I've mentioned in passing recently that I had kind of stopped using spot treatments on a regular basis; well, with a discovery of a new product, I have picked it up again. This new favorite also spurred me to mentally catalogue all the other spot treatments I've tried over the years of battling acne, and compare the various types featuring different key ingredients and their effectiveness on my skin; very much like I did in this Overview of Spot Treatments post from over 2 years ago, but with updated products. As always, your experience may vary - but hopefully you'll find some new product ideas if breakouts are still the bane of your existence.
Benzoyl Peroxide: Coral Actives Penetrating Acne Serum Gel with 6% Benzoyl Peroxide ($22.95 for 1 fl. oz/30 ml). When I first started experiencing acne breakouts in my teens, the first thing my dermatologist aunt prescribed me was a BP cream (but lower concentrations are available over the counter, as in the product shown). Benzoyl Peroxide generally works by killing acne bacteria on the skin's surface and speeding up cell turnover; quite a straightforward mechanism. However in my experience, BP never worked very well for my breakouts; it has helped somewhat with small bumps on my forehead, but never with pustules or cystic acne, which is what I primarily suffer with these days. It is also quite irritating and using it every day, or reapplying frequently, as you would a spot treatment, will cause dryness and peeling. Personally, this is my least favorite breakout-banishing active ingredient, but if it works for you, products like Bioelements Breakout Control Emergency Blemish Lotion or Clean & Clear Persa-gel are another option; both are more irritating though than the Coral Actives Acne Serum Gel.
Mario Badescu Drying Lotion or De La Cruz Sulfur Ointment.
Tea Tree Essential Oil: Desert Essence 100% Australian Tea Tree Oil ($11.99 for 1 fl. oz, available in three sizes). Tea Tree Essential Oil is a powerful antiseptic, antiviral and anti-inflammatory ingredient. In a 2012 study by National Health Institutes, 5% of TTEO has been shown to be as effective in treating mild to moderate acne as 5% benzoyl peroxide. It's a matter of discussion whether tea tree eo can be applied neat to the skin or whether it should always be diluted to avoid irritation - I'd recommend doing a patch test and treading with care if you're sensitive. For me personally, pure tea tree essential oil doesn't prove very effective, but I do quite like it as an ingredient in more complex formulations. Other options to try: many other essential oils have antiseptic properties, most notably lavender essential oil - especially nice if you dislike the scent of tea tree.
here) for a natural, gentler acne-fighting alternative; Osmia's version combines lavender, cajeput, lemon, parsley, thyme, cypress and rosemary in a base of evening primrose oil. It works very well on soothing red, angry bumps without drying out the skin, but it's not the fastest solution in the world, and the oily texture works best overnight. Still, I used every last drop of mine and now I'm sorely tempted to try my hand at a DIY oil spot treatment. Other option: Angel Face Botanicals Blemish Soother.
Kaolin/ Bentonite Clay: Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask to Clear Pores ($17 for 1.7 fl. oz/ 50ml or $24 for 3.4 fl. oz/100ml). Clay masks are not spot treatments per se, but they do work quite well in soothing the skin and either supressing a newly forming spot, or bringing things to a head. I quite like to use the Origins Clear Improvement as a targeted blemish mask when I'm home alone (it's almost worse to scare your significant other with black blemishes rather than normal red ones), and it does speed up the recovery process when combined with other spot treatments - but again on its own, not the most effective on my skin. Other options: any clay-based face mask really, I also like this Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay.
La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo, Dermalogica Overnight Clearing Gel.
Do you use spot treatments? Which active ingredients are the most effective on your skin?
Disclaimer: The product marked with asterix (*) is a press sample I received from Osmia Organics for review
consideration. I purchased all the other products myself, or received them as a gift with purchase. All opinions are 100% honest and unbiased, no matter if the
products featured were purchased with my own monies or provided as a
free press sample. Thank you for reading!