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So you’ve got acne, it probably feels like the end of the world because it’s so painful and makes you look and feel terrible. But acne is the most common skin condition in the world, and this is great news because it means that there’s an absolute mountain of products out on the market specifically designed to treat acne.
If you’ve come here to get some information on the best acne creams available right now and how they can work for you, then you’ve come to the right place.
What is acne?
As mentioned above, acne is the most common skin condition in the world, affecting 3 out of every 4 people at some point in their lives. Puberty is mostly when acne will hit, because the production of the male hormone, testosterone, is increasing and over-stimulating the oil production on your skin. This oil is called sebum and when you have too much of it, it can mix with dirt and hair in your pores and cause acne.
Here’s some factors that can exacerbate your acne:
- Certain medications
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Poor diet/not exercising
- Being pregnant
- Hormonal changes (puberty)
Acne can range from mild to severe, here are the kinds of spots you can expect to see on your skin if you’re experiencing acne:
- Blind pimples
- Cystic acne (large, painful, pus filled pimples that burst and spread the infection)
As mentioned above, acne severity varies. Mild acne is often not referred to as acne but is characterized by a few whiteheads, pimples or blackheads that will appear at random and will disappear quite quickly with little to no scarring.
Moderate acne will mean you develop more pimples that are quite swollen and inflamed and filled with pus – you may even experience a few blind pimples. Severe acne will mean you have an abundance of whiteheads, blackheads, pimples and blind pimples all over your face that are sore and can result in scarring and skin pigmentation issues.
If you’re not sure about what kind of acne you have, pop down to the doctor so they can check your skin out and recommend a course of treatment suitable to the severity of your condition.
What is acne cream?
Acne creams are topical treatments that go directly onto the skin and your breakouts. Depending on what ingredients are in the cream, they will be able to kill the bacteria in your acne, reduce the redness and keep the skin nourished and healthy.
The best acne cream will be one that isn’t too harsh on the skin and can be used in your daily routine. You may even want to consider having a few different types. One for everyday use and one for when the breakouts are at their worst – something a bit harsher that you won’t be using everyday but will be handy to have on hand if things go pear-shaped.
It’s important to note, as this article suggests, that acne creams are best used on mild to moderate acne, severe acne may require oral medications in conjunction with a topical remedy. Ask your doctor if you’re unsure what’s best for you.
How to choose the best acne cream
Get to know your skin. Ask yourself, do I have dry or oily skin? If you have oily skin you’re going to want to get a cream that will strip away excess oil as normal but also inhibit your skin’s oil production to reduce further breakouts. If you have dry skin, a cream that will also moisturise as it’s fighting off your acne is what you’re going to need.
Depending on what severity your acne is, the cream you get will need to match that intensity. If you’ve got mild acne then get a mild cream, if it’s severe you may want to invest in a daily cream and a cream for when you’re experiencing bad breakouts and need something a little tougher to combat your flare-ups.
Make sure to look out for these acne-fighting ingredients:
- Benzoyl peroxide – Kills bacteria and strips away excess oil
- Salicylic acid – Not as harsh as it sounds but great at removing excess dirt and preventing pores from getting clogged
- Sulfur – Removes dead skin cells from the skin’s surface
- Tea tree oil – A natural ingredient known to fight acne with its anti-inflammatory/antibacterial properties
- Azelaic acid – Unclogs pores and kills bacteria
10 best acne creams
We’ve scoured the internet for the best of the best acne creams, recommended by users worldwide from first-hand experiences. Be sure to use the product as directed on the label for it to work most effectively.
Clearasil Ultra Rapid Action Vanishing Acne Treatment Cream
When you’ve got an acne flare up, you’re going to want instant relief. Clearasil has created a product that they claim will reduce your spots within just 4 hours. As a popular and well known brand in the acne market you can trust that this product will deliver. It is however, on the harsher side so try to use this sparingly and only on very stubborn acne.
- Trusted brand
- Claims to work in 4 hours to visible reduce acne
- Main ingredient is benzoyl peroxide
- Contains gluconolactone which is an exfoliant
- Can be quite harsh on the skin, best used on the most stubborn acne that doesn’t respond to milder treatments
Avène Cleanance Expert
This product comes from the well known skincare brand Avène. It claims to reduce excess sebum, reduce the appearance of blackheads, redness and blemishes whilst smoothing skin texture. This is a great one to be used on sensitive skin and it claims to do everything you need when fighting acne. Best on mild to moderate acne, hydrates and mattifies at the same time so it would be suitable for all skin types.
- Well-known brand
- Anti-inflammatory/anti-irritation formula
- Paraben and oil free
- Can be used on sensitive skin
Price: $26 (1.3 fl oz) on Amazon
Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Spot Gel
Here’s another great acne fighting product from an extremely well known brand. It’s actually a gel and claims to have been clinically proven to reduce the redness and size of stubborn acne within a couple hours – amazing right? It combats your breakouts with benzoyl peroxide to kill bacteria and dry up the blemishes to reduce their appearance throughout the day (or night). It’s not recommended for sensitive skin because of its potency, so this may be a product you use every other day instead of a daily treatment.
- Claims to be clinically proven to reduce blemishes in 2 hours
- Contains benzoyl peroxide
- Well known brand
- Keeps working throughout the day and night to prevent further breakouts
- Not recommended for sensitive skin
- Can be very drying
Price: $6.84 (1oz) on Amazon
Clean & Clear Acne Control Kit
This handy little kit is from, once again, a very well known brand in the acne market. It comes with a cleanser, a spot treater and a moisturizer so you’ve got everything in one. We love this because it’s got everything you need to fight your existing acne and prevent future breakouts, and the acne spot cream will come in handy when you need a little extra relief from your blemishes. This is a great place to start if you’re a beginner to treating your acne, especially seeing as the brand takes a big focus on keeping the skin hydrated.
- Well known brand
- Hydrating, oil-free
- Fights existing and future acne
- Lots of positive reviews on Amazon (4/5 star rating, almost 1,000 reviews)
- Benzoyl peroxide is main ingredient
- Not fragrance free, may irritate sensitive skin prone to fragrance intolerance
Price: $20.25 on Amazon
Retinol Surge Moisturizer-Retinol Cream 2.5%
This retinol moisturizer from Body Merry is sure to be a crowd pleaser because it not only fights off acne with it’s green tea, jojoba oil and aloe vera but it also combats wrinkles as a preventative measure. Who wouldn’t love that? What’s even better is that it’s backed by a 90 day money back guarantee, so if you don’t love it, send it back for a refund. It’s a new product to try minus the risk! Best used on skin that’s dry as it’s very moisturizing.
- Fights acne with natural ingredients
- Also prevents wrinkles
- Fragrance and paraben free
- Hyaluronic acid to speed up cell turnover and lock in moisture
- Not great for oily skin
- Contains alcohol
Price: $20.98 (3.4 fl oz) on Amazon
Mario Badescu Drying Lotion
This product comes backed with over 2,000 reviews on Amazon and a 4 star average rating. It’s got salicylic acid, calamine, sulfur and zinc to rapidly dry out your blemishes overnight. You simply dab it onto the breakouts and in the morning you’ll be able to see a positive difference. It’s not the cheapest product ever but if you’re after effective relief from an outbreak, look no further than this little bottle of pink lotion.
- Only need to use a small amount
- Lots of reviews on Amazon
- Cleans pores, reduces redness and draws impurities out
- Overnight relief
Price: $17 (1 fl oz)on Amazon
Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment
Differin has created a prescription-grade retinoid acne product that is gentle enough to be used in your everyday skin care routine. It targets clogged pores and inflammation to prevent future breakouts and treat the acne you’re already experiencing. It even claims it will restore the texture and tone of your skin to it’s former healthy self – meaning that if you’ve got pigmentation issues, this product is going to help.
- Retinoid gel
- Can be used in everyday skin care routine
- Restores skin texture and tone
- Can bring on a “purging” stage, where you breakout worse than ever before until the gel starts working to reduce acne
Jovees Ayurveda Neem & Long Pepper Anti Acne And Pimple Cream
This one is quite the mouthful but has been pushed to the top of the list because of all the great natural ingredients it contains. It’s got long pepper, red sandalwood, neem and other helpful herbal extracts that help to clear out your current acne and prevent future breakouts whilst fading your acne scars. It’s supposed to be used on oily, sensitive skin but has been reported to work better for those with dry skin due to it’s moisturizing heavy cream texture.
- Neem to reduce redness, bacteria and inflammation, also treats acne scarring
- Lots of herbal ingredients
- Can be used on dry or oily skin
- Good for sensitive skin
- Not a well known brand and not many reviews on Amazon
Price: $9.99 (60g) on Amazon
La Roche Posay Effaclar System
This kit comes with a 2 month supply of acne wash, toner and cream that are said to give you visible results after day one. It’s a 3-step twice daily routine that may require a little more effort than what you’re used to but with ingredients like salicylic acid, glycolic acid to unclog pores and smooth your skin texture and lipo hydroxy acid to target oiliness, it’s going to be worth the time you’re putting in.
- Oil, paraben and fragrance free
- Great acne fighting ingredients
- Suitable for everyday use
- 3 step twice daily routine may be a bit time consuming
Price: $29.99 on Amazon
Keeva Organics Tea Tree Oil Acne Cream
Where do we start with this amazing product? Rosehip, shea butter, tea tree oil, argan oil, salicylic acid – the list goes on. This product from Keeva packs a powerhouse of natural acne-fighting ingredients that is said to deal with acne spots, scarring, cystic acne and hormonal acne without drying out your skin. And we believe it. With over 2,000 reviews on Amazon and a 4.5/5 star rating PLUS a 100 day money back guarantee from the company, this product is sure to have your skin restored to all of it’s pre-acne glory. Definitely worth the price.
- Over 2,000 reviews on Amazon with 4.5/5 stars overall rating
- Money back guarantee
- Lots of great natural ingredients
- Cruelty free
- Deals with scarring as well as acne whilst moisturizing the skin
Price: $24.95 (1 oz) on Amazon