Editor Approved: The Best Acne Products and Treatments

Acne. It seems unfair that as grown women we are still having to deal with such a painful, embarrassing, and frustrating condition. With so many misconceptions about what acne really is, what causes it, and the best ways to treat it, it’s no surprise that some of us are still dealing with skin disruptions on a daily basis.

For all of the terrible things acne is, there are even more things that acne isn’t. Acne is not a mark of poor hygiene, acne is not a one-size-fits-all condition, and most importantly, acne is not a permanent fixture in your life. If you’ve suffered from a young age or you’ve found yourself experiencing breakouts for the first time due to hormonal changes, rest assured that hope is out there for you. We’ll be focusing more on acne and its causes and treatments in upcoming articles, but for now these are our must-have products for keeping our skin crystal clear.


Source: @lightstim


LED Light Therapy Tools

I’ll be the first to admit my skepticism for at-home tools that promise clinical results. It took some major convincing before I let go of the cash for my first LightStim, but I am here now to tell you that if I could come to your home, drop to one knee, and beg you as an acne sufferer to invest in one single product that will actually have a noticeable effect on your skin’s appearance — it would be an LED light therapy tool.

LED blue and red light therapy is an FDA-approved treatment for active acneic breakouts, for reducing inflammation and acne-causing bacteria, and for stimulating skin cell’s production of vital proteins and elastin. If you combine regular (daily) LED light therapy alongside your thoughtful and consistent topical skincare routine, you will see a noticeable difference.


Source: @saturday_skin


Double Cleansing

Sometimes the easiest ways to evoke substantial change in acneic skin is to change up how you’re approaching the treatment of it. So many times we fall victim to “oil-free” cleansers and moisturizers that are marketed to us as acne treatments, when all they really do is strip our skin of vital oils which revs our production of sebum into overdrive. If you want a full breakdown on the benefits of double cleansing and what it means for acne sufferers, check out this article.


Source: @laurantaina


Daily Chemical Exfoliation

One of the most irritating and inflammation-inducing practices that we still unfortunately engage in is scrubbing our skin. Physical exfoliation on regular skin is problematic enough, but for acne sufferers it is an absolute nightmare. Exfoliating daily with alpha hydroxy, beta-hydroxy, and polyhydroxy acids is the most effective way to disrupt the binding of dead skin cells that embed themselves in our pores and cause the infection that results in blemishes and congestion without causing further irritation by tearing and scratching the uppermost layer of skin.


Source: @ughnett


Antioxidant Rich Serums

In addition to gentle daily chemical exfoliation, following up the treatment with a daytime antioxidant rich serum will help defend your skin from the free radicals that crop up throughout the day due to stress, environmental pollutants, and topical irritants found in our makeup. Vitamin C is usually the go-to for daytime usage as it is effective at preventing new breakouts and goes to work on fading dark spots left behind by a healed one.


Source: Cupcakes and Cashmere


Retinoic Acid

Retinols are activated once they make contact with our skin, and with continued usage strengthen the deeper layers which allow for more resilience against cystic breakouts. Retinoic acid, a derivative of Vitamin A, is often associated with youth preserving skincare treatments but is also extremely effective against acne. If you are plagued with excessive oil production, enlarged pores, and persistent blackheads as well as inflamed breakouts, retinoic acid might be the missing link for you. Read our full breakdown of retinol to better determine if you should seek out prescription strength.



by prescription


Source: @marianna_hewitt


Balancing Oils

For too long oils have been the outcast pariah of acne skincare — well-intentioned (we assume) brands have included stripping and drying ingredients into their products with the aim of combating the problematic oil that induces breakouts. Ridding the skin of sebum isn’t possible, and it isn’t even really desirable. Our skin relies on the fatty acids and vitamin E in sebum to stay healthy and hydrated — sebum only becomes problematic when dried out and stripped skin produces too much of it. Using oils rich in linoleic acid help to balance oil production and more effectively hydrate acne-prone skin.



Source: Anouska



We could talk about the necessity of sunscreen until we were blue in the face, but the truth is a lot of acne sufferers feel that they their breakout-prone skin can’t handle the active ingredients in sun protection. Aside from needing sunscreen for its protection, SPF is especially important to people who suffer from consistent breakouts because every pimple on your face is caused by sebum oxidation. Sebum oxidation is a really complicated-to-explain chemical process, but essentially when your skin is not protected from photosensitizing elements like UVA/UVB rays, it causes sebum to become comedogenic. Additionally, sun exposure causes hyper-pigmentation around breakouts to become worse, thus making them more visible.


What are your favorite acne-fighting products?