Keeping clear skin all summer long can be a challenge, especially once temps start to really crank up. Whether you’ve got acne-prone skin or just experience the occasional sweat-induced breakout, these products will help clear things up ASAP and prevent any more unwanted zits from popping back up.
MORE: How to Stay Pimple-Free This Summer
1AcneFree Body Clearing Acne Spray, $11
“Sprays are a great option when you’re treating large surfaces, hair-bearing areas or hard-to-reach spots like the back,” says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Medical Center’s department of dermatology. AcneFree features a continuous spray head that combines alpha and beta hydroxyl acids to treat and prevent acne, as well as aloe to soothe breakouts.
2Aczone (dapsone) Gel, 5%, by prescription
For stubborn acne that hasn’t cleared with other options, ask your dermatologist about an anti-inflammatory like prescription Aczone. “This class of topical treatment isn’t an antibiotic, but instead targets skin swelling that is the underlying cause of a condition like acne,” explains Doris Day, M.D., clinical associate professor of dermatology at New York University Langone Medical Center. “The most important thing is to consistently use it every day to treat and prevent breakouts effectively,” she adds.
3Clear Clinic Laboratories Vanished, $35
The days of dotting your zits with pink lotion and hiding out until you’re in the clear are over. Vanished is a completely clear spot treatment developed by New York dermatologist Eric Schweiger that uses menthol, glycolic and salicylic acids to coax pimples into submission. You can even toss it in your purse to dab on during the day over makeup.
4Estée Lauder Clear Difference Advanced Blemish Serum, $54, Targeted Blemish Treatment, $35, Complexion Perfecting BB Crème SPF 35, $40
This three-pronged approach combines salicylic acid to clear pores, a high concentration of glucosamine to exfoliate and a natural marine extract called Laminaria saccharina to control excess oil production. A soothing blend of algae, sucrose and caffeine helps to reduce redness surrounding blemishes. Choose from an all-over serum, blemish spot treatment, BB crème that provides coverage and SPF protection, or use them all together for a full-strength system.
5Aubrey Clarifying Therapy Clear Skin Complex, $10
To treat acne the natural way, Aubrey derives 2 percent salicylic acid from willow bark extract in a skin-balancing gel that deep cleans pores from within. The spot treatment also features witch hazel, lemon peel, glycerin and sea buckthorn oil that dispenses through a pen applicator so you can easily treat blemishes throughout the day without drying out skin.
6Arm & Hammer Baking Soda 1 lb. box or shaker, $1 each, grocery stores nationwide
Believe it or not, a cheap ingredient in your kitchen cupboard can help keep you clear, too. Baking soda safely and effectively exfoliates skin for about a buck! “Combine baking soda with honey to make a paste for normal skin, with coconut oil for dry skin, or with aloe for sensitive skin in need of redness soothing,” instructs Dr. Day. Massage onto face a couple of times a week, and rinse with water.
7Clearasil Daily Clear Refreshing Superfruit Toner, $7
Acne toners are notorious for stinging skin, but Clearasil’s new superfruit version uses gentle 1 percent salicylic acid and soothing vitamin B3 to refresh your complexion without over drying. Soak a cotton ball with the cranberry- and raspberry-enriched formula, and wipe over your face, neck and any other areas prone to breaking out. It doubles as a great refresher after a sweaty workout.
8Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleansing Cloths (set of 25), $8
With a formula based on the brand’s best-selling gentle cleanser, these super-soft and fragrance-free wipes cleanse skin without stripping natural protective oils—a process that constant cleansing can otherwise trigger, actually causing the body to overcompensate with more oil production. Use on face and body to swipe off sweat and feel clean while also leaving skin hydrated and pH balanced.
9La Roche-Posay Effaclar Dermatological System, $30
Bring in the big guns with this new kit by La Roche-Posay that is formulated to start showing improvement in acne within three days. It targets P. acnes bacteria to improve three major causes of acne: excess sebum, inflammation and the hyper-keratinization that causes skin cells to clog pores. At under $30 for all three products, it’s one of the best deals out there.
10Beauty Rx by Dr. Schultz The Progressive Peel, $70
Adult acne sufferers, there’s good news: You can treat acne and stave off signs of aging with a glycolic acid protocol like this one created by New York dermatologist Neal Schultz. The six-week system starts with an 8 percent lotion to jumpstart the program, and then progresses to 10 percent strength liquid product after a couple weeks. “Finally, graduating to the 15 percent strength cream yields maximum acne treatment and prevention,” says Dr. Shultz. We most appreciate that the regimen is carefully pH adjusted, which means you won’t feel a burn.
11Mary Kay Skinvigorate Cleansing Brush, $50
A thorough daily cleansing can help prevent acne caused by sweat and dirt buildup. Try a cleansing brush like Mary Kay’s new two-speed power version that massages skin as it removes all traces of debris. Any treatment products you apply right afterwards will absorb more deeply and work more effectively, too. The boxed set comes with two brushes that are good for about three months each when used daily, and refills are $15 per head.
12Lush Dark Angels Cleanser, $13-$32
Charcoal isn’t just for summer grilling—it exfoliates and absorbs excess oils in acne-prone skin types, too! Lush combines charcoal with black sugar and a rhassoul mud base to deep cleanse and prevent breakouts from forming, while also comforting stressed skin with cold-pressed organic avocado oil and vitamins. Use the velveteen cleanser on your face or body for a clarifying matte finish.
13Phytomer Acnipur Blemish Solution Fluid, $59
Oily skin types will benefit from the natural marine sugar in Phytomer’s blemish solution fluid, which soaks up sebum and helps inhibit the inflammatory process that sets off acne. A purifying complex helps contain the spread of bacteria on skin’s surface, as well as inside of clogged hair follicles known as comedones. The lightweight, fragrance-free formula leaves skin matte and feeling fresh and clean.
14VMV Hypoallergenics Id Sweat Acne and Overall Antibacterial Monolaurin Gel, $26
If you continually break out in the same spots where you perspire, try this antibacterial gel that fights the fungus that causes sweat acne. Cooling monolaurin disinfects skin and regulates temperature to prevent over-sweating while also controlling yeast production. Simply apply the gel to sweat-prone areas before you head out, and reapply as needed throughout the day.
This product is available at our shopping site, BeautySage, where we only sell products proven to work!
15Benefit Big Easy Multi-Balancing Complexion Perfector, $38
Philosophy Supernatural Airbrushed Canvas Broad Spectrum SPF 15, $38
Lighten up your makeup load with smart options that provide weightless coverage. Benefit’s BB cream is oil-free and melts right into skin to help balance moisture while smoothing and evening out tone. If you prefer the feel of powder in the summer, Philosophy’s The SuperNatural infuses talc-free mineral foundation with SPF protection in sheer, totally natural-looking coverage.