best anti-acne products for teens

Puberty is hard. It’s not enough your body’s changing, your parents are still treating you like a baby, and your crush doesn’t even know you exist.

Your skin has in it for you, too. As soon as puberty hit, your face got covered in big, angry, red pimples that just won’t go away – no matter how much you scrub your face raw. Argh!

Acne teen is common, but it doesn’t have to ruin your life. With a good skincare routine in place, you can say goodbye to pimples and get your clear skin back.

Here are the best anti-acne products for teens:

What Causes Teen Acne?

The main cause of teen acne is – you guessed it – hormones.

During puberty, androgen hormones increase, triggering sebaceous glands to produce more sebum (oil) than your skin naturally needs to stay soft and moisturised.

The excess gets stuck in your pores, where it mixes with dead skin cells and other gunk. Overtime, this mixture gets so bigger, it clogs pores. Cue blackheads, whiteheads, and – when the P. Acnes bacteria joins the party – pimples.

Related: How To Treat Teen Acne

Struggling to put together a skincare routine that banishes shine, pimples, and blackheads? Download your FREE “Best Skincare Routine For Oily Skin” cheatsheet to get started (it features product recommendations + right application order):

cerave foaming cleanser review

Best Cleanser: CeraVe Foaming Cleanser ($14.99)

Did you know that harsh and drying cleansers damage your skin’s protective barrier, creating the perfect environment for acne to thrive? CeraVe Foaming Cleanser doesn’t do that. It strikes the perfect balance between effective cleansing and tender loving care. It effortlessly removes every trace of dirt, makeup, and excess oil from your skin without stripping your skin bare and drying it out. Win win.

Available at: Asos and Ulta

Related: My Full Review Of CeraVe Foaming Cleanser

Best Spot-Treatments: Mario Badescu Drying Lotion ($17.00)

Nothing gets rid of pimples faster than sulfur. If a red, angry zit has already reared its ugly head on your face, grab a bottle of Mario Badescu Drying Lotion. It’s rich in sulfur, a mineral that targets acne on multiple fronts: it kills the bacteria that cause acne, It helps exfoliate dead skin cells, dries out blemishes, and reduce oiliness. The catch? Sulfur is very irritating. Use it as a spot treatment only (NEVER as a face mask, no matter what the packaging says).

Available at: Beauty Bay, Nordstrom, and Ulta

Related: Sulfur: Good For Acne, Bad For Skin?

Paula's Choice Clear Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution 2% BHA

Best Exfoliant: Paula’s Choice Clear Regular Strength 2% BHA Exfoliant ($29.50)

Acne-prone skin needs salicylic acid (BHA). Unlike other exfoliants and scrubs, salicylic acid penetrates deep inside your pores to remove all the impurities that clog them up and give you acne. While it’s at it, it also reduces inflammation and redness. Used regularly, it prevents and treats blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples. Paula’s Choice has plenty of other BHA products to choose from, but Clear Regular Strength 2% BHA Exfoliant is my fave. Why? It’s toner-like texture sinks in immediately without leaving a tacky residue behind.

Available at: Cult Beauty, Dermstore, and Paula’s Choice

Related: My Full Review Of Paula’s Choice Clear Regular Strength 2% BHA Exfoliant

Best Oil-Absorber: The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% ($5.90)

If your skin pumps out excess oil non-stop, you need The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%. Niacinamide is a good acne-fighter on its own that also doubles up as an anti-inflammatory agent to reduce redness and irritations. Plus, it hydrates skin to boot. But it’s zinc that does the real magic here. This mineral helps regulate sebum production. Less sebum = fewer breakouts. Just beware, zinc is drying. You want it to absorb excess oil, not ALL oil. If it dries out your skin, use it less often.

Available at: Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty, Look Fantastic, and Ulta

Related: 3 Little Known-Acne Fighters That Actually Work

CeraVe PM Facial Moisturising Facial Lotion

Best Moisturiser: CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion ($16.99)

If you have oily skin, you’re tempted to skip moisturiser. Big mistake. What you need is an oil-fee moisturiser that strengthens your skin’s barrier without clogging pores. CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion fits the bill. It has hyaluronic acid to hydrate skin, ceramides to lock in moisture, and niacinamide to treat acne, soothe inflammation, and reduce redness. Everything your teen skin needs, basically.

Available at: Asos, Look Fantastic, and Ulta

Related: My Full Review Of CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion

Best Sunscreen: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Dry Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 60 ($19.99)

Yes, you NEED sunscreen. UV rays cause inflammation. Guess what acne is? An inflammatory disease! Skip sunscreen and you’re sabotaging your entire routine. If you’ve lost all hopes of finding a sunscreen that doesn’t make you look even more of a shiny frying pan, give La Roche Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Dry Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 60 a last try. The creamy texture dries down to a matte finish quickly and is enriched with oil-absorbents to soak up the excess oil on your skin. The best part? It can withstand heat and humidity better than most sunscreens and works well even in water for up to 80 minutes.

Available at: Dermstore and Ulta

Related: The Best Sunscreens For Oily, Acne-Prone Skin

The Bottom Line

Teen acne is often cause by a hormonal imbalance during puberty. But that doesn’t mean you just have to put up with it. A simple skincare routine of cleansing, exfoliating, sunscreening, and moisturising goes a long way to prevent and treat teen acne. If you need the extra help, add sulfur to get rid of pimples and zinc to absorb excess oil.