-strength kit like Harry's comes in. It includes an exfoliating face wash, an alcohol-free toner and a spot treatment pen for visible redness. This one doesn't have any active ingredients that'll dig deep down to remove pimples entirely, but it's right for those facing unusual redness that might even be a full-on breakout.
What's Included: BPO 5% Cleanser, Acne Gel, Clearskin Moisturizer, Intensive Clarity 0.5% Pure Retinol Night Treatment
PCA Skin offers a near prescription-level kit for less than it'd cost to see a specialist. It includes a cleanser, an acne gel, a moisturizer and an overnight treatment with pure retinol. The whole set is supposed to last two months if you use it daily. It's certainly a more involved process, and a more potent one at that, but there's little chance of damaging your skin if you do it right. The cleanser uses 5-percent benzyl peroxide, a topical antiseptic, while the overnight cream comes with 0.5-percent retinol. You can't be as carefree with this kit, but the results, especially for those suffering severe acne, will be more rewarding.
What's Included: Cleansing Gel, Clearing Gel, Hydrating Jelly
Clinique's acne-centric kit can coexist with your current skincare kit, a perk you don't necessarily get with some of the others on this list. Included in it are clearing and cleansing gels, plus an anti-imperfection hydrating jelly. It's a smaller set, hence the price, but it works quickly and well for someone seeking a fast facial reset.