With this guidance in mind, these are the best acne treatments, according to dermatologists—plus the products Vogue editors have tested and loved.
Best Tools for Acne
The best beauty tools are known to amplify even the most thorough skin-care regimens. That said, LED light therapy is often the blemish-fighting treatment recommended by our network of experts. Take a new approach to masking with the Dr. Dennis Gross LED device to combat blemishes by destroying acne-causing bacteria through an at-home blue light treatment known to kill acne-causing bacteria. Otherwise, the Solawave wand combines four treatments into one (red light therapy, micro-current technology, facial massage, and therapeutic warmth) to fade blemishes, increase absorption of skin-care ingredients, and promote a youthful complexion.
Best Face Wash for Acne
“If you notice that your skin is acne-prone, it can feel good to double cleanse because it helps degrease the skin,” says Bowe, who recommends starting with Bioderma’s micellar water, then cleansing with Skinfix’s foaming cleanser—both options, she notes, are gentle enough not to damage the skin barrier. Dr. Corey L. Hartman, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, Alabama, likes the CeraVe Foaming Cream Cleanser, especially for those with sensitive skin, and the SkinCeuticals LHA Cleanser Gel, which is formulated with a cocktail of acids to “treat acne and prevent aging.” Meanwhile, Wu recommends the Avène Cleansing Foam for those with acne-prone, dry, sensitive skin, and the Paula’s Choice Pore Normalizing Acne Cleanser for normal to oily skin types because it “contains salicylic acid to fight blackheads and congestion, along with panthenol to soothe skin and help prevent irritation.”
Best Toner for Acne
Post-cleanse, look for a toner or exfoliating solution to further unclog congested pores, wipe away dead skin, and remove impurities. Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant is one of the most recommended products, and Green says it’s gentle enough for daily use. “This product gently exfoliates the skin, breaking down sebum and debris that are clogging the pores to reveal a smoother, healthier complexion,” she explains. La Roche-Posay’s toner, too, leads with salicylic acid—working alongside glycolic acid to unclog pores and smooth bumpy skin.
Best Serum for Acne
If you’re interested in adding an acne-treating serum or moisturizer to your regimen, consider starting with The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%—a notably affordable option that’s recommended by several of our experts. “[Niacinamide] has a calming and brightening effect on the skin, helping to improve overall tone and texture while reducing breakouts and controlling excess sebum and oil production,” says Green, who notes that those with oily skin or breakouts will benefit from the healing, anti-inflammatory properties of this serum.