Acne Treatments

Differin-Gel Acne Treatment

Acne treatments aim to address various factors that contribute to the development of acne (also sometimes called Acne Vulgaris). These treatments can target the overproduction of oil, blockages in hair follicles, bacterial infection, and inflammation. They may include topical treatments, such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and retinoids, which are applied directly to the skin to reduce oiliness, unclog pores, and promote skin cell turnover. Oral medications, like antibiotics and isotretinoin, can be prescribed to combat bacteria and reduce oil production from within. In addition to these, hormonal therapies can be used, especially in women, to balance hormones that trigger acne. There are also physical and light-based therapies like laser treatments and chemical peels that work by targeting deeper layers of the skin, removing dead skin cells, and reducing bacteria. Overall, the primary goal of acne treatments is to reduce the occurrence and severity of breakouts, prevent scarring, and promote clearer skin.

The top 10 Acne Treatments

Product name Image Rating Pros Cons Best Price More information


Differin Acne Treatment Gel

Differin-Gel Acne Treatment
4 and a half star review
  • Effective Treatment for Acne
  • Prevention of New Breakouts
  • Over-the-Counter Availability
  • Can Improve Skin Texture
  • Less Irritating than Some Other Retinoids
  • Initial Breakouts
  • Dryness and Irritation
  • Increased Sun Sensitivity
  • Not Suitable for Pregnant or Breastfeeding Women
  • May Not Be Effective for Severe Acne
  • Takes Time to See Results
Coming Soon!


Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Spot Treatment Gel

Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Spot Treatment
4 and a half star review
  • Affordable
  • Formulated with benzoyl peroxide which is proven to treat acne.
  • Some users might experience dryness or irritation
  • Not suitable for those allergic to benzoyl peroxide.
Coming Soon!

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant

Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant Acne Treatment
Four and a half star review
  • Contains salicylic acid
  • Exfoliates inside the pore
  • Suitable for blackheads.
  • Some users might find it strong
  • Can be drying.
  • Potential for initial skin purging.
Coming Soon!

Mario Badescu Drying Lotion

Mario Badescu Drying Lotion Acne Treatment
Four and a half star review
  • Spot treatment for sudden breakouts.
  • Contains calamine for soothing.
  • Fast-acting.
  • Contains alcohol.
  • Small bottle for the price.
  • Not suitable for widespread application.
Coming Soon!

Murad Acne Control Rapid Relief Acne Spot Treatment

Murad Acne Control Rapid Relief Acne Spot Treatment
Four and a half star review
  • Fast-acting.
  • Contains 2% salicylic acid.
  • Reduces pimple redness and size quickly.
  • Expensive.
  • Small tube for the price
  • Increased Sun Sensitivity
  • Can be drying for some
Coming Soon!

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Dual Action Acne Treatment

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Dual Action Acne Treatment
Four and a half star review
  • Dual-action for treating acne and scars
  • Recommended by dermatologists
  • Non-drying formula
  • Pricey
  • Might not be suitable for very sensitive skin
  • Some users don’t like the scent
Coming Soon!

Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment

Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Treatment
Four and a half star review
  • Quick results
  • Gel-based formula.
  • Contains salicylic acid
  • Not for severe acne
  • Can cause peeling
  • Some users report a stinging sensation
Coming Soon!

Proactiv Repair Acne Treatment

Proactiv Repair Acne Treatment
5 star review
  • Part of a comprehensive acne system
  • Lightweight formula
  • Contains benzoyl peroxide
  • Can bleach fabric
  • Best results when used with other Proactiv products
  • Can be drying
Coming Soon!

Keeva Organics Tea Tree Oil Acne Cream

Keeva Organics Tea Tree Oil Acne Treatment Cream
Four and a half star review
  • Contains natural ingredients
  • Has antibacterial properties
  • Suitable for cystic acne
  • Might not be potent enough for severe acne
  • Contains essential oils, which some users may be sensitive to
  • A bit on the pricier side for natural products
Coming Soon!

AcneFree Terminator 10 Acne Spot Treatment

AcneFree Terminator 10 Acne Spot Treatment
Four and a half star review
  • Potent concentration of benzoyl peroxide
  • Also contains calming chamomile
  • Affordable
  • Can be very drying
  • Strong scent
  • Might irritate sensitive skin
Coming Soon!

The History of Acne Treatmens

The history of acne treatments spans centuries, reflecting a mix of medical advances, cultural beliefs, and evolving understanding of dermatology. Here’s an overview:
Ancient and Medieval Periods

Ancient Egypt (c. 3000–1500 BC)

Medical texts like the Ebers Papyrus mention treatments for acne-like symptoms, including sulfur.

Ancient Greece and Rome (c. 500 BC – 400 AD)

Prominent figures like Hippocrates and Galen describe treatments using sulfur, honey, and other natural ingredients.

Medieval Period (5th – 15th Century)

Little advancement in acne treatment. Beliefs often linked acne to diet or ‘humors’ imbalance.

Renaissance (14th – 17th Century)

Continued use of sulfur. Herbal remedies and bloodletting were common practices.

18th Century

Start of more scientific approaches, though many treatments remained ineffective and based on misconceptions.

19th Century

Introduction of more targeted treatments, like dermabrasion. Growing understanding of acne as a medical condition rather than a hygiene problem.

20th Century – Modern Era

Early 1900s:

Use of X-rays for acne treatment, later discontinued due to harmful effects.


Introduction of benzoyl peroxide as a topical treatment.


Antibiotics begin to be used, revolutionizing acne treatment.


Birth control pills introduced, which indirectly helped acne by regulating hormones.


Vitamin A derivatives, like tretinoin (Retin-A), are developed for topical use.


Isotretinoin (Accutane) introduced, a breakthrough for severe acne but with notable side effects.

1990s to 2000s:

Laser and light therapies emerge. Development of gentler, more effective topical treatments and better understanding of the role of hormones and diet in acne.

Early 21st Century Continued refinement of existing treatments. Increased focus on combination therapies and personalized medicine.

Recent Advances

Growing interest in natural and holistic approaches, alongside traditional medical treatments. Genetic and molecular research offers new insights into acne causes and treatments.

Current Trends

Emphasis on understanding the microbiome’s role in skin health. Development of targeted, less invasive treatments with fewer side effects.

Throughout history, acne treatments have evolved from rudimentary and often misguided remedies to sophisticated, research-based therapies. Today, the approach to treating acne is multifaceted, combining medical, dietary, and lifestyle considerations with an increasing focus on individualized treatment plans.

Ingredients of Acne Treatments

Acne treatments have evolved over the years, incorporating various active ingredients to target different causes and symptoms of acne. Some of the main ingredients used in acne treatments include:

Benzoyl Peroxide

Reduces inflammation and kills bacteria that can cause acne. Helps to unclog pores and prevent new breakouts. Available in various concentrations, suitable for mild to moderate acne.

Salicylic Acid

A beta-hydroxy acid that helps to unclog pores by exfoliating the skin and removing dead skin cells. Effective in treating blackheads and whiteheads. Often found in cleansers, toners, and spot treatments.

Retinoids (including Tretinoin, Adapalene)

Derived from Vitamin A, these compounds promote skin cell turnover, preventing clogged pores. Effective in treating both inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne. Available in various forms, including creams, gels, and lotions.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) like Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid

These acids exfoliate the skin surface, helping to clear dead skin cells that can clog pores. Also help in improving skin texture and reducing acne scars.


Helps to dry out the surface of the skin to absorb excess oil (sebum) that can contribute to acne. Also has antibacterial properties.

Tea Tree Oil

A natural ingredient with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Can be found in cleansers, toners, and spot treatments, often used for mild acne.

Azelaic Acid

Reduces inflammation and helps to unclog pores. Also effective in treating rosacea and reducing pigmentation issues like post-acne marks.

Niacinamide (Vitamin B3)

Anti-inflammatory properties help to reduce redness and swelling associated with acne. Also helps in regulating oil production.

Isotretinoin (formerly known as Accutane)

A powerful oral medication used for severe, cystic acne or acne that hasn’t responded to other treatments. Significantly reduces oil production but has notable side effects and risks, requiring close medical supervision.

Antibiotics (Topical and Oral)

Help to reduce inflammation and fight bacteria on the skin. Often used for moderate to severe acne, but their use has been reduced due to concerns about antibiotic resistance.

Hormonal Treatments (like Birth Control Pills and Spironolactone)

Used especially for women with acne that’s influenced by hormonal fluctuations. Birth control pills regulate hormones that can trigger acne, while spironolactone blocks androgen receptors.

Each of these ingredients targets different aspects of acne, like inflammation, bacteria, oil production, or skin cell turnover. The choice of ingredients often depends on the type and severity of acne, as well as individual skin types and sensitivities.

Who should take Acne Treatments

Acne treatments are an essential consideration for individuals experiencing persistent acne outbreaks, ranging from mild to severe cases. These treatments are particularly beneficial for teenagers and adults who face chronic acne, characterized by frequent pimples, blackheads, or cystic acne, which can lead to scarring and skin discoloration if left untreated. People with oily skin, which is prone to acne due to excess sebum production, often find these treatments helpful in managing their skin condition. Moreover, those undergoing hormonal changes, such as adolescents, women during their menstrual cycle, or individuals undergoing hormonal therapy, may also require acne treatments to balance skin health. Additionally, acne treatments can be a vital step for individuals looking to improve their self-esteem and confidence, as acne can significantly impact one’s self-image. It’s important for anyone considering acne treatments to consult a dermatologist to tailor a regimen that addresses their specific skin type and acne severity, ensuring an effective and safe approach to clearer, healthier skin.

What Acne Treatments are NOT intended for

Acne treatments are specifically designed to address the issues related to acne, such as pimples, blackheads, and cystic lesions, and are not suitable for a range of other skin or medical conditions. They are not intended for the treatment of severe skin diseases like eczema, psoriasis, or skin cancers, which require specialized medical interventions. These treatments are also not appropriate for managing deep scars or major skin traumas, where dermatological procedures like laser therapy or surgical interventions might be necessary. Additionally, acne treatments are not a remedy for wrinkles or other signs of aging, nor are they suitable for treating viral skin infections, such as warts or herpes. It’s crucial to understand that acne medications and topicals are formulated to target the specific factors that cause acne, like excess oil production, bacteria, and dead skin cell buildup, and they might not be effective or could even be harmful if used for conditions outside their intended purpose. Consulting with a dermatologist or healthcare professional is essential for anyone seeking treatment for skin issues to ensure the correct diagnosis and treatment plan.

Pros and Cons table


  • Effective in Clearing Acne: Most treatments are effective in reducing or eliminating acne, leading to clearer skin.
  • Variety of Options: There’s a wide range of treatments available, from topical creams to oral medications, catering to different types of acne.
  • Improvement in Skin Appearance: Besides treating acne, many treatments help improve overall skin appearance, reducing scars and blemishes.
  • Boost in Self-Confidence: Clearing up acne can significantly boost self-esteem and confidence for many individuals.
  • Potential Long-Term Solutions: Some treatments offer long-term or permanent reduction in acne.
  • Advancements in Treatment: Continuous research leads to new, more effective, and safer acne treatments.
  • Holistic Approaches Available: There are natural and holistic treatment options for those who prefer them.
  • Preventative Care: Early and effective treatment can prevent worsening of acne and reduce the likelihood of scarring.
  • Improvements in Skin Health: Regular treatment can lead to overall healthier skin and better skincare habits.


  • Side Effects: Some treatments can have side effects like dryness, redness, irritation, or more severe reactions in certain cases.
  • Can Be Expensive: Some treatments, especially prescription medications and advanced therapies, can be costly.
  • Requires Consistency: Effective treatment often requires consistent application or use, which can be time-consuming.
  • Not Always Immediately Effective: Some treatments take time (weeks or even months) to show results, which can be frustrating.
  • Potential for Antibiotic Resistance: Long-term use of antibiotics for acne can lead to antibiotic resistance.
  • Not a One-Size-Fits-All Solution: What works for one person may not work for another, making it sometimes challenging to find the right treatment.
  • Hormonal Influence: Hormonal acne treatments may not be suitable for everyone and can have unique side effects.
  • Risk of Overuse: Overuse of certain acne products can lead to skin damage and worsened acne conditions.

Comprehensive Studies on Acne Treatment Benefits

Efficacy of Benzoyl Peroxide for the Treatment of Acne Vulgaris

Isotretinoin for Acne Vulgaris Review of Benefits and Risks

A Review of Topical Retinoids for the Treatment of Acne

Antimicrobial Therapy for Acne Vulgaris A Review of the Evidence

Photodynamic Therapy for Acne Vulgaris

The Role of Diet and Nutrition in Acne Vulgaris

Psychological Interventions for Acne Vulgaris

The Role of Cosmeceuticals in the Treatment of Acne Vulgaris

Acne Vulgaris and Comorbidities

The Future of Acne Treatment