We’ve rounded up our favorite acne treatments to suit all types of breakouts.
|Product Name||Ranking||Key Ingredient||SebumControl/ Acne Fighting||Wound Healing||Pore-Clearing||Price|
|SOME BY MI | AHA.BHA.PHA 30 DAYS Miracle AC SOS Kit|
|AHA; BHA; PHA; Tea tree water; Centella Asiatica||Y/Y||Y||Y||Check Here|
|#CeraVe | Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Gel for Face|
|Glycolic & Lactic Acid; Salicylic Acid; Niacinamide; Ceramides||Y/Y||Y||Y||Check Here|
|Zitsticka | KILLA Deep Zit Microdart Patch|
Best for papules
|Salicylic Acid; Hyaluronic Acid; Niacinamides||Y/Y||Y||Y||Check Here|
|Mighty Patch | Original Hydrocolloid Acne Pimple Patch|
Best for pustules
|COSRX | One Step Original Clear Pads|
|Willow Bark Water||Y/Y||Y||Y||Check Here|
How to Pick the Best Acne Treatment for Men?
One of the main causes of acne in men is fluctuations in testosterone. It causes oil glands to produce excess sebum that can trouble oily skin. The fact that men’s skin is different from women’s makes this even more of a problem.
Men have larger pores, thicker skin, and thicker hair follicles on their faces. And that can spell trouble when combined with excessive amounts of sebum. Too much sebum can block pores and cause breakouts. Thick facial hair can also trap dirt and oil, turning it into a breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria.
A simple face wash isn’t enough to prevent acne, especially if you break out easily. Sometimes you need more specialized or concentrated treatment that targets problem areas. But with so many types of anti-acne products available – from gels, creams, patches, to cleansing pads – choosing one can be a challenge.
So, to make the decision easier, we’ve created a list of factors to consider before buying any anti-acne treatment. We’ve also included a list of our favorite acne treatments for men with acne. So let’s dive in!
Acne-fighting & sebum control ingredients
Testosterone causes men to produce twice the amount of sebum than that of women. So, it’s important to look for skincare ingredients that not only fight acne but help manage oil as well. Here are some good ones to look out for:
Tea Tree water
Tea Tree has many proven anti-acne benefits, thanks to its main component Terpinen-4-ol. It has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties that reduce acne-causing bacteria. It also helps improve skin hydration, reduce pore size, and controls oil production, thus lessening breakouts.
Tea Tree Water is the distilled version of its more potent counterpart, Tea Tree Oil. It’s more gentle and less likely to cause skin irritations or allergic reactions.
Centella Asiatica is excellent for skin healing. It contains many components that soothe the skin and reduce inflammation, which is essential for acne-prone skin.
It also hydrates and prevents moisture loss. This is particularly important because men tend to have oilier and more dehydrated skin. When skin is dry or dehydrated, it produces more oil to make up for it. Centella Asiatica helps with this by keeping the skin sufficiently hydrated, thus reducing excess oil production.
Willow Bark water
Willow Bark contains Salicin, which is the unprocessed form of Salicylic Acid. Besides having anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties, Willow Bark water also exfoliates the skin. This helps get rid of dead skin cells that could clog pores and trigger breakouts. Another great benefit is that it minimizes flare-ups by reducing excess sebum, which is vital for overactive oil glands.
Since Willow Bark contains natural, unmetabolized Salicin, it’s a much gentler alternative to Salicylic Acid. As such, it may be less irritating for those with extra sensitive skin.
Though not an “ingredient”, hydrocolloid plasters are still effective at reducing excess oil. These tiny patches contain wound-healing gels with Salicylic Acid or Tea Tree Oil. When placed over active acne spots, they offer targeted treatment by absorbing oils and other impurities. They give wounds a clean, moist environment that’s ideal for healing.
More importantly, they also provide extra protection for those who can’t resist picking at their pimples. Popping pimples aggravate breakouts, which can lead to hyperpigmentation issues and deeper infections. As such, hydrocolloid plasters are a fool-proof way to prevent that from happening.
Brightening and pore-clearing ingredients
Excess sebum and sweat tend to make oily skin stickier or tackier. This means that dead skin cells won’t shed off easily and will likely end up blocking pores instead. Since men have larger pores, it makes it all the easier for dirt to get trapped and cause an acne flare-up.
This becomes even more problematic with thick facial hair. Besides trapping dirt and oil, beards also make it hard to cleanse the skin. To get a thorough cleanse, try to look for effective exfoliating ingredients in your acne treatment. Here are some great ones:
Glycolic acid & Lactic acid
Both Glycolic and Lactic Acid are alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), which are chemical exfoliants. These are water-soluble acids that address skin surface problems, including acne.
AHAs have smaller molecules, allowing them to penetrate the outer layer of the skin effectively. They work by breaking down the sticky bonds that hold skin cells together, boosting the skin turnover rate. This allows dead skin cells to shed off faster and help pores stay clear. It also improves hyperpigmentation left by old acne scars.
Salicylic Acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) and another type of chemical exfoliant. Unlike AHAs, Salicylic Acid is oil-soluble. This allows it to easily mix in with the sebum on the face and penetrate the deeper layers of the skin. Like AHAs, Salicylic Acid also improves skin turnover and gets rid of dead skin cells. It also helps tighten pores and control sebum production, which is great for those with persistent acne.
PHA stands for poly-hydroxy acid, which includes Lactobionic Acid, Gluconolactone, and Maltobionic Acid. Like AHAs and BHAs, PHAs also help with skin exfoliation and renewal. It sloughs away dead skin cells and makes way for newer, brighter skin. What sets PHAs apart from the other types of acids is that it’s gentler on the skin.
PHAs have larger molecules, which means that it doesn’t penetrate the skin as deeply. It causes less irritation and is thus more ideal for those with sensitive skin. In fact, PHAs are so gentle that even those who deal with rosacea can reap the benefits of exfoliation minus the irritation.
It also has more moisturizing properties that help repair the skin barrier. And since it mostly works on the surface of the skin, it also enhances the efficacy and absorption of other skincare ingredients.
Acne pimples are considered wounds because they disrupt the skin barrier. When we pick or pop them, we often end up making them worse by spreading bacteria. And when the infection worsens, it can leave deep scars. To avoid reaching that point, it’s important to look for wound-healing ingredients. Here are some highly effective ones:
Hyaluronic acid is naturally found in our bodies, making it safe and gentle for use on the skin. Hyaluronic Acid molecules can hold 1000 times their weight in water, giving it amazing hydrating properties. It works by drawing and binding moisture into the skin, keeping it healthy.
By minimizing water loss, Hyaluronic Acid also keeps sebum production under control, which is great news for men with oily, acne-prone skin. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that help improve wound and skin barrier healing.
Ceramides are fatty lipids that make up about 50% of the skin’s outer structure. They work by holding healthy skin cells together, making the skin barrier more resilient against bacteria, infections, and the like. It also helps skin stay hydrated longer by locking in moisture more efficiently. This makes the skin less prone to irritation and allows it to heal faster.
Peptides are naturally occurring amino acids that also improve skin barrier function. They help restore proteins, such as collagen and elastin, which are essential for healthy skin. While not as hydrating as Ceramides, Peptides have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that help keep acne-causing bacteria at bay.
Consider your type of acne
Before buying an acne treatment product, it’s important to remember that not all acne is the same. So it makes sense that different types of acne will need different types of treatments. Here are the most common acne types:
- Papules: Papules are small, inflamed red bumps that feel tender to touch. They usually occurs near the surface of the skin, so it’s best remedied with a gentle exfoliating product that unclogs pores and stops bacteria from spreading even deeper.
- Pustules: Pustules are bumps filled with white or yellowish pus. These are best left alone, as popping them only spreads the bacteria and worsens the breakout. In terms of treatment, medicated hydrocolloid patches work well on this type of acne. It keeps the area clean while absorbing all the gunk inside and minimizing inflammation.
- Whiteheads & Blackheads: Both whiteheads and blackheads are caused by pores clogged by dirt and dead skin cells. The difference is that Blackheads are open pores, and Whiteheads are closed. Both types will benefit from the exfoliating properties of AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs.
- Cystic Acne: Cystic acne is similar to pustules, but occurs much deeper in the skin. Serious cases often require strong prescription medication and can leave the skin permanently scarred if not addressed. To prevent acne from becoming cystic, concentrated treatment with a medicated leave-on gel may be more effective. A regimented skincare routine is also recommended.
Consider your daily routine
Besides knowing what kind of acne you have, it’s also important to consider the lifestyle you lead. Personal habits and routines play a big factor in how well your chosen products will work for you.
For instance, if you’re always outdoors or on the go, you may not have the time for a full skincare routine. Thick and heavy products may also not be ideal if you’re constantly exposed to environmental pollution or if you tend to sweat a lot during the day. As such, spot treatment products or 2-in-1 toner pads may be better for convenience and cleanliness.
Those who habitually pick at their acne spots are also better off using acne patches rather than spot treatment gels. Patches are more hygienic and offer better protection while minimizing inflammation.
SOME BY MI AHA.BHA.PHA 30 DAYS Miracle AC SOS Kit
[SOME BY MI] AHA.BHA.PHA 30 DAYS Miracle AC SOS Kit (From:Amazon).
- AHA, BHA, & PHA for skin exfoliation and hydration.
- Tea Tree Water to reduce acne-causing bacteria.
- Centella Asiatica Extract to soothe irritation and improve wound healing.
- Good for all skin types, except those sensitive to Salicylic Acid and Alcohol.
The SOME BY MI AHA.BHA.PHA 30 DAYS Miracle AC SOS Kit is a simple, 4-step skincare system that targets acne problems head-on. It’s chock full of pore-clearing ingredients that soothe inflamed skin and regulates sebum, making this the best overall acne treatment for men.
This skincare system consists of four different products – the Miracle Acne Foam, Miracle Toner, Miracle Serum, and Miracle Cream. All four products are formulated with AHA, BHA, and PHA, designed to give the skin deep yet gentle exfoliation with every step. This potent combination makes sure your skin, especially your pores, stays clear of dead skin cells.
All products contain 10,000 ppm (1%) Tea Tree Leaf Water to fight off acne-causing bacteria and prevent new acne breakouts. This is much milder than concentrated Tea Tree Oil, making it perfect for those with sensitive skin. All products also come with at least 150,000 ppm (14.5%) Centella Asiatica Extract to calm irritated and inflamed skin.
So, while all the products contain the same core active ingredients, there are some slight differences in their formulations.
For instance, the Miracle Acne Foam has a higher concentration of Salicylic Acid (BHA). This deep cleans the skin and eliminates acne-causing bacteria. It also rids the skin’s surface of any dirt and debris and prepares the pores to better absorb other active ingredients.
The Miracle Toner and Serum focus more on pore care, skin brightening, and moisturization. Both products contain higher concentrations of AHA, BHA, and PHA, which gives the skin a thorough exfoliation. This is especially excellent for bearded fellows with blemish-prone skin. Both also contain Niacinamide, which moisturizes the skin, manages sebum production, and brightens uneven spots.
Lastly, the Miracle Cream mainly helps with skin barrier repair and soothing irritations. It contains the highest amount of Centella Asiatica Extract (70%), which is designed to calm the skin after having gone through three steps of exfoliation. The cream also locks in hydration delivered by the previous ingredients and boosts healing of the skin barrier as well.
The great thing about this set is that it’s extremely convenient and easy to use for men who are new to skincare. The box comes with instructions on how and when to use each product, as well as what each product is for. Those who are confused or overwhelmed by the sheer number of products available for each skincare step can opt for this set instead, as it takes care of the decision-making process.
The 30 DAYS Miracle AC SOS Kit is dermatologist-tested and is generally safe for all skin types. However, if you are sensitive to Salicylic Acid or Alcohol, you may experience some irritation with these products.
It’s also good to keep in mind that the Miracle Serum contains quite a large number of fragrances and fruit oils. Among those mentioned in the ingredients list are:
- Olive Fruit Oil
- Almond Oil
- Meadowfoam Seed Oil
- Camellia Oleifera Seed Oil
- Grapefruit Peel Oil
- Orange Peel Oil
- Rice Bran Oil
Olive Fruit Oil, in particular, is listed pretty high up on the ingredients label, which means the serum contains a lot of it. The good thing is that fruit oils are generally safe for most people and allergies are quite rare. However, those with nut allergies need to be aware that the Miracle Serum does contain Almond Oil. So, if you have sensitivities to those types of ingredients, it may be best to skip the serum altogether.
CeraVe Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Gel for Face
CeraVe Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Gel for Face (From:Amazon).
- 2% Salicylic Acid (BHA) for deep cleansing and oil control.
- Glycolic and Lactic Acid (AHA) to exfoliate and unclog pores.
- Niacinamide for hyperpigmentation.
- 3 Essential Ceramides to strengthen the skin barrier.
- Hyaluronic Acid for hydration.
- Fragrance-free, oil-free, and paraben-free.
- Good for all skin types, except those with sensitive skin.
The CeraVe Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Gel comes with many excellent benefits for acne-prone skin. First off, it’s formulated with AHA and BHA to help clear clogged pores and targets hyperpigmentation. On top of that, it’s budget-friendly and developed with dermatologists, making this gel our runner-up pick for acne treatment for men.
The combination of Glycolic and Lactic Acid (AHA) has a dual exfoliating effect on blemished skin. It sloughs away dead skin cells that often block pores and promote cell renewal. This allows Salicylic Acid (BHA) to better penetrate the skin and prevent future breakouts, while minimizing oil production.
The highlight of this gel (as with all CeraVe products) is the 3 Essential Ceramides (1, 3, 6-II) it’s formulated with. This unique blend restores our skin’s natural ceramides to an optimum level and helps repair the skin barrier. This allows our skin to maintain more moisture and better protect itself from bacteria.
CeraVe’s patented MultiVesicular Emulsion Technology (MVE) releases the ingredients into the skin through multi-layered spheres that gradually dissolve over time. With this technology, and the addition of Hyaluronic Acid, the skin gets long-lasting hydration that’s essential for oily, dehydrated skin.
Lastly, the gel also contains Niacinamide, which has skin brightening properties that address hyperpigmentation caused by acne scars. It’s also a great moisturizer that can even reduce the appearance of large pores and help control sebum.
The CeraVe Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Gel is best applied on acne spots up to three times daily. But since it contains two types of exfoliants, it might be drying for those with extra sensitive skin. As such, it’s best to start off using the gel once a day as a precaution.
AHA and BHA can also make the skin more sensitive to the sun, so the gel is best for nighttime skincare routines. And as always, sunscreen is a must.
Zitsticka KILLA Deep Zit Microdart Patch
Best for Papules
Zitsticka KILLA Deep Zit Microdart Patch (From:Amazon).
- Salicylic Acid for exfoliation and oil control.
- Niacinamide to soothe redness and address hyperpigmentation.
- Oligopeptide-76 to fight acne-causing bacteria.
- Hyaluronic Acid for hydration.
- Good for all skin types, except those sensitive to Salicylic Acid or Citric Acid.
The Zitsticka KILLA Deep Zit Microdart Patch contains innovative microdarts that help Salicylic Acid penetrate acne effectively to clear clogged pores. It soothes inflammation and moisturizes while keeping acne bacteria under control. It’s also dermatologist-approved, making this patch our top pick for acne papules.
The main feature of the Zitsticka Microdart Patch is its 24 tiny microdarts. These microdarts contain four anti-acne ingredients – Salicylic Acid, Niacinamide, Oligopeptide-76, and Hyaluronic Acid. When pressed into the face, it gives a gentle stinging sensation, which is a sign that the microdarts are working their way into the skin.
It then takes about 2 hours for the microdarts to dissolve and deliver their core acne-fighting ingredients straight into the center of the blemish. Salicylic Acid deeply exfoliates the pores to get rid of dead skin cells. Niacinamide and Hyaluronic Acid hydrates and calms irritation, allowing the skin to heal. And the antimicrobial properties of Oligopeptide-76 make sure that acne bacteria stays gone.
What’s great about these patches is that they’re especially effective against papules or early-stage acne. Thanks to the microdart technology, you get precision acne treatment that prevents minor blemishes from worsening. It’s also super easy to use and convenient enough to bring anywhere, which is great for those who want a simple preventative acne solution and don’t have time for full skincare routines.
The Zitsticka KILLA Deep Zit Microdart Patch is best used on dry, clean skin without any other products. As such, each kit comes with CLEANA swabs, which contain exfoliating ingredients that help prime the skin before application. The patches are great for day and night use but are most effective when worn overnight.
Mighty Patch Original Hydrocolloid Acne Pimple Patch Spot Treatment
Best for Pustules
Mighty Patch Original Hydrocolloid Acne Pimple Patch Spot Treatment (From:Amazon).
- Medical-grade Hydrocolloid to absorb acne pus.
- Latex-free, Vegan-friendly, Cruelty-free, and FDA-approved.
- No harsh chemicals or formulations.
- Good for all skin types.
The Mighty Patch Original Hydrocolloid Acne Pimple Patch is a simple Hydrocolloid patch that helps absorb excess oil while preventing further inflammation. It’s a no-frills acne spot treatment that contains no harsh chemicals and is great for all skin types, making this our favorite acne treatment for pustules.
This patch addresses acne breakouts that have escalated beyond the preventative stage. The patch itself is made from super absorbent, medical-grade Hydrocolloid that sucks out the gunk from active acne pimples. It has a dual protective benefit of keeping acne wounds safe from bacteria and unnecessary picking that could make them worse.
The Mighty Patch also helps reduce redness and swelling on tender, inflamed pustules. They can even work to calm irritation caused by ingrown hairs or razor nicks, which is ideal for those who shave every day. It also contains no chemicals or formulas that can dry out or irritate the skin, making it great even for those with sensitive skin types.
Each Mighty Patch box comes with either 36 or 72 patches, which can last you 2-3 months depending on how often you break out. It can also easily fit into any bag, making it convenient to take anywhere.
The patch is best for nighttime use so that you can get the benefit of 6-12 hours of uninterrupted protection. But they’re also discreet enough to be worn during the day, as well.
It’s good to remember that even though the patches don’t contain any chemicals, it’s not advised to use them with other acne treatments such as Differin or Accutane. Doing so could cause excessive drying, which can irritate extra sensitive skin and affect its ability to heal.
COSRX One Step Original Clear Pads
COSRX One Step Original Clear Pads (From:Amazon).
- 78% Willow Bark Water and 2% Betaine Salicylate (BHA) for exfoliation and oil control.
- Panthenol, Allantoin, and Hyaluronic Acid to hydrate the skin and calm irritation.
- Tea Tree Leaf Oil to fight acne-causing bacteria.
- Cruelty-free and paraben-free.
- Good for all skin types.
The COSRX One Step Original Clear Pads is a convenient exfoliating toner that comes in easy-to-use cotton pads. Each cotton pad allows for a quick cleanse with one swipe and helps clear out the gunk from clogged pores. It’s also portable and easy to use, making this our favorite on-the-go acne treatment.
The acne treatment pads contain a BHA solution of 78% Willow Bark Water and 2% Betaine Salicylate. Both ingredients have a mild exfoliating effect on the skin, suitable even for sensitive skin. This helps clear out pores and manages sebum production, which is vital for oily skin.
The cotton pad solution contains a lot of skin-soothing ingredients. Allantoin calms redness and irritation, while Panthenol and Hyaluronic Acid help the skin retain more moisture. The combo of the three ingredients boosts hydration and minimizes oiliness, which is vital for dehydrated, acne-prone skin.
This soothing combo also makes the product non-drying and safe enough for daily use, despite containing an 80% BHA solution. It can even be used as much as twice a day to clean and refresh the skin, especially if you’ve been sweating or exposed to environmental pollution. Just remember to follow it up with sunscreen for added protection.
Lastly, the solution also contains Tea Tree Oil. This gives it antibacterial benefits that help reduce breakouts and tighten large pores. While some people may find Tea Tree Oil sensitizing on delicate skin, the solution doesn’t contain enough of it to have a harsh effect on the skin.
Our favorite thing about these cotton pads is the double-sided cleansing it gives. The textured side of the pad offers chemical and physical exfoliation. And the softer side wipes away any remaining debris. It’s perfect for frequent travelers who want a thorough acne treatment without having to bring too many products.
The COSRX One Step Original Clear Pads are cruelty-free and paraben-free. Each tub comes with 70 cotton pads, which is enough for over two months of use.
Look for products labeled “non-comedogenic” or “oil-free” to ensure that they won't contribute to your acne by clogging your pores. Look for ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or natural ingredients that can sop up excess oil and give your pores a deep cleaning.What is the #1 best acne treatment? ›
1. Topical Retinoids (i.e. Retin-a, Differin, Tazorac, etc.) Dr. Lingam tells us, “This topical acne treatment option, which is typically applied in the evening, helps prevent clogging of pores by encouraging the shedding of skin cells, speed up cellular turnover, and slow collagen breakdown.What are the top 3 best acne treatments? ›
Salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and adapalene can be great acne-fighting ingredients if you're prone to pimples.Does acne mean high testosterone? ›
High levels of testosterone can lead to an acne breakout and other critical health issues as well. Elevated testosterone levels can increase sebum production, which can trigger pimples. If hormonal imbalance is triggering your acne, do consult a dermatologist for solutions.What is the most powerful acne treatment? ›
Isotretinoin: This is a potent medicine that attacks all four causes of acne—bacteria, clogged pores, excess oil, and inflammation (redness and swelling). About 85% of patients see permanent clearing after one course of isotretinoin.What clears acne the most? ›
Usually the first choice for treating acne is a tetracycline (minocycline, doxycycline) or a macrolide (erythromycin, azithromycin). A macrolide might be an option for people who can't take tetracyclines, including pregnant women and children under 8 years old.What brand has the best acne treatment? ›
- Best Serum: Skinceuticals Silymarin CF, $182.
- Best Toner: Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, $34.
- Best Face Wash: Paula's Choice Pore Normalizing Acne Cleanser, $15.
- Best Body Treatment: CeraVe SA Body Wash for Rough & Bumpy Skin, $16.
This ingredient kills bacteria that cause acne, helps remove excess oil from the skin and removes dead skin cells, which can clog pores. Benzoyl peroxide products that you can buy without a prescription are available in strengths from 2.5% to 10%.
1. Benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide works by killing the bacteria on your skin. It also helps to unclog pores by removing dead skin.What is the main cause of acne in men? ›
- Excess oil (sebum) production.
- Hair follicles clogged by oil and dead skin cells.
Acne is caused when tiny holes in the skin, known as hair follicles, become blocked. Sebaceous glands are tiny glands found near the surface of your skin. The glands are attached to hair follicles, which are small holes in your skin that an individual hair grows out of.How do I know if my acne is bacterial or hormonal? ›
Other signs of hormonal imbalances like irregular periods, excessive hair growth, or hair loss may also be present in addition to this one. On the other hand, bacterial acne is characterized by the presence of red, tender, and frequently inflamed cysts, pustules, and pimples.What male hormones cause acne? ›
Testosterone belongs to a class of male sex hormones called androgens, which can trigger acne by over-stimulating oil glands. They can also change the skin cells that line hair follicles, making them sticky and more likely to clog pores.