Have you ever woken up to find a new bright red spot has appeared on your forehead? Even better, did it just so happen to arrive just days before an important moment or event? This all too familiar experience may cause feelings of panic, disappointment, or frustration. It may also cause you to run out to buy otherwise unneeded concealers and powders in an attempt to cover up the troublesome pimple. Luckily, the best acne spot treatments can reduce the appearance of a breakout overnight by treating the problem at its source.
According to a recent survey, the average person feels confident only four days a week. Much of that has to do with how their skin looks. Among the blemishes and insecurities listed, acne was the most commonly mentioned at 30 percent. People may not admit it openly, but another poll finds many Americans say their skin issues affect their confidence. Researchers find these issues have long-lasting effects, with 81 percent of people with childhood skin problems saying it still affects their self-esteem today.
If you find yourself struggling with skin issues, you aren’t alone. Research finds that the average American woman pops a total of 65 pimples annually. That’s 4,153 zits in the average U.S. woman’s adult lifetime! Unfortunately, 58 percent add they learned a lasting lesson, saying they have at least one scar from their forays into pimple-popping. Over three-quarters of those who pop say they know it’s bad for their pores, but the urge to pop is just too strong.
Thankfully, skincare treatment options have come a long way, and there are far better options for taking care of breakouts. Spot treatments pack a concentrated treatment into a small package, where one dot can majorly reduce spots of redness, irritation, and infection. Resist the urge to pop, and instead grab for a spot treatment designed to take care of sudden or stubborn acne. Of course, there are countless options promising to erase your blemishes by tomorrow. It can be difficult to know which one can actually live up to its claims. That’s why StudyFinds did the research for you, scouring expert reviews to find the best acne spot treatments. This list includes the most frequently recommended products but be sure to let us know if you have a favorite we missed in the comments!
The List: Best Acne Spot Treatments, According to Beauty Experts
For sudden pimples, it’s hard to beat a benzoyl peroxide treatment. This La Roche-Posay spot treatment comes fully prepared to attack breakouts with a proven-effective ingredient list. As Cosmopolitan says, “a favorite among dermatologists, editors, and skincare gurus, this acne spot treatment from La Roche Posay is fast-acting without being overly irritating thanks to benzoyl peroxide, exfoliating lipohydroxy acid, and hydrating glycerin.”
“La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Duo uses a micronized form of benzoyl peroxide, which means it has smaller particles that can penetrate the pores more deeply than traditional formulas,” explains Allure. “Lipohydroxy acid, the second part of the spot-fighting ingredient duo, gently exfoliates to keep pores clear without causing irritation.”
Some products are far from friendly for sensitive skin. If that’s you, you can feel safe reaching for this treatment. “French pharmacy staple La Roche-Posay knows a thing or two about formulating effective products for people with sensitive skin, so it is no surprise that its acne-specific line follows suit,” adds Real Simple. “Thanks to the non-drying and oil-free formula, this lotion works for most skin types and offers the perfect solution for anyone with sensitive skin conditions.”
When you need both powerful treatment and calming relief, it can be difficult to find one product that can handle both tasks. Thankfully, Mario Badescu’s drying lotion rises to the challenge. As Allure explains, “Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion is made of salicylic acid to fight acne-causing bacteria, sulfur to disinfect, and calamine to reduce redness brought on by those just-come-to-surface breakouts (you know the ones).”
“There’s a reason this formula is one of the go-to spot treatments for celebrities and beauty editors alike. In short? It actually works (and fast!) to dry up whiteheads and reduce the appearance of pesky breakouts overnight,” says Byrdie. “Simply dab a bit of the formula—containing a hard-hitting combo of salicylic acid, sulfur, and zinc oxide—onto the problem spot(s) before bed, let it dry, and then hit the hay. When you wake up, rinse off the lotion and the spot should be significantly improved. It’s that easy.”
If you’re a bit hesitant to try out a new product, this spot treatment comes with plenty of rave reviews to ease any concerns. “Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion has over 22,000 5-star ratings — and for good reason,” claims CNN. “The award-winning product features a unique formula that simultaneously exfoliates, cleanses, soothes and protects the treated area.”
If a pimple takes you by surprise, you may not have time to hunt down a prescription product to treat it. That’s where this powerful over-the-counter treatment comes in handy. “This drugstore gel lives up to the hype — it’s proven to reduce acne breakouts by 87% within 12 weeks,” notes CNN. “Targeting clogged pores and inflammation, the treatment features a prescription-strength acne-fighting ingredient that both reduces signs of blemishes and prevents new ones from forming.”
“If you’ve ever experienced persistent or moderate to extreme acne, your dermatologist might have recommended Differin to you. This over-the-counter retinoid has a proven track record of decreasing the frequency and severity of breakouts, thanks to the inclusion of adapalene (a topical retinoid) in the formula,” explains Real Simple. “By increasing skin cell turnover, this affordable drugstore staple dislodges trapped bacteria in the pore and moves it to the surface.”
Not every prescription-strength product can be worn while you go about your day, but thankfully, Differin is an exception. “Differin also has anti-inflammatory properties and is ‘photo-stable,’ meaning you can use it during the day when the sun is out,” adds Today. “Plus, it doubles as a great anti-aging skin care product.”
It’s great when you can tackle one pimple, but what happens when the next one appears right behind it? That’s where SkinFix comes in with a powerful formula to both treat and prevent acne. As Allure puts it, “with the SkinFix Acne+ 2% BHA Spot Treatment, you can target inflamed blemishes while preventing new ones from appearing with its exfoliating star ingredient, salicylic acid.”
“This cream-style spot treatment from Skinfix reduces blemish size and inflammation after just one use by harnessing the power of BHAs, azelaic acid, and niacinamide. With a lightweight formula that dries down like your favorite detox mask, the vegan and cruelty-free formula uses salicylic acid to pull excess sebum and bacteria from even the most prominent spots without drying out the top layer of skin,” explains Real Simple. “And, unlike other treatments on the market, this spot treatment includes azelaic acid to minimize the potential for post-acne scarring.”
The ingredients list on this product is a worthy match for even your most irritated pimples. “If your breakouts tend to resemble angry red sirens, this is the acne spot treatment for you,” says Cosmopolitan. “It’s got 2 percent salicylic acid to de-gunk pores and shrink your breakout, plus a dose of azelaic acid (the ingredient is commonly used for people with rosacea) to dramatically reduce redness, discoloration, and inflammation.”
If you experience irritation both during and after a breakout, look no further. This Murad Rapid Relief Acne Spot Treatment can tackle your pimple and soothe your skin all at once. As Allure explains, “Murad’s Rapid Relief Acne Spot Treatment knocks out breakouts swiftly with two percent salicylic acid, while allantoin and licorice tackle inflammation and redness.”
Unlike many skincare brands, Murad comes prepared with proof for their claims. “Made with salicylic acid, this lightweight spot treatment also reduces blemish size in just hours. According to a study from the brand, 97 percent of test subjects agreed that the appearance of their blemish improved after just one day of using the gel,” says Today.
The ingredients list for this product is formulated specifically to target not only the acne you’re treating but also the root causes of irritation. As Seventeen puts it, “you already know salicylic acid is the key ingredient to never seeing that ugly blackhead or whitehead again. Murad’s Acne Control contains plenty of that but also relieves inflammation and redness.”
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