The Best Drugstore Acne Products, According to Dermatologists
I didn’t find the product that cured my workout acne from a fancy boutique. The product that finally eased my plaguing acne symptoms—after years of trial-and-error and plenty of cash—came from the drugstore.
The misconception about skincare products as a whole is that price equals effectiveness. That’s definitely not true, and when it comes to treating breakouts and clearing your skin, some of the best, dermatologist-recommended options out there are shockingly affordable.
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Time is of the essence when you have a zit, so we asked the experts for their opinions on the best acne products you can buy at the drugstore. Keep scrolling for their thoughts on cleansers, moisturizers, and more.
Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser
Dermatologist Dr. Heidi Waldorf, of Waldorf Dermatology Aesthetics, recommends products from Aveeno's Clear Complexion line. Specifically, she says this cleanser is great for acne-prone skin because it's made with salicylic acid, which clears pores, as well as soy to hydrate the skin. "It's less irritating than the average salicylic acid cleanser," she notes.
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Face Toner Clarifying Solution
Another acne-focused drugstore skincare line that Dr. Waldorf recommends is La Roche-Posay's Effaclar collection. All the products in this lineup are formulated with blemish-fighting ingredients to clear breakouts and prevent them from popping up again. This toner is made with glycolic acid to exfoliate dead skin cells and dirt from the surface of the skin. Salicylic acid is added to the mixture to clear out pores. After cleansing, saturate a cotton pad with this solution, and gently run it over your skin and any problem areas.
Cetaphil Oil Control Moisturizer SPF 30
"I often recommend the Cetaphil PRO Dermacontrol line," says Austin-based Dermatologist, Dr. Ted Lain. "It contains a gentle cleanser and a moisturizer with sunscreen. Both products are formulated for acne-prone skin—the cleanser has specialized ingredients that help to remove excess oil without causing dryness or inflammation, while the moisturizer helps reduce shine, along with broad-spectrum UVA and UVB blockers."
Dickinson's Original Witch Hazel Pore Perfecting Toner
Dermatologist Dr. Marina I. Peredo says to look out for witch hazel, an ingredient that has cleansing, soothing, and healing properties. "For those suffering with acne, try Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel Pore Perfecting Toner, which uses a 100% natural witch hazel formula," suggests Dr. Peredo. "As a dermatologist, I always recommend this toner, as it helps to refine pores, remove excess oil, soothe irritation, and maintain skin’s natural balance."
Differin Acne Treatment Gel
Dr. Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical instructor at NYU Langone and Mount Sinai, says that Differin Gel is one of the most effective acne drugstore treatments. "Differin Gel is a prescription-strength retinoid that not only prevents acne from forming, but is also an anti-inflammatory, which makes it different from other retinoids," she explains.
This product not only unclogs pores, but also controls cell turnover and restores texture and tone.