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The Best Drugstore Acne Products, According to Dermatologists

Affordable Acne Products

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I didn’t find the product that cured my workout acne from a fancy boutique. The product that finally eased my plaguing acne symptoms—after years of trial-and-error and plenty of cash—came from the drugstore.

The misconception about skincare products as a whole is that price equals effectiveness. That’s definitely not true, and when it comes to treating breakouts and clearing your skin, some of the best, dermatologist-recommended options out there are shockingly affordable.

Photo: sergey causelove/Shutterstock

Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser

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Dermatologist Heidi Waldorf, M.D., of Waldorf Dermatology Aesthetics, recommends products from Aveeno's Clear Complexion line. Specifically, she says this cleanser is great for acne-prone skin because it's made with salicylic acid, which clears pores, as well as soy to hydrate the skin. "It's less irritating than the average salicylic acid cleanser," she notes. ($7;

(Related: Retinol Got Rid of This Woman's Acne In Just Three Months)

Photo: Aveeno

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Face Toner Clarifying Solution

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Another acne-focused drugstore skin-care line that Dr. Waldorf recommends is La Roche-Posay's Effaclar collection. All the products in this lineup are formulated with blemish-fighting ingredients to clear breakouts and prevent them from popping up again. This toner is made with glycolic acid to exfoliate dead skin cells and dirt from the surface of the skin. Salicylic acid is added to the mixture to clear out pores. After cleansing, saturate a cotton pad with this solution and gently run it over your skin and any problem areas. ($20;


Photo: Target

Cetaphil Oil Control Moisturizer SPF 30

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"I often recommend the Cetaphil PRO Dermacontrol line," says Ted Lain, M.D., an Austin-based dermatologist. "It contains a gentle cleanser and a moisturizer with sunscreen. Both products are formulated for acne-prone skin—the cleanser has specialized ingredients that help to remove excess oil without causing dryness or inflammation, while the moisturizer helps reduce shine, along with broad-spectrum UVA and UVB blockers." ($14;

(Related: Yes, Sunscreen Pills Really Are a Terrible Idea)

Photo: Dermstore

Dickinson's Original Witch Hazel Pore Perfecting Toner

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Dermatologist Marina I. Peredo, M.D., says to look out for witch hazel, an ingredient that has cleansing, soothing, and healing properties. "For those suffering with acne, try Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel Pore Perfecting Toner, which uses a 100% natural witch hazel formula," suggests Dr. Peredo. "As a dermatologist, I always recommend this toner, as it helps to refine pores, remove excess oil, soothe irritation, and maintain skin’s natural balance." ($5;

Photo: Dickinson's

Differin Acne Treatment Gel

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Melissa Kanchanapoomi, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and clinical instructor at NYU Langone and Mount Sinai, says that Differin Gel is one of the most effective acne drugstore treatments. "Differin Gel is a prescription-strength retinoid that not only prevents acne from forming but is also an anti-inflammatory, which makes it different from other retinoids," she explains. (Related: 3 Skin-Care Mistakes That Make Your Acne Worse, According to Dr. Pimple Popper)

This product not only unclogs pores but also controls cell turnover and restores texture and tone. ($11;


This story originally appeared on by Victoria Moorhouse.

Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission

Photo: Differin


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