What Makes an Acne System the ‘Best’ Acne Treatment?

A good acne treatment system comes down to the formulation, ingredients, and quality.

Treating Acne at any age can be tricky.  It is important to take a thoughtful approach and understand how the products you choose work.

Acne poses many challenges for our skin: excess oil, clogged pores, redness and of course whiteheads and pimples.

Here’s what you should consider when looking for the best acne treatment:

Multi-product Systems:

To clear acne effectively, you should be thoughtful in your approach to avoid mistakes in selecting the right acne treatment. A complete system must address the essentials: it should exfoliate, clear the skin’s pores, & remove the buildup of acne bacteria. This is why the best acne treatments use a multistep regimen.

Ingredients:

This is the most important factor – both the active ingredients (there are only a handful of effective OTC active ingredients to consider) but also the secondary ingredients. These will make the solution more effective and often impact how it affects your skin – for better or worse.

Surprisingly, no drugstore brand made our list but we took a deep dive into many of the better quality lines including the big TV brand, Proactiv… (or jump to our top pick’s review)

Here are the acne systems we think are worth considering:


comparison arrow
active ingredients icon
Scientific Actives
& Skin Repairing
Ingredients
Murad Clear Control
Murad®

Clear Control

Visit
Murad
Exposed Basic Kit
Exposed®

Basic Kit

Visit
Exposed
Paula's Choice CLEAR Regular Strength
Paula's Choice

CLEAR Regular Strength

Visit
Paula's Choice
Rodan & Fields Unblemished
Rodan & Fields®

Unblemish

Visit
Rodan & Fields
benzoyl peroxide icon
Benzoyl PeroxideKills Acne Bacteria
salicylic acid icon
Salicylic AcidUnclogs Pores
glycolic acid icon
Glycolic AcidRenews Skin
sulfur icon
SulfurDries Sebum
azelaic acid icon
Natural Dicarboxylic AcidNormalizes Skin
natural extracts icon
Natural Extracts
Proven to Heal
Skin
Murad®

Clear Control

Visit
Murad
Exposed®

Basic Kit

Visit
Exposed
Paula's Choice

CLEAR Regular Strength

Visit
Paula's Choice
Rodan & Fields®

Unblemish

Visit
Rodan & Fields
green tea icon
Green TeaKills Acne Bacteria
passion flower icon
Passion FlowerReduces Inflammation
aloe vera icon
Aloe VeraSoothes Irritated Skin
sage extract icon
Sage ExtractFights Free Radicals
goru kola icon
Gotu KolaImproves Skin Healing
value icon
Guarantee and Price(60-day supply)
60 days$79.94
365 days$59.95
60 days$48.00
30 days$193.99
amazon icon
Amazon Rating(Updated 9/10/2019)
3.683 reviews
4.01,663 reviews
3.8219 reviews
3.650 reviews
google icon
Google Shopping Rating(Updated 9/10/2019)
4.0529 reviews
4.5929 reviews
4.2568 reviews
4.02,756 reviews
staff rating icon
Staff Rating
Exposed Basic Kit
Exposed®

Basic Kit

active ingredients icon
Scientific Actives & Skin Repairing Ingredients
benzoyl peroxide icon
Benzoyl PeroxideKills Acne Bacteria
salicylic acid icon
Salicylic AcidUnclogs Pores
glycolic acid icon
Glycolic AcidRenews Skin
sulfur icon
SulfurDries Sebum
azelaic acid icon
Natural Dicarboxylic AcidNormalizes Skin
natural extracts icon
Natural Extracts Proven to Heal Skin
green tea icon
Green TeaKills Acne Bacteria
passion flower icon
Passion FlowerReduces Inflammation
aloe vera icon
Aloe VeraSoothes Irritated Skin
sage extract icon
Sage ExtractFights Free Radicals
goru kola icon
Gotu KolaImproves Skin Healing
value icon
Guarantee and Price(60-day supply)
365 days$59.95
amazon icon
Amazon Rating(Updated 9/10/2019)
4.01,663
reviews
google icon
Google Shopping Rating(Updated 9/10/2019)
4.5929
reviews
staff rating icon
Staff Rating
Murad Clear Control
Murad®

Clear Control

active ingredients icon
Scientific Actives & Skin Repairing Ingredients
benzoyl peroxide icon
Benzoyl PeroxideKills Acne Bacteria
salicylic acid icon
Salicylic AcidUnclogs Pores
glycolic acid icon
Glycolic AcidRenews Skin
sulfur icon
SulfurDries Sebum
azelaic acid icon
Natural Dicarboxylic AcidNormalizes Skin
natural extracts icon
Natural Extracts Proven to Heal Skin
green tea icon
Green TeaKills Acne Bacteria
passion flower icon
Passion FlowerReduces Inflammation
aloe vera icon
Aloe VeraSoothes Irritated Skin
sage extract icon
Sage ExtractFights Free Radicals
goru kola icon
Gotu KolaImproves Skin Healing
value icon
Guarantee and Price(60-day supply)
60 days$79.94
amazon icon
Amazon Rating(Updated 9/10/2019)
3.683
reviews
google icon
Google Shopping Rating(Updated 9/10/2019)
4.0529
reviews
staff rating icon
Staff Rating
Paula's Choice CLEAR Regular Strength
Paula's Choice

CLEAR Regular Strength

active ingredients icon
Scientific Actives & Skin Repairing Ingredients
benzoyl peroxide icon
Benzoyl PeroxideKills Acne Bacteria
salicylic acid icon
Salicylic AcidUnclogs Pores
glycolic acid icon
Glycolic AcidRenews Skin
sulfur icon
SulfurDries Sebum
azelaic acid icon
Natural Dicarboxylic AcidNormalizes Skin
natural extracts icon
Natural Extracts Proven to Heal Skin
green tea icon
Green TeaKills Acne Bacteria
passion flower icon
Passion FlowerReduces Inflammation
aloe vera icon
Aloe VeraSoothes Irritated Skin
sage extract icon
Sage ExtractFights Free Radicals
goru kola icon
Gotu KolaImproves Skin Healing
value icon
Guarantee and Price(60-day supply)
60 days$48.00
amazon icon
Amazon Rating(Updated 9/10/2019)
3.8219
reviews
google icon
Google Shopping Rating(Updated 9/10/2019)
4.2568
reviews
staff rating icon
Staff Rating
Rodan & Fields Unblemished
Rodan & Fields®

Unblemish

active ingredients icon
Scientific Actives & Skin Repairing Ingredients
benzoyl peroxide icon
Benzoyl PeroxideKills Acne Bacteria
salicylic acid icon
Salicylic AcidUnclogs Pores
glycolic acid icon
Glycolic AcidRenews Skin
sulfur icon
SulfurDries Sebum
azelaic acid icon
Natural Dicarboxylic AcidNormalizes Skin
natural extracts icon
Natural Extracts Proven to Heal Skin
green tea icon
Green TeaKills Acne Bacteria
passion flower icon
Passion FlowerReduces Inflammation
aloe vera icon
Aloe VeraSoothes Irritated Skin
sage extract icon
Sage ExtractFights Free Radicals
goru kola icon
Gotu KolaImproves Skin Healing
value icon
Guarantee and Price(60-day supply)
30 days$193.99
amazon icon
Amazon Rating(Updated 9/10/2019)
3.650
reviews
google icon
Google Shopping Rating(Updated 9/10/2019)
4.02,756
reviews
staff rating icon
Staff Rating

The top 4 products reviewed are antibiotic-free and do not require a visit to a doctor’s office. Be sure to read the detailed reviews (or jump to the Exposed in-depth review).

What the Pros Say: Review Summaries

Basic Kit

Best Overall Acne Treatment   4.5/5

Our Top Recommendation – If you have sensitive skin, this kit is definitely a good option for you. This product has all the key ingredients and more, utilizing both scientific and natural actives to effectively treat and prevent all kinds of acne, from blackheads to pimples. It contains benzoyl peroxide to help treat pimples, salicylic acid, and glycolic acid to treat blackheads and whiteheads, and it contains green tea, aloe vera, and passionflower extract to reduce inflammation and redness.

High-quality ingredients with an ideal combination of active ingredients, this kit has the highest customer ratings on both Amazon and Google Shopping, & comes with a full one-year money-back guarantee.

Although it is still generally very affordable, this kit is slightly more expensive than some of the other kits in this list.

Mild Acne Treatment – (Runner Up)

Clear Control Kit   3.5/5

This kit is designed to treat and prevent very mild acne and works best with normal to oily skin. It contains salicylic acid, which helps open pores and fights blackheads and whiteheads, and sulfur, which helps dry out excess oil. It also contains a few natural ingredients, like passionflower and sage extract, which can both help reduce inflammation.

This acne treatment kit is the most affordable option in this list, making it a great place to start if you are hesitant to invest too much money into your skincare right away.

The products in the Murad kit do not contain ingredients that effectively prevent or treat pimples (pustule or papules), though it is a good solution for treating white/blackheads.

CLEAR Regular Strength

3.0/5

This is a classic acne treatment kit, containing the two most popular ingredients on the market: salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. By combining these ingredients, this kit can effectively treat blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples. It is relatively gentle, meaning it’s a great option for dry to normal skin types.

This kit contains only three products and involves a very simple routine, so it’s a great option for those who struggle to stick to new habits.

Surprisingly it does not contain any anti-inflammatory ingredients and isn’t the best for sensitive skin types and can reduce its effectiveness.

Unblemish

Overall Acne Treatment (Runner Up)   4.0/5

This kit is a good option for those who have both oily and sensitive skin. The benzoyl peroxide effectively treats pimples, while the sulfur helps dry out excess oil that can contribute to blackheads and whiteheads. It also includes sage and green tea extract, to help prevent sensitive skin from having an inflammatory reaction to the benzoyl peroxide or sulfur.

This kit is the best one in this list for skin that is both oily and sensitive.

Unfortunately, this particular kit is far more expensive than the other options by nearly $150.

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