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Pimples popping up all over? Serious and persistent acne should be seen by a dermatologist, but stray zits can be zapped by easily available drugstore products. Over-the-counter acne remedies usually contain one of two active ingredients: benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. It's best to use one or the other, not both. Switch up if one isn't working for you. You may also want to shop around if you find one product is too drying for your skin.
Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Stress Control 3-in-1 Hydrating Acne Treatment
Beautipedia.com picks this as the best over-the-counter all-in-one product, calling it "an all-around ideal BHA lotion for skin of any type battling blemishes." It also garners recommendations from "Allure" and "Marie Claire." This product contains the maximum strength 2 percent salicylic acid to help prevent and treat breakouts, plus moisturizers to hydrate and soften skin and herbal extracts of cucumber and green tea to control redness and irritation.
Clean and Clear Persa-Gel 10
Clean and Clear Persa-Gel 10 contains 10 percent benzoyl peroxide, the maximum strength available over the counter. This means it's more prone to drying out your skin than other products, but on the other hand it'll clear up your pimples in no time flat. It gets the nod from dermatologist Heidi Waldorf in "Teen Vogue" for best spot treatment.
If you're looking for a slightly less drying spot treatment, Neutrogena's On-the-Spot is your best pick. It won the Best Beauty Buys prize in 2011 from "InStyle" by combining a dose of benzoyl peroxide with moisturizing glycerin.
Wet N Wild Acne Spot Treatment
You might not expect a makeup brand like Wet N Wild to come up with a top anti-acne treatment, but "Women's Health" raved about this little tube. Its active ingredient is salicylic acid, with a little tea tree oil -- a natural antiseptic -- thrown in for good measure. The magazine's tester especially liked "the minty scent."
Neutrogena Oil-Free Face Wash
Sometimes preventing acne is the best way to fight it. This cleanser won a Best Beauty Buy nod in 2011 from "InStyle." It combines 2 percent salicylic acid -- the maximum strength -- with chamomile and aloe to prevent redness.
Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser
Aveeno's preventive foaming face cleanser, favored by "Teen Vogue," has a mild 0.5 percent salicylic acid concentration plus glycerin and soy "for increased hydration." It's the perfect cleanser for dry or sensitive skin.
Oxy Clinical Clearing Treatment
Oxy Clinical Clearing Treatment is Beautipedia.com's top pick for benzoyl-peroxide-based treatments. The site proclaims that "this is an outstanding fragrance-free topical disinfectant for anyone struggling with acne." It's packed with antioxidants, too. Use it as an all-over face treatment.
Aveeno Clear Complexion Daily Cleansing Pads
These pads are on the mild side, with a low concentration of salicylic acid, so they are recommended by "Teen Vogue"'s dermatologist as the top pick for those with dry or sensitive skin.
Neutrogena Rapid Clear Treatment Pads
Another "Teen Vogue" cleansing pad pick, Neutrogena's Clear Treatment Pads contain 2 percent salicylic acid, the maximum strength available over the counter. They're good for all-over daily treatment; "Teen Vogue" calls them "concentrated therapy."
Burt's Bees Herbal Blemish Stick
Burt's Bees blemish stick is an ideal acne spot treatment for those looking for an all-natural alternative. It relies on tea tree oil to zap zits and adds calming botanicals to soothe the rest of your skin. Plus it's compact and easy to carry on the go. "Women's Health" says "it has a pleasant tingle and is easy to use" and the tester saw improvement within two days.