15 Best Acne Treatments for Adults: Kits for All Skin Types

best acne treatment for adults

Acne is supposed to go away once you leave your teens, but for many of us, it simply doesn’t. What worked as a kid won’t cut it now, so we need acne treatment for adults.

I’ve been dealing with acne since the fifth grade. It did not go away when I hit my twenties or thirties and, left to its own devices, I’m fairly certain it would never go away. Which is why I didn’t leave it to its own devices and I have it under control with the right acne treatment for me.

See the bottom of the article for more on what causes acne and a rundown of the common active ingredients of the best acne treatment for adults that are on this list if you’re not sure which is right for you. For now, let’s get right to the systems.

What Are the Best Acne Treatments for Adults?

adult acne treatment, hormonal acne treatment, best acne treatment Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Doubles as anti-aging treatment
  • Variety of active ingredients
  • Good for hormonal acne
Price: $29.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
adult acne treatment, hormonal acne treatment, best acne treatment Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Fast-acting
  • Products available separately
  • Made in America
Price: $77.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Image of two dark brown bottles with dark green labels Amazon Customer Reviews
  • No side effects
  • For sensitive skin
  • Uses prebiotics instead of chemicals
Price: $39.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Image of three blue bottles of acne treatment with white caps Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Hormone blocking botanicals
  • Soothing aloe
  • Available in trial/test size
Price: $80.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
adult acne treatment, hormonal acne treatment, best acne treatment Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Years of testing and perfecting
  • Lightens acne scars
  • Range of active treatments
Price: $110.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
four white lotion bottles Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Uses probiotics to support good bacteria
  • Affordable
  • Includes spot treatment
Price: $29.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
black tube of face product Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Formulated for men
  • Two sizes to choose from
  • For mild to moderate acne
Price: $45.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
three tubes of lotion Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Can choose the kit for your skin needs
  • Salicylic acid and chlorophyll
  • Includes spot treatment
Price: $34.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Yes to Tomatos face products Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Reduces oil production
  • Lots of organic botanicals
  • Affordable
Price: $19.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
adult acne treatment, hormonal acne treatment, best acne treatment Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Targets acne-causing bacteria
  • Reduces oilness
  • Unique active ingredients
Price: $29.50 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
adult acne treatment, hormonal acne treatment, best acne treatment Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Fairly gentle
  • Salicylic acid and botanicals
  • Works quickly
Price: $39.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Soothing botanicals
  • Made in America
  • Benzoyl peroxide and tea tree
Price: $5.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Thin purple tubes of Anjali MD product Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Developed by a dermatologist
  • AHA, BHA, retinol, and tea tree
  • Good for hormonal acne
Price: $99.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Smacne trial kit box Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Includes spot treatment
  • AHA, BHA, tea tree, and benzoyl peroxide
  • Oils and hyaluronic acid prevent drying
Price: $34.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Colorful tubes of face wash Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide
  • Botanicals like tea tree and sandalwood
  • 30-day and 90-day supplies
Price: $36.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Dermatological Acne Treatment System

    • Uses salicylic acid, glycolic acid, beta-lipohydroxy acid, 5.5 percent benzoyl peroxide, and botanical extracts
    • Great for even deep, hormonal acne
    • Paraben free
    • Doubles as anti-aging
    • Can be too drying for some
    • Benzoyl peroxide can stain fabrics
    • May take longer for some to work

    The Effaclar Acne Treatment System by La Roche-Posay has been called the Proactiv+ for adults. It’s a three-step system with a similar list of active ingredients and a drastically lower price tag.

    One ingredient that is unique to this system is beta-lipohydroxy acid which is a derivative of salicylic acid. It’s gentler on skin and soaks in slower, delivering its exfoliating goodness evenly without missing anything.

    According to the NIH, beta-lipohydroxy acid also stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, two things we lose as we age which causes fine lines. I love that this acne treatment doubles as an anti-aging treatment.

    Like many systems, there is a cleanser and toner that you use twice daily as your skin tolerates it and an acne treatment lotion you can use up to three times a day. The Dual Action Acne Treatment contains 5.5 percent benzoyl peroxide which can be drying and stain fabrics.

    Some people get positive results with this system within a week, and for others it can take more like six weeks.

  2. 2. Mario Badescu Acne Control Kit

    • Uses salicylic acid, sulfur, botanical extracts, calamine, Kaolin clay, camphor, and zinc oxide
    • Helps reduce oiliness
    • Products available separately
    • Works fast
    • Made in America
    • Cruelty free
    • Contains parabens, sulfates, and silicones
    • Spot treatment isn’t clear
    • Too strong for some

    The Mario Badescu Acne Control Kit comes with five products that form a daily skincare routine that can zap zits from your life.

    Some systems are targeted using only one active ingredient to treat your acne. This system uses around seven. This is throwing the kitchen sink at your acne, which, when you’re not sure what is going to work for you is, frankly, fantastic.

    The Acne Facial Cleanser exfoliates with salicylic acid and soothes your skin with aloe vera and chamomile while the Special Cucumber Lotion works as an astringent to dry up acne and reduce the size of your pores.

    The Drying Cream treats small zits under the skin with sulfur and zinc oxide. The Drying Mask uses Kaolin clay, calamine, and sulfur to target larger, surface zits.

    And the well-known Drying Lotion is a super strong spot treatment that I featured in my spot treatments guide.

    This wide range of active ingredients works fast and works with a wide range of skin types. I like that you can buy each product separately and that the zinc oxide helps make oily skin less oily overall.

  3. 3. Aleavia Prebiotic Acne Repair Kit

    • No side effects
    • Prebiotics instead of harsh chemicals
    • Perfect for sensitive skin
    • Free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, fragrances, dyes, foaming agents, and silicones
    • Cruelty-free and vegan
    • GMO-free
    • Takes a while to kick in
    • May not be strong enough for everyone
    • Won’t make oily skin less oily
    • Contains coconut oil

    Aleavia Prebiotic Acne Repair Kit is a unique take on treating acne through science. Overall, most acne treatments work by killing bacteria and drying up oils, which does work don’t get me wrong.

    But that process can be very harsh on your skin and cause drying, redness, and peeling. Aleavia decided to try a different approach.

    There are good and bad bacteria in and on our bodies, including our faces. Instead of most acne treatments which kill everything, the goal of Aleavia is to create an environment where good bacteria on our faces can flourish.

    This system feeds the good bacteria with vegan prebiotics so their population can grow and eventually crowd out the bad, acne-causing bacteria leaving you with a balanced and healthy face ecosystem.

    Which I think is incredibly clever. The best thing about it is that means no side effects. No drying, no redness, no peeling.

    It’s a two-step program of cleanser and facial mist which are 100 percent organic and natural ingredients. I wish the instructions had been a little more clear, but it looks like you use the cleanser once a day and the prebiotic spray one to two times a day.

    The cleanser is hydrating with aloe vera and coconut oil along with the prebiotic kelp. For some with sensitive skin adding something like coconut oil might be a little counter-intuitive, but if you’re sick of dealing with harsh products that stain and dry you out, it’s worth the shot.

    Follow that up with the spray which contains similar ingredients but with Acadian Sea Kelp this time.

    I’ve tried prebiotic acne systems in the past and they do take some time to kick in, but they work surprisingly well for me and are the only thing that my super sensitive skin can handle.

  4. 4. Clearogen Hormonal Acne Solution

    • Uses benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid
    • Hormone blocking botanicals
    • Soothing natural extracts and cooling aloe
    • May cause sun sensitivity and drying
    • Benzoyl peroxide can stain fabrics
    • Pricier than many

    The Clearogen Hormonal Acne Solution as a two-pronged approach: kill bacteria and remove dead skin and oil with salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide and prevent acne by making use of botanicals that reduce the amount of oil your pores produce.

    This three-part system has a foaming cleanser and toner both with salicylic acid and an acne lotion with benzoyl peroxide. That’s a lot of drying active ingredients there so go slowly and reduce how often you use it if you experience drying.

    Botanicals like witch hazel, rosemary, and chamomile reduce inflammation and the size of pores. But it’s the linolenic acid and saw palmetto extract that are really exciting.

    If you’re not sure this system is for you they also offer a mini travel set that you can use as a trial.

  5. 5. Proactiv+ 3 Step Acne Treatment System

    • Uses benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and botanical extracts
    • Lots of people have great success
    • Years of testing and perfecting
    • Lightens acne scarring
    • Contains silicone
    • Not oil free
    • Not everyone wants skin lighteners
    • Benzoyl peroxide can stain fabrics

    Proactiv+ is pretty much required for any acne treatment system list. It’s the most well known and, for many, the most effective that people have found. Chances are, you already know Proacive+ exists and if you’re reading this guide, it’s probably not because you’ve forgotten.

    But as a reminder, Proactiv+ is still around and people still swear by it. If you haven’t considered it before, here’s a quick rundown of the three steps you do twice a day.

    First, the Skin Smoothing Exfoliator uses a mild exfoliator, 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide, and glycolic acid to kill bacteria, dry up oils, and remove dead skin.

    Second, the Pore Targeting Treatment uses 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide to reach deep into pores.

    Lastly, the Complexion Perfecting Hydrator uses salicylic acid, botanicals, moisturizing oils, and hyaluronic acid spheres which are ultra-hydrating and reduce the signs of aging. This lotion will also lighten your skin, helping to hide acne scarring.

  6. 6. NxN Probiotic Acne Treatment System

    • Affordable
    • Uses probiotics to prevent acne
    • Free of parabens, phthalates, gluten, petroleum, sulfates, and synthetic dyes
    • Salicylic acid, sulfur, and botanicals
    • Won't stain bedding or clothing
    • Includes a spot treatment
    • A lot of steps
    • Not strong enough for everyone
    • Gets worse before it gets better

    As someone who has acne their entire life and tried everything from prescription to all-natural, the first product that ever made a real difference for me was a probiotic system. Systems that rely too heavily on harsh chemicals send my skin into a panic, but probiotics make sense because, just like our gut, our skin has good bacteria and bad bacteria.

    Bad bacteria set up camp in our pores and cause zits. Good bacteria just help our skin have a healthy biome so if we can increase the number of good bacteria, they can out-crowd the bad.

    The NxN Acne Treatment System is a four-piece system that has probiotics in each step. It includes a cleanser, toner, overnight treatment, and spot treatment. The first three use salicylic acid along with other natural products like green tea, lactic acid, wild rose berry, and citrus extracts to cleanse and prevent acne from forming. The spot treatment uses sulfur to kill bacteria (so only use it on active zits) and ginger and licorice to reduce redness.

    This one also uses natural retinols found in blue algae to prevent acne and retinols are quite effective for some but too strong for others. NxN provides a routine template to start with and you can adjust as your skin needs. There isn’t a dedicated all-face moisturizer in here so if you tend to dry out at the mention of salicylic acid, you may need to bring your own moisturizer to the party.

    Like most acne treatments, your skin is probably going to get worse before it gets better so don’t let that surprise you. Retinol is famous for its purging phase as acne increases before drastically clearing up.

    If you’re looking for a biome approach with probiotics but don’t want to give up some of the stronger tools like salicylic acid then this is perfect for you.

  7. 7. Uncomplicated Skin Care For Men by Tiege Hanley

    • Two sizes to choose from
    • Formulated for men
    • Salicylic acid and other botanicals
    • Moisturizer with SPF
    • TSA compliant sizes
    • Contains PEG's and silicones
    • Make sure you do a standard patch test
    • Gendering not specifically necessary
    • Not for severe acne

    We all have issues with acne but the hormone testosterone is often at fault so those with more of it are at an increased risk. This set by Tiege Hanley is marketed as for men with mild to moderate acne so if you’re dealing with severe cystic acne, this one isn’t for you. But if you need a system to control some annoying acne that just keeps cropping up, keep reading. 

    The system is four products: a daily cleanser, daily SPF moisturizer, daily acne treatment, and twice-weekly scrub. I like that there aren’t a million steps to keep track of and that they’re including an exfoliator. Their Level One system is one of each product and their Level Two system is the same as Level One but with an extra tube of the acne treatment cream so if you find you’re going through the acne treatment faster than the rest, you have options.

    The active acne-fighting ingredient in the acne cream is salicylic acid to dry out zits and clean out pores. I would say this is best for people who have more issues with flaking rather than excessive oiliness as it’s very moisturizing and contains silicones to help seal in moisture and counteract the drying effects of salicylic acid.

    Beyond the acne cream, the rest of the products are focused on general skincare that calms inflammation and keeps your skin healthy. The scrub contains menthol so it has a refreshing, cooling sensation. Some folks have reported allergic reactions so it’s best to do a patch test of all the product before applying to your whole face.

  8. 8. BioClarity Clear Skin Routine

    • Several different kit combos for different skin types
    • Salicylic acid and other botanicals like chlorophyll
    • Available in 30 day and 60 day sizes
    • Vegan and cruelty free
    • Free of parabens, sulfates, and phthalates
    • Not artificial fragrances
    • Includes a spot treatment
    • Not strong enough for some
    • Some kits are too moisturizing for some
    • The green color fades but is shocking at first

    BioClarity is another natural take on treating adult acne without harsh chemicals. I was sent some samples from them to try (with no guarantee of a review at all) and I can tell you that months later, my husband still uses the system daily. I didn’t fully switch away from my probiotic regimen but I do still use their face masks regularly.

    The system is really several systems because BioClarity understands that everyone’s skin is different and has different needs and reactions. This is their Blemish Control system for oily and acne-prone skin which comes with their cleanser with calming botanicals, Restore chlorophyll treatment, and acne spot treatment with salicylic acid.

    For normal to dry skin they have the Essentials Routine which includes their cleanser, Restore chlorophyll treatment, and Skin Smoothie moisturizer with chlorophyll, jojoba, and argan oil. I found the Skin Smoothie too oily for me, but I definitely fall in the oily skin category.

    If blackheads are an issue, they have a Clear Skin Routine which is their Blemish Control set with their tea tree clarifying mask. 

    Their formulation of chlorophyll is at the basis of many of their products, especially the Restore treatment. It’s said to cleanse skin, kill harmful bacteria, and nourish your cells.

    Do be aware, since it’s chlorophyll-based, it’s really green. Like, really green. But don’t worry, it soaks in quickly and becomes clear. 

    I also like that you can generally get their systems in 30-day or 60-day supply so you can stock up or try it out without a full commitment.

  9. 9. Yes To Tomatoes 3-Step Acne Fighting & Clear Skin Regimen

    • Salicylic acid
    • Free of parabens, SLS, and silicones
    • Affordable
    • Includes a scrub
    • Hydrating aloe vera
    • Good for oily skin
    • Not for folks with tomato allergies
    • Moisturizer may be too heavy for some
    • Contains palm oil products

    This one is best for more oily skin as it actually works to reduce the oil production of your skin using ginger and bisabolol, a chemical found in chamomile.

    The three-part set includes a mango and bamboo scrub with salicylic acid to buff away dead skin and remove it before it can clog pores. The Repair Treatment is used afterward and also contains salicylic acid and works to stop your oil glands from overproducing.

    The final piece is the balancing moisturizer. Sometimes your skin is oily because your skin is so thirsty for moisture that it keeps producing oil at an extreme rate. Then we deny the skin the oils it wants because it’s so oily already, which just continues the cycle.

    When this is the case, applying heavy moisturizers calms the oil production and balances out your skin. That’s what the Yes to Tomatoes moisturizer is working towards with sweet almond oil, aloe vera, shea butter,  and cocoa butter. This might be too heavy for some if you know that your skin doesn’t handle oils well. 

    For all it’s covered in tomatoes, the tomato extract doesn’t seem to stand out much.

  10. 10. Eau Thermale Avène Cleanance Solutions Blemish Control Regimen

    • Uses monolaurin, X-Pressin, diolenyl, salicylic acid, and citric acid
    • Unique targeted action against acne-causing bacteria
    • Product of France
    • Reduces oil production
    • Comes with SPF 50 sample
    • Contains sulfates and silicones
    • Initial adjustment period
    • Too drying for some

    This is a three-step system with the normal cleanser, toner, and treatment lotion, but that doesn’t rely on the active ingredients we’ve seen so far. Instead, Eau Thermale Avène uses patented ingredients like monolaurin, X-Pressin, and diolenyl.

    Monolaurin reduces your pores’ natural sebum production by 33 percent. Finally something to tell that jerk of a sebaceous gland to give it a rest. X-Pressin is a chemical exfoliator like glycolic acid or salicylic acid but it’s much more efficient.

    You get higher results at a lower concentration so it’s a great alternative for people with more sensitive skin who are easily dried out by other chemical peel agents.

    Finally, diolenyl appears to bacteria as the type of cells in your sebum that they would normally eat, but when they try to eat it they’re pumped full of antibacterials which kill them–that’s pretty hardcore. It’s also an anti-inflammatory which is great for sore, irritated skin.

    If other treatment systems haven’t worked for you in the past, this is a unique approach to throw at your face. There is an adjustment period where you may find your acne is getting worse the first couple of weeks as the system treats your active blemishes. Stick with it. It’s part of the process.

    If you have very oily skin (no shame, I’m raising my hand for this) the Cleanence line is great for you. The second step is a mattifying toner to help reduce shininess and the system will, over time, reduce your oil production.

  11. 11. Neutralyze Moderate To Severe Acne Treatment Kit

    • Uses salicylic acid, mandelic acid, and botanicals like green tea and cucumber extract
    • Free of parabens and fragrances
    • Works quickly
    • Won’t be strong enough for everyone
    • Contains tree nut products
    • Not as great for hormonal

    Lastly, the Neutralyze three-step system balances your face to stop the acne cycle. It starts with a non-foaming cleanser that uses mandelic acid (an alpha-hydroxy acid derived from almonds) as a mild chemical peel and exfoliant.

    The Clearing Serum uses 1 percent salicylic acid and mandelic acid to clean out pores and remove dead skin. The hydrating Synergizer helps to soothe irritated, red skin and balance the pH of your skin. This system is fairly gentle and good for sensitive skin of all types.

    It kicks in pretty fast but people with deep, cystic acne are probably going to need a stronger treatment regimen than this.

  12. 12. DualCare Acne Treatment System

    • Uses benzoyl peroxide and tea tree
    • Day and night moisturizers
    • Gentle for more sensitive skin
    • Soothing botanicals like calendula and green tea
    • Vegan and cruelty-free
    • Made in America
    • Shea butter too heavy for some
    • Can have drying effect
    • Benzoyl peroxide can stain fabrics and cause sun sensitivity

    This system is a two-step process with an AM treatment and a PM treatment.

    The Adjuvant Lotion used in the morning takes the place of your moisturizer following your normal cleanser. It uses tea tree and witch hazel as natural antiseptics to kill bacteria and shrink pores.

    Also included in the AM treatment are aloe vera and shea butter for moisture and green tea, calendula, and willow bark extract to calm inflammation. Some may find the shea butter a little heavy for a face moisturizer but since the PM treatment can cause drying I think this makes sense.

    The Acne Treatment Moisturizing Lotion used at night contains 3 percent benzoyl peroxide to prevent pimples from forming. It can be drying for some so if you have dryness or irritation, try cutting the PM treatment back to every other night. This PM treatment also contains shea butter to protect against the benzoyl peroxide drying your skin out.

    It’s billed as tough enough for teen acne and adults, but at a more gentle 3 percent concentration of benzoyl peroxide, it won’t be an overnight fix.

  13. 13. Anjali MD Adult Acne 3-Step System

    • Good for hormonal adult acne
    • Adult and teen versions available
    • Developed by a dermatologist
    • AHA, BHA, retinol, tea tree, and other botanicals
    • Reduces acne scarring
    • Good for makeup users
    • Not a ton of product for the money
    • Pricier than others
    • Contains parabens and sulfates

    I love that Anjali MD has lines for both Adult Hormonal Acne and Teen Acne as they’re different problems and trying to treat them the same way is missing key issues.

    The adult line uses rentinol and AHAs and BHA like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and lactic acid to remove built-up dead skin but also uses a foaming action meant to remove any lingering makeup and pollutants. It also uses brightening botanicals to reduce acne scarring and any discoloration from age that might be occurring.

    Collagen and hyaluronic acid reduce fine lines and protect the skin from drying out. There are loads of botanicals in here that have been shown to improve skin health including turmeric, white tea, aloe vera, ginseng, bodhi, mimosa, and neem. 

    It seems to be a system that is either a miracle for you or turns out to not do the trick, particularly for severe acne. But if you tend to get acne along your jaw when hormones are acting up and you’re concerned with wrinkles this is a good system to give a shot. Just be aware it might take a couple of weeks to see an effect. 

    The three steps work together but they’re also sold separately which I love since I’m always blowing through one product faster than the rest.


  14. 14. Smacne Trial Kit

    • Simple to use
    • Includes a spot treatment
    • Salicylic acid, glycolic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and tea tree
    • Both treatments are hydrating
    • Benzoyl peroxide can bleach fabrics
    • Still too drying for some
    • Not for those with nut allergies (hazelnut oil)

    If you feel like you need a stronger treatment but know you won’t keep up with a five-step system that varies from day to day, check out Smacne. This one is only two products, a cleanser and a spot treatment so you can set up a regular routine.

    They’re certainly taking a multi-pronged approach to acne prevention here with salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and tea tree oil in the cleanser to remove built-up dead skin and dirt while neutralizing bacteria and the even stronger benzoyl peroxide in the spot treatment. 

    If that all sounds like several ingredients that tend to dry out skin, you’re right, but Smacne includes a wide range of moisturizers in both treatments including the ultra-hydrating hyaluronic acid which you find in lip plumpers and other face creams because it holds onto water, keeping moisture in the skin, while making the skin appear plumper and more firm. I haven’t seen this used in a lot of acne products and it’s a clever move to prevent drying out.

    In addition to the hyaluronic acid, Smacne’s cleanser contains aloe vera and glycerin while the acne treatment is packed with hazelnut oil, jojoba oil, aloe vera, shea butter, squalane, and glycerin. 

    It’s clear they’re really doing everything they can to prevent drying giving those of us who tend to flake at the drop of a hat the best shot of reaping the benefits of these substantially more effective acne treatments.

  15. 15. OrganiClear Acne Treatment Kit

    • Uses salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide
    • Includes botanicals like tea tree, sandalwood, aloe vera, and myrtle
    • Vegan
    • Two sizes to choose from
    • Oil-free
    • Does not contain parabens, phthalates, artificial colors, or fragrances
    • Contains silicone
    • Benzoyl peroxide can cause sun sensitivity and bleach fabrics
    • Too drying for some
    • It's called OrganiClear but I don't see the word "organic" in the ingredient list

    OrganiClear is an oil-free system of three products: a cleanser, acne treatment moisturizer, and soothing moisturizer. I like that they are vegan and free from phthalates, parabens, artificial dyes, and fragrances. 

    The cleanser uses salicylic acid to clean out your pore as well as the antibacterial power of tea tree, sandalwood, and Australian myrtle extract to prevent acne from forming. You’ll want to follow this up with a moisturizer and this system has two. 

    The directions say work up to using the acne lotion three times a day and the soothing chamomile lotion at night but depending on how easily your skin dries out, you’ll want to use less of the acne lotion as it contains benzoyl peroxide which can be very drying. I have very sensitive skin and cannot use the stuff but it’s extremely effective for those who can handle it.

    Either way, definitely start slow with the benzoyl peroxide step to see how your skin takes to it. If you are going to use it during the day, be sure to also use sunblock because it can cause sun sensitivity. It can also bleach fabrics so try to keep it off your clothes. 

    I like the double-pronged approach to reducing oiliness, just be sure you’re taking it slow to reach the best treatment for your skin type without going over.

What is acne?

Your skin is covered with millions of tiny pores. On your face alone, there are around 20,000 pores and below each one is a follicle and a sebaceous gland.

The follicle's job is the grow hair. The sebaceous gland is there to produce sebum, which is the natural oil our body makes to ensure our skin is healthy and doesn't dry out. Sebum travels up the pore and spreads onto your skin, carrying shed dead skin cells with it.

Or that's what it's supposed to do, but it doesn't always work out that way.

Sometimes the sebum and skin cell mixture gets stuck in the pore. Voila, we have acne.

So now the opening to the pore is blocked but the sebaceous gland is all, "That's none of my business," and keeps doing its job to secrete more oil. You've got a pore that is clogged but continues to fill up with more and more sebum and shed skin cells.

This is around that time you go, "Oh crap. There's definitely going to be a zit here."

The pressure keeps building as the pore swells. At this point, the rogue pore has a few options.

If the sebum blockage is open to the air, it's called an open comedo. You know it as a blackhead because the sebum plug darkens when exposed to air.

If the blockage is covered by skin, often from built-up dead skin at the surface, it's a closed comedo or whitehead.

Plus, a clogged pore is about the coziest environment for bacteria to settle in and multiply. So if bacteria find the clogged pore and infect it, we now have a pustule or pimple. This causes inflammation and your body reacts by sending in its best bacteria fighters: white blood cells which creates pus.

If a pustule forms and the pressure in the follicle becomes too great, remember that idiot sebaceous gland is obliviously hard at work, the walls of the follicle can actually burst. This can allow sebum, bacteria, pus, or all of the above to spread into other pockets deep under the skin that don't have a pore as an outlet to the surface. We now have cystic acne. Ouch.

What causes acne?

Okay, so what sets this off in the first place? Most of the time, it's testosterone which is a hormone that does a lot of different things in your body but also tells your sebaceous glands to work overtime.

When you have spikes of testosterone in your system, you're more likely to get slammed with acne. Puberty and people who need testosterone injections are great examples.

Even the breakouts people get around their menstrual cycles are caused by a rise in testosterone levels.

We can't 100 percent blame testosterone though. A build up of dry skin, genetics, adding excessive oil to your face through makeup or otherwise, and even some medications can cause acne to crop up too.

But one of the biggest cause of acne is stress. So if you're taking care of your skin, but your overwhelm is turned up to 11, take a breath and try adding some self care into your skin routine.

There's some possible data that dairy and large intakes of simple sugars can increase the acne levels, but it's not definitive. If you're desperate, it's something you can try cutting out.

What doesn't cause acne?

Pizza. People love to blame greasy foods for acne and for years pizza was the target culprit. Modern studies show the only way greasy foods will cause acne is if you actively rub them on your face.

So wash your hands after eating those cheese fries and you're good. Pizza is good and pure and nothing can stop me.

Common Acne Treatments.

Benzoyl peroxide. This is probably the most effective treatment we’ve got. It kills acne-causing bacteria and helps clear the excess oil out of your pores while reducing inflammation.

But too much of a good thing and it can dry your skin out. You always want to start slow and see how your skin responds. It will also bleach your fabrics so keep it off the towels and pillowcases you like.

Salicylic acid. This is a beta hydroxy acid that comes from willow and birch trees. Salicylic acid is absorbed deep into your pores and clears out oils and built up dead skin, while creating an inhospitable environment for future zits. It can cause stinging to those with sensitive skin.

Sulfur. Sounds weird but it works. Sulfur kills bacteria and cleans out oil and dead skin. It can be drying and isn’t usually used alone.

Just be aware that it isn’t always easy to hide the sulfur smell (think boiled eggs) though some products do better than others.

What if your acne gets worse?

Don't panic. With some treatments, particularly retinol, your acne can get worse before it gets better. Stick it out as long as you can.

How long do treatments take to work?

I wish any treatment system was an overnight fix, but that's not possible. You may begin to see some improvement within a week of starting the treatment but it's recommended that you give a system six weeks to decide if it's really not working.

It takes time for your skin to adjust and for the blemishes that already existed when you started to resolve and heal. Does that sound like forever when you've got painful zits? Yes.

To get you though, unless otherwise advised by your system, double down on your acne spot treatments.

Which acne treatment system is right for me?

Everyone's skin and biology is different. Some systems will work great for some and do nothing for others.

That's why I'm making this list. I'm going to go over the best on the market today and outline who these systems might be great for and who might want to avoid others.

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