7 Dermatologists Share Their Favorite Over-the-Counter Products for Combatting Acne


According to The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), adult acne is increasing, affecting up to 15 percent of women. With this number comes too many treatments to count, both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription. While dermatologists recommend scheduling a consultation before you choose a method, they also understand that an in-person visit to the office might not be in the cards right now. 

If you’re more comfortable tackling your acne at home for the time being, here are seven expert-recommended OTC products to add to your skin-care lineup.

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“My favorite over-the-counter product for acne is Avène Clearance Concentrate Blemish Control Serum ($28). This product helps reduce the appearance of blemishes and tightens pores. It also contains comedoclastin, a plant-based extract from milk thistle that reduces oil production and blemishes, as well as Avène thermal spring water to soothe and calm acne-prone skin. It is an excellent product for adults and adolescents with blemish-prone skin who want a product that is safe, soothing, and effective without harsh ingredients.” —Monroe, LA dermatologist Janine Hopkins, MD

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“Patients can now get Differin Gel ($13) over the counter without a prescription for their acne. Differin helps with comedonal acne (blackheads and whiteheads) as well as smoothing skin texture and building collagen.”  — Fresno, CA dermatologist Kathleen Behr, MD

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“As a dermatologist, I see severe and significant cases of acne that typically require medical intervention with prescriptions. However, I do recommend products that are noncomedogenic—which means they won’t make acne worse—as part of a treatment plan. To that end, I recommend Vanicream Cleansing Bar ($5) for face-washing and CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion ($12).” —Eagan, MN dermatologist Charles Crutchfield, MD

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“My favorite product for combating acne is Dr. Zenovia Skincare Advanced Retinol Night Repair Treatment ($72). Retinol is one of the most researched and proven actives in dermatology and almost all dermatologists believe in the science of retinoic acid as a key player for acne and anti-aging. Retinol helps regulate sebum production and increases cell turnover, preventing the formation of blackheads, whiteheads and cysts. In addition, retinol is an infamous collagen protector.” Newport Beach, CA dermatologist Zenovia H. Gabriel, MD

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