Women from 13 to 30 — and beyond — battle the blemish. But no matter your age, the basics of clear skin include banishing bacteria, managing oil production and exfoliating to promote the shedding of dead skin cells so that new skin cells will replace them.
I've tested and tried dozens of the top blemish blasting products on the market and rounded up a list of which ones work and which made my skin (yikes!) worse. That means you can skip the 6- to 8-week detour traditionally needed to determine whether a product is effective, and get on the road to perfect skin today.
Love it! Clean & Clear Advantage Blackhead Eraser: One of my favorite acne-fightin' products can be found right in the aisles of your local drugstore. It's Clean & Clear's Blackhead Eraser and, at less than $20, this battery operated blackhead blaster actually works. The product is easy to use: simply stick one of the included cleansing pads to the Velcro-style surface of the handheld device, add some water to the pad and turn the power dial to the "on" position.
The active ingredient on the pads is 1 percent salicyclic acid, which is mild enough to be tolerable to most skin types. Plus, the vibrating motion helps exfoliate dead skin and drives the salicyclic acid into the pores, where it's most effective. Get the Clean & Clear Advantage Blackhead Eraser with 20 pads at Target for $17.99.
Leave it: Skin by Dr. Gram: I love that the collection is paraben-free and sulfate-free, but at the steep price of $52, I wanted to see serious results. Unfortunately, all I saw was leaking cleanser. The upside-down packaging means valuable product (about $10 an ounce) flows freely.
Love it! Dermadoctor's Ain't Misbehavin' Collection: No matter your concern, Dermadoctor's Ain't Misbehavin' line boasts a customized solution for problem skin of all types. The emergency acne spot treatment ($36 at dermadoctor.com) promises to be better than a cortisone shot at eradicating zits. The intensive blackhead treatment ($42) gets rid of blackheads, those pesky black skin plugs caused by excess oil. Rounding out the collection is the aha/bha acne cleanser ($25) and sulfur acne mask ($45); both succeed at curbing bacteria growth.
Love 'em: Battery Operated Zit Zappers: Thermaclear is an acne-clearing device that uses technology similar to the lasers used by dermatologists. This product actually works, meaning we no longer worry about that occasional hormonal flare-up. According to the company, the device neutralizes acne-causing bacteria under the surface of the skin, so breakouts disappear up to four times faster than usual. That old adage "you get what you pay for" holds true here; Thermaclear sells for about $150 at thermaclear.com.
Another favorite is Zeno Mini, a handheld device that delivers bacteria-killing heat to the blemish site. The device operates on two AAA batteries (included) and, interestingly enough, doesn't need to be cleaned. Get it for $129 at myzeno.com.