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Best Over-the-Counter Products for Severe Acne and Blemishes

author image Joshua Duvauchelle
Joshua Duvauchelle is a certified personal trainer and health journalist, relationships expert and gardening specialist. His articles and advice have appeared in dozens of magazines, including exercise workouts in Shape, relationship guides for Alive and lifestyle tips for Lifehacker. In his spare time, he enjoys yoga and urban patio gardening.

Severe cases of acne typically get treated with prescription-strength oral or topical antibiotics. If you're struggling with a bad case of pimples, talk to your dermatologist about what's right for your situation. Several over-the-counter products, highlighted as the best by beauty experts or dermatologists, can be used alone or in conjunction with a prescription treatment to help combat acne for less blemishes and clearer skin.

Proactiv Clarifying Night Cream

Proactiv has long been featured on television infomercials as an effective acne treatment, but its claims aren't unfounded. Skin care expert Paula Begoun, author of Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me, gave the company's night cream her much-coveted "Paula's Pick" award, which designates outstanding skin care products. She says it's a "well-formulated" beta hydroxy acid lotion, and said its combination of skin-nourishing antioxidants, retinol and salicylic acid comprise a "highly recommended" over-the-counter treatment for acne, short of getting a prescription-strength product.

SkinCeuticals Renew Moisturizer

Even skin with severe acne needs moisturizing too, especially if you use lots of skin-drying acne treatment products like benzoyl peroxide. Excessive dryness may lead to flaking or skin irritation, and may make your skin more susceptible to wrinkle-causing damage. Soothe and hydrate your acne-ridden skin with SkinCeutical's renewing cream, which InStyle magazine's beauty editors named the best night cream for blemished skin. The magazine's reviewing dermatologist, Ruth Tedaldi, says its exceptionally high amount of hydroxyl acids efficiently break down acne-causing oil while nourishing your skin.

Clean & Clear Daily Pore Cleanser

Begoun loved Clean & Clear's pore wash. She said it was "very good," capable of handling even very oily skin that's usually most afflicted by severe acne. It cuts through makeup and leaves no residue, causing her to name it one of the company's best facial washes. Regular use can help keep your skin clear by removing the pore-clogging debris that may contribute to bad acne.

SkinCeuticals Clarifying Clay Masque

Suck up excess oils that are deep in your pores with SkinCeutical's acne-targeting clay mask, rated as the best mask for acne by InStyle magazine's beauty editors. They cited its kaolin clay content as being effective, and liked its natural fruit acids, which help to kill acne-causing bacteria.

Clinique Acne Solutions Emergency Gel Lotion

Severe acne sometimes needs a high dose of sterilizing disinfectant to help eliminate the underlying bacteria. Begoun picked Clinique's emergency lotion as an "outstanding topical disinfectant" thanks to its unusually high amount of benzoyl peroxide--Clinque includes the acid at a strength of 5 percent--and anti-inflammatory chemicals to help soothe and reduce the appearance of angry pimples.

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