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If only acne would cease to exist in adulthood. For some it does, but for those of you who still have it, we’ve written reviews of the best acne products for adults.
When I was a teenager I would get a few pimples every now and then. I assumed they would go away once I became an adult, because 18 is just the magic age when you’re mature and you stop having adolescent problems right?
Skip to adulthood a few years later and there I am with perfect skin.
I had gained about 30x the number of pimples I had as a teenager. I also started trying to do the dating thing around then too. It was a great time (*insert sarcastic tone*). The annoying little face spots don’t seem to be an uncommon occurrence for adults, despite my teenage beliefs. Since it’s such a common issue, I thought I’d write a list the best acne products for adults that we find helpful in reducing acne.
Cost: $10.88 (15g), $27.49 (45g) – Amazon
Fortunately, just after Evan and I met, I started using an acne product that somehow worked. After all my failed attempts at exterminating my teenage blemishes, I had kind of given up, but one of my friends at the time suggested Differin gel treatment. The primary ingredient in Differin is adapalene, a type of retinoid*. It was a bit pricier of a product than I was used to, but with her recommendation I decided to try it. I first purchased the smaller tube (15g) of Differin at Target, but switched to the larger size (45g) from Amazon once I knew the product worked for me. The price was the same through both stores, but I’m lazy and would rather get free shipping than go out to buy one item.
My acne got worse at first, which is to be expected within the first three months or so of trying a new face product. But after that, it significantly improved. My face remains clear for the most part. I still have a pimple or two pop up every once in a while, but it looks so much better than it did two years ago.
Although I don’t follow the directions to a tee, I do use the gel once a day in my nightly routine. The 45g tube is just supposed to last for 90 days according to Differin’s website. But, I have used just over half of the tube in 5 months. The 45g size currently costs $27.49, so if this tube only lasts for 6 months, that’s just over $4.50 a month. Worth it. Once I looked at the price that way, it didn’t seem as bad. I still don’t like seeing the $30 leave my checking account, but the gel lasts for a long time and works. I use it everyday, but one of the disadvantages is that once you start using it and seeing results, you can’t really stop. My face has adjusted to it and I’m kind of afraid to stop using it because that might send me back to square one. I don’t really mind it because my face still looks good and I’m not spending too much on it. Just putting it out there because that’s pretty much the only downside I have discovered. It is by far one of the best acne products for adults (or teens) that I have used.
Cost: $7.99 – Amazon
We all know that you’re not really supposed to pop pimples because it irritates the area, spreads the bacteria, and all that loveliness. Isn’t it so hard to resist though? Rather than using our hands or cotton swabs, we purchased the Bestope pimple extractor kit from Amazon. It has 5 dual-sided tools. Most of them are for scraping, but there are also ones for poking and applying pressure to pimples.
They definitely help pop pimples. Most of the tools are more for blackheads than regular pimples. Only the triangle shaped one works for blackheads for me. But we definitely use the needle and circular tools. These serve as a better alternative to poking each other with our nails. The blemishes tend to appear extremely red and angry immediately after we use the extractors, but then they calm down and look normal sooner than if we had just squeezed them.
If you’ve ever been annoyed and wanted an excuse to stab your partner with a giant needle thing, you should definitely purchase this extractor kit. Obviously, only stab their pimples with their consent. I can’t promote violence here. These are probably the most dangerous of the best acne products for adults.
The two tools we have found to be the most useful are the needle and round shaped tools. In the instructions you’re supposed to clean your face and warm up the area so your pores are more open. We just use the tools after a shower. The next step is to sterilize them, which we only did before using the first time. Since then we sterilize them after we use them, using a paper towel and rubbing alcohol. Thinking about it now, we should probably sterilize them before too, just cuz the container isn’t sterile. Moving on. So, we use the large scary looking needle to poke a hole in pimples that have come to a head. We have to move it around a bit sometimes to make sure the hole is big enough for the grossness to get out without tearing skin. That part is not fun. Actually none of it is, but it’s worth it to make the pimple either smaller or gone. Once we’ve poked the pimple enough, we use the round tools to apply pressure on the pimple. The other blackhead-focused tools could be used for that too, but we found they hurt more and don’t work as well.
Cost: $22.45- Amazon
If you haven’t gathered by now, we buy stuff from Amazon a lot. I’ve seen blackhead vacuums on Instagram pretty frequently. I’m a pretty skeptical person by nature, so I thought this was one of those Instagram influencer scammy things. Unlike my teenage sister, I don’t usually use Instagram to make decisions on purchases. But, I was getting pretty annoyed with blackheads on my nose. We use pore strips, which are not great for your skin, so I’ve read. They helped some, but there were still large blackheads they just were not pulling out. I was complaining about it one day to Evan and wondered out loud if the weird vacuum things I’ve seen in social media ads actually work. He was like “why not look for one on Amazon?” So, I followed his suggestion and found this one by Noel. It was one of the least expensive ones and seemed to have good reviews. This pore vacuum came with 5 heads in 4 sizes. It also had a bonus mini extractor kit. Some of the tools are slightly different than our current extractor kit, so I’m sure we’ll end up using both sets.
I was pleasantly surprised and satisfied by the grossness this mini vacuum pulled out of my nose. It worked for Evan too. We’ve only used it a few times, so at the moment I don’t have any insight on its sustainability over time. The largest and smallest of the heads are for things like wrinkles and skin tightening. Considering we’re both 22 and gym like all the time, those aren’t problems we really have right now.
Definitely read the instructions before you use it. It’s not complicated, but it helps you understand it better. The first thing to do is either shower or warm your face so the pores open. We used the medium head on the lowest setting at first, then switched to the medium setting once we got used to it. We’d start at the top of the nose and just move the vacuum down, lifting off at the bottom. The instructions say not to leave it in one spot for more than 2 seconds. I tended to start at the top on the left side, go down the side and so on till the right side of my nose, just so I wasn’t continuously using it on the same area.
There weren’t directions for cleaning it, so we just used a q-tip to get the blackhead weirdness, and a paper towel with rubbing alcohol to clean the heads and vacuum. Now the not so great part, I made a mistake after I saw how effective it was. I have these little whiteheads next to my mouth, so I tried to get them with the medium head on medium. That was either too much suction or too big of a head. I ended up with a small bruise. Next time I will use both a smaller head (which reduces the suction), and the lowest setting. I hope you can learn from my mistake and save your face from the same fate haha. The bruise only lasted a day though, so nothing too detrimental to my appearance. I also bruise really easily, so this probably doesn’t happen to everyone.
Cost: $28 (1oz) –Rupam’s Herbals
Or “Magic Hippie Stuff” as Evan calls it. This specific salve uses organic, natural ingredients including calendula, a type of marigold. We both use this product, albeit for different problems. The jar lists a loooong number of uses and we’ve seen improvement for everything we’ve used it for. Right now Evan primarily uses it on acne scars. But it also works on other scars. Years ago, one of my sister’s teachers recommended it to my mom for its versatility. After I crashed my motorcycle for the first time and burned my leg on the exhaust pipe (through jeans, might I add!), my mom reminded me about the salve and I’ve had it since then. This is one of the pricer products on this list of best acne products for adults. If this isn’t in your budget right now, check out our post on tips for saving money.
While we haven’t used this for active pimples, it does help significantly with acne and normal scars. They don’t go away completely, but are markedly less visible. Also like Differin, this stuff lasts forever. I’ve had this for probably 3 years and we just started putting a dent in it.
The salve is really easy to use. Not much is needed for it to be effective. The salve is solidified in the jar, so all you need to do is rub a finger on the surface, apply a thin layer to the problematic area and rub it in. I use cotton swabs just because I kind of gouge the salve with my nails if I use my fingers.
So, I’ve covered the four best acne products for adults with different purposes that all help reduce pimples or blackheads. If you try these, let me know if they work for you! What other products do you find effective? Leave a comment if you found this useful and want to see more posts like this.
*If you’re a nerd like me and enjoy reading journal articles, here’s a review on adapalene: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2374937/
Piskin, S., & Uzunali, E. (2007). A review of the use of adapalene for the treatment of acne vulgaris. Therapeutics and clinical risk management, 3(4), 621–624.