When it comes to acne, there is no one-size-fits all solution. The minute a bump begins to form, it’s easy to get carried away in the mirror and end up fighting your skin ‘till it’s red and raw (Pro tip: don’t do this.) With a whole world of blemish-busting products available – from super-sheer stickers to pore-vacuuming clay masks – things can get overwhelming. As exasperating as the experience is, breakouts are a shared reality and, contrary to the popular belief, aren’t something that magically disappear once you reach adulthood. Whether they show up as painful cysts or the odd hormonal flare up, the struggle is real – but solutions do exist. Below, we spoke with 12 women to find out the products they use to get the job done.

Biologique Recherche Masque Vivant 

“One of my favourite products is Biologique Recherche Masque Vivant. This is the holy grail of masks for calming down and soothing acne, inflammation and redness. I use it 2x a week and also as a spot treatment overnight on blemishes. It smells but it’s so worth it!” – Meg Gaic (@getglow.t.o)

SkinCeuticals Blemish+Age Defense

My fave product for blemishes is SkinCeuticals Blemish+Age Defense. It’s a core part of my daily skincare routine. I use it morning and night after cleansing. It’s incredibly light, absorbs into my skin immediately, and doesn’t sit heavy on my face. It’s so incredibly effective and changed my skin almost immediately. Between this and their ‘Daily Moisture’, which normalizes oil production, I’m set! – Carter Reid (@carterreid)

Rose Ingleton MD Blemish Control Booster

“My go-to skincare item for acne is Rose Ingleton MD Blemish Control Booster. Consistently using it every morning to clear my acne has done wonders for my skin. It’s definitely a lifesaver and always in my top shelf. I use it every morning if I have some stubborn acne, and when that clears I use it sparingly.” – Whitney Madueke (@whitneymaduekewm)

Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream

“My skincare products shift depending on what season we are in, but washing and moisturizing your face and neck is key all year round! My skin (and wallet) seem to like the The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser and the Thayers Lavender Facial Toner. I use Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream at night and a combination of marula and rosehip oils for any dryness.” – Chloé Li-Chapman (@chloelichapman)

Carbon Theory Cleansing Bar

Carbon Theory Cleansing Bar is a miracle in a bar! If you haven’t tried it already then all I can say is, why? It contains charcoal which helps to draw out any impurities and unclogs pores as well as tea tree which helps to reduce inflammation and redness. This has been my go-to cleanser for 3 years! – Ella Gorton (@_myskinstory)

Differin Gel 

“CeraVe SA Smoothing Cleanser was a real hero product when I was combating my acne breakouts. It contains salicylic acid which exfoliates to keep my breakouts and skin at looking clear and acne-free. Differin Gel (prescription only in Canada) is great for acne AND hyperpigmentation! I love that because 99.9% of the time acne leaves marks on my skin so having a product that not only treats acne but also hyperpigmentation is amazing.” –Kaiser Coby (@kaisercoby)

Dr. Hauschka Revitalizing Mask

“I like the Dr. Hauschka Revitalizing Mask because it calms redness. I find all salicyclic acid spot treatments do are make the skin flake and the whole spot more angry.” – Lesa Hannah, beauty director, ELLE Canada

Kiehl’s Breakout Control Targeted Acne Spot Treatment

“Whenever I have a pimple brewing I apply a glob of Kiehl’s Breakout Control Targeted Acne Spot Treatment on the spot and treat it like a mini-mask. It contains niacinamide – one of the the best ingredients to manage acne IMO – and mineral sulphur to shrink zits and reduce redness. I’ve also had really good luck with Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Medicated Gel For Acne. Tea tree oil is naturally anti-microbial but can be very harsh on the skin. This diluted formula gives you all of the benefits but none of the burn.” – Melissa Perdigao, beauty editorial assistant, ELLE Canada


Biologique Recherche Masque Vivant

Biologique Recherche Masque Vivant ($69)

SkinCeuticals Blemish+Age Defense

SkinCeuticals Blemish+Age Defense ($110)

Rose MD Blemish Control Booster

Rose MD Blemish Control Booster ($94)



“I’ve heard Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a NYC-based derm, recommend a combination of benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and a dot of OTC cortisone to spot treat a huge pimple. I don’t do it every day, but for emergencies it really works. (I’m not a doctor, but longterm use of topical cortisone isn’t a good idea – read the warnings on the packaging and use sparingly!). Just use whatever products you have on hand with those ingredients (I’m personally a big fan of the Rodan + Fields Benzoyl Peroxide). If you have a pimple that looks like it’s ready to pop (sorry for the visual) Hero Cosmetics stickers are truly the best pimple patches on the market. I also love TactuPump, a prescription only retinol/benzoyl peroxide combo. I notice it really speeds up the healing process. Just start slow, since the first time I used it I applied it with zero regard for the instructions and my face took weeks to recover.” – Victoria DiPlacido, digital director, ELLE Canada

Verso Blemish Fix

“My go-to product for breakouts is the Verso Blemish Fix. When I start getting hormonal breakouts, I use this treatment AM/PM and the spots dry up right away. The formula is gentle, yet effective, and I love that it includes niacinamide, turmeric and a special vitamin A complex called retinol 8.” – Yzelle Duran (@yzelleduran)

Banish Pumpkin Enzyme Masque

“Banish Pumpkin Enzyme Masque is a great exfoliating mask for both acne and scars. It exfoliates using glycolic acid and leaves your skin feeling SO soft, my skin looks clearer and clearer after each use. I use this mask about twice a week to keep breakouts at bay.” – Kali Kushner (@myfacestory)

Murad InvisiScars

“I use Murad InvisiScars to lighten the deep pitted scarring left from my acne-prone skin. I’ve had acne for years which means a lifetime of scars left behind, and this product has helped so much.” – Kadeeja Sel Khan (@emeraldxbeauty)

Derma-E Anti-Blemish Clarifying Bi-Phase Toner

“Derma-E Anti-Blemish Clarifying Bi-Phase Toner has been a game changer for my adult acne. It has glycolic acid to exfoliate the skin, tea tree oil to clarify, and Vitamin E that helps to nourish and improve texture. It’s powerful without being irritating or drying. I use it twice a day and noticed improvement in my acne and scarring in two weeks. I’m a big fan of pimple patches and my current favourite is Squish Flower Power Acne Patches. Sometimes I feel like my acne is the first thing people notice about me, but with these cute, quirky patches make me a lot more confident during a bad breakout. Not only are they fun to wear, they’re also super effective. The hydrocolloid helps bring the blemish to the surface.” – Phelisha Cassup (@phelishac)

Manuka Honey

“One of my favourite products for sure is manuka honey. I use it on any inflamed spots and it really helps soothe sore spots and calms everything down. I find that whenever I use it the spot is so much better by the next day especially when it’s a painful one.” – Lea Alexandra (@skinwithlea)

Medik8 Blemish SOS

“Whenever I have a breakout I pop Medik8 Blemish SOS on and it clears it up nice and quickly.” – Emily Keel (@emilykeel_)

Biologique Recherche Serum Complexe Iribiol

“This isn’t so much of a spot treatment (although it can be treated like one) as it is a serum that regulates acne prone skin. Biologique Recherche Serum Complexe Iribiol really helps treat breakouts and heal acne scars, while also improving the look of pores.” – Christina Tourloukis, editorial assistant, ELLE Canada



Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch The Original


Verso Blemish Fix ($120)


Banish Pumpkin Enzyme Masque ($52)