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Out, Damn’d Spot

Acne-treatment reviews.

Tazorac cream (Allergan, Inc.)
I have struggled with acne since middle school. I got fed up with trying both drugstore products and Proactiv; none of them worked. My skin doesn’t really react to salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide very well; they don’t clear up my acne, they just give me chemical burns! So eventually I gave up and went to the dermatologist. I actually hate my dermatologist, but I go back semi-regularly just to get a bag full of this miracle cream, which you need a prescription for, and which cleared my skin up SO fast and pretty much permanently. My acne is honestly just GONE. Completely. I don’t have the best sleep or diet habits (I’m terrible), but Tazorac still works on my breakouts. I don’t know what I’d do without it! Before using it I never got a single compliment on my skin; now they’re like daily. It’s expensive, but I don’t spend a dime on it—I just get a bag of free samples from my derm on a monthly basis. No side effects at all for me, not even dryness. —Arabelle

Egg White “Agg Tval” Facial Soap (Victoria Scandinavian Soap Company)
I’ve basically had oily-yet-dry, zit-prone skin since I was 12. I had really bad acne on my forehead, which I was so embarrassed about that I grew bangs to cover it, thus perpetuating the bad-skin cycle, wheeee! Enter the Soap With a Hundred Names: what I call “that Swedish Egg White Soap,” but others call “Agg Tval” or “Lanolin Agg-Tval” or “Victoria Eggwhite Soap.” Whatever you call it, here’s the link. This soap has been a GODSEND for me. I’m white, and I have extremely sensitive skin, and this soap FIXED MY FACE. PERMANENTLY. I’m not even exaggerating. It’s this extremely gentle, good-smelling soap that lathers up beautifully, and each bar lasts one whole month. So while it seeeems expensive ($30), you’re looking at six entire months of face soap. Anyway! The beauty of this soap is that you can actually make a face mask with it—after washing your face and drying it off, you rub the soap for more lather and spread this on your face. Leave it on for five minutes, till it hardens, wash it off, and ta-da! A glow! Happy skin! It took a little while for me to see results, but I am not kidding: my face has been clear, smooth, and basically zit free since I began using this stuff. I am constantly handing bars of Swedish Eggwhite Soap to friends struggling with their skin and whispering creepily, “You can thank me later.” What if the Swedes stop making it? WHAT THEN??? —Krista

Clear products (Paula’s Choice)
I spent a whole summer using this revolting au naturel moisturizer called Carley’s Clear and Smooth, which is basically lavender-scented mayonnaise. My face swiftly turned to pizza, but I was so deluded by the thousands of positive reviews online that I refused to stop using it. My mom finally snuck into my bathroom and threw it away. I was furious! My wonderful, wonderful lotion! BUT THEN she replaced the Carley’s mayo with the Clear line from Paula’s Choice. My skin cleared up in 10 DAYS. Paula’s products are cruelty free, they use recycled packaging, and they’re designed for a variety of skin types. I really wish I hadn’t spent the whole summer slathering mayo on my acne. Please learn from my mistake and go to paulaschoice.com. —Maggie

The closest you can come to selling your soul for good skin is isotretinoin (which is sold under a lot of different names, depending on where you live; I used the version called Accutane). This is a pill that permanently cures acne for most people, but in exchange for a lifetime of good skin, you have to suffer six months to a year of playing host to the most unchill dermis ever. Isotretinoin dries our your entire body to the extreme, which can mean bloody chapped lips, joint pain, dry eyes, nosebleeds, and sun sensitivity. The medication can also cause birth defects if you get pregnant while you are taking it, and can totally fuck up your liver, so you have to get a blood test and a pregnancy test every month for as long as you are on the drug. I took Accutane twice, each time for six months, and now I basically have perfect skin, as much as that is humanly possible. Honestly, I don’t regret it. I had painful cystic acne all over my body that wasn’t going away with any other treatment, and I tried ALL the treatments. Isotretinoin isn’t a solution for someone who gets a pimple now and then, or even a solution for someone that has regular bad acne, but if you are the kind of person who cries over their skin every day after school (I was), then this might be something to look into. —Jamie

Cane + Austin acne treatment pads (Craig Austin MD)
These pads are soaked in a combination of glycolic and salicylic acids. They’re pricey ($60 for a jar of 60 pads), but I’ve tried drugstore acne pads and they are not as saturated with product and just aren’t as effective. Before I went on Tazorac, this product was one of the only things that actually did anything for my acne without drying my skin. I only stopped using it because it’s too expensive to buy every two months! But if you have the money to kill or a gift card or something, it’s a really effective product that doesn’t have an equivalent in the drugstore market. —Arabelle

On-the-Spot Acne Treatment (Neutrogena)
I have pretty sensitive skin, so when I get a few pimples around PMS time, I’m wary of slathering any hardcore creams on them, as my face burns and dries out pretty easily. This spot treatment has been my go-to for years, as it’s formulated with a gentler amount of benzoyl peroxide than most: only 2.5%. I usually put it on when I can see a zit forming, let it dry, cover it with a gentle night cream (though sometimes I skip this part), and then let it do its magic as I sleep. In the morning, my face always looks better—the zit has dried up and shrunken down, and any dryness that the spot treatment caused can be rectified with a good daily moisturizer. The one thing I kind of hate about this stuff is that it bleaches everything: your towels, your clothes, your pillowcases—even your eyebrows, if you slather it on often enough (though not to a super-noticeable degree, at least in my case), and will leave hot-pink streaks on your stuff unless you’re careful. Be sure to thoroughly wash your hands after application, and you should be OK. I’ve also found that it’s easier to use at night, as it can leave a white film on your face during the day if you don’t rub it in enough/moisturize properly afterwards. But overall it’s worth it, a staple in my makeup bag. I’m not sure if this works on every type of acne, but for mild, annoying zits, it tends to do the trick. —Pixie

I have been RULL CURIO about this magical instrument known as the Clarisonic for quite a long time. People have gushed to me about this thing like it was the new hunk on the block! Basically, the Clarisonic is micro-massager that has a brush attached. You put your facial cleanser on the brush and it gently massages your skin for one minute, then automatically turns off. It removes SIX times more dirt, makeup, and other gunk than usual. You guys, this thing makes my skin SO BABY SOFT and I haven’t broken out since I started using it. I feel like it’s only going to get better and better. The only drawback is the cost: it’s over 100 buckaroos (plus buying replacement brushes every couple of months), but seriously so worth every penny. It also comes in every color, including leopard print. They were all out of the leopard when I bought mine, so you know I had to get the pink! LUVIN EWE CLARISONIC! —Marie

Oil-cleansing method
This blurb is about slathering oil on your skin. Did you cringe? Most people do when I tell them I wash my face with oil sometimes. Common knowledge says that oil equals bad, and that oil on your face is the cause of pimples. As it turns out, this is only sort of true. The oil made by your face, combined with dirt, can cause pimples. Some face washes that treat acne use harsh stuff to strip off this dirt and oil, which only encourages your face to produce more oil. Washing your face with oil is a good method because dissolves your skin’s natural oils, but then it replaces them with more clean, nourishing oils. No dryness! It’s cheap! It smells nice! Blackheads slide right out of your pores! Like any regime, this probably won’t work for EVERY SINGLE PERSON, but if you are interested in checking it out, this is a good starter guide. —Jamie

Neem oil
When I say I tried everything for acne, I mean I TRIED EVERYTHING, which is why I’ve been dying to share this secret with the world for years. When I was 17, after five years of loathing my constantly erupting skin and many stints with different topical and oral prescriptions, I found the little miracle that is NEEM OIL. It’s completely natural—a thick yellowish substance distilled from the leaves of the neem tree. It is used widely in India to cure pretty much anything…it has antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties that improve your skin overnight, as well as being a great problem spot treatment. (It’s also a good tick repellent.) I know—putting straight-up oil on your face for acne treatment is counterintuitive. But something in the neem oil calms red, irritated, and broken-out skin better than any product I’ve ever tried, natural or prescription. I will wash my face at night, notice five new bright-red breakouts, apply neem oil directly to them at night, wake up and they’re gone. This is magic potion, I swear. I used to moisturize at night with a thin layer of neem massaged into my skin. Because my acne has calmed lately, I mix one part neem oil with one part lightweight night cream, so my skin is moisturized and the neem is secretly doing whatever it does to make my skin so much better in the morning. You can purchase it online (it also comes in capsules, which I found improve digestion, skin, hair, and nail health, go neem!) or at Whole Foods. Warning: have you ever eaten peanuts out of the shell and encountered the bitter bad peanut from time to time? That taste is what this stuff smells like. It smells gross. —Dylan

Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque (The Hain Celestial Group)
Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque is thick and creamy and it smells like mint ice cream. All you have to do is wet your face, slather the mask (it says on the tube to “apply liberally”) all over, and then just chill as it hardens on your face. It dries up pimples pretty well, but honestly, the best part about it is putting it on. It’s cool and refreshing at first, but then turns flaky and cracked. I like to pretend it’s a second skin and that I’ve turned into some mutant alien creature, but you don’t have to do that. It’s just better if you DO. After you remove the mask your skin will feel smoother and will smell nice and minty! It’s awesome! —Hazel

Gentle Cleanser (Befine)
I first got this cleanser as a sample in my Birchbox a couple months ago, and it came at a time when I desperately needed a new cleanser—although I’m religious about sunscreen and moisturizer, I tend to use whatever goop is lying around to clean my face when I’m out of makeup-removing wipes. At the time, that was this vile-smelling all-natural Neutrogena something or other that is now languishing under my sink. I bought the full-size Befine because it made my skin look glow-y after I used it once and didn’t smell awful, plus it probably does a better job of keeping my face clear than makeup cloths did. Their moisturizer‘s great, too. —Amy Rose

I never really had full-on acne, but I would get breakouts in high school of big gnarly zits—not the fun, poppable kind, but the red, painful kind. I read that aspirin could work its anti-inflammatory magic on zits, so I put that theory to the test. I’d crush a few pills into a paste with water and apply it as a spot treatment before bed (remember to wash your face in the morning!). It never totally got rid of zits, but it did shrink them and make them less painful and easier to cover up. Like magic! Or medicine. Whatever. —Anna

If your acne is severe and consistent, it’s in your best interest to visit a dermatologist to get their opinion. They often offer to put acne sufferers on antibiotics, which works great—for a while. Your body can become resistant to them easily, leaving future antibiotic treatments for acne worthless. They can also kill the good bacteria in your vagina, and give you yeast infections! I used my prescription probably twice a year, for a week each time, during my worst acne times. It was helpful for times before warm-weather vacations when I needed my bacne to clear up stat in order to wear my swimsuit by the pool, or before prom, or something like that. Don’t rely on antibiotics to cure your acne, but they can curb it when you need your acne to calm the most. —Dylan

Kiehl’s products (L’Oréal)
OOOH GURL. Kiehl’s is incredible. I have tried most of their products, starting out with their Blue Herbal line, which is specifically for acne-prone skin. After my skin cleared up, I started using their Ultra Facial Oil-Free Cleanser. That + my Clarisonic has been a match made in heaven! I got my best dude friend using their stuff too. They also make really good zit creams, like their Blue Herbal Spot Treatment, and right now I’m trying out their Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution to help fade some of my scars. The best thing? If you go into their shop or even order online, you get free samples! – Marie

Tea tree oil
This is the best-feeling thing you can put on your skin. Holy cow. Using tea tree oil as an astringent calms and cools your skin, but be careful to not apply too much, because it will feel like it’s hailing snow bullets on your face for about half an hour. I recommend dampening a cotton round or washcloth, adding five or six drops of tea tree oil, then apply as a toner before moisturizing. Then you get the cooling goodness without the stinging. It’s a great acne treatment because it calms irritated skin and takes off the last layer of dirt and oil after you wash. Tea tree oil is not an oily substance, but a watery extract that also soothes sunburns and deodorizes your breath and makes you feel all tingly and wonderful before nighty time. —Dylan

Akne-Zyme (Derma-Klear)
I had hormonal acne (the kind that’s concentrated around your chin and is gross and hurts to the touch) into my early 30s, which was awful because I had wrinkles and pimples (grossest word) AT THE SAME TIME, and never enjoyed that magic moment when your skin is just perfect all the time, which I think is called your 20s. I would say “nothing worked for me until I tried Akne-Zyme,” but I feel like that is such a trope in these reviews that we all sound like we’re doing radio commercials: “I was ready to give up, then X product CHANGED MY LIFE.” But it’s true. I tried everything. And then Akne-Zyme changed my life. Or at least my face. I don’t remember how many of these enzyme pills I took a day, but I followed the instructions on the package. They are “natural” and appeal to my inner hippie. I took them for maybe three years? I panicked any time I ran out, because the zits would come right back. But then one day they stopped coming back. Because the best cure for acne is to just become really really old. —Anaheed

Cetaphil (Galderma Laboratories), fake Cetaphil, Acanya (Valeant), prescription toner pads, vitamins, green tea, clean livin’
I don’t like wearing foundation and powder, so I focus on keeping my skin bright and healthy au natural. Here’s how. Every morning I wash my mug with knock-off Cetaphil from Target, rinse it off with lukewarm H20, apply Acanya prescription gel to any bumps and flare-ups, and moisturize with Cetaphil lotion. Every other night, I exfoliate with these “RENEW” toner pads my skin doc’s office makes. I also stay away from booze and smokes, try to get as much sleep and healthy food to nourish my skin as possible, take my vitamins, drink green tea, and drink hot water with lemon all day to keep my skin hydrated, clear, and calm. Honestly, I invest a ton of energy and $$$ into keeping my skin happy. I love skincare so much that I would have become a dermatologist if I didn’t want to work as a writer and a feminist rabblerouser instead. —Jamia


  • indigosunday June 18th, 2012 7:11 PM

    I needed this. Just last night I was saying I wanted to get ProActiv because nothing seemed to be working and now this! I’m going to print this out for future reference. And now I have another reason to love Rookie.

  • katrinaexplainsitall June 18th, 2012 7:17 PM

    Hmmm, how interesting. I’ve never even heard of some of these! Bookmarking for future reference ~


  • sedgwick June 18th, 2012 7:36 PM

    i had this gross sty in my eye so a doctor gave me this doxycyline stuff to clear it up and it cleared up my skin in two weeks. i haven’t used the tablets for a while and i still have good skin so thats pretty magical too. I always liked the idea of “”natural”" treatments for my pimples but they just never worked and were so expensive, sometimes hardcore chemical stuff is the most effective, provided it doesn’t completely fuck your skin up or give you cancer.

    • freya2770 June 19th, 2012 12:26 PM

      SECONDED, my doctor put my on Doxycycline a few years ago (but for acne specifically), I stayed on it for about 6 months and my skin completely cleared up. Apart from the very occasional break out I’ve remained acne-free since– I’d tried pretty much every over the counter treatment I could find before then and nothing worked anywhere near as well as antibiotics.

  • missblack June 18th, 2012 7:50 PM

    ahhh, Cetaphil. Literally my favorite facewash ever. Though I hate that it has parabens and shit in it so I used to use Yes to Tomatoes facewash which was amazing and smelled SO good. I haven’t gotten it in a while though because I haven’t been to Target.

    But really the only thing that like ‘gets rid of acne’ for me is eating healthy food and lots of vegetables. Which is a plus? It sucks though when I eat ice cream and literally the next day I have zits on my face.

    Also I think the one thing that all of my friends and I have agreed is really good for acne is SUNSHINE. A good bit of sun on your face and shazam! – clear skin. Can anyone else concur or is this in all of our imaginations?


    • Gerlin June 19th, 2012 4:11 AM

      My mom used to be convinced that being in the sun was good for my skin but I wasn’t quite sure so I asked my dermatologist and for someone with acne prone skin it’s ok to sit in the sun for a bit (with protection, like anyone else) but definitely not for too long and don’t overdo it: it will make your skin produce more tallow, which in turn creates more spots.

  • Elumps June 18th, 2012 7:57 PM


    I had horrible, horrible skin for YEARS. Middle school, high school, and then I started college and was more stressed than usual it erupted into an even more terrible mess with huge spots on my jaw line that I had never had before. I have tried everything from slathering my face in a thick layers of benzoyl peroxide, to using Proactiv, trying various prescription medications, and the list goes on.

    I could not get it to go away, although Retin-A did seem to help and I am also on a birth control pill for hormone regulation. Over winter my face was a dry peeling mess (probably from the Retin-A + dry air) and I got a small bottle of Jojoba oil from a health food store out of desperation.

    All I can say is that this is magic in a bottle and go get some RIGHT NOW and put it on your face. I have stopped using anything else except for washing my face at night with some sulfur soap (I get mine from the derm) or sometimes an exfoliating wash of some sort. It’s been a month and I have no more scabs, no more white heads, and although not totally clear, compared to my face of the last 7 years it is amazing. Bonus points cause you can also use it to take off your eye makeup/ hit up that dry skin around your delicate eyeballs.


    • TheAwesomePossum June 19th, 2012 6:30 PM

      I used to rub a drop of jojoba oil on my face every morning and it was glorious until I stepped outside and realized that I live in a climate whose are gives me free moisturizer… heh. But it’s definitely a great moisturizer if you live in a drier climate.

      • TheAwesomePossum June 19th, 2012 6:30 PM

        whose *air. Sorry.

  • Roo June 18th, 2012 7:58 PM

    I used isotretinoin/roaccutane after using a number of unsuccessful prescriptions. Now, I literally get maybe one or two spots every month at most.

    I was scared to use isotretinoin at first when I read about all the possible side effects, but actually all I got was dry skin and sometimes a rash on my hands, both of which cleared up easily with moisturiser. Well worth the confidence I feel now about my skin and appearance.

    I would highly recommend isotretinoin to anyone who has had no luck with the other methods they’ve tried, and as long as you follow the dermatologist’s precautions you should be fine.

  • taste test June 18th, 2012 8:02 PM

    I have truly shit skin- never dry but always greasy. my acne wasn’t horrible until a year ago, when my face turned into one huge breakout with massive pimples. that was I went to a dermatologist. I now have antibiotics and an assload of intense chemical creams. they haven’t stopped my acne, but I at least look like an average teenager instead of “OH GOD, WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR FACE.” I might get put on Accutane soon, but I’m trying to avoid it because it sounds really nasty, so I might try some of these things.

  • moonchild June 18th, 2012 8:05 PM

    The all time best remedy is olive oil. It sounds like it would make your skin MORE oily, but it doesn’t. I’m pretty sure I read that it’s because the molecules are too big to fit into your pores? But anyway, just rub it in to your face before bed and in the morning it will be clearer, disinfected, AND moisturized! I love it and use it all the time.


  • Olivia June 18th, 2012 8:12 PM

    about the oil stuff…a lot of my friends are reluctant to try putting oil on their faces..but it is the only acne medication of sorts that works for me! i didn’t have horrible acne before…but once i started applying coconut oil to my face every morning and every night (it also works as a fantastic makeup remover), my skin fucking glows!!

    • Anaheed June 18th, 2012 11:04 PM

      I use coconut oil for EVERYTHING, it is a miracle substance.

  • Adrienne June 18th, 2012 8:14 PM

    My skin has been actually pretty nice to me, sometimes I just get the occasional white bump near my eye. I’m using Philosophy’s Purity facial cleanser, which I kind of like, but it’s definitely not a powerful acne zapper.

    I used to use this Tea Tree Oil rollerball that I really liked but man it has a strong, herbal, almost medicinal scent! And though this has nothing to do with acne, please please use sunscreen! I have unsightly brown sun spots on my face because I didn’t have any SPF!!! And sunscreen prevents wrinkles!


  • unefillecommetoi June 18th, 2012 8:40 PM

    I don’t live in the states so I can’t get most of the treatments but I’ll definitely try oil washing and aspirin. Thanks!

  • Maddy June 18th, 2012 8:45 PM

    ugh my skin is gross and i have a topical antibiotic and tretinoin stuff from my dermatologist but i don’t even know if it’s working. my back is really bad but i can’t reach it! acne is why being a teenager sometimes sucks

  • Claire June 18th, 2012 8:49 PM

    I am fo’ sho’ going to get some of that mysterious egg white stuff. I’ve never had full-blown acne, but I hate using salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide on zits because I feel like it completely dries out my skin and gives me a chemical burn. Thanks!

  • plainjane June 18th, 2012 9:13 PM

    I took Isotrentinoin a couple of months ago and had amazing results. My acne was SO bad and I had tried basically everything for my skin. It’s pretty much hell to take(blood draws, joint pains, SUPER dry lips, skin, nose, eyes…) but all of my acne is gone and it is lovely. It’s pretty expensive as well but it is definitely worth it. If nothing has worked for you, I would totally reccomend you talking to your dermatologist about it. :)

  • Tiffany June 18th, 2012 9:19 PM

    lovin’ the lady macbeth reference :)

  • carolita June 18th, 2012 9:32 PM

    I was a roaccutane use in my 30s (adult acne! Yay!). It did work, but I got a few new beauty marks from the sun sensitivity. Also, it’s been linked to alopecia areata, which is no less of a drag than acne! (I know! I’ve had it twice already. It’s kind of scary. Avoid, if possible, is all I can say to roaccutane. When I think back on my 30s it was probably the stress and bad diet that did me in.

    BUT, now, in my 40′s, I still have little breakouts, particularly under my bangs and on the sides of my face near my hair. I’ve used the Clarisonic, and various creams and serums with acids to “renew” my skin, but always after a few months, my skin starts to get too thin and reactive.

    The one thing that seems to be working is no more cleansers! I’ve been using this neat little thing called the “Magic Mitt”, by Jane Iredale (I got mine on amazon). I use it in the morning, when I come home from work (to wash off the extra makeup), and at night. It wipes away all the makeup and dirt, but not your natural oils. My skin used to be really dry, but not anymore. I only use a little eye cream at night, and moisturize in the mornings so my makeup will go on easier. It’s saved me a ton in creams. I really think keeping your own oils is the key to good skin.

    I still do a little exfoliating mask a couple times a week. Seems to be a good routine for me.

    Worth a try!

    • Pikajew June 19th, 2012 12:39 AM

      I second what you say about the accutane, I took it for two months before I finally had to stop taking it because I couldn’t take my hair falling out. It’s almost been a year since I stopped taking it and my hair still falls out all the time. My derm. of course said that it would just have to take time, but damn. My hair isn’t even growing back. Did you experience the alopecia like symptoms as well, and if so, did it ever get better for you? Like you said, it’s super scary and so not worth it in the long run!

  • diny June 18th, 2012 9:36 PM

    you can’t use antibiotics regularly. if you do, one day your body would resistance to the antibiotics and when your body got ill, you’re really gonna hate why you become resistance to antibiotics. and please try not to use drugs too much (aspirin, or everything). it is not good really. because the resistance-thing.

  • Adelaide Adams June 18th, 2012 9:46 PM

    The sun definitely has a positive affect on acne prone skin. Sunlight is an important source of vitamin D. Vitamin D is fat soluble, like vitamins A and E, all of which which are added to heaps of skin products because they help skin heal and avoid infection from diseases (like acne). It’s winter here in Australia, this is my worst season for breakouts because I can’t be outdoors 24-7. Vitamin A and D tablets are go to item for acne in winter.

  • mdoodle13 June 18th, 2012 10:04 PM

    WITCH HAZEL + prescription Duac = flawless skin. Greatest thing I’ve ever done for my face.

  • Mags June 18th, 2012 10:16 PM

    I know everyone’s skin is different and this might not work for everybody, but Benzoyl Peroxide has done WONDERS for my oily, acne-prone skin. I don’t know how I ever lived without it. I’m definitely going to try the aspiring trick for stubborn pimples though.

  • Cerise June 18th, 2012 10:57 PM

    Hmmm…I just bought some tea tree oil recently. I may have to try that.

    And I’m loving the Lady Macbeth reference. :D

    • Cerise June 18th, 2012 10:59 PM

      Also, I’d heard of oil cleansing, and I love Crunch Betty, so I’m *so* excited you linked there!

  • ellthemighty June 18th, 2012 11:07 PM

    I always felt like crap complaining about my skin because it’s usually been pretty good – only the occasional breakout of like 4 pimples at a time. Yay for me! BUT when it does get bad, and I don’t feel like it’s bad ENOUGH for some hectic treatment*, I wash it with the Body Shop’s Tea Tree Oil exfoliating cleanser and it works SO WELL. It is MIRACLE CLEANSER I have had exactly one pimple in the six months since using it, and honestly I shouldn’t have gone four days without washing my face anyway what did I think was going to happen.

    *like Roaccutane, which my friend was on and he got horribly depressed, as well as kind of looking like a leper for 18 months. His skin is great though.

  • Yasemin June 18th, 2012 11:08 PM

    So all of these are for the face, but do you know which ones also work for the chest/back? Those are my main trouble spots!

    • Libby June 19th, 2012 11:35 AM

      Generally, whatever you’re using on your face can be used on your back & chest. For me, anywhere with acne is extremely sensitive so it made sense to use my face products there.
      I went to my GP and she gave me two prescription creams, Retin-A and something benzoyl peroixide-y, along with a course of pills. I wash my back and chest with my Origins facewash, and then apply a thin layer of the benzoyl peroxide in the morning & the Retina-A in the night. Although I’ve still got a few spots and light purple-y scarred bits, it’s a lot better than it could be!

  • stellarbell June 18th, 2012 11:24 PM

    I just used some tea tree oil and I feel like a very clean-faced ice princess :)

  • SweetThangVintage June 19th, 2012 12:09 AM

    This is awesome! I can’t wait to try some of these out. Or one of them out if it works! Ya’ll should do a follow up on what moisturizer to use for acne prone skin!

  • Hayley June 19th, 2012 12:18 AM

    I took antibiotics for maybe 6 months (after nothing else worked and I hated my skin, etc.), which worked pretty well. The thing to remember about antibiotics, though, is that it’ll get worse before it gets better. I timed my first round of medication with winter break so I wouldn’t be at school while it was bad, but I do have Christmas pictures from that year of myself with these horrible cysts all over my face. (My skin cleared up nicely after that, but just…keep that in mind.)
    It also didn’t cure my skin FOREVER–my acne got worse eventually a year or two after I stopped my antibiotics.

    • giov June 19th, 2012 7:56 AM

      my experience exactly, which is why I’m not taking them again. also, my digestive system got pretty whacked with the antibiotics, and it takes literally years to heal it.

  • bethleeroth June 19th, 2012 12:25 AM

    Anaheed… I can’t even. I’m glad you understand what I’m going through, as a 28-year-old who watches everyone else I know having perfect skin while mine continues to insist upon acne.

  • lilkitten June 19th, 2012 12:51 AM

    Please please please please please, I’m absolutely begging, if anyone on hear has any recommendations for getting rid of acne scars, HELP A BROTHA OUT. I’ve been using lemon juice everyday for a week or two and I honestly haven’t seen many results (yet?). I would appreciate it so much if you know of anything that has worked personally!

    • Rae0320 June 19th, 2012 8:02 AM

      I might suggest you try Bio-Oil? I’ve never used it on acne scars, but I have used it on stretch marks. It’s by no means a quick process and you have to be faithful to the product and apply it daily, and like any skin product, there is no guarantee it’ll work for you, but it might be worth looking into? It worked so well on my stretch marks. Bottles aren’t THAT cheap but they go a long way. You also shouldn’t use it on broken skin so wait til everything is properly healed before you apply!

      I also saw an episode of Embarrassing Bodies (GREAT PROGRAMME IN THE UK) where a woman had something called ‘fraxel restore lasering’ which is a (not cheap) laser treatment to reduce the scarring on your face! Maybe not a viable option but thought I’d mention it..

      Good luck :)

    • Narnie June 19th, 2012 8:49 AM

      Vitamin E should do it. Either tablets or if you can get capsules or the straight oil rub it on the scars, it will help A LOT, even if they don’t go completely away. Worked for some of mine :)

  • Ireallylikepandas June 19th, 2012 1:20 AM

    I have horrible skin. Face wash for acne dries it out, while face wash for sensitive skin breaks me out (ex. Cetaphil). This past September though I had this horrible break out all along my cheekbone area and went to the doctor and he prescribed me some stuff called Clindoxyl Gel. It cleared up my break out but I still get the random couple of pimples during “that time”. What I found works for those is using Vics Vapor Rub as a spot treatment, I honestly thought it would make it worse, so I tested it out on a pimple that was just starting to form and the next morning it was brought a head, two days later it was completely gone.

    I still really want to try that egg white soap though, it just looks way more convenient to use than having to do the egg white face mask every couple days (super messy, ugh).

    By the way, does anybody know some good stuff that fades acne scars/marks?
    I hate how you can be zit free but those crap marks give you the illusion that you’re not.

  • mayaautumn June 19th, 2012 2:19 AM

    this article just makes me want to sing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIh0rbpjDPQ&feature=youtube_gdata_player (watch it, it’s v.amazing)


  • phoebelouise June 19th, 2012 3:55 AM

    All I can say is Head and Shoulders Classic Clean shampoo as a body / face wash. It is a miracle on acne. No spot cream has ever worked quite like it.

    For anyone who is literally desperate and at their wits’ end… try it.

  • TinaBallerina June 19th, 2012 5:01 AM

    I’ve had a lot of acne since age eleven or something (I’m seventeen), but now it’s mostly scars. So does anyone know about products/methods to lighten acne scars? And something for that gross backne??

    Great guide, although most of this stuff is pretty hard to get here in Norway.

    But maybe I should just try olive oil??

  • meowzaaa June 19th, 2012 5:23 AM

    drinking tons of rooibos tea has helped out my skin quite a bit. it contains a lot of antioxidants and no caffeine (because it’s a tisane, not actual tea). in addition to drinking it, i’ve recently started using it as a base for a home made face scrub/mask that also contains apple cider vinegar, honey, and sugar. which so far is very softening and toning…and supposedly the apple cider vinegar helps acne scars go away but i haven’t been doing it for long so i don’t know for sure about that yet.

    anyways, it’s an extremely cheap and gentle option to try.

  • coolschmool June 19th, 2012 6:17 AM

    legit, the ~oil cleansing method~ is the shit. I spent years burning the hell out of my sensitive/dry/still somehow producing zits skin with chemical products that never worked. As soon as I started using oil my skin cleared up, plus it took makeup off better than anything else. I was so hesitant at first because everything i read was like OIL FREE PRODUCTS ONLY but it worked amazing for me. I am lazy so i don’t use any fancy oils or measure anything properly, I just use a fairly random mix of castor and olive oils and it works.

    I think the thing about so much skin stuff is that every person’s face is so different, but products/advertising don’t really lead you to believe so. Because 90% of drugstore acne treatments are the same shit in a different bottle, so many people just go ‘ok this stuff doesn’t work i give up’ and spend most of high school with crappier skin than they need to. that’s definitely what I did.

  • Lillypod June 19th, 2012 6:17 AM

    I’m one of those incredibly annoying people who has simply inherited excellent skin…thanks, mom and dad!!
    I mean, I get the very occasional small spot, but the idea of acne is foreign to me.
    AND i get lots of sleep, eat a healthy diet, take a host vitamins and don’t put chemicals near my face.

  • giov June 19th, 2012 7:53 AM

    I’ve had terrible acne twice in my life (and when I was in my teens, but that’s a whole different story). Three years ago I was able to cure it with a thing called colloidal silver. you mix it with aloe vera and cover with plastic (not fun) and leave it for an hour every day. Right not I’ve been dealing with acen for five months and still figuring out what to do. One thing I’m pretty sure of: no accutane, antibiotics and birth control pill for me, thanks. If any natural cure does not work in, let’s say, six months, maybe I’ll change my mind. But the consequences of those meds are way worst that acne, in my opinion (then again, I have my moments when I would sell my first born to get rid of it, so yeah, go for it if you have to).

    • Rae0320 June 19th, 2012 1:42 PM

      Didn’t colloidal silver turn some dude blue? Or that might have been a hoax or whatever…but it sure was a weird story

  • Raebbies June 19th, 2012 8:34 AM

    I CANT WAIT TO GET OFF Isotretinoin its horrible to my lips even with lippy from the derm for some reason I’m peeling really bad right now. it has not happened in ages :(

  • Narnie June 19th, 2012 8:47 AM

    As someone who has suffered from severe cystic acne since I was 7, I totally vouch for Roaccutane. But Jamie is also so right; despite my worsening acne my dermatologist didn’t put me on the drug until I was 11, so I’d tried a lot of things until then. Quarterzone cream can be really good, Proactiv doesn’t work that well, and I also found that for the less severe acne on my back and chest acupuncture and other Chinese remedies helped heaps.
    Finally, after 7 years of 6 month courses of Roaccutane I’m (hopefully) acne free!! So definitely take it if your acne’s become impossible, and be prepared to go through buckets of moisturiser.

    • Narnie June 19th, 2012 8:51 AM

      And also be careful of depression. My Roaccutane use kind of coincided with the development of my Anorexia, and while they’re not totally linked, the depression Roaccutane can cause probably made everything worse.

  • Susann June 19th, 2012 8:50 AM

    I was lately thinking of getting a new spot treatment and the Kiehl’s line sounds great! Great article!

    Fashion in Pepperland

  • NotReallyChristian June 19th, 2012 8:58 AM

    If you’re going to put natural oils on your face, can I suggest jojoba oil? It’s a really light oil and a seriously great moisturiser; you just pour a little onto your hand, dabble your finger in it for a few seconds (that like melts it a bit more with the warmth from your finger to make it easier to absorb) and then dab it really lightly over your skin (you don’t have to rub it in hard). I suggest putting it on before bed, it takes quite a long time to completely absorb and people might wonder why you have oil all over your face. But yeah, it’s great! And it smells really good, like wood.

  • meels June 19th, 2012 9:00 AM

    What a godsend, I’ll definitely be trying some of this shizz out!

  • Abby June 19th, 2012 9:33 AM

    Any time you’re on antibiotics (if you’re sick, for acne, whatever), they can give you yeast infections, which sucks, but if you stuff yourself full of yogurt, it helps SOOO MUCH. The probiotics replace the good bacteria that the antibiotics kill, and if you eat it every day, you can pretty much bet on not geetting a yeast infection. Trust me on this one; I get strep throat a lot, and consequentially, get put on antibiotics a lot. It also works on the hardcore antibiotics usually… I was on hardcore stuff for weeks because I had pneumonia, and I still didn’t get a yeast infection!

  • thecaitd June 19th, 2012 10:39 AM

    I use oil cleansing and Queen Helene’s – both great. Plus baking soda as a weekly scrub (baking soda is magical stuff!) I do have a question though – would anyone recommend using the oil cleansing method with a Clarisonic? It seems like they would be perfect for each other, but the brush head might get gunked up reaaaal fast from the oil (jojoba and castor, in my case). Thoughts?

  • TheGreatandPowerfulRandini June 19th, 2012 10:41 AM

    Uhm, European people, gather ’round? Can’t get most of this where I live.
    I’ve never had extreme acne, but I have periods of time where my skin freaks out, especcially when the weather changes and when my dancing schedule/ eating habits change.
    Oatmeal on your face works pretty well for calming down redness but doesn’t actively get rid of spots for me. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7e5_RVBwNjE

  • Me June 19th, 2012 11:15 AM

    I always use Sudocrem for my spots. My mum used to use it for my nappy rash when I was a baby, but now I just put it on my spots before I go to bed, and it works like a miracle.

  • Libby June 19th, 2012 11:40 AM

    To add to this, SUDOCREM.
    I have two prescription creams, one for morning and one for night, along with a course of pills, which prevent my acne getting crazybad, like my parents and my older brother had. However, for individual spots, Sudocrem works wonders. It blends into my skin and doesn’t dry it out either, so I can apply it throughout the day alongside makeup touch-ups.

    • rookypox June 22nd, 2012 4:53 PM

      YES. was scrolling down to say anyone in the UK or ireland (i don’t know if they sell it in the states) should get some of this. it’s technically for nappy rash but it says on the pot it an be used for most skin issues and it really does work wonders. i put a little on spots before i go to bed and it makes all the difference.

  • Jamia June 19th, 2012 11:55 AM

    Anaheed–Thanks for reppin’ for us over 29-ers. I remember freaking out when I started breaking out a few years ago and my dermatologist told me: “I’d be a very rich woman if I had a penny for every adult woman who said she had perfect skin until she started breaking out with adult acne”. Sigh.

  • estefa June 19th, 2012 1:20 PM

    Yeah I have tried a lot of stuff but I highly recommend tea tree oil mix with sesame oil (sesame oil also works as a sunscreen!) as a moisturizer, vaporization with thyme and lavender (antibacterial), and I just started using a thyme tincture as a toner! My advice is that as long it is natural is worth trying!

  • Esmee June 19th, 2012 1:38 PM

    I used to put a dollop of sudocrem on my freshly popped zit: it made me stop picking it(I put on a really big blob of the stuff, on days that I didn’t have to go anywhere) and because it contains zinc, it makes sure you don’t get inflammations.

    But I am surprised: no Lush?
    I have been a lushfan for more than a year now, and before that I’ve used more stuff than I can remember. Clearasil, antibiotics, niveau young, tea tree, brands of local department stores and even the birth control pill. The last one did a good job, but my face never really cleared. I also stopped using it because of the side effects(low..no wait I mean NO libido: No wonder the pill makes sure you can’t get pregnant). Also a lot of skin cleanser dryed out my skin. Lush is one the brands that didn’t worsen it and a few products didn’t dry out my skin.

    My lush favorites for combating acne are herbalism, mask of magnaminty and ocean salt.
    Steam facial with lavender and mask of magnaminty directly afterwards makes my skin feel super clean without drying it out <3

    I also recommend washing your face with warm water only, in the morning. Don't use hot water, I heard heat triggers your skin in making more oil.
    And drink lots of water(don't drink sugary drinks too much: bacteria love sugar) and try not to touch your face: ever! never lean on your hands or something, I have a feeling that at least 30% of my spots are from me touching my face.

  • aprilhl June 19th, 2012 3:11 PM

    if you’re a product review-readin’ person, don’t forget http://www.acne.org!
    the website is kinda ugly now and he has products he developed/sells on there now (which I can vouch for the moisturizer: it is AMAZING, and jojoba oil is its main ingredient), but I was on the website years before he even began to develop his own products.

    there’s a *lot* of great advice and reviews of every method on there, and I have tried SO many things over the past 15 years…ugh…

    if benzoyl peroxide or proactiv only kinda worked for you, check it out. most companies (including proactiv) make it too harsh–but the acne.org regimen is great.

  • Kallieish June 19th, 2012 3:18 PM

    10 year of acne and trying everything under the sun, the only thing that worked was Accutane (generic Claravis) in my early twenties. Now I still get occasional spots, but they clear up quickly and I’m never left with hideous marks for months post-break out.

  • hannahkinskywalker June 19th, 2012 4:55 PM

    Isotrentinoin changed my life. It was horrible while I was on it–skin so dry it was rashy, lips so dry they bled sometimes, monthly blood tests, and pretty horrible fatigue. But boy, did it pay off. I used to get cystic acne nodules that would be on my face for months at a time and then leave behind scars. Now, I hardly even get blackheads. One thing that I hope everybody can learn from an article like this is that different things wok for different people, and that just because you see somebody with bad acne doesn’t mean that they aren’t working really hard to make it go away, or that your magical cure would be as magical for them.

  • carolineyall June 19th, 2012 5:40 PM

    I had very bad acne from age 12 to about age 22. It wasn’t until this year that I discovered the miracle drug HONEY! Get the pure natural kind from Whole Foods or a health food store, put a few drops on your face, and rub it in. You can also use it as a face mask – leave it on for 10 minutes then wash it off. I wash my face with it every morning, then use Witch Hazel as a toner, and a little Nivea moisturizer under my eyes/upper cheeks to keep the skin firm. At night I wash my face with Whole Foods-brand Cetaphil on a Clarisonic brush then the honey. AMAZING!

    • Han August 6th, 2012 11:54 PM

      I’m totally going to try this! Thanks!

  • db June 19th, 2012 6:02 PM

    ok i have had some form of acne since i was a teenager (29 now) and tried all sorts of treatments when i was in high school. i was put on accutane when i was 14, despite it not being tested on children. not only do i still have acne to this day, but it made me severely depressed to which i was put on anti-depressants ( that only compounded the issue) to the point where i was self-abusive, and suicidal. i took myself off anti-depressants when i was 20 and never looked back. i did not fully get past the depression till i was past 25, with relapses. my acne has fluctuated throughout, but i must urge teenagers NOT to take accutane please! the mental problems just aren’t worth it. i had no idea what was happening to me then, i didn’t know it was medicine related, i just thought i was crazy.

    as for now, i trid the OCM, didn’t work for me. I currently use khiels and the shiseido face brush (cheaper than clarisonic–manual!) and am experimenting still with finding the right moisturizers that dont completely make me an oil pit.

    i do want to offer a natural solution that hasn’t been touched on yet: THYME!
    google the possibilities.


  • erin June 19th, 2012 11:19 PM

    Great article! The neem oil and the cleansing brush oil sound like heaven! I didn’t used to get that many pimples, but at 17 my hormones are kicking it into gear pimple-wise. It seems like I always have small smatterings of them nowadays. I alternate/use a combination of tea tree oil and knockoff neutrigena spot treatment, but I think I’ll be trying out neem oil!

    • Dylan July 15th, 2012 10:13 PM

      Neem + Clarisonic = life changers

  • Caseykins June 20th, 2012 2:12 AM


  • Lillypod June 20th, 2012 5:48 AM

    I noticed somebody metioned colloidial silver, and I can vouch for it as well.
    My sister had a smattering of bad spots around her chin and a friend also had some bad acne all over. They used a good quality colloidial silver and it cleared up within the week and didn’t return…
    If you want to avoid taking antibiotics or pills, I would definitely reccomend it. Just make sure you buy a good quality one. You can spray it directly onto your face or drink it like a tonic.

  • EnidEnvy June 20th, 2012 8:51 AM

    my favorite spot treatment is either toothpaste (i used desert essence with tea tree oil) or the mario badescu drying lotion. both are amazing without any nasty chemicals!

  • Lynvine June 20th, 2012 5:19 PM

    but which one to choose…

  • Asha June 24th, 2012 8:41 PM

    I’ve been using tea tree oil treatment for about 2 years and in my experience it only makes your acne dry so afterwards you’ll get brown-purpleish acne spot; which, unfortunately, is harder to remove.

    I have oily face and for me the best kind of treatment is facial wash with acid in it. Like citrus (mainly lemon) in it, because not only it’ll absorb the oil in your face, it prevents blemishes and makes your skin more radiant. Just fyi, this is based on experience and every gurl have their own different needs.

  • Roothford July 4th, 2012 1:43 AM

    Hmmm, this makes me think…I’ve had awful acne for most of my teen years & adult life. I’ve definitely shed my share of blood sweat & tears over it, but I agree with Anaheed, sometimes you just have to get older. It sucks, this method, but after 10 years, my full-on war has subsided to an occasional battle. It’s never gone away entirely but, overall I simply try to be careful about what goes on my face, I try not to stress about (cause you all know what stress leads too…), I gobble up eat my fruits & veggies, and most of all, sleep a good ole 8 hours a day to help those sores go away. Nothing helps that horrible-throbbing-ugly-red zit heal like some good-old-fashioned beauty rest…o yeah & put some honey on it!

  • susanv93 July 21st, 2012 8:19 PM

    A little late to the party but I reccommend using sulfur cream for your face. I bought my jar for less than four dollars at Walmart. Be warned, it will dry out your skin but it does fade acne marks and scars.

  • dearcastle August 3rd, 2012 10:45 AM

    I know I’m the millionth commenter here, but a few years ago I would’ve been at this article with a pen and paper trying every recommendation!

    After many antibiotic trials (from the dermatologist), various birth controls (even the lowest hormone dosage made me unbelievably depressed), trying over OTC acne treatment, and months of Proactiv (made me breakout worse), I was pretty fed up. I never had acne in middle or high school, but as soon as I turned 20 it was just awful! All over my back, chest, and especially along my jawline. Classic Adult Acne – lucky me! I have really sensitive, fair skin. If I eat even one cashew I break out for a week (totally allergic).

    But I found the Acne God. Clinique’s Acne Solutions line is really incredible. I use the cleanser, toner, and moisturizer in the morning and just the cleanser at night. Then (and this is key!!!!) I use the Even Better Skin Tone Correcting Moisturizer. It has SPF 20 built in so you don’t need sunscreen during the day, which is great. The acne line keeps my skin clear, but the Even Better lotion (not the cream, which comes in a tub and is for dry skin) keeps my skin tone really even and glowing. I seriously haven’t had clear skin like this since I was a kid. If you’re seriously desperate go to your local Clinique counter and talk to them. They can help you figure out what’s best for your skin and it’s definitely worth the price.

  • Sadie August 4th, 2012 11:44 AM

    I’m so glad to know that I’m not the only woman over thirty who gets zits AND reads Rookie!

    I have found that Glycolic acid based remedies work best for me now. They keep those pores unclogged, and help keep the wrinkles at bay. The two products I use are Prep skin refresher by Cellbone, and the Glyco-Lac/60 gel peel by Skin Laboratories. Be cautious using peels at home, though, especially if you’ve never had one before. It’ll itch like crazy, but in the morning my skin is always all glowy. Gotta use lots of sunblock, but that’s always a good plan anyway.

    I’ve also been cleaning my face with Dr. Bronner’s soap because I don’t like harsh chemicals (other than, you know, ACID) and fragrances. Sometimes I mix in a little baking soda for a nice, gentle exfoliant.


  • Han August 6th, 2012 5:26 PM

    I LOVE this post. I’m definitely going to try two of these products. Would y’all (rookie staff) try to do this kind of review thing with moisturizer as well? That would rock my world. Thanks for the tips!

  • lindengirl August 16th, 2012 7:42 AM

    I’m Japanese and I currently live in Japan and had acne problems even though I am 20 and a few weeks after reading this article, I went to the “foreign countries” section of skin care products in a large department store and I found the Egg White “Agg Tval” Facial Soap! I was so surprised that I found it in a normal department store in Japan, but anyway, I bought it and after a week, my zits and redness cleared up!! It’s so strange since I went through so many different “acne skincare” products and this strange swedish soap kind of miraculously made my skin as smooth as it was in my pre-teen years…so now I have a reason to love swedish people….

    I’ve also got compliments on my skin so now I have a better relationship with my skin! So thanks for introducing me to the Agg Tval soap!

    p.s. The kind I found were sold individually and for about $6 each.

  • helensch17 August 26th, 2012 1:39 AM

    Do you use the agg tval soap once or twice a day? I’d really like to try it!