The Best Acne Treatment for Teens: 7 Products Proven to Work

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Teenage acne is extremely common – nearly 85% of people experience it. However, that statistic isn’t going to make those breakouts any easier to deal with. Instead, what you need are effective acne treatments that’ll not only clear those pimples away, but will also prevent acne marks, scars and future breakouts.

Sound too good to be true? That’s because you haven’t found the right acne products yet. Granted, this isn’t easy – there isn’t one single product out there that’s going to give you everything we’ve just mentioned. What you’ll need is a complete acne treatment regime, meaning an effective cleanser combined with spot treatments and a hydrating serum or lotion.

Don’t worry, this isn’t as complicated as it sounds – read on to learn more about the ingredients and products you’ll need to put together the best acne treatment for teens.

[ninja_tables id=”18788″] 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide

While any effective regime designed for treating teen acne will begin with a cleanser, we’re going to start by talking about our favorite products for targeting active breakouts, since we know that’s what you’re really here for! So, first on the list is the 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide Treatment from

It’s true that benzoyl peroxide is a little controversial – while it can kill acne-causing bacteria in just minutes and is highly effective at clearing clogged pores, it can also severely dry the skin out [1].

However, this usually only happens when the ingredient is used at concentrations higher than 10%, which isn’t actually necessary – a 2.5% concentration has been proven to be just as effective, yet without the same side effects, making this product ideal.

While we do also rate Proactiv’s Emergency Blemish Relief as a benzoyl peroxide treatment, this one is a little milder, making it better suited to teen acne.


COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch

COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch

We love pimple patches. Not only will they physically prevent you from picking at your spots, which would increase your chances of developing acne scars, but, when infused with the right ingredients, they’ll also extract impurities, calm irritated skin, and treat acne in just a few hours.

This is exactly why the COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch is a go-to for so many. Made from a unique hydrocolloid material, which speeds up the healing process, each box contains these pimple patches in three different sizes, making them the perfect spot treatment for pimples of any shape or size.


Differin Gel

Differin Gel

Another product designed to treat active acne breakouts, the Differin Gel is quite the cult-favorite among those with oily and combination skin. Its star ingredient is adapalene, a retinoid (a form of vitamin A) that has only recently been allowed in over-the-counter acne products. As a result, many brands haven’t started using it yet, but Differin has been ahead of the game.

Designed to be used daily, this is one of the best acne treatments for teens available, so long as you stick with it for the long term. You’ll notice a big improvement in your teen acne after just a couple of weeks. However, even once your acne clears, continue using the product to prevent breakouts in the future.


Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash

Moving onto cleansers, which should always be the first step of your skincare regimen when treating acne lesions. What you need if you want to see results ASAP is a gentle cleanser designed for acne-prone skin, ideally a formulation with enough salicylic acid to keep your pores clear of excess oil and dead skin cells, since this is vital if you want to prevent acne from returning.

This is why we’re a big fan of Neutrogena’s Oil-Free Acne Wash. Containing 2.5% salicylic acid, along with a selection of anti-inflammatory botanicals to soothe inflamed skin, this cleanser offers a deep cleanse, but it won’t leave your skin feeling overly dry or greasy at the end of it.

While many may recommend the CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser, Neutrogena’s formulation is packed with ingredients that are far more beneficial for your skin.


Primally Pure Cleansing Oil (Oily + Acne-Prone Skin)

Primally Pure Cleansing Oil

Here’s another cleanser to consider in your quest to treat teen acne; Primally Pure’s Cleansing Oil. Unlike the water-based cleanser we discussed above, this one is all about oils. Before you scroll on (after all, why would you want to apply more oil to oily skin?), hear us out…

Oil cleansers can actually be a great way to banish pimples. They’re effective at lifting sebum off the skin while also hydrating skin cells, which helps to prevent oil production from going into overdrive. Worried that an oil cleanser will clog pores and make your acne worse? That all depends on the oils you’re using.

This formula features jojoba oil, orange oil, tamanu oil, and geranium oil, among others, none of which are responsible for clogging pores and making breakouts worse. As an added bonus, all of the ingredients in this face wash are organic too!


Allies of Skin Mandelic Pigmentation Corrector Night Serum

Allies of Skin Mandelic Pigmentation Corrector Night Serum

We admit, this product may be a splurge, but if you’re dealing with moderate or severe acne and you’re worried about scarring, then the Mandelic Pigmentation Corrector Night Serum from Allies of Skin is worth the investment.

Why? For starters, it contains an 11% blend of mandelic acid, lactic acid, and salicylic acid. These alpha/beta hydroxy acid ingredients provide a deep but gentle exfoliation to clear clogged pores, improve skin texture, and minimize breakouts. You’ll also find bakuchiol, hyaluronic acid, peptides, and super-powered antioxidants in this formula.

Together, they offer anti-inflammatory properties, scar prevention effects, and intense hydration. Even better, this teenage acne treatment is suitable for all skin types, including dry skin and sensitive skin.


Cetaphil Daily Hydrating Lotion

Cetaphil Daily Hydrating Lotion

Whether you’re dealing with moderate acne or severe hormonal acne, it can be tempting to exclude a moisturizer from your daily skincare routine. Chances are, most formulas are too heavy, causing them to trigger acne breakouts. However, water is completely different from the oil that your skin loves to produce.

Your skin cells need water in order to function – failing to moisturize deprives them of this. It can also stimulate the skin into producing even more oil to try to overcompensate for the lack of moisture.

Put a stop to this vicious cycle with the Cetaphil Daily Hydrating Lotion. That’s right, this drugstore product could provide the perfect ending to your skincare routine. This formula is packed with hyaluronic acid, which hydrates the skin without weighing it down. It keeps things simple, which is exactly what your skin needs.



A girl cleansing her face using cotton pads

What is teenage acne?

Teenage acne is usually caused by the hormonal fluctuations that people experience as they enter puberty. This stimulates the skin’s oil glands, causing them to produce excess sebum. As a result, the pores end up clogged and a pimple soon erupts.

What do dermatologists do for teen acne?

Dermatologists can offer a range of acne treatments for teens. In addition to anti-acne skincare products, they’ll also be able to provide prescription medications and oral antibiotics for severe cases.

What is the best treatment for teenage acne?

The best acne treatments for teens involve a few different steps. They’ll contain a hydroxy acid cleanser to unclog pores of dead skin cells, a spot treatment (or two!) that kills bacteria, and a lightweight lotion to keep the skin hydrated.

RELATED: Best Acne Scar Treatment


Teenage acne isn’t just a cosmetic problem – it can cause long-lasting psychological issues too. This is why it’s important to tackle the condition from multiple angles. By all means, turn to some of the miracle-working pimple-busting products we’ve mentioned above when you need a quick fix, but put together a long-term game plan too.

Remember, the best teen acne treatments will not only give you clear skin, but they’ll keep it that way.

ALSO READ: Murad Clarifying Cleanser Review



Avatar for Megan Foley

Megan has been a freelance writer and editor since 2016. In that time, she’s penned a diverse collection of articles for online publication, with a focus on skincare and beauty. From in-depth product reviews to concise marketing content, Megan is passionate about developing content that informs, entertains, and inspires.