When it comes to over-the-counter acne medications, there is one clear winner: benzoyl peroxide. When it is applied properly it can reliably and completely clear the skin. The only other FDA-approved over-the-counter treatments are salicylic acid, sulfur, and resorcinol, all of which come with drawbacks, not the least of which being that none of them completely clear the skin.
A helper: alpha-hydroxy-acids: Alpha hydroxy acids, like glycolic acid, are not officially FDA-approved acne medications. However, glycolic acid is available over-the-counter in up to 10% strength, and can powerfully exfoliate the skin, increasing the power of benzoyl peroxide.
Only have a few minutes? Check out these articles first:
Latest in Over-the-counter Treatments
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) How Lactic Acid Helps with Acne Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), best known for its anti-aging properties. But similar to other AHAs, it may help reduce acne through... June 01, 2020
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) How Glycolic Acid Helps with Acne Glycolic acid is the most-used alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) for acne treatment. It exfoliates the skin, helping to unclog pores. It is available over-the-counter in strengths up to 10% and in professionally-administered peels in strengths up to 70%. June 01, 2020
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) How Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) Help with Acne Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), like glycolic acid, lactic acid, and mandelic acid, help clear acne by exfoliating the skin, helping to reduce the clogging of... May 28, 2020
Devices Heat Therapy for Acne Heat therapy does little to clear pimples and has scant research to back it up. It can also be expensive. May 28, 2020
Devices Why Spinning Face Brushes Are Not a Good Idea for Acne-Prone Skin Spinning brushes physically irritate the skin. To avoid acne, it is best to avoid any form of physical irritation, so it is safest to forgo these brushes, even if they are advertised as "gentle." Instead, use only your bare hands and a gentle facial cleanser and wash gently for 10 seconds or less. May 03, 2020
Benzoyl Peroxide What is Benzoic Acid and Can it Help Clear Acne? After you apply benzoyl peroxide to the skin it breaks down into (1) hydrogen peroxide, and (2) benzoic acid. Hydrogen peroxide kills acne bacteria. But... April 26, 2020
Sulfur Sulfur for Acne Sulfur has been used for thousands of years for its ability to shed the top layer of skin cells and limit bacterial growth. Both of these mechanisms help reduce acne. Its effectiveness is increased when combined with benzoyl peroxide or sodium sulfacetamide. April 26, 2020