11 Best OTC Acne Treatment Products (2024), As Per A Cosmetic Dermatologist

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

Medically reviewed by Dr. Schwarzburg, MD
Written by Sakshi Bahal, MA (English Literature)
Edited by Rajeshwari Das, MA (Journalism & Mass Communication)
Fact-checked by Krati Darak, MBA, Certified Skin Care Coach  • 

Dealing with acne can be frustrating physically, emotionally, and mentally. You may have tried various natural remedies, hoping for some help, or are in 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 we have curated after carefully studying the user reviews! Scroll down and make an informed choice.

Top PicksCheck Prize
Best Gentle:Dr. Song 10% Benzoyl Peroxide WashPrice on Amazon
Best For Oily Skin:Proactiv Solution 3-Step Acne Treatment SystemPrice on Amazon
Best Cruelty-Free:Humane 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Acne WashPrice on Amazon
Best For Sensitive Skin:TreeActiv Cystic Acne Spot TreatmentPrice on Amazon
Best For All Skin Types:DRMTLGY 24 Hour Acne SerumPrice on Amazon
Best Oil-Free:Acne Free 3 Step 24 Hour Acne Clearing SystemPrice on Amazon
Best Natural Ingredients:Acne Treatment Inc Cystic Acne TreatmentPrice on Amazon
Best Affordable:Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne TreatmentPrice on Amazon
Best Non-Greasy:Genius Cure Acne Spot Treatment SerumPrice on Amazon
Best Fragrance-Free:CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream CleanserPrice on Amazon

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.

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.”

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, oils, 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 ingredients with proven efficacy, such as 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 prevention and treatment products that are worth trying out. Read on to find some gems that actually work.

11 Best OTC Acne Treatment Products To Reduce Breakouts – 2024

1. Best Gentle:Dr. Song 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Wash

4.2
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.

Skin Type: Oily, Combination, Acne-Prone, Normal

Pros

  • Contains 10% benzoyl peroxide
  • Can be used on face and body
  • Gentle on sensitive skin
  • Shows visible results
  • Made in the USA
  • No animal testing
  • Cruelty-free
  • Affordable

Cons

None

Our Tester's Experience

"I used to struggle with breakouts till I found this product. I've been using it diligently for 3 years now. It eased my bacne as well, a notch above my previous brand. I truly appreciate the variable strength suitable for my face vs back. The creamy, fragrance-free formula is a delight, and it doesn't dry out my skin. Worked wonders on my problem areas within days! It's a quality cleanser that also hydrates skin. I'd certainly give it more than 5 stars."

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

Why We Think It's Worth Buying

More than 3,852 Amazon users have vouched for this amazing product.

2. Best For Oily Skin:Proactiv Solution 3-Step Acne Treatment System

4.4
Proactiv Solution 3-Step Acne Treatment System Image: Proactiv

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.

Skin Type: Oily, Combination | | Product Dimensions: 11.25 x 7.5 x 2.25 inches | Weight: 11.67 Ounces

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

Our Tester's Experience

"I've been using these products for years, rotating every 6 months with others for my hormonal acne. They can be drying for those some, so monitor your skin's response and adjust usage accordingly or choose their line for sensitive skin. The set's size isn't large, but enough to test its effectiveness."


3. Best Cruelty-Free:Humane 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Wash

4.2

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 and clears pores, and soothes inflammation and irritated skin. The non-foaming cleanser is free of harmful chemicals and assists in redness reduction, so you can use it without fear of damaging your skin. This video review reveals the tester’s experience to provide you with added insights on the product.

Skin Type: Oily, Combination, Acne-Prone | Product Dimensions: 2.4 x 2.4 x 5.75 inches | Weight: 8 Ounces

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.

Our Tester's Experience

"I find this product immensely helpful, especially for my oily skin. It deep cleanses, reducing acne significantly when used correctly. One pump suffices for the face and body, drying up excessive oil. It's a product I plan to repurchase."


Why We Think It's Worth Buying

This product is so liked by shoppers that it has gained over 3,314 great reviews on Amazon.

Dr. Song 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Wash
Best Gentle
Proactiv Solution 3-Step Acne Treatment System
Best For Oily Skin
Humane 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Wash
Best Cruelty-Free
Skin Type Oily, Combination, Acne-Prone, Normal Oily, Combination Oily, Combination, Acne-Prone
Dimensions- 11.25 x 7.5 x 2.25 inches 2.4 x 2.4 x 5.75 inches
Weight- 11.67 Ounces 8 Ounces
Rating
Reviews3,85239,4263,314
Price$24.92$35$24.95

4. Best For Sensitive Skin:TreeActiv Cystic Acne Spot Treatment

4
Cystic Acne Spot Treatment Image: Treeactiv

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. Watch this YouTube video to see the reviewer’s experience of the product.

Skin Type: All

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

Our Tester's Experience

"This product is so good — within a week my skin felt transformed! The blemishes minimized significantly overnight. I make sure to use just a tiny amount to avoid drying out my skin.. A little truly goes a long way, making this a valuable addition to my skin care routine."


Why We Think It's Worth Buying

Almost 3,200 happy users have mentioned the value and quality of this product.

5. Best For All Skin Types:DRMTLGY 24 Hour Acne Serum

4.1
DRMTLGY Acne Spot Treatment Image: Drmtlgy
Now 8% Off

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 effective results within 24 hours. The serum dissolves oils that clog your pores to help reduce future breakouts without drying out your skin.

Skin Type: Oily, Combination, Sensitive, Dry, Normal

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
  • Dermatologist-recommended

Cons

  • 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.

6. Best Oil-Free:Acne Free 3 Step 24 Hour Acne Clearing System

4.3
Acne Free 3 Step 24 Hour Acne Treatment Kit Image: Acnefree

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.

Skin Type: Oily, Sensitive

Pros

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

Cons

  • Contains parabens.

Our Tester's Experience

"Using this face wash helped me handle my adult acne effectively - mornings and nights. Even during random breakouts, one wash brought notable improvement. It worked remarkably for my teenagers as well as my young daughter, making it a reliable family choice and a good skin-care introduction."


7. Best Natural Ingredients: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 scar-fading formula also contains bentonite clay that purifies the skin, along with rosemary and coconut oils, to provide nourishment and hydration.

Product Dimensions: 1.37 x 0.9 x 3.07 inches | Weight: 0.71 Ounces

Pros

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

Cons

  • Not effective on all skin types.

8. Best Affordable:Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment

4.5
Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment Image: Differin

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 brand claims that this gel contains dermatologist-developed over-the-counter acne retinoid which can reduce up to 87% of acne with visible results within 12 weeks. It’s worth a shot, especially for those who have struggled with severe acne for a long time.

Skin Type: Sensitive | Product Dimensions: 4 x 5 x 7 inches | Weight: 1.12 Ounces

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.

Our Tester's Experience

"This gel is effective from the first use. It's like a priceless gift for my skin which now feels rejuvenated just like a baby's skin!"


9. Best Non-Greasy:Genius Cure Acne Spot Treatment Serum

4.3
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.

Skin Type: Oily, Combination, Dry, Normal | Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 1.2 x 3.1 inches | Weight: 1 Ounces.

Pros

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

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Inconsistent results

Our Tester's Experience

"My journey with chemical exfoliants started with mandelic acid serum, and it's been transformational. Initially meant to clear hormonal acne, it brought unexpected improvements in skin texture and fewer clogs. It's gentle, non-irritating, and visibly brightens my super-sensitive skin. A great addition to anyone's skincare routine."


10. Best Fragrance-Free:CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser

4.5
CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser Image: Cerave

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.

Skin Type: Oily | Product Dimensions: 1.58 x 2.44 x 7.56 inches | Weight: 5.93 Ounces.

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.

Our Tester's Experience

"This benzoyl peroxide cleanser with ceramides is ideal for retaining moisture whilst managing my oily T-zone and occasional stress acne. It excels at targeting acne areas without causing irritation or redness."


Why We Think It's Worth Buying

It has gained over 1,362 positive reviews on Amazon, making it an all-time best-seller.

11. Best Lightweight:Keeva Organics Tea Tree Oil Acne Treatment Cream

4.1
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 sebum production and targets clogged dirt in pores and blemishes, keeping the skin clear and moisturized.

Skin Type: All | Product Dimensions: 4 x 4 x 4 inches | Weight: 4.16 Ounces

Pros

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

Cons

  •  Might not be safe for breastfeeding and pregnant ladies

Our Tester's Experience

"I've grappled with acne for years and found the Keeva Tea Tree Oil Acne Cream to be effective. My breakouts reduced significantly, without any irritation or dryness, with notable results in just a few days. It's vegan and comes in travel-friendly packaging. This cream is worth a try for a natural acne solution."


Why We Think It's Worth Buying

This product has garnered over 2,585 positive reviews on Amazon, and the number continues to grow.

The Bottom Line

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. Some such treatments include the Dr. Song 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Wash which is gentle on sensitive skin, the Proactiv Solution 3-Step Acne Treatment System which is suitable for oily and combination skin, and the Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment which soothes inflamed skin. 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, scientifically formulated 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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