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The top acne spot treatments, according to 7 dermatologists


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Stressed out because you have a pimple or do you have a pimple because you’re stressed out? Either way, when a zit surfaces, there’s no point in pondering which came first. What you need is a spot treatment and you need it ASAP, thank you very much.

But if you’ve perused the acne offerings at Ulta or Sephora lately, you know that there’s time-a-plenty to spend researching the best ways to nix a breakout. There are face masks, face washes, serums, and even essential oils promising to reduce the size of your zit and have your complexion glowing by dawn.

Rather than spend hours poring over the state of your pores, however, (time is of the essence) I polled seven top dermatologists on the products they turn to to banish pesky zits. Their recommendations right this way.

Keep scrolling for seven dermatologist-approved spot treatments.

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Spot Treatments
Photo: Skinfix

Dr. Doris Day, MD: SkinFix Facial Exfoliating Pads, $25

“This 98% natural, cruelty-free product is also free of fragrance, sulfates, parabens, gluten, and dyes,” says Dr. Day. “In addition to glycolic and salicylic acids, it contains sugar cane and willow bark, which help cell turnover. Use it two or three times a week and make sure you moisturize after.”

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Spot Treatments
Photo: Jason

Dr. Carlos A. Charles, MD: Tea Tree Oil, $11

“Tea tree has antibacterial properties that can help reduce acne flares when used on specific lesions,” says Dr. Charles. “Apply a dab of Tea Tree Oil as a spot treatment in the morning after cleansing, and be careful when using as it can cause irritation on [sensitive] skin types.”

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Spot Treatments
Photo: Neutrogena

Dr. Arash Akhavan, MD: Neutrogena SkinClearing Blemish Concealer, $7

“It’s concealer and spot treatment in-one,” says Dr. Akhavan. “The applicator tip allows easy coverage of acne spots, while salicylic acid helps gently dry out pimples. Apply to cover up acne spots and retouch as needed.”

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Spot Treatments
Photo: Drunk Elephant

Dr. Jessica Weiser, MD: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial, $80

“It’s technically intended to be used as a full-face treatment, but it’s also a highly effective spot treatment,” explains Dr. Weiser. “Before bed [after cleansing] apply a thin layer to dry skin for 20 minutes and rinse. It contains glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids that help diminish acne-causing bacteria, dry excess oils, and decongest pores.”

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Spot Treatments
Photo: Clean & Clear

Dr. Joshua Zeichner, MD: Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment, $6

“Salicylic acid should be your go-to ingredient if you suffer from blackheads or whiteheads,” explains Dr. Zeichner. “It’s a beta-hydroxy acid that helps remove excess oil from the skin while exfoliating dead cells. Look for a gel with 2%, like this one.”

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Spot Treatments
Photo: First Aid Beauty

Dr. Francesca Fusco, MD: First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Blemish Patrol Pads, $30

These pads contain a combination of witch hazel, salicylic acid, evermat, and willow bark extracts,” says Dr. Fusco. “The formula helps soothe the redness of pimples, tightens enlarged pores, and dries out blackheads, whiteheads, and rosacea.”

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Spot Treatments
Photo: Bye Bye Blemish

Dr. Patricia Wexler, MD: Bye Bye Blemish, $8

“Both antiseptic and clarifying, this lotion uses zinc oxide, sulfur, and salicylic acid to help reduce the size and severity of blemishes,” says Dr. Wexler. “Without shaking the bottle, apply sediment directly with a Q-tip to the affected lesion. Salicylic acid exfoliates dead cells from pores, while zinc oxide and sulfur rapidly treat pimples overnight.”

If you’re looking for more non-traditional ways to fight breakouts, you might want to try Jessica Alba’s smoothie recipe or adding an air purifier to your home.

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