The best acne treatments for bumps and blemishes

The best acne treatments for bumps and blemishes
  • Acne treatments are a quick and easy way to banish blemishes without having to switch up your entire skincare routine.
  • Our top pick is the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion because it is an effective spot treatment that acts fast to draw impurities from the skin and shrinks pimples overnight.

Even those of us blessed with clear skin have to deal with a dreaded pimple from time to time. Thankfully there is a way to zap zits fast that doesn't involve popping them! You can avoid making the blemish worse by reaching for an acne treatment that will target individual spots head-on.

While other acne treatments are applied to your entire face to fight breakouts, topical spot treatments are used to target individual pimples and quickly shrink them without scaring or disrupting the rest of your face.

Most options feature varying amounts of salicylic acid as their active ingredient, which works to clear clogged pores and banish the bacteria found inside the blemish. Some also feature ingredients that work to reduce redness and soothe skin, while others help prevent future breakouts.
With acne spot creams, gels, patches, and even concealers available, finding the right one for you can feel overwhelming. So we did the research to find the best-reviewed acne treatments you can buy.

Here are the best acne treatments:

Updated on 10/22/2019 by Remi Rosmarin: Updated links, formatting, and prices.

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The best acne treatment overall

The best acne treatment overall
The Mario Badescu Drying Lotion features two solutions in one bottle that work together to shrink the appearance of pimples overnight.

The Mario Badescu Drying Lotion is an acne spot treatment formulated with salicylic acid, sulfur and zinc oxide to draw out impurities as you sleep. Its fast-acting shrinking powers have made it a firm favorite with beauty editors, industry insiders, and celebrities like Kylie Jenner.

While salicylic acid and sulfur are common ingredients in spot treatments, the drying lotion also contains calamine lotion to provide a soothing effect on your skin. The treatment can be easily applied with a cotton swab and is recommended to be used at night due to the pink coloring.

Our director, Ellen Hoffman, is a fan, calling the product "magic." She also said that it "dries out whiteheads while you sleep so they're virtually gone by the next morning." The drying lotion has won numerous awards, including a 2017 Acne Award from Teen Vogue for Best Spot Treatment.

The lotion has an Amazon's Choice recommendation because of its high ratings, with 2,855 buyers giving it a 4.3 out of 5-star rating. Plus, more than 9,800 reviewers on Influenster gave it a 4.5-star rating. One reviewer named Erica wrote, "This drying lotion is perfect for helping my pimples disappear overnight! I put it on the break out before bed and in the morning it is gone."

While most reviewers raved about the product's zit zapping powers, a few noted that they wished it wasn't pink so they could use it during the day as well.

Pros: Shrinks blemishes overnight, works quickly, calms skin, draws out impurities

Cons: Can't wear during the day if leaving the house

The best drugstore acne treatment

The best drugstore acne treatment
Looking for an affordable spot treatment that reduces the size and redness of pimples quickly? Try the Clean & Clear Advantage Spot Treatment.

The Clean & Clear Advantage Spot Treatment is a clear gel that works quickly to shrink zits of every size. The product's maximum strength 2% salicylic acid helps dissolve surface oil around the blemish and penetrates the pore to clean it from the inside out.

The gel also features witch hazel, which helps soothe skin and prevents it from drying out. The gel has been clinically proven to give 100% of testers clearer looking skin in just one day. Since the spot treatment is a clear gel, it can be used during the day or night.

Clean & Clear's gel has won an Allure Best of Beauty Award twice and has a 4-star rating on Influenster with almost 8,500 reviews.

One shopper named Ashlee raved, "This is the best nonprescription acne medicine you will ever try. It decreases size within a day and it lessens redness overnight. This is the best you can get for the money. I would buy it again and again."

Some buyers did note it they weren't a fan of the strong chemical smell but said it fades quickly after application.

Pros: Affordable, acts fast, clinically proven to give users clearer skin, shrinks pimples, reduces redness

Cons: Strong smell


The best acne treatment patch

The best acne treatment patch
The Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Invisible Dots are a mess-free spot treatment that quickly shrinks blemishes without irritating the surrounding skin.

Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Invisible Dots are clear round patches formulated with salicylic acid and tea tree oil that work together to eliminate pimples fast. Just cover your zit with one of the sticky patches, and the dot will work overnight to shrink the pimple's size while also helping to prevent future breakouts.

Each box comes with 72 patches total in a variety of small and large dots so you can switch up the patch size depending on how big the blemish is. The patches work on all skin types including normal, oily, dry, combination, and sensitive.

The product has over 10,000 likes on Sephora, with one reviewer saying, "I've tried so many on-the-spot acne treatments, that I was skeptical when someone recommended this product. However, I was wildly impressed with the results and felt it my duty to tell everyone I know about this product. The stickers are easy to use, comfortable, and hardly noticeable. I'm so pleased with this purchase, and so relieved to have these in zit-emergencies!"

Some buyers were put off by the high price point, but most said the product was worth the cost. If you want to spend a little less, you should try the Mighty Patch, which we also like.

In her review of the Mighty Patch, our writer Connie Chen wrote, "As someone who has struggled with acne-prone skin for years, I'm often skeptical of supposed quick-fix solutions, but the effectiveness of the Mighty Patch stickers have made me a convert."

Pros: Effective spot treatment, shrinks blemishes quickly, mess-free

Cons: Expensive

The best acne treatment that's also a concealer

The best acne treatment that's also a concealer
If you are in the market for a spot treatment that zaps zits while concealing them, try the It Cosmetics Bye Bye Breakout Concealer.

Next time you wake up with a zit on your face, don't fret!. You can now actually treat a blemish while covering it up at the same time, thanks to the It Cosmetics Bye Bye Breakout Concealer.

The handy product is a concealer and acne drying lotion in one. It features zinc oxide, clay, witch hazel, suffer, and tea tree oil, which work together to shrink the zit, while the color-infused skin treatment's full-coverage pigment conceals the pimple.

In a clinical study, 100% of users said the product covered their blemishes, while 84% said it also reduced the blemish's size. The clever treatment has a 4-star rating and more than 20,000 likes on Sephora.

One reviewer commented, "It flawlessly conceals my blemishes and works well with my other facial products. I noticed a bump I had covered with the concealer had shrunk in size. This stuff works! A definite must-have for any make-up bag!"

The spot treatment concealer is sold in seven different skin tones but some customers did recommend testing the product with a sample first to find the right color.

Pros: Comes in a variety of skin tones, dries out zits, offers full coverage

Cons: Need to test it to find the right skin tone


The best clean-beauty acne treatment

The best clean-beauty acne treatment
For a clean-beauty spot treatment that shrinks zits and relieves redness and irritation, try Origins' Super Spot Remover Blemish Treatment Gel.

If you prefer to buy clean beauy products, opt for Origins' Super Spot Remover Blemish Treatment Gel. The acne treatment features salicylic acid to zap zits quickly and red algae, which helps soothe skin and reduce redness. It is also made with the fruit of the Saw Palmetto to help eliminate excess oils and prevent future breakouts.

The product has a Clean at Sephora seal which means it's made without the ingredients shoppers told Sephora they'd like to avoid. It is sulfate, paraben, and formaldehyde-free and features less than 1% of synthetic fragrances.

With over 50,000 likes and 1,000 reviews, it is one of the most popular acne spot treatments at Sephora. The fast-acting skincare treatment also has a 4.32-star rating on Influenster with more than 1,500 reviews.

A shopper named Sarah is a huge fan of the product saying, "This little bottle is like liquid gold. I've had a pimple appear and I'll put this on at night and my pimple is legit almost flat. This is by far the best spot treatment I've used in my life and I have tried quite a few. I also like that's it's more like a gel so if you want to use it during the day and have no makeup on you can go out with it and it just dries clear."

A few reviewers did complain about the size of the bottle, but most said a little goes a long way.

Pros: Eco-friendly, shrinks pimples fast, reduces redness, clean seal at Sephora

Cons: Not a lot of product for the price

Check out our other skincare buying guides

Check out our other skincare buying guides
The best exfoliators you can buy for any skin type or budget

Whether you're new to the exfoliation game or a seasoned skincare pro, Glossier's Solution is the exfoliator you should be reaching for. Its powerful mix of acids dissolves dead skin cells and improves your complexion, giving your face a gorgeous glow.

You might also like the Simple Kind to Skin Smoothing Facial Scrub, the Dermalogical Daily Microfoliant, the Juara Radiance Enzyme Scrub, and the Ole Henriksen Transforming Walnut Scrub.

The best moisturizers you can buy

Everyone wants healthy, smooth, and soft skin. Dry skin not only looks dull and flaky, it also feels tight and itchy. The solution? A good moisturizer. Our favorite moisturizer for both face and body is the CeraVe Moisturizing Cream.

You might also like the Neutrogena Hydro Boost, the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat, the Pacifica Coconut Probiotic Water Rehab Cream, the Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Unscented Lotion, the Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream, the Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream, and the Aveeno Active Naturals Skin Relief Hand Cream.

The best sunscreen you can buy

Daily use of a good mineral sunscreen like the All Good Sunscreen Butter or Supergoop's Mineral Sunscreen Mist will fend off sunburns today, and help prevent the skin damage that leads to aged, wrinkled, blotchy skin later on in life. Thinksport's SPF 50+ Sunscreen is a great affordable option while the La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 is a nice choice for your face.

The best eye creams you can buy

Eye creams and serums are likely the product you know you should be using but have no idea how to actually shop for. If you're unsure of where to start, reach for the Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Eye Serum. Buyers and experts agree that this is the cream of the crop when it comes to treating under eye circles.

You'll also love the Sunday Riley Auto Correct Brightening and Depuffing Eye Cream, the Aveeno Absolutely Ageless Eye Cream, the Uma Absolute Aging Eye Oil, and the Lancôme Vissionaire Yeux.

The best clay masks you can buy

Clay masks are an easy and cost-effective way to give your skin a boost without hitting the spa. Our top pick is the Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Mask because it is a super affordable all-natural mask that deep cleans your pores.

You might also like the Glossier Mega Greens Galaxy Pack Mask, the Tarte Tight & Bright Clay MultiMask, the L'Oréal Paris Pure Clay Exfoliate & Refine Mask, or the Charlotte Tilbury Goddess Skin Clay Mask.

The best body oil you can buy

If smooth, supple skin is what you're looking for, then the Fresh Sugar Ultra-Nourishing Body Oil is the bottle you want to reach for.

You might also like the Jao Goe Oil, the Herbivore Jasmine Glowing Hydrating Oil, the Kypris Body Elixir Inflorescence, and the Burt's Bees Body Oil.

The best face cream for dry skin

If you're one of those people whose face feels flaky whether it's December or August, finding the right face cream can be difficult. But if full-on hydration and protection are what you're after, Dr. Jart+ Ceramindin Cream is your best bet.

You should also consider the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel, the CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, the Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream, and the Youth To The People Age Prevention Superfood Cream.