16 Best Acne Spot Treatments of 2024 for Getting Rid of Pimples Fast

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Editor Tip: It doesn’t contain any moisturizers, so it could be irritating for dry and sensitive skin types.

Key Ingredients: Benzoyl peroxide | Who It’s For: People with naturally oily skin

Best Value: The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution

Why It’s Worth It: Pimple-havers love The Ordinary’s Salicylic Acid 2% Solution for its low price and high-level results. In 2022, Allure commerce writer Jen Hussein wrote, “What makes this treatment, in particular, stand out from its skin-care comrades, is its gentler approach to acid-based exfoliation, which has a reputation for irritating sensitive skin types.” She noted that not only did the serum help her acne subside, but it also worked wonders on the post-blemish dark spots.

Editor Tip: Use it as the first post-washing step in your skin care routine.

Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid | Who It’s For: People with breakouts and dark spots

Best for Post-Breakouts: Paula’s Choice Triple Active Total Repair Serum

Paula’s Choice Triple Active Total Repair Serum

Why It’s Worth It: If another spot treatment effectively wiped out your pimple, but now you’re dealing with a pesky dark spot that won’t budge, Paula’s Choice Triple Active Total Repair Serum might be your new best friend. It’s formulated with a potent blend of hexylresorcinol, retinoid, and niacinamide to save your skin after your breakout is over. Go ahead and apply it once or twice daily after you’ve cleansed, toned, and exfoliated.

Editor Tip: JSYK, Paula’s Choice is an Allure favorite. The brand has won its fair share of Readers’ Choice and Best of Beauty Awards.

Key Ingredients: Niacinamide⁠, hexylresorcinol⁠, retinyl propionate⁠, tocotrienols⁠, Castanea sativa leaf extract⁠ | Who It’s For: People who have just recovered from a breakout

Frequently Asked Questions

How do acne spot treatments work?

There are so many acne treatments on the market, which makes it essential to understand precisely the issue you’re looking to tackle and why you reach for the product you do. “A good acne spot treatment should halt the inflammation so it prevents the pimple from getting large and painful, and keep it contained so it goes away quicker,” David Kim, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Idriss Dermatology in New York City, tells Allure. “This will also help minimize the risk for acne scars.” Acne spot treatment shouldn’t replace washing your face with a cleanser, but because of its higher potency of ingredients, it’s a great option to supplement your existing routine.

When should I use acne spot treatments?

If you’re adding a new product to your acne-clearing regimen, figuring out when and why to use a spot treatment is extremely helpful. Because the trajectory of a breakout isn’t always predictable, Dr. Kim says it’s best to use [acne spot treatments] as soon as you see a pimple forming. This way, the spot treatment can work its magic from the very start of a flare-up. “The goal is to keep it small and contained so it doesn’t get large and painful,” he adds. Still, while acne spot treatments can be hugely helpful, they aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. “When [a breakout is] large and cystic, there is little you can do to make it go away quicker.”

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