Looking for the Best Over the Counter Acne Treatment? Read On

Whatever type of acne you have, whether it is whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples, you have to find the best treatment for you to achieve a clear and blemish-free skin. And finding the best over the counter acne treatment is costly in most cases. Thus, you need to make sure that you choose the right product that is best suitable for your skin type and acne condition to avoid wasting your money for nothing.

Frankly and honestly speaking, majority of people with acne, if not all, will opt to visit drugstores first for over the counter acne treatment rather than scheduling an appointment with a dermatologist. Of course, we cannot deny the fact that dermatologists are the best people to talk to when it comes to our skin issues. However, over the counter acne treatments are more accessible and way cheaper than consulting a dermatologist. It’s great if you can afford to consult a dermatologist. But for some who are tight in budget, read on. This is a complete guide for the best over the counter acne treatments you can find in the market or your local drugstores.

4 Easy Acne Regimen Steps Using the Best Over the Counter Acne Treatments

Before we dig into the best over the counter acne treatments, here are 4 easy acne regimen steps you can follow to get the best result from your over the counter acne treatments. This will also serve as a guide on how to take good care of your acne-prone skin.best over the counter acne treatment wash

  1. Wash. Washing is an essential part of your acne regimen. Washing your face helps unclog pores from excess oil and dead skin cells. Always use a gentle, soap-free, and non-comedogenic facial wash. Wash your face as gently as possible. Putting too much pressure or scrubbing your face will just worsen your acne condition. And washing should only be limited to 2 times daily (morning and before bedtime) unless badly needed.
  2. Treat. With acne, washing your face or your skin is not enough. You have to treat your acne using a topical acne medicine. Whether it’s in the form of gel, cream, or lotion, you need apply it religiously with the right amount to help treat and heal acne fast.
  3. Moisturize. After washing and applying topical treatment, you need to moisturize your face or skin. Washing can strip off moisture from skin and topical treatments can make your skin dry. Using a good moisturizer hydrates and renews your skin. Moisturizers also has a soothing effect that can help reduce redness and inflammation. For acne-prone skin, the good moisturizers are non-comedogenic and oil-free.
  4. Protect. It is always good to wear sunblock before going out. Exposing your skin to too much sun is not good. And when you’re using topical acne treatment, your skin becomes very sensitive to sunlight’s harmful effects. Putting on your sunscreen will also help fade acne scars fast.

The Best Over the Counter Acne Treatments: Facial Wash

There are various facial washes you can find in the market right now; but not all of them are good for your acne-prone skin. So, pick the best over the counter acne treatment facial wash you can use to control and prevent acne breakout. Here are some on the top of the list:best over the counter acne treatment facial

  • Cetaphil Daily Gentle Cleanser. One of the most recommended facial cleansers by dermatologists, Cetaphil is perfect for all types of skin (normal, acne prone, oily skin, dry skin). This facial cleanser can wash off dirt and oil from your skin without irritating it. In fact, because of its mildness and gentleness on skin, it can be used on babies too, especially those who have baby acne. It also has no active ingredient, making it safe for everyone. This facial wash is non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores). Cetaphil Daily Gentle Cleanser is also a highly rated facial wash by users and reviewers.
  • Gentle Acne Cleanser by Acne.org. This facial wash can be used on all skin types even if it’s specially formulated for acne-prone skin. This facial wash will not cause skin irritation. Gentle Acne Cleanser has an ultra-gentle pH balance that does not over dry skin. And its thick foaming lather cleanses makeup, dirt, oil, and bacteria completely.
  • Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash. This facial wash has no active ingredients so it is suitable to all skin types. Its gentle formula will not cause any type of irritation or dryness. It also effectively removes dirt and bacteria without stripping off moisture from the skin. Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash will leave your skin soft, smooth, and youngerlooking.
  • Spectro Jel Cleanser. This facial wash is specially formulated for acne-prone skin but can be used in all skin types. Spectro, a product of a highly reputable Canadian company, is a gentle facial cleanser that totally does not have any active ingredient which means that it cannot irritate even the very sensitive skin types. It is also highly regarded because of its ability to clear skin blemishes fast compared to other counterparts. It makes the skin smooth by effectively fighting whiteheads and blackheads. It also keeps the facial skin oil-free.
  • Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash.  This facial wash is specially formulated for acne-prone skin. Its active ingredient is salicylic acid (2%), mild enough for all skin types though not highly recommended to people with very sensitive skin. Salicylic acid is an anti-acne ingredient that fights acne bacteria and helps unclog pores. Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash promotes clearer and brighter skin.
  • Clearasil Oil-Free Daily Face Wash (Sensitive). Clearasil is another good facial wash formulated for acne-prone skin. This facial wash contains salicylic acid (2%) which is a good anti-acne agent that can kill acne bacteria and help unclog pores. Clearasil also contains moisturizer, making it great, effective, and suitable for people with sensitive skin. This facial cleanser can also help clear skin by eliminating whiteheads and blackheads.

You must always remember that the best over the counter acne treatment in the form of facial wash are those gentle, oil-free, and non-comedogenic ones.

Read more about Best Acne Face Wash.

The Best Over the Counter Acne Treatment: Topical Medication

In controlling and preventing acne, washing alone will not get the job completely done. Next step to an acne-free skin is applying topical treatment. And for this, the best over the counter acne treatment are the ones that contain either benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acid, tea tree oil, or sulfur.

  • Benzoyl Peroxide. One of the best over the counter acne treatment is benzoyl peroxide. It kills acne bacteria, helps remove excess oil, and eliminates dead skin cells. Benzoyl peroxide has the capability to bring oxygen deep into the skin making it very effective in eradicating acne bacteria. Most products with benzoyl peroxide comes in 3 different strengths (2.5%, 5%, and 10%). At the early period of benzoyl peroxide use, you may experience a stinging or burning sensation, redness, scaling, and dryness. That’s why it’s recommended to use a good moisturizer after applying benzoyl peroxide.


Top picks:

Neutrogena On-the-Spot Acne Treatment

Benzac Acne Solution

Panoxyl Aquagel


  • Salicylic Acid.  Salicylic acid is an ingredient that you can find in the best over the counter acne treatments in the market. This anti-acne agent is effective in unclogging pores. It eliminates excess oil and dead skin cells. Salicylic acid is also best in killing and controlling acne bacteria. Topical treatments with salicylic acid normally come in either gel and cream form. For efficacy, strength recommended is 0.5% to 2%.


Top picks:

Proactiv Salicylic Acid Spot Treatment

Clean & Clear Spot Treatment

Olay Fresh Effects Acne Spot Treatment


  • Alpha Hydroxy Acid. This anti-acne agent has two types, glycolic acid and lactic acid. This anti-acne agent is effective in eliminating dead skin cells that can clog pores. It also helps in reducing acne inflammation. Alpha hydroxy acid also encourages skin renewal for spotless, younger, and smoother skin. Some may experience redness and peeling in the first weeks of use.


Top picks:

Aqua Glycolic Face Cream

Murad Pore Perfection

Olay ProX Nightly Purifying Micro-peel


  • Sulfur. This anti-acne agent helps prevent acne by shedding dead skin cells and removing excess oil. Sulfur also prevents the spread of acne-causing bacteria. It also works by drying existing or active blemishes fast. As an exfoliating agent, sulfur also promotes a smoother complexion. Using products with sulfur can help you achieve refined skin texture and tone.


Top Picks:

DDF Sulfur Therapeutic Mask

Proactiv Skin Purifying Mask

Clearasil Daily Clear Adult Tinted Treatment Cream


  • Tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is one of the most effective natural treatment for acne. Since it has strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, tea tree oil can successfully combat acne. In fact, tea tree oil gel with 5% strength is comparable with 5% benzoyl peroxide. It might act slower but it is less irritating to the skin, avoiding dryness. It is also proven to lessen acne symptoms and prevent acne breakouts if used two times a day in a period of one and a half month.


Top Picks:

The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil Skin Clearing Lotion

Keeva Tea Tree Oil Acne Treatment Cream

Pure Body Naturals Tea Tree Oil


The Best Over the Counter Acne Treatment: Facial Moisturizerbest over the counter acne treatment cream

Most of the topical treatment used for acne are a bit strong, which can cause skin dryness and scaling. To prevent this, you will need to use a moisturizer. For acne-prone skin, you cannot use just any kind of moisturizer. It must be light, oil-free, and non-comedogenic to avoid pore clogging. Here are some of the best over the counter acne treatment facial moisturizer you can easily find:

  • Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Moisturizer. This daily moisturizer is specially formulated to treat acne. It has salicylic acid that can help unclog pores and fight acne bacteria to prevent breakout. It is a lightweight type of moisturizer; non-greasy and the best thing is it won’t clog your pores (non-comedogenic).
  • Cetaphil Derma Control Moisturizer. This facial moisturizer is formulated to protect skin from dryness caused by topical acne treatments. It can soothe irritated skin by its powerful hydrating formula. It also has SPF 30 for added sun protection.This moisturizer also has Micropearl technology that absorbs oil on the skin surface, helps reduce shine, and provides a matte finish. Cetaphil Derma Control Moisturizer is also non-greasy, light, and is quickly absorbed by the skin.
  • Clean&Clear Dual Action Facial Moisturizer. This product is a combination of oil-free moisture and salicylic acid. It moisturizes the skin while killing acne-causing bacteria and unclogging pores. With its soothing effect, it leaves skin smooth and soft.
  • CeraVe Moisturizing Facial Lotion. This product is highly rated because of its effectiveness in providing moisture to the skin. It protects and maintains protective skin barriers. This product also contains ceramides, an effective ingredient that provides moisture and skin softness. Best thing is, it is also non-comedogenic and non-irritating, which is perfect for acne-prone skin.

The Best Over the Counter Acne Treatment: Sunscreenbest over the counter acne treatment sunscreen

It is always good to wear sunscreen or sunblock to protect your skin from the harmful effects of sunlight. Wearing sunscreen before going out under the sun helps retain skin moisture avoiding dryness and irritation. Using sunscreen also helps fade dark spots and acne marks. Below is the list of sunscreen specially formulated for acne prone skin:

Top picks:

Neutrogena Clear Face Sunblock Lotion SPF 30

Neutrogena Clear Face Liquid Lotion SPF 55

Obagi Medical Sun Shield Broad Spectrum SPF 50

The Face Shop Clean Face Oil-free Sun Cream SPF35

Cetaphil Dermacontrol Moisturizer SPF 30


To achieve a satisfying result, these products included as the best over the counter acne treatments should be used together as an acne regimen. They normally just can’t fight acne alone. Just remember to pick one for each category (facial wash, topical gel or cream, moisturizer, and sunscreen) to complete your acne-fighting system or kit. Also, it is important that these products be properly and regularly used to get the best from it. For people with allergic reactions to any of the ingredients mentioned above, make sure to consult a doctor or dermatologist before use.

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