Best Spot Treatment | Top Products for Acne and Breakouts


Put down the toothpaste and step away from the scrubs. We totally get how tempting it is to throw everything but the kitchen sink at an angry red blemish, but let us promise you this: all those internet hacks are making the situation worse.

The solution is a spot treatment: but not just any spot treatment. The shelves might be heavy with creams, gels and stickers, but not all blemish busters were created equal. A lot of traditional spot creams are loaded with alcohol that makes them astringent with a capital A: great for making the skin feels satisfyingly squeaky-clean, but not such good news for your moisture barrier. Strip the bad stuff too enthusiastically, and you’ll be removing the good stuff too, leaving the door open for redness, irritation and extreme dryness.

‘It is important not to be too aggressive on the skin, particularly if you suffer with congestion and acne,’ confirms consultant dermatologist Dr Ophelia Veraitch. ‘Over “stripping” your skin can cause more oil production, peeling, pigmentation and even worsening of your acne.’

The true solution lies not in annihilating those pimples with harsh formulas, but in nurturing the skin while dissolving the oil and grime at the centre of a spot. The best spot treatments for the job will likely contain salicylic acid, which works within the pores to clear congestion, while those containing keratolytics such as alpha hydroxy acids, azelaic acid and benzoyl peroxide are also promising.

Un-furrow that brow, because we’ve tried and tested all the best blemish solutions you can buy to find the ones that calm and unclog without leaving skin irritated. From soothing toners to stickers and a few stellar spot gels, these are the treatments we’ve come to rely on. Now, step away from the bathroom mirror.

The Best Spot Treatments To Try Now


Tinted Clarifying Spot Treatment

Dr. Barbara Sturm


Barbara Sturm’s skin philosophy is all about fortifying, not challenging the skin’s natural functions, so you know this is going to be a sensitively formulated spot treatment. Tea tree oil and zinc work together to absorb oil and clarify inflamed pores, while panthenol keeps everything calm and content. The tint (which comes in several shades) doesn’t work quite like a full-on concealer, but dims redness enough to disguise your breakouts through the Zoom lens.


Flawless Neutralising Gel

Dr. Sam Bunting is one of the experts we trust the most when it comes to treating skin scientifically yet sensibly. From her own line, this invisible spot gel employs salicylic acid alongside azelaic acid: one of Sam’s favourite ingredients for bringing down inflammation. Gentle yet remarkably effective, it can be worn day or night, and sits well under make-up. A wise investment for everyone, but especially those with rosacea, acne and sensitive skin.


Acne Pimple Master Patch 24 Patches

These genius patches are simply small, round plasters made of hydrocolloid: an occlusive dressing (traditionally used for minor wounds) that absorbs moisture while keeping the skin beneath safe from infection – and wandering fingers. Stick one onto a cleansed spot before bed (or before a day WFH) and it’ll draw all the fluid out of a painful whitehead.


Succinic Acid Blemish Treatment

Succinic acid is a relative newcomer to the spot-treatment scene, and it’s used to triumphant effect in this affordable hero. The headline ingredient balances excessive oil production, while salicylic acid clears congestion and hyaluronic acid stops the skin barrier from drying out. Now for the caveats: this one smells pretty terrible, thanks to the colloidal sulphur inside. It’s also green, so you may not want to nip to the shops while it’s on your face. However, you’re not here for pampering: you’re here for performance – and in that arena, it truly delivers.

Byoma is a brand based around building up the skin barrier, so this clearing serum is a great choice for those who have a sensitive and acne-prone complexion. Poly-hydroxy-acid works to dissolve the glue that holds dead cells together, while zinc brings down redness and heat. And for that all-important skin barrier? A ceramide complex has that covered.

Long-trusted by those with breakout-prone skin, Le Roche-Posay knows exactly how to create a no-nonsense spot cream. This targetted gel uses a high dose of niacinamide, which restores order when your oil production slips into overdrive.

Discovering a burgeoning breakout might not be a carnival, but dealing with it doesn’t have to be drab. These pimple patches will not only cheer you up, but underneath, the hydrocolloid dressing will shrink spots overnight. Seriously, wear them out and about – it’s a (joyfully progressive) vibe.


Soothe Paste Blemish Treatment

Fans of The Ordinary should have a look at Beauty Bay’s own skincare collection: the prices won’t make you weep, and the formulas are made with the most discerning skintellectuals in mind. This gentle, fragrance-free spot treatment contains clearing salicylic, but equally as important is the accompanying dose of probiotics, which feeds upset skin with the bacteria it needs to build itself back up.


These advanced patches are a step up from the traditional spot sticker. Each one is infused with tiny microdarts, which sends a shot of salicylic acid and niacinamide straight to the centre of a burgeoning spot. This means they can lend a hand before a breakout comes to a head, helping accelerate the entire cycle.


Beauty Editors had to smuggle this spot treatment in their suitcases from the US until it finally launched in the UK. The steel tip cools inflamed spots as you apply and the clear formula means it can even be used over make-up. The fact that it’s an easy to use pen means it’s ideal to keep in your handbag in case of an emergency.


Violet Paste Overnight Blemish Treatment

Dot this pinkish paste onto angry pimples before you go to bed and you’ll prevent them from getting any bigger. The blend of hydroxy acids draws out any excess oil whilst minimising inflammation and eradicating redness. Spots will vanish by morning.

We’re not going to lie, this doesn’t smell the best, as you can probably tell by its key ingredient, but we’re willing to make the sacrifice because it really does the trick. This sulphur-based paste helps speed up the healing process whilst stopping breakouts from multiplying.

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