11 Best OTC Acne Treatment Products That Reduce Breakouts – 2023

For the beautiful, flawless skin of your dreams, you must have the right ingredients at hand,

Medically reviewed by Dr. SchwarzburgDr. Schwarzburg, MD
By Sakshi BahalSakshi Bahal  • 
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Dealing with acne can be frustrating physically, emotionally, and mentally. You might even be in a constant search for the best OTC acne treatment products. While natural home remedies and medical treatments are also available, we look at some of the OTC acne products available online. These products manage and reduce your breakouts. Keep reading to discover the top 11 over-the-counter acne products that will relieve your skin and decrease acne breakouts. Scroll down and make an informed choice.

Top Picks

How to Choose An OTC Acne Treatment Product

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.

Dr. Schwarzburg, MD, expert in cosmetic dermatology, suggests, “Before starting a new product, always do a patch test to see how your skin responds to it to avoid irritation or an allergic reaction.”
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, oils, and ointments.
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.
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

Best Gentle:Dr. Song 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Wash

Dr Song Benzoyl Peroxide Wash 10% with Hyaluronic Acid Acne Treatment: Acne Face Wash & Back Image: Dr Song

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.

  • 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



protip_icon Remember
Although both retinoids and benzoyl peroxide are potent acne-fighting ingredients, they should never be combined.

Why It’s Worth Buying: It has received 9,624 reviews on Amazon and is a popular choice among shoppers.
Price at the time of publication: $24.92

Best For Oily Skin: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.

  • 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


  • Contains parabens

Price at the time of publication: $35

Best Cruelty-Free: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. This video will provide you with added insights about the product.

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


  • May not be as effective on all skin types.

Why It’s Worth Buying: A whopping 7,644 reviews on Amazon make it obvious that users genuinely love this product.
Price at the time of publication: $24.95

Best For Sensitive Skin: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. Take a look at this video to know more about the product.

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


  • Expensive

Why It’s Worth Buying: The product has more than 6,451 reviews and is a top choice all around the world.
Price at the time of publication: $19.95

Best For All Skin Types: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.

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


  • May irritate sensitive skin.

protip_icon Pro Tip
You can combine this product with hydrating formulas like hyaluronic acid, squalene, and shea butter. These work wonders with benzoyl peroxide to replenish moisture and keep your skin from becoming dehydrated.

Price at the time of publication: $22.99

Best Oil-Free: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.

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


  • Contains parabens.

Price at the time of publication: $15.97

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.


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


  • Not effective on all skin types.

Price at the time of publication: $20.89

Best Affordable: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.

  • 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


  • Contains parabens.
  • May dry out the skin.

Price at the time of publication: $25.49

Best Non-Greasy:Genius Cure Acne Spot Treatment Serum

Divulge Beauty Daily Exfoliating Serum Image: Divulge Beauty

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.

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


  • Expensive
  • Inconsistent results

Price at the time of publication: $21.95

Best Fragrance-Free: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.

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


  • Can cause bleach stains on towels.
  • The runny texture doesn’t lather well.
Why It’s Worth Buying: This product is so liked by shoppers that it has gained over 23,585 great reviews on Amazon.
Price at the time of publication: $13.27

Best Lightweight:Keeva Organics Tea Tree Oil Acne Treatment Cream

Keeva Organics Acne Treatment Image: Keeva Organics

The Keeva Organics Tea Tree Oil Acne Treatment Cream is a lightweight acne face cream that fades acne scars, spots, fights acne breakouts and cystic acne. It is formulated with Tea Tree Oil, rich in antibacterial and antifungal properties and salicylic acid that treat acne right from the roots and prevent further breakouts. It balances oil production and targets clogged dirt in pores and blemishes, keeping the skin clear and moisturized.

  •  Lightweight
  •  Natural ingredients
  •  Suitable for all skin types
  •  Non-drying
  •  Shows quick results


  •  Might not be safe for breastfeeding and pregnant ladies
Why It’s Worth Buying: More than 2,585 Amazon users have vouched for this amazing product.
Price at the time of publication: $17.57

Acne breakouts can happen due to many factors, but to control them and keep all the acne-causing bacteria at bay, you need to get your hands on the best OTC acne treatment products. These products help to manage and reduce your breakouts. The ones reviewed above in the list are free from all harsh chemicals, and they are packed with ingredients that help fight stubborn acne. Consider the product type, skin type, go through the ingredients list and product strength before choosing the best OTC acne treatment products.

Why Trust StyleCraze?

Sakshi Bahal, the author of this article, is a skin care enthusiast. She knows the acne woes and has made it her job to find a solution for this common skin problem. After going through numerous user feedback and reviews available online, she compiled a list of the best OTC acne treatment products for her readers. The recommended products are lightweight, made of natural ingredients and are mostly free of harmful chemicals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does over-the-counter acne treatment work?

Yes, over-the-counter acne treatments work, mostly for mild acne cases. They may take three to four months to completely help you get rid of stubborn acne.

Which OTC acne product is considered a first line treatment?

Products with benzoyl peroxide, especially Dr. Song 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Wash is considered first line of treatment for acne.

Can salicylic acid cause more acne?

Yes, salicylic acid may cause more acne as it generally causes skin purging.

How can you determine which acne treatment is best for you?

Begin with low-impact acne treatment to understand whether the ingredients are suited to your skin. Start with treatments that contain benzoyl peroxide, adapalene, or both. Keep checking for visible results and keep reporting them to your dermatologist.

Are acne treatments safe during pregnancy?

No, some acne treatments may cause complications during pregnancy. Consult your doctor before committing to any of them.

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