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Creating a successful cystic acne-fighting skin care routine may not seem like an easy feat, but rest assured that there are plenty of over-the-counter products that can help clear your breakouts. The best cystic acne treatment products are fortified with powerful clarifying exfoliants like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and glycolic acid to get deep into the pores to get beneath the surface where your pimples are forming and remove the acne-causing impurities that are responsible for your cystic breakouts. Not only do these ingredients purify and clarify, but they also regulate your skin’s oil production and promote the creation of new cells, expediting your breakout’s healing and life cycle.
Since cystic acne is considered by some to be more painful, larger and more pronounced than typical breakouts, cystic acne spot treatments and face masks also use soothing anti-inflammatory and hydrating ingredients to reduce their size and redness, offering instant relief without contributing to the damaging of your skin barrier with more irritation and dryness. To prevent future breakouts from forming, the best cystic acne treatment products also combine antifungal and antibacterial agents like tea tree oil and sulfur to guarantee that all traces of dirt and oil are gone and won’t contribute to more pimples.
Below, explore the best cystic acne treatment products that will help you achieve a clearer and more even-looking complexion with frequent usage.
Murad Acne Control Outsmart Acne Clarifying Treatment
Clinically proven to reduce the size of breakouts in one week, the Murad Acne Control Outsmart Acne Clarifying Treatment combines five powerful acne-fighting acids to purify your pores, treat breakouts and remove acne-causing bacteria to prevent future breakouts. This top-rated cystic acne treatment is powered by salicylic acid, glycolic acid, lysophosphatidic acid, hydroxydecanoic acid and sebacic acid and also works as a viable solution for blackheads and whiteheads.
Osea Red Algae Mask
Designed to vacuum out dirt, oil and dead skin cells from your pores, the Osea Red Algae Mask regulates oil production while supporting your skin’s natural rejuvenation process, helping to speed up the lifespan of your breakouts. Its gigartina seaweed, jojoba oil and green tea-enriched formula is also packed with pollution-fighting antioxidants, moisture barrier-protecting hydration and redness-reducing anti-inflammatory nutrients.
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Dual Acne Treatment
A drugstore favorite for its potent and fast-acting formula, the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Dual Acne Treatment harnesses the clarifying power of micronized benzoyl peroxide and Lipo Hydroxy Acid to penetrate deep into the pores and tackle cystic breakouts. Whether they’ve just begun forming or have already risen to the surface, this top-rated spot treatment removes pore-clogging dead skin cells and soaks up oil to accelerate healing.
The Body Shop Skin Clearing Clay Face Mask
Formulated with tea tree oil and carefully designed to prevent stripping or overdrying your skin, The Body Shop’s Skin Clearing Clay Face Mask purifies your pores while actively killing acne-causing bacteria thanks to tea tree essential oil’s antibacterial properties. Perfect for cystic acne, blemishes and blackheads, this naturally derived face mask mattifies your skin and helps keep future breakouts at bay.
Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay
Boasting a versatile formula that allows it to perform as a cystic acne-clearing spot treatment or a preventative mask for the face and body, the Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay detoxifies and purifies your skin using pure bentonite clay. In addition to clearing your pores of impurities, oils and toxins, it also helps reduce the redness and size of active breakouts with every usage.
PCA Skin Acne Gel
Target cystic pimples or use it all over your face as a preventative, oil-absorbing serum, the PCA Skin Acne Gel creates a customized acne-fighting solution with its gentle-yet-effective formula, which combines salicylic and azelaic acids to quickly clear blemishes and rebalance your skin. It’s also comprised of cinnamon bark, ginger root, green burnet root and licorice root extract, which work together in harmony to clarify, smooth and brighten your complexion.
Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Acne Masque
Perfect for oily skin types, the Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Acne Masque soaks up excess sebum and rebalances your skin, all while performing a deep, antibacterial cleanse of your pores to remove acne-causing impurities. Formulated with 10 percent sulfur, kaolin clay, bentonite clay and aloe vera, this top-rated acne-preventing mask instantly exfoliates, clarifies, refreshes and soothes your skin so it looks more even faster.
Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Daily Cleansing Pads
Offering an exfoliating and toning cleanse in addition to an acne-fighting treatment, the Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Daily Cleansing Pads are soaked in 2.8 percent glycolic acid and have a resurfacing and retexturing effect on the skin. In addition to clearing the pores of dead skin cells, sebum and other cystic acne-causing agents, these top-rated treatment pads also help reveal a smoother and brighter complexion using a blend of hydrating hyaluronic acid and balancing witch hazel.
Paula’s Choice Clear Regular Strength Daily Skin Clearing Treatment
Formulated with 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide, the Paula’s Choice Clear Regular Strength Daily Skin Clearing Treatment works hard to vacuum up any lingering dirt, makeup, oil and impurities from your pores so it can fight your breakouts at the source. While it’s unclogging your pores and rebalancing your oil production, its soothing, botanically based blend of bisabolol and allantoin calm redness and alleviate dryness and irritation so you can enjoy a clearer, more even-looking complexion faster.
CeraVe Hydrocortisone Cream Anti-Itch Cream
Offering the same accelerated acne healing benefits as a cortisone shot, the CeraVe Hydrocortisone Cream Anti-Itch Cream helps to reduce the size and redness of your cystic pimples with its 1 percent hydrocortisone formula. In addition to speeding up your pimple’s life cycle, it also restores moisture to your skin barrier using hyaluronic acid and ceramides while offering relief to dry, itchy, inflamed eczema-prone skin types for up to 12 hours.
Differin Gel Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment
For those looking to incorporate an affordable retinol product into their routine, the Differin Gel Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment is a viable option. Powered by 0.1 percent of adapalene, a vitamin A derivative, this top-rated gel penetrates deep into the pores to remove acne-causing impurities and promote healing. Since it’s a retinoid, it promotes cellular turnover and the creation of new, healthy cells, aiding in the reduction in redness, size and tenderness while also preventing new breakouts from forming.
Obagi Medical Clenziderm M.D. Pore Therapy
A toner and acne treatment all-in-one, the Obagi Medical Clenziderm M.D. Pore Therapy delivers a potent dose of pore-clearing 2 percent salicylic acid directly into the skin, ensuring that all traces of dirt, oil, makeup and impurities are gone. Ensuring that your breakouts are treated without causing further irritation and dryness, this top-rated formula is infused with hydrating glycerin to prevent further skin care woes and keep your barrier intact. Over time, this oil-regulating toner helps your skin regain its balance and clarity, giving your skin fewer reasons to breakout.
VMH Hypoallergenics ID Monolaurin Gel
Created with sweat-induced breakouts in mind, the VMH Hypoallergenics ID Monolaurin Gel protects your pores from future cystic pimples by harnessing the power of coconut-derived monoglyceride, which performs a purifying cleanse of acne-causing bacteria and excess sebum. Suitable for sensitive skin thanks to its fragrance-free and glycerin-fortified formula, this antibacterial, antiyeast and antiprotozoal acne treatment can be used on the face and body.
Keeva Organics Tea Tree Oil Acne Treatment Cream
A multipurpose cystic acne treatment that offers the purifying benefits of a cleanser, the balancing benefits of a toner, the hydrating effects as a moisturizer and the targeted relief of a spot treatment, the Keeva Organics Tea Tree Oil Acne Treatment Cream heals acne from the inside out by killing all traces of bacteria from the pores. Boasting antibacterial and antifungal properties from its tea tree oil-rich formula, it’s designed to clarify your pores and rebalance oil while maintaining a healthy moisture level in your skin, reducing redness, irritation, dryness and the chance of future breakouts.
Clean & Clear Persa-Gel 10 Acne Medication
Powered by 10 percent benzoyl peroxide to provide a maximum-strength, professional-grade spot treatment, the Clean & Clear Persa-Gel 10 Acne Medication banishes cystic pimples at every phase, whether they’re still beneath the surface or fully formed. Excellent for treating breakouts as well as preventing them, this pharmacist-recommended formula penetrates deep into the skin fast and keeps cystic acne at bay with frequent usage.
InstaNatural Exfoliating Glycolic Face Mask and Facial Scrub
Fortified with glycolic acid to dissolve pore-clogging impurities and dullness-inducing dead skin cells, the InstaNatural Exfoliating Glycolic Face Mask and Facial Scrub is an AHA-enriched two-in-one formula that can be used as a physical and chemical exfoliant to cater to a variety of skin types. Formulated with a brightening, anti-inflammatory and soothing blend of turmeric, vitamin C, aloe vera, pumpkin and ginger, it reduces redness, buffs away unwanted texture, promotes cellular turnover and keeps your skin hydrated and healthy.