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    26 Skincare Products That Are Effective Against Adult Acne

    Get ready to remove the word "cystic" from your vocabulary.

    We hope you love the products we recommend! All of them were independently selected by our editors. Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page if you decide to shop from them. Oh, and FYI — prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.

    1. PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash screeches "get out" to pesky pimples thanks to a hefty helping of benzoyl peroxide — this bottle contains a whopping 10%, to be exact. Consider acne good as gone when placing this maximum strength formula in your medicine cabinet.


    Promising review: "This product is amazing with amazing results. I have adult hormonal acne problems and this wash clears it up. It does dry out the skin so monitoring the dryness is necessary. I use this with a light moisturizer to help balance my skin. I definitely recommend this wash for people struggling to clear up stubborn acne." —Amazon Customer

    Get it from Amazon for $9.48.

    2. Hero Cosmetics Hydrocolloid Mighty Patches prevent picking and ~drain~ those zits at maximum speed. In addition to the fact that they just truly work, these transparent stickers also won't leave behind any residue on your pillow (unlike traditional goopy spot treatments).,

    Promising review: "This sucks up the pus from those deep painful whiteheads and brings it to the surface. I’m totally fascinated. Where have you been my whole life? I suffer from hormonal adult acne and this really helped to reduce the inflammation and my pimples heals so much faster. The patch holds up well and it’s a reminder to stop touching that pimple. I’m very tempted to pop it, but popping it leaves to scarring. It’s also quite invisible, so you can get away with wearing it outside. Good stuff!" —Karin Chang

    Get a pack of 36 patches from Amazon for $12.50.

    3. And! Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch Surface Patches treat cluster breakouts (cc: that special time of the month in which your jawline is shown no mercy) with the same medical-grade hydrocolloid formula. All you'll have to do is peel and stick.

    reviewer photo of the patch

    Promising review: "As embarrassing as this is to admit, I have had issues with body and butt acne like no other. I had tried everything to clear them up, but nothing helped. I'm horrible at picking at blemishes as well, so I decided to give these a try. I LOVE these patches!! Even better that they come in large patches, which was a lifesaver for cluster bumps! WHOA! I would leave these on for eight to 10 hours and it would draw so much of the pus out. After just one use of a patch, I noticed a dramatic difference and sometimes it completely cleared them up." —Ashley

    Get a pack of 10 from Amazon for $17.99.

    4. CeraVe Retinol Serum recognizes that acne doesn't stop at breakouts; the scars they leave behind are equally as frustrating. This affordable product is gentle enough for sensitive skin (retinol = some pretty powerful stuff), but remains effective at evening out discoloration. All hail, honestly.

    reviewer with visible scarring on left and less visible scarring on right

    Promising review: "I swear by anything from CeraVe, but especially this serum. I suffered from terrible acne for my entire adult life and after undergoing a very harsh treatment with my dermatologist, the acne disappeared but I was left with deep scars, dry skin (it was oily before), ultra sensitivity to pretty much anything and dermatitis. I tried a bunch of products and nothing helped, most things left me with a pretty nasty rash, even stuff that was designed for sensitive skin. I decided to make the switch to CeraVe and now I couldn't be happier with the results!" —Josie Santos

    Get it from Amazon for $16.97.

    5. Paula's Choice CLEAR Acne Spray wards off body breakouts with a spray applicator that can cover those hard-to-reach spots. This innovative formula enlists 2% salicylic acid to tackle the pimples that have so rudely taken residence on your back, chest, and butt.

    the blue spray bottle

    Promising review: "MAGIC. Pure magic!!! This is a dream product — it’s clear, it dries, it doesn’t stain clothing, doesn’t really have a scent!!! Where have you been all my adult backne ridden life?!? Read about this on a blog and it is so worth it. Price point is high for the amount you get, but I’ll still accept it because there’s nothing else as good out there!! Plus, the dispenser?! It works so well, never irritates my sensitive skin, and works wonders on treating pre-existing acne as well as prevention of future zits!" —sophia

    Get it from Amazon for $25.

    6. Eva Naturals Vitamin C Serum Plus reviewers *cannot* stop raving about. Not only does this blend of vitamin C, salicylic acid, retinol, and niacinamide attack blemishes with a vengeance, but it also provides moisture and reduces dullness. Heroes = they don't all wear capes.

    before and after photo of reviewer with visible scarring on left and less scarring on right

    Promising review: "I have never felt more compelled to write a product review before. This stuff is INCREDIBLE. I have tried almost everything to improve my skin. I continue to get acne in my mid-thirties and literally everything else I've tried has not worked, including prescription topical cream and oral medication. This has saved my skin! I have had very few breakouts, and if anything pops up, this takes care of it quickly! My skin feels moisturized and looks smoother and healthier overall. This is truly one of the best purchases I've ever made. I'm thankful I stumbled upon this serum!" —J.C. Denton

    Get it from Amazon for $14.95.

    7. Glossier Mega Greens Galaxy Pack hits the reset button on breakouts and greasy T-zones: white kaolin clay draws out the gunk residing in your pores while vitamin-rich leafy greens and antioxidants nourish your complexion. And unlike other ~detoxifying~ masks, this leaves your skin feeling balanced instead of overly dry.


    Promising review: "I have been obsessed with this mask for over six months now and it never fails me. *knocks on wood* I have normal/combination skin and I always get painful breakouts around my period and this mask helps calm them down and they're gone quicker too! I hate how most detox masks dry my skin out but this one smooths everything out and leaves it balanced instead! I absolutely love this mask and I would 100% recommend it if you have acne-prone skin." —Gaez

    Get it from Glossier for $22.

    8. Differin Adapalene Gel Acne Treatment consists of a strong retinoid formula that promotes cell turnover and is *the* strongest thing you can purchase without a prescription. In English: This affordable tube helps reveal a new layer of skin and swoops deep into your pores to penetrate that painful zit at its root. Get ready to remove the word "cystic" from your vocabulary.

    reviewer showing week 1, week 4, and week 12 using product with acne becoming visibly less apparent in each picture

    An FYI that this product is super strong, so it may take your complexion a while to adjust! Reviewers recommend moisturizing immediately after use because it tends to dry out your skin and make it a bit sensitive.

    Promising review: "This is by far the best acne product I’ve ever used. Hands down. This is coming from someone who had tried over 20 different products to get rid of my acne (I use to spend over $100 for other acne lines). I have been using this product for about three weeks and have gotten a TOTAL of three tiny zits since I started. I started this product when I got five cystic zits in one day. Since then, it’s been smooth sailing! It’s even helping me remove my acne scars. I cannot rave enough about this product, it changed everything for me. Only side effect is it makes your skin super dry and flaky so moisturize well. Invest in a good moisturizer and you are golden." —Kassi

    Get it from Amazon for $12.31+ (available in two sizes).

    9. Rael Bamboo Face Sheet Masks are basically a bougie spa treatment packaged in a delightfully affordable bundle. Pre-soaked with tea tree oil, your complexion will get a boost of hydration *and* simultaneously have its pores cleared of gunk in just 15 minutes.

    the sheet mask being taken out of packaging

    Promising review: "My skin has cleared up so much since using these masks and the Rael skincare line. I’m obsessed! I’ve had adult hormonal acne for years and this has stopped me from picking my face (I've also been using their acne patches) and healed my skin so much!" —A. Storm

    Get a set of five from Amazon for $11.99.

    10. CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser earns all the overwhelmingly positive TikTok praise it gets. This is moisture-balancing, has a lotion-like consistency (which is *chef's kiss* for sensitive skin), and is packed with ceramides and hyaluronic acid — aka your complexion is about to take a ride on the moisture-sans-pimple train.

    reviewer with visible acne and redness on jawline on the left and visibly less acne on the right

    Promising review: "CeraVe was recommended to me by my dermatologist many years ago, and I have been using it religiously since. I have a mixture of oily to dry skin, depending on the weather and my hormone levels. Every other product I tried either dried out my skin, or caused breakouts, or caused hives. Finally I asked my doctor and she told me I needed something gentle and unscented for my sensitive skin, something that cleans out the dirt, and leaves the good oils in my skin alone. I can't sing praises for this product enough. Per my doc's recommendation, I use it every morning when I shower, and only use it at night if it was a sweaty day (since my skin dries out quickly). Ever since I started this routine, I stopped breaking out, my skin doesn't dry out, and no more allergic reactions or irritation. Best facial wash, hands-down." —Alyssa

    Get it from Amazon for $14.64.

    11. Diva Stuff Anti-Bacterial Pillow Mist lulls you to sleep with a divine lavender scent and, get this, a few spritzes will obliterate the acne-causing bacteria that's built up on your bedding — because while we know we should switch our pillow cases more often... come on, who has the time? Certainly not I.*

    The spray bottle with text "relaxing scent"

    *I very much have the time.

    Diva Stuff is a family-run and woman-owned business based in Florida.

    Promising review: "I have really acne-prone skin and breakouts still happening in my thirties. I spray this each night on my silk pillow and my zits have minimized drastically!" —Alina Hepfler

    Get it from Amazon for $11.99.

    12. Paula's Choice 2% BHA liquid exfoliant confronts enlarged pores, pesky pimples, and fine lines with unmatched dedication. It also gently exfoliates with each swipe, so you can effectively wave ta-ta to dullness and dead skin cells with every swipe of that reusable cotton round.


    Promising review: "I have acne-prone skin that is combo-to-oily with large pores, and this stuff has truly been a lifesaver! Like this is literally witchcraft in a bottle and my new holy grail! Ditch your harsh scrubs and give this a go... your skin will thank you." —Philena

    Get it from Amazon for $10 (available in two sizes).

    13. COSRX Oil-Free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion uses birch sap to quench parched complexions *without* leaving a layer of grease behind. Now repeat after me: blemish-prone skin still needs moisture! So add this fast-absorbing option to cart and rest assured it won't intensify breakouts.

    the moisturizer

    Promising review: "Best moisturizer I have ever used. Nongreasy, absorbs well, smells pleasant, and I think it's helped tame my (adult, hormonal) acne." —Misha Kollontai

    Get it from Amazon for $18.50.

    14. The Body Shop Tea Tree Anti-Imperfection Night Mask gives an entirely new meaning to beauty sleep thanks to a powerful blend of salicylic acid and tea tree oil. This combo happily destroys pimples and excess sebum whilst you dream, meaning you'll wake up to matte skin that won't be require that 10 pounds of setting powder, thank you very much.

    hand dipping into green jar of product / Via @thebodyshop

    For best results, pop this vegan formula in the fridge before use to make it extra refreshing. Just apply a layer before bed and — BAM — you'll wake up with cleaner, smoother-looking skin. And no, this won't stain your pillow.

    Promising review: "I am 30 years old and suffer from adult acne and I've tried EVERYTHING. Spent thousands on products. This mask when wearing overnight (and sometimes during the day if I'm not going anywhere) has been one of the best." —SRB

    Get it from Amazon for $22.

    15. EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 Sunscreen makes itself worthy of all your pennies with a formula that doesn't wreak pimple havoc in the name of sun protection. The secret sauce? High-purity niacinamide and transparent zinc dioxide that also double down on rosacea and hyperpigmentation.

    hand holding white bottle of sunscreen / Via @eltamdskincare

    Promising review: "My dermatologist suggested this to me. I have tried tons of sunscreen... TONS, all price points and all brands. I prefer physical blockers but they never mesh with my makeup, make me so greasy (and I'm already oily/combo), or leave a ghostly white cast on my deep brown skin. This absorbs easily, has no strong fragrance, plays well with makeup, and moisturizes,. It's also effective in Houston summer heat and humidity, and doesn't trigger my adult acne." —AseaNoe

    Get it from Amazon for $37.

    16. CeraVe Salicylic Acid Cleanser accomplishes the once-thought-impossible chore of deep cleaning your complexion without making it feel like sandpaper. This cult favorite is truly a superstar at ~smoothing~ without triggering more inflammation.

    reviewer on right with visible acne and less visible acne on left

    Promising review: "I've struggled with incredibly sensitive, acne-prone, textured skin for a lot of my adult life. I stumbled onto this cleanser via TikTok (I wish I was kidding) and bought this in conjunction with CeraVe's Moisturizing Cream and, LET ME TELL YOU, these products have become holy grail skin care items for me. Prior to this, I was using homemade soap and an exfoliating mitt to wash my face, but my skin would quickly develop uneven texture in between exfoliations. This cleanser makes my skin smooth and it doesn't irritate it. My breakouts are already a lot smaller and I've noticed a huge difference in the overall appearance. This is a holy grail cleanser." —C. Hallgrimson

    Get it from Amazon for $9.98.

    17. TULA Probiotic Go Away Spot Treatment declares war on cystic acne best described as "ouch." Painful bumps are essentially reduced overnight thanks to a benzoyl peroxide, tea tree oil, and probiotics blend, aka you can go ahead and put that concealer stick down.

    the blue tube

    Promising review: "I have used this for about a month now as needed and spots are mostly gone over night. I get quite a few hormonal pimples during PMS and this takes them down to just a tiny blemish that covers much easier with make up and is completely gone within two days. I have even used it on larger cystic acne spots and the pain is gone and size is decreased overnight." —kristie bey

    Get it from Amazon for $20.

    18. COSRX One Step Original Clear Pad come pre-soaked with willow bark water and BHA, a chemical exfoliant that exfoliates dead skin cells and clears clogged pores. Each cotton pad has a: an embossed side for exfoliation and managing oil and b: a soft side to soothe irritation.

    the white jar with wipes inside

    Promising review: "These pimple pads are my LIFE now! I used to always get about a pimple a week, but after using these, my skin texture definitely improved and I stopped getting pimples unless life was really stressing me out. Would definitely consider it a holy grail item that I can't imagine my life without. This is a staple mild BHA acid that I use as both a physical and chemical exfoliant every day during my night time routine. I love the convenience because it comes in pad form so there's no need to wet your own cotton pads and what-not." —Ricky

    Get a pack of 70 from Amazon for $13.50.

    19. La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 Balm is a multi-purpose balm suitable for face, body, lips, and hands. A nonsticky combination of shea butter and glycerin soothes irritated, acne-prone skin in a jiffy — and despite how moisturizing it is, reviewers s-w-e-a-r that it doesn't cause breakouts.

    before and after photo of reviewer on left with visibly red skin labeled "8:41pm" and on right, visibly less red skin labeled "10:47pm"

    Promising review: "I had a terrible allergic reaction to tea tree oil about two weeks ago. Tiny bumps all over my face along with bunches of breakouts and my normally oily skin was so dry the strongest moisturizers I had wouldn’t keep it moisturized for long. I tried this stuff and OVERNIGHT basically all the bumps and my breakouts are gone. I have incredibly sensitive skin (clearly) and this stuff feels so soothing on my face and leaves it looking bright. I can’t speak more highly of this product. I will probably continue using it as a regular daily moisturizer even after my skin goes back to normal because it feels so smooth and I bet it would make a great base for makeup. HIGHLY recommend to anyone with sensitive, combination skin. And I’m acne-prone and this stuff doesn’t break me out. Holy grail people!" —SH

    Get it from Amazon for $14.99.

    20. Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum guarantees glow, glow, and did I mention, glow? A blend of antioxidants, vitamins c and e, ferulic and hyaluronic acids promote brightness and even out discoloration — but reviewers swear that a reduction in breakouts is another added perk.

    BuzzFeed / Maitland Quitmeyer

    Promising review: "I’ve been using this serum for a few months now (third bottle) I deal with adult acne and have acne scars. It’s has reduced my breakouts to almost none (except for the fun time of the month, I still get one or two), but if I stop using this, I go back to having the multiple breakouts at all times. My skin has a healthier glow, and has also reduced my one dark spot on my cheek. It’s not gone completely, but it has faded it more than any other product has. I used to sell skincare for a high-end line, and had tried many other lines products when I was working in a cosmetic dept. I am obsessed with this serum and I use it daily. I have very sensitive skin, and have not had any reaction to it at all. Other vitamin C serums I’ve used in the past have caused burning and/or tingling in my skin. But not this one! I am slowly phasing out my other skincare products, and switching to Mad Hippie as I finish others off." —Jodie Newton-Drouin

    Get it from Amazon for $27.19.

    21. NeoGen Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Wine uses red ~vino~ extracts in single-use exfoliating pads because dead skin and week-long pimples that refuse the evacuate the premises = the worst. These pads use a potent lactic acid capable of reaching deep into your pores for built-up oil and gunk, aka scream so long and farewell to the chin zit that will have no choice but to disappear.

    the red wine pads / Via @neogen-global

    Promising review: "With combination skin I often find that chemical exfoliators treat my oily zones fine, but are too harsh on my cheeks/drier areas. This is gentle enough for those spots, but still give me the exfoliation I need in my T-zone. I have been using it twice a week and it has really calmed down my cystic acne. They're not as painful and pass very quickly." —Tabitha C.

    Get a pack of 30 from Amazon for $27.

    22. Versed Just Breathe Clarifying Serum tells stressed skin to ~chill~ cc: a concentrated niacinamide, zinc, and willow bark extract blend. It soothes inflammation and helps manage oil production, so your T-zone truly benefits as well.

    The dropper-style bottle of serum

    Promising review: “I’m on my third bottle and I’m so relieved to have it in my life. Im in my mid-twenties and started getting hormonal acne. Specifically around my chin and jaw line. Nothing was helping and every time I got near my period, I would break out at the same spots, and it would take my skin weeks to recover only to break out again. By day two my skin already was less red and it completely had my breakouts under control for my next period. For me some period break outs are worse than others and even if I get a breakout its very small and gone fast.” —Laurasogo

    Get it from Versed for $19.99.

    23. Ole Henrikson Glow2OH™ Dark Spot Toner eradicates the ghosts of acne past with a powerful glycolic and lactic acids. Tl;dr: dark spots, fine lines, and dull complexions stand no chance against this potent product and also helps with fine lines.

    before and after photo of model with dark spots on left and visibly less dark spots on right

    This top qual product also uses witch hazel water, lemon, sugar cane, licorice root, chamomile, and sandalwood extracts to brighten, soothe, and condition.

    Promising review: "I always get stubborn acne spotting on one part of my face. I have struggled to get rid of it all quarantine and this product really did the job. I wanted to buy the small one first incase I didn’t like it but I will definitely be repurchasing this in the big size." —Eyebrowqueen02

    Get it from Sephora for $16+ (available in two sizes).

    24. Dr. Song Exfoliating Face Wash if you've tried salicylic acids and benzoyle peroxides with no success. Introducing a glycolic acid wash dubbed by one reviewer as ~magic in a bottle~ for how quickly it combats acne and scarring.

    the cleanser

    Promising review: "I have mild adult acne and hyperpigmentation on my African American skin. This stuff is magic in a bottle. I saw results within two hours and when I woke up the next morning the two pimples I had were almost flat. My dark marks had even faded some. Like what???? How is that even possible in less than 24 hours!! I'm floored. Now.... it did sting my first time using it but I just rinsed it off and I was fine. I followed it up with retinol serum, hyaluronic serum, and moisturizer. I will ALWAYS reorder this for the rest of my life." —MCBMA2MD

    Get it from Amazon for $9.99.

    25. Foreo Luna Mini 2 is comprised of a nonporous silicone that reaches way down into your pores and dredges up alllllll that pimple-forming gunk in just 60 seconds flat. It removes up to 99.5% of dirt, oil, and makeup with gentle vibrations for exfoliation results best described as ~smoother than a baby's bottom~.

    The author using the pink device with text "makeup dead skin cells, excess oil all gone in 60 seconds"

    Check out our in-depth Foreo Luna Mini 2 review for all the deets!

    Promising review: "I bought this on a whim, not totally convinced that it would be as great as everyone claimed it was. I’m in my late twenties and have dealt on and off with adult acne for years. I have combination skin that can get v oily on humid days, so that doesn’t do me any favors. I’ve been using this with the Glossier Milk Jelly face wash for the last three months, and my skin has never looked better. I haven’t had any breakouts in weeks, the texture of my skin is the smoothest it’s been in years. I’m completely sold on this. I use it twice a day on my face, and even use it with the La Roche-Posay Effaclar cleanser on my arms and shoulders when I’m having any small breakouts or KP flair ups. Overall great buy. I had sticker shock at first and considered going with the $30 alternative I saw floating around, but so happy I went with the real deal. Could not be happier." —Neen

    Get it from Amazon for $119 (available in six colors).

    26. Skinfood Egg White Pore Foam makes an ~egg-cellent~ daily cleanser thanks to protein-rich albumen (egg white) if you're skin teeters on "so oily it feels like I can fry an omelette on there". This decreases grease production and ergo, reduces all that deep-rooted cystic acne.

    The tube of product

    Promising review: "I love this face wash! It keeps my pores clear without drying out my skin. It's so great to use a blemish-fighting product that is adult-skin friendly. Optimal results when used with a facial cleansing brush, my skin is clean clear and smooth. I struggled with adult acne well into my thirties, but this cleanser has cleared it up, outside of hormonal flare-ups. My pores are also less noticeable. I don't know if they've actually shrunk or if its because they're not clogged, but they are nowhere near the size they were, especially on my nose. Just received my fifth bottle with no plans to switch." —Rachel & David King

    Get it from Amazon for $13.99.

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    The reviews in this post have been edited for length and clarity.

    Need more for your skin? Check out Korean skincare products you need to know, cheap skincare products that are even better than luxury brands, products for an even skin tone or to deal with acne scars, or check out all of our beauty content for even more great stuff for your hair, skin, and more.

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