The best acne treatments according to Mumsnet users

24 January 2020

woman applying skincare

Everyone gets the occasional zit - unfortunately some of us more than others. If it happens to you, no need to cancel your plans. We've got you covered with Mumsnet users' favourite acne spot treatments.

What are the six main types of acne?

There are quite a few different types of acne and they can vary in severity. Whether it's a few pimples on your chin or sore cystic acne, the six main types of acne are:

  • Blackheads – caused by clogged pores, which stay open
  • Whiteheads – caused by clogged pores, which then close
  • Nodules – presents as large, painful spots which usually need prescription medicine to clear
  • Papules – these result in hard spots that are sore and pink
  • Pustules – these are similar to papules, but usually have a tip
  • Cysts – this is the most serious type of acne, which usually results from a severe infection

How to prevent acne

Sometimes no matter what you do you might get a pimple or two, but there are a few steps you can take to keep acne spots at bay.

While you want to keep your skin clean, scrubbing too much is bad too. Use gentle cleansers rather than those designed to dry your skin out. It's also wise to keep hair clean, as oils in the hair can move down onto your face and worsen acne.

It's worth changing your pillowcase often and cleaning your phone screen regularly too. Of course, don't hesitate to see your doctor if you think they can help – there are lots of effective acne treatments that are only available on prescription, from hormonal contraceptives to topicals.

Why you should trust us

We spend hours scouring the Mumsnet forums to find the very best recommendations for everything you might need.

Many Mumsnet users have teenage children and struggle with their own skin so they know all about the world of acne treatments.

Mumsnet users have shared their honest opinions on which products are really worth using. Here are the 10 best acne treatments for adults and teens.

1. Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, £16

1. Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, £16

A blend of salicylic acid (to attack the spot) and calamine lotion (to soothe any inflammation and redness) makes this suitable for even the most sensitive skin – yet still incredibly effective.

Just make sure to only put it directly on the spot with a cotton bud to stop your skin from drying out.

“It's the only thing that works for me. I put it on at night with a cotton bud and can feel it sting but, hey presto, the spot dries up by morning! Expensive but lasts ages too.”

Buy now from Beauty Bay

2. Alpha H Liquid Gold, £33.92

2. Alpha H Liquid Gold, £33.92

This multi-award winning overnight peel does pretty much everything – reduces fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, spots and blackheads. Packed with glycolic acid, it resurfaces the skin and dries out any spots whilst peeling your skin for exfoliation.

“If you really want to target the spots topically now and then, long-term Alpha H would probably work really well for you (in particular the Liquid Gold).”

Buy now from Amazon

3. TCP Original Antiseptic Liquid, £3.99

3. TCP Original Antiseptic Liquid, £3.99

This one is great if you only get the odd spot here or there – don't put this all over your skin, as it will dry out. A tiny bit of TCP directly on the spot overnight should bring it down.

“TCP. Cheap and dries out all spots. I hardly get them but when I get them they are always central on my face. TCP at night and spot dried out by morning. Stinks though so not for day-to-day use.”

Buy now from Amazon

4. Origins Spot Remover, £19.40

4. Origins Spot Remover, £19.40

This little blue package from Origins is one of the most popular spot treatments around – and for good reason. As well as salicylic acid, this one contains clove oil, apple and algae extract, and witch hazel, staying true to Origins' style of combining the most effective ingredients from nature and the lab.

“Origins have something in a tiny blue bottle. Expensive but lasts ages and works a treat.”

Buy now from Amazon

5. Aesop Control Serum, £15

5. Aesop Control Serum, £15

If you like your spot treatments to be trendy and look nice in your bathroom, this might be the one for you. It contains niacinamide also known as Vitamin B3, which can quite literally do everything for your skin, from bringing down blemishes to softening fine lines and wrinkles.

“I use Aesop Control Gel.”

I couldn't explain why it's so much better than any other topical treatments I've tried, so consulted Dr Google to find out what's in it. Apparently “it contains vit c, niacinamide and salicylic acid but its in an aloe base so it calms, gets rid of the redness and hydrates – as opposed to harsher products designed to ‘dry-out’ spots. They don’t need drying out, they need nourishment.”"

Buy now from Amazon

6. Sudocrem Antiseptic Cream, £7.89 for 3

6. Sudocrem Antiseptic Cream, £7.89 for 3

Not just for babies bottoms, Sudocrem has loads of zinc oxide which dries oily skin and has antibacterial properties. That's not even the only active ingredient – there's also benzyl alcohol, benzyl benzoate and lanolin too.

Plus, Mumsnet users rave about it.

“I, too, recently tried Sudocrem and was amazed. I put it on before bed and in the morning the spots were greatly reduced (not erased) and the redness had faded quite a lot.”

Buy now from Amazon

7. Neutrogena Visibly Clear Spot Stress Spot Treatment Moisturiser, £6.98

7. Neutrogena Visibly Clear Spot Stress Spot Treatment Moisturiser, £6.98

If you're concerned about drying skin out when trying to get rid of acne, this moisturizer might solve your dilemma. It helps to clear spots by penetrating deep down into pores, while moisturising at the same time – double whammy.

“Neutrogena 3-in-1 Stress Control Spot Treatment is fab. It also contains salicylic acid and is a very light gel/lotion moisturiser – perfect for summer.”

Buy now from Amazon

8. Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Clearing Gel, £22

8. Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Clearing Gel, £22

This gel aims to zap spots into oblivion, with witch hazel and salycylic acid. Mumsnetters adore it, and we can see why. A little goes a long way and it dries clear to ensure no one pays any extra attention to your spots.

“The Clinque Blemish range is brilliant. I tried everything and nothing worked. I'm 40 years old and get breakouts like a puberty-ridden teenager. The Clinque stuff really works. It takes a couple of weeks, but persevere – it really gets rid of them.”

Buy now from Amazon

9. La Roche-Posay Effaclar A.I. Targeted Breakout Corrector, £12.46

9. La Roche-Posay Effaclar A.I. Targeted Breakout Corrector, £12.46

Formulated for oily skin, this product from French pharmacy staple La Roche-Posay helps to fight the cause of spots and clear pores with niacinamide and lipo-hydroxy acids to exfoliate gently.

“La Roche Posay Effaclar range works for me. It’s the only thing that had ever made a difference.”

Buy now from Amazon

10. The Ordinary Salycylic Mask 2%, £12.70

10. The Ordinary Salycylic Mask 2%, £12.70

This mask is a blend of clays, charcoal and salicylic acid – and its the first mask from cult skincare champions The Ordinary.

It's great if you want to kill two birds with one stone as it's exfoliates with acids while simultaneously deep-cleansing with clays. Great for combination skin or as a preventative measure.

“Get some salicylic acid on it (The Ordinary one is good value) to gently clear the acne but find out the root cause.”

Buy now from Amazon

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