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Our Favorite High-Quality Products For Adult Acne

Acne is incredibly frustrating. While we usually think that only teenagers deal with acne, the truth is that it can strike at any age. There’s a lot of bad advice out there, like getting a tan to clear up acne, which will only dry out your skin. Too many products promise miracles while only draining your bank account and turning your face into an inflamed mess. But don’t lose hope—along with following a clean diet and drinking lots of water, the following products for adult acne really work.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is one of the most common ingredients used to treat acne-prone skin and it works best for treating the occasional pimple. Even though the name makes it sound like a scary chemical, it’s actually a natural ingredient derived from willow bark. It has an anti-inflammatory effect because it’s related to aspirin, so it may reduce redness and swelling.

Look for it in drugstore products like Neutrogena Acne Eliminating Spot Gel or in more boutique lines like philosophy Clear Days Ahead Oil-Free Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Cleanser or the La Roche-Posay Effaclar line. Murad also makes a great Acne Body Wash that contains salicylic acid for embarrassing bacne (or buttne).

Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide products are a step up after salicylic acid and they’re more customizable because they come in strengths ranging from 2.5-10%. Start with the lowest concentration first and work your way up as necessary. It can cause blistering and peeling if you start with too high of a concentration. Benzoyl peroxide kills the bacteria that causes acne and is best when you have multiple pimples at once.

The popular Pro-Activ line you see in informercials is based on benzoyl peroxide, and it’s also in Clearasil’s Daily Acne Control Vanishing Acne Treatment Cream. If your wallet is a little fatter, try higher-end products like Kate Somerville’s Eradi-Kate Acne Treatment or Dermalogica Breakout Clearing Daytime Treatment.


Sulfur-based products work on different principles than ones based on salicylic acid. Many people find that sulfur is more effective for treating adult acne than products formulated for teens. Sulfur is a natural mineral that people have used for thousands of years to treat skin conditions. But because sulfur is a mineral, it works better to balance your overall skin health than to treat the occasional blemish. You can certainly use it for spot treatment as well but it works really well to reduce oiliness and promote turnover of dead skin cells.

Look for sulfur in products like the Mario Badescu Drying Mask or the Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Masque.

Holistic Care

The holistic approach to treating acne focuses on a variety of botanical ingredients and overall health, inside and out. The Body Shop makes a line of products for adult acne that contain tea tree oil, which is a natural skin-healing ingredient.

Other products contain milder ingredients like witch hazel and alcohol to gently dry excess oil from the skin. Dr. Hauschka Clarifying Toner and Clarifying Intensive Treatment are 100% natural and organic vegan products based on ingredients like sweet almond meal and calendula.

Keep your focus on following a healthy diet and managing your stress. Experiment with different products for adult acne and find your best regimen for glowing, beautiful skin.