Best Skincare Products for Acne-Prone Skin

Hi all!

For some reason, despite wearing makeup less frequently during this quarantine, my skin has been breaking out a bit. I’ve never done a super specific skincare post before, so I thought I would round up my favorite products for battling breakouts.


I’m not usually too picky about what cleanser I use, but there are two that I have found to really help with breakouts.

The first is a budget buy. The Clean & Clear Oil-Free Deep Action Cream Facial Cleanser was the only cleanser I used for most of high school and college. It has a slightly cooling feel, which is quite nice on an irritated face. It doesn’t foam up too much, so it won’t strip your skin as much as a foaming cleanser may. The best part is that it’s only about $5 and is available at Target and any drugstore!

The next anti-acne cleanser that I love is by Murad. I’ve had the same mini size bottle for over a year now because I only use it when my skin is breaking out. It can be a bit drying, which is why I only use it when necessary. It also smells a bit like a margarita or some other alcoholic beverage, so beware if you try to use it with a hangover! The Clarifying Cleanser has 1.5% salicylic acid, which is an excellent ingredient for getting rid of and preventing acne. It really makes my skin feel clean and helps me get rid of acne faster than a normal gel cleanser does.


To keep my cell turnover moving and keep pores clean, I like to use exfoliating/resurfacing masks at least once a week. I love the Herbivore Blue Tansy Fruit Enzyme Resurfacing Clarity Mask. It has a really thin consistency that spreads over your skin easily and helps with redness and inflammation. I find this one really helps if I’ve been picking at my skin, too. I also really like Drunk Elephant’s T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial, but it’s definitely on the pricier side. It contains great chemical exfoliants that leave your skin feeling ultra soft and smooth. Wait for the Sephora sale, or at the very least make sure you sign up for Rakuten so you can get some cash back.

When my skin really needs a good detox, I like to use a clay mask. I’ve been loving Onekind’s Pore-fectionist Refining Facial lately because while it’s a clay mask, it’s much easier to wash off than most. It contains pink clay, which is my favorite for clay masks. Get $10 off your Onekind order using my affiliate link here (I’ll earn $10 as well) !It’s quite similar to the Sand & Sky Australian Pink Clay Mask, which is amazing for clearing pores. Revolution Skincare makes a great pink clay mask as well!

Of course, the holy grail of all clay masks has to be the Glamglow Supermud Activated Charcoal Treatment Mask. Put this on your face and watch as it attaches itself to each pore, sucking out dirt and grime that you didn’t even know you had!


My favorite serum to combat acne-prone skin is Glossier’s Super Pure serum, which contains niacin amide and zinc. Niacinamide has been extremely effective for me at keeping breakouts at bay. I find that when I use this serum nightly, I break out exponentially less. I’m on my second bottle of this – I think it’s the only serum I’ve ever fully finished! Get 10% off at Glossier here (discount applied at checkout).

Good Molecules makes a great niacinamide serum for a fraction of the price of Glossier’s, as does Colourpop’s skincare line Fourth Ray Beauty.

I use Drunk Elephant’s T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Resurfacing Night Serum every single night to keep my pores in check. It’s expensive, but it’s lasted me a while with nightly use since I only need one pump to cover my face. Make sure that when you use a serum like this (with active ingredients and chemical exfoliants) you wait 10-20 minutes before applying moisturizer.

Facial Oil

I’m not big on facial oil (so many of them have caused me to break out), but sometimes after using lots of intense acne treatments my skin is left feeling stripped and dry. These are the oils that I trust to help deeply hydrate my face while balancing the skin at the same time.

The first is the Herbivore Lapis Balancing Facial Oil. It contains blue tansy, which aids in reducing redness and has antibacterial properties. It’s quite expensive on its own, so I’d suggest purchasing this set, which comes with a mini oil as well as a mini blue tansy mask.

I also like the Biossance Squalene + Tea Tree Balancing Oil. Tea tree oil aids in treating and preventing acne as well, but because it’s an oil it hydrates the skin simultaneously.

I personally haven’t tried it yet, but Fourth Ray Beauty’s After Hours Detox Face Oil contains great acne-fighting ingredients and is only $10!

Spot Treatment

My ride-or-die spot treatment for years has been Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion. I started using this in middle school and have probably gone through dozens of bottles since then. All you do is dip a q-tip into the SEPARATED mixture (yes, you read that right – don’t shake it!) and apply to your spots. After a night or two of use, you’ll see how well it works. It’s a cult favorite, and for good reason. Buy it at Sephora here and at Ulta here.

Fourth Ray Beauty’s Later Hater spot treatment looks the same and has similar ingredients, and it’s a few dollars cheaper.

As far as pimple patches go, I don’t find they work on closed pimples, but if you have an open one they can be great at sucking out all of the gunk inside the pore as well as keeping it clean and free of new bacteria. I like these ones from COSRX. They’re also great to put on any small wounds – if I pick at an ingrown hair or something, I’ll put one of these on afterwards to keep it clean and keep it from getting too inflamed.


When I have one of those big, painful pimples that just won’t go away, I always break out my Neutrogena Light Therapy Pen. It’s a targeted spot treatment pen that uses blue light to kill acne-causing bacteria and red light to reduce inflammation. It’s the only thing that works for me on those under-the-skin pimples that topical skincare products don’t work on.

This ultrasonic facial wand is on my wishlist. It can help unclog pores and massage in serums.


There are some other products that I like to help combat acne. One is a satin or silk pillowcase. Not only do these keep hair from getting tangled, prevent pillows from absorbing skincare products, and prevent aging, but they can also help prevent acne. Pick up a few so that you have at least one back-up and can change it once a week. I find that if I don’t change my pillowcases frequently, my skin definitely pays the price. I like this one from Kitsch, and also bought a 2-pack of plain silk pillowcases on Amazon for roughly the same price. If you feel like splurging, Slip makes amazing silk pillowcases (and hair ties) in adorable patterns and colors!

I also recently picked up this linen spray that helps kill acne-causing bacteria. I love using linen sprays to freshen up my sheets, but having the added benefit of antibacterial properties definitely helps me sleep a little bit better at night.

Now I know there are lots of conflicting opinions on these, but pore strips are both super satisfying and really do help in getting rid of blackheads. Just be sure not to use them too often, as overuse can be damaging to the skin. I like the T-zone pack – it comes with standard nose strips, but also triangular patches for the forehead and chin area.

For more on my favorite skincare products, check out my 2019 favorites here, and a Drunk Elephant review here! I also try to post skincare content on my Instagram, and share deals when I find them to my



One thought on “Best Skincare Products for Acne-Prone Skin

  1. I’ve been thinking about adding new products to my skincare routine, this is so helpful! I’ve been looking at the Drunk Elephant serum but I don’t know if I can justify spending $90 on it. Good to know that it lasts forever!


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