Skip Nav
Healthy Living
Why I (and Everybody Else) Should Learn to Take a Compliment
Health News
An Ingredient in Starbucks's New Drinks Might Not Be What You Think It Is
Healthy Living
10 Things to Never Say to a Healthy Eater

Zit Creams: Which One Works?

When I get stressed out, it's inevitable that my face will break out. It happens to everyone, but that doesn't make me feel better. When pimples show up, I want them to disappear ASAP.

At the drug store, there are tons of acne treatments, so what really works? There are 2 main ingredients that you'll see listed on zit creams.

Benzoyl Peroxide - It comes in gels or creams with 2.5%, 5%, or 10% concentration. Research suggests that the 5% and 10% formulas don't work better, and the 2.5% is better tolerated by the skin. It commonly causes dryness and irritation. Some people may be more sensitive to it, and suffer from burning, itching, peeling, or swelling.

Salicylic Acid - Blemishes are formed when skin cells inside hair follicles shed too fast and clump together, which plug up the follicle. Salicylic Acid treats acne by causing skin cells to slough off more readily, preventing pores from clogging up. Use a lotion or pad with this ingredient daily to prevent possible break outs.

Fit's Tips: I recommend trying them both out. Our complexions are so different, and one ingredient may work better for you. They both are meant to dry up the offensive area, so if you notice your skin peeling excessively, cut down on your use.

Around The Web

POPSUGAR, the #1 independent media and technology company for women. Where more than 75 million women go for original, inspirational content that feeds their passions and interests.

Join The Conversation
cory5445 cory5445 8 years
I switch back and forth between proactive and clinique acne line. Also, sometimes I use a little tea tree oil. That dries up zits really fast!
ccsugar ccsugar 8 years
Thanks Ohmyshannon! I knew it had Emergency in the name!
ash_marisa ash_marisa 8 years
I use Acne Free for spot treatment too! Its awesome. I use to have bad acne in high school, but by the end of college it went away. Acne Free is good for the random ones that pop up.
kendallina kendallina 8 years
I am loyal to Proactiv. It is the only skincare treatment I have found that works quickly for already broken out skin and prevents new breakouts if used consistently.
yamahamama yamahamama 8 years
I wish I only got zits when stressed. Instead I get cold sores! Ew! Speaking of benzoyl peroxide, I used to use it now & then & for some reason I stopped. Several years later (like more than 5), I pulled it out again & tried to use it. My face got all swollen & red! Hm, maybe the product was too old, so I bought some new stuff & same result. I didn't end up trying a lower % product, but that may have been something to try. Something that worked for you or that you tolerated well once upon a time may have a different effect on you down the road.
yamahamama yamahamama 8 years
I wish I only got zits when stressed. Instead I get cold sores! Ew! Speaking of benzoyl peroxide, I used to use it now & then & for some reason I stopped. Several years later (like more than 5), I pulled it out again & tried to use it. My face got all swollen & red! Hm, maybe the product was too old, so I bought some new stuff & same result. I didn't end up trying a lower % product, but that may have been something to try. Something that worked for you or that you tolerated well once upon a time may have a different effect on you down the road.
OhMyShannon OhMyShannon 8 years
I highly recommend Clinique's acne line or Murads. Proactive didn't work for me at all but the I saw immediate results from Clinique. It is a little pricey but it is definitely worth. Oh and that Clinique sit cream is called the "Emergency Lotion." No false advertisement there!
xdorkieex xdorkieex 8 years
I dont use anything except these moisturising face wipes which make my skin feel and look really refreshed!I dont have too many spots though :S I get them around exam time.
xdorkieex xdorkieex 8 years
I dont use anything except these moisturising face wipes which make my skin feel and look really refreshed! I dont have too many spots though :S I get them around exam time.
beach5blondie beach5blondie 8 years
I use to use clearasil ice wash and it was good but i still got some bigger pimples - i now use Acne Free - you can buy it at the store - grocery , eckerd, cvs, etc - and it is the BEST thing!!!! i has a benzoyl peroxide that is time released , i am less shiny and my face looks so healthy and smooth... i use to use proactive back in the day and it did not work to my expectations of what i saw on others - this is SIGNIFICANTLY better then proactive! i love it!
ccsugar ccsugar 8 years
I tried Proactive when I was in middle school, when my acne was REALLY bad, it didn't work. It was so bad I had to go on Accutane. Now that I'm older I just get the occasional zit here and there. I like Clinique's zit cream, I can't remember the name of it, but it has Benzoyl Peroxide in it.
vigilante vigilante 8 years
Thanks Jessie and Bee! I don't think I'll order Proactiv. I've heard some good things, I've heard some bad things...I'm just getting sick of waking up with the occasional zit. Proactiv seemed to work wonders for a kid in my office. I literally used to cringe when I saw him, his acne was so bad. It actually looked painful! And then one day I saw him and his face was completely clean. He said that's what had worked for him so I thought I'd ask. I'm heading down to the market today to get some Rescue Remedy so I'll see if I can't pick up one of those blemish sticks!
jessiedallas jessiedallas 8 years
i've used proactive...i liked it, but it can dry you up pretty fast, i wouldn't use all of the steps at once...but the one thing that has kept me clear is neutrogena clean & clear face wash cream (can't remember the name exactly, but its the cream one) i leave it on for about 25 minutes every night, i let it completly dry on my face and then wash it off. if i don't, i break out. if i start to use something else i break out, wierd huh?and thanks for this article! i just had to buy new spot treatment, and i was wondering what the diffrences were, so this answered my questions perfectly! :)
jessiedallas jessiedallas 8 years
i've used proactive...i liked it, but it can dry you up pretty fast, i wouldn't use all of the steps at once...but the one thing that has kept me clear is neutrogena clean & clear face wash cream (can't remember the name exactly, but its the cream one) i leave it on for about 25 minutes every night, i let it completly dry on my face and then wash it off. if i don't, i break out. if i start to use something else i break out, wierd huh? and thanks for this article! i just had to buy new spot treatment, and i was wondering what the diffrences were, so this answered my questions perfectly! :)
vigilante vigilante 8 years
HA! As if! I think I picked that up the other day and looked at it. They sell Burt's products at the local health food store here. I'll give it a try, Butrfly! Thanks!
Butrfly4404 Butrfly4404 8 years
<A HREF="http://www.burtsbees.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10751&storeId=10101&productId=10163&langId=-1&categoryId=&showSubCategory=yes" REL="nofollow">THIS</A> works, like, CrAzY good!!
Butrfly4404 Butrfly4404 8 years
THIS works, like, CrAzY good!!
BeeMoney BeeMoney 8 years
I've used Proactive. I never ever had acne until I was about 22 years old. Then my face went completely crazy around my chin and temples. I ordered Proactiv and it worked beautifully for about one year and then it just completely quit working. I had to go to a dermatologist and they prescribed stronger medicine, but basically the same ingredients which cleared me right up. If you have mild occasional acne I would definitely suggest Proactive.
vigilante vigilante 8 years
Morning ladies! I second that I hear that! I'm under a mountain of stress at the moment and my face looks like I could connect the dots. I use St. Ives Apricot scrub with salicylic acid in it. I put it on like a mask and scrub the heck out of my face before I wash it off in the shower. Seems to do the trick for me but some people find this irritates their skin. Anyone ever use Proactiv? I've heard it's good and has a whopping amount of salicylic acid in it.
vigilante vigilante 8 years
Morning ladies! I second that I hear that! I'm under a mountain of stress at the moment and my face looks like I could connect the dots. I use St. Ives Apricot scrub with salicylic acid in it. I put it on like a mask and scrub the heck out of my face before I wash it off in the shower. Seems to do the trick for me but some people find this irritates their skin. Anyone ever use Proactiv? I've heard it's good and has a whopping amount of salicylic acid in it.
Fitness Fitness 8 years
I hear that. Try to use a daily cleanser and lotion that has some kind of drying agent in it like the 2 mentioned above. I love Neutrogena's Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle, Ant-Blemish lotion.
kscincotta kscincotta 8 years
I totally break out when I'm stressed. I actually joke with myself by assigning each zit to a specific stressor since there tends to be a pretty close direct correlation between the number of zits and the amount of stress I'm under.
Latest Fitness
X