11 Best OTC Acne Treatment Products

by Sakshi Bahal
This post contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Our product selection process.

Living with acne can be painful – both literally and figuratively. Hence, finding the ideal product to get rid of breakouts is a high priority for those with acne-prone skin. Some people depend on natural home remedies, while others visit dermatologists for a cure. But there are also a ton of OTC acne treatment products available on the market that can help clear your zits with relatively less fuss. Check out this compilation of the 11 best over-the-counter acne treatment products that are sure to help soothe your skin.

ProductsCheck Prize
Dr. Song 10% Benzoyl Peroxide WashCheck Price
Proactiv Solution 3-Step Acne Treatment SystemCheck Price
Humane 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Acne WashCheck Price
TreeActiv Cystic Acne Spot TreatmentCheck Price
DRMTLGY 24 Hour Acne SerumCheck Price
Acne Free 3 Step 24 Hour Acne Clearing SystemCheck Price
Acne Treatment Inc Cystic Acne TreatmentCheck Price
Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne TreatmentCheck Price
Genius Cure Acne Spot Treatment SerumCheck Price
CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream CleanserCheck Price

How to Choose An OTC Acne Treatment Product

1. Product Type

OTC acne medication is available in the form of cleansers, toners, astringents, lotions, creams, gels, and ointments. Anti-acne cleansers rid your face of dirt and impurities that lead to clogged pores. Toners are excellent for calming inflamed skin. Leave-on medicated treatments are most effective because they remain on your skin for longer. However, they may also irritate your skin more than cleansers and toners.

2. Skin Type

It is vital to categorize your skin type – whether dry, oily, combination, or sensitive. This will help narrow down your product choices. Astringents, foaming cleansers, and oil-free lotions and gels work best for oily skin. With dry skin, it is preferable to use non-foaming or cream-based cleansers, alcohol-free toners, as well as creams, lotions, and ointments.

3. Active Ingredient

Look at the active ingredients in different products to figure out what might work best for you. Dermatologists prefer products that contain salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, or retinoids like adapalene. Salicylic acid works well for mild breakouts and blackheads, while benzoyl peroxide is better suited for treating mild to moderate acne. Other potent anti-acne ingredients include sulfur, tea tree oil, witch hazel, and resorcinol. Non-comedogenic products are preferable since they don’t block pores and compound the existing acne.

4. Strength

Once you have identified an active ingredient that you feel would help your acne issues, choose what strength you want that active ingredient to be. For salicylic acid, the range is 0.5% to 2%. Higher concentrations are most effective, but do keep in mind that if your skin is easily irritated, you could do better with a lower concentration. Benzoyl peroxide is available in 2.5 to 10% strength, but again, higher concentrations come with more side effects, such as dryness and scaling. If you are confused, try starting with a lower concentration to be safe. If you are not satisfied with the results, you can slowly work your way up to a stronger strength.

Let’s now check out the 11 best OTC acne treatment products that are worth trying out. Read on to find some gems that actually work.

Top 11 OTC Acne Treatment Products

1. Dr. Song 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Wash

Dr. Song 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Wash

The Dr. Song 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Wash is an excellent acne treatment, and it has glorious reviews to back up its claims. The formula contains 10% benzoyl peroxide, which is very effective in clearing up even stubborn acne. While it is gentle enough to use safely on your face, the potency of the formula is more than capable of fighting zits on other parts of the body as well.

Pros

  • Contains 10% benzoyl peroxide
  • Can be used on face and body
  • Gentle on sensitive skin
  • Shows visible results
  • Made in the USA
  • Paraben-free
  • Cruelty-free
  • Affordable 

Cons

None

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2. Proactiv Solution 3-Step Acne Treatment System

Proactiv Solution 3-Step Acne Treatment System

An all-in-one skin care kit is the most convenient way out when you can’t figure out which products work best for you. This 3-step acne treatment system from Proactiv includes a Renewing Cleanser, a Revitalizing Toner, and a Repairing Treatment. It helps clear existing acne marks from your skin while soothing any redness and inflammation. With regular use, it also prevents the appearance of new breakouts. The Proactiv Solution targets the build-up of dead skin cells and excess oil – the two root causes of acne bacteria – to leave you with a clearer complexion.

Pros

  • Suitable for oily and combination skin
  • Contains benzoyl peroxide acne medication
  • Toner contains glycolic acid
  • 3 products in 1 kit
  • Starter kit lasts one month
  • Provides gentle exfoliation
  • Dermatologist-tested
  • Shows visible results 

Cons

  • Contains parabens

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3. Humane 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Wash

Humane 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Wash

The Humane 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Wash is a facial cleanser formulated with 10% benzoyl peroxide. It is powerful enough to fight stubborn adult acne both on the face and other parts of your body, such as the back. Benzoyl peroxide is reputed to be a potent acne medication that not only kills acne-causing bacteria but also unclogs your pores and soothes inflammation on irritated skin. The non-foaming cleanser is free of harmful chemicals, so you can use it without fear of damaging your skin.

Pros

  • Can be used on the face and body
  • Dermatologist-tested
  • Paraben-free
  • Sulfate-free
  • Formaldehyde-free
  • Fragrance-free
  • Cruelty-free
  • Vegan 

Cons

  • May not be as effective on all skin types.

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4. TreeActiv Cystic Acne Spot Treatment

TreeActiv Cystic Acne Spot Treatment

If you have struggled with cystic acne and want something soothing that actually heals your skin without causing more damage, look no further. The TreeActiv Cystic Acne Spot Treatment has a fast-acting formula that can clear up severe acne while being gentle enough for sensitive skin. It clears clogged pores, eliminates dead skin cells, and nourishes the skin. The spot treatment contains bentonite clay that purges toxins from the sebaceous glands and purifies the skin.

Pros

  • Packed with all-natural ingredients
  • Effective on cystic acne
  • Made in the USA
  • Cruelty-free
  • Vegan
  • Paraben-free
  • Palm oil-free
  • Non-GMO 

Cons

  • Expensive

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5. DRMTLGY 24 Hour Acne Serum

DRMTLGY 24 Hour Acne Serum

This acne serum from DRMTLGY claims to dry breakouts quickly while preventing the occurrence of new ones. It is suitable for use on both the face and the body. The formula contains micronized benzoyl peroxide 5% and glycolic acid that blend to create a potent anti-acne serum. It also effectively reduces pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads, showing results within 24 hours. The serum dissolves oils that clog your pores to help reduce future breakouts without drying out your skin.

Pros

  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Contains 5% benzoyl peroxide
  • Contains glycolic acid
  • Reduces acne scarring
  • Paraben-free
  • Sulfate-free
  • Cruelty-free
  • Travel-friendly packaging

Cons

  • May irritate sensitive skin.

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6. Acne Free 3 Step 24 Hour Acne Clearing System

Acne Free 3 Step 24 Hour Acne Clearing System

Benzoyl peroxide, witch hazel, and aloe vera come together in this 3-step acne clearing system that is formulated to work on mild to severe acne. The oil-free acne cleanser contains 2.5% benzoyl peroxide and is enriched with ceramides. The mattifying toner provides shine control and contains witch hazel, glycolic acid, and aloe vera. The last step is the oil-free acne lotion that treats your acne issues using ceramides and 3.7% benzoyl peroxide.

Pros

  • Shows results in 3 days
  • Dermatologist-recommended
  • Suitable for oily skin
  • Soothes inflammation
  • Unclogs pores
  • Softens skin
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Contains parabens.

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7. Acne Treatment Inc Cystic Acne Treatment

Acne Treatment Inc Cystic Acne Treatment

This one from Acne Treatment Inc is a natural solution for dealing with cystic acne and the resulting scars. It contains 100% natural ingredients, such as aloe vera extract, organic arnica, and tea tree oil. The potent antibacterial compounds fight severe acne to show results within five days. The formula also contains bentonite clay that purifies the skin, along with rosemary and coconut oils, to provide nourishment and hydration.

Pros

  • Contains natural ingredients
  • Soothes inflammation
  • Non-drying
  • Effective on cystic acne
  • Reduces scarring
  • Non-irritating
  • Made in the USA 

Cons

  • Not effective on all skin types.

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8. Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment

Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment

Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment helps clear existing acne and prevent future breakouts using Adapalene – a prescription-strength retinoid. The gel regulates cell turnover to transform the surface of your skin. It also soothes inflammation deep under the skin, which helps prevent pimples and clears blackheads and clogged pores. The gel claims to reduce up to 87% of acne within 12 weeks, which makes it worth a shot, especially for those who have struggled with severe acne for a long time.

Pros

  • FDA-approved
  • Developed by dermatologists
  • Contains prescription-strength retinoid
  • Reduces 87% acne in 12 weeks
  • Effective on cystic and hormonal acne
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Boosts cell turnover 

Cons

  • Contains parabens.
  • May dry out the skin.

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9. Genius Cure Acne Spot Treatment Serum

Genius Cure Acne Spot Treatment Serum

This spot-treatment serum for acne is formulated to deal with all kinds of skin troubles, from mild to severe acne. It speeds up the healing of acne-prone skin, clears existing breakouts, and reduces spots and scars while also preventing new breakouts. The serum contains small molecules with a higher penetration capacity, which allows it to reach deep beneath the skin to target acne at its core. The product is free of harsh chemicals and is a safe way to heal and soothe acne-prone skin.

Pros

  • Dries breakouts quickly
  • Prevents new breakouts
  • Effective on cystic acne
  • Non-greasy
  • Gets absorbed quickly
  • Paraben-free
  • Cruelty-free 

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Inconsistent results

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10. CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser

CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser

The CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser is an acne treatment face wash formulated with 4% benzoyl peroxide, along with niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and three essential ceramides. The cream to foam formula is gentle on sensitive skin and keeps it hydrated. It works effectively on existing pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads and keeps the skin protected against new breakouts. The cleanser gently eliminates dirt, oil, makeup, and impurities from the skin without drying it out.

Pros

  • Gentle formula for sensitive skin
  • Contains 4% benzoyl peroxide
  • Keeps the skin hydrated
  • Soothes inflammation
  • Fragrance-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Non-comedogenic 

Cons

  • Can cause bleach stains on towels.
  • The runny texture doesn’t lather well.

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11. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment

The Effaclar Adapalene Gel contains 0.1% adapalene, a dermatologist-recommended retinoid of prescription-strength. Adapalene is a powerful derivative of vitamin A, which helps regulate skin cell turnover. It eliminates dead skin cells and prevents clogged pores. The topical retinoid is designed for daily use and helps clear and prevent whiteheads, blackheads, and acne blemishes. The non-greasy formula is absorbed quickly into the skin and is particularly effective on oily, acne-prone skin.

Pros

  • Suitable for oily and acne-prone skin
  • Oil-free
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Gets absorbed quickly
  • Fragrance-free
  • Dermatologist-tested 

Cons

  • Contains parabens
  • Expensive

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That was our round-up of the 11 best OTC acne treatment products that are currently ruling the market. These products have powerful formulas that put up a fight against even the most stubborn acne – including hormonal and cystic acne. A clear complexion needs no longer be a wishful fantasy. Use our tips to choose the most suitable products for your skin and watch your complexion transform.

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Sakshi Bahal

Sakshi Bahal has a Masters degree in English Literature from Calcutta University. She was a part of the editorial team of her school magazine. Her love for writing inspired her to take up literature and follow that up with creative writing after completing her education. She has been writing on beauty and skin care for the past 4 years.Sakshi has also authored a compilation of high school essays. A self-declared bookworm, she enjoys traveling, music, movies, and lots of coffee.
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