Drugstore Acne Solutions


So you've got some acne. Chill out, it's fine. No one cares; you've got better things to worry about. You've also go better things to spend your money on than a $50 pink drying lotion. There are miles of drugstore aisles devoted to solving this problem and saving you money in the process. (You lucky dog, you.) Next time you're browsing, start here. Also, end here. It's got everything you need.

The Silent Killer

Peach Slices Acne Spot Dots, $4.49
The single biggest innovation in pimple care and they're not even that new. Hydrocolloid bandages suck the goo out of your zits and keep your grubby fingers away at the same time. Wear them around and chuck 'em when they've done their job. You'll see noticeable deflation in about a day or so. No drying chemicals or poking needles necessary!

The Lover & The Fighter

Neosporin, $6.37
One part occlusive barrier, one part antibacterial germ fighter. Mask this on spots right after they've been popped (it's OK, you can do it) and let yourself heal.

The Acid

Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment, $5.98
The most traditional spot treatment on the list. Packed with 2% salicylic acid (that's a BHA), it'll reduce redness and swelling and also kill any germs living within your pores. It's drying, though, so don't get too application-happy. Proceed with caution.

The Hippie

Burt's Bees Herbal Complexion Stick, $8.49
Ninety-nine-point-nine percent natural, this guy claims. Packed with as many all-natural remedies as you can think of, this astringent-feeling formula relies heavily on road-tested tea tree oil and willow bark extract, nature's version of BHA. Been known to work wonders on cystic spots, too.

The Prescription

Differin Gel, $11.39
That's not a prescription anymore! Galderma took the retinol to the people about a year ago, so now it can be yours, whether your dermatologist approves or not. The formula is gentle enough for beginners and works—as long as you use it every day regularly.

The Baby

Desitin Rapid Relief, $5.99
Yes, diaper cream. Good for so many reasons. The hero ingredient is zinc, known to fight zits and calm irritation. And because it's for babies with rashes, it's also paraben- and fragrance-free. If you've been looking for a Sudocrem dupe Stateside, this is your buy.

The Camouflage

CVS Health Tinted Acne Treatment Cream, $4.19
Another spot treatment, but for those afraid of that crusty, weird thing that concealers do on top of pimples when you've dried them out too much. Use this to hydrate the wound, but also color-correct it so no one, not even you, knows it's there.

Photographed by Tom Newton.