Did you know that the medical term for acne is actually ‘acne vulgaris’? For those who are plagued with this problem, you’ll think this is a pretty accurate description. Covering the faces of adolescents all over the world, acne can disappear before adulthood. But for some, that’s not the case.

Sadly, acne comes with a double effect; a physical and a mental one. Especially when it seems to persist into the twenties and beyond. Although it tends to calm in adulthood, it can have enough of a presence to impact one’s confidence.

If you can relate and you’re reading this now while desperately seeking a solution, there’s no need to fear because acne treatments for men have improved dramatically in recent years. It’s time to fight back, reduce that acne, and walk the streets with a renewed clear skin!

Don’t Have Time to Read Our Guide? Here’s Our Top Choice!

Neutrogena Men Skin Clearing Acne Wash

As a daily facial cleanser, Neutrogena has built this product with acne-prone men in mind. While dealing with breakouts, the cleanser will also boost skin clarity. How does it achieve this? Through a non-comedogenic formula; with just 2% salicylic acid, the skin is cleansed without removing too much of the natural oils and causing dryness.

In 2019, there are many acne treatments for men that actually work, so we’ve decided to compile a list here today. After providing a little information on each (as well as their benefits and drawbacks), you’ll also learn about when and how you should apply them and what ingredients you should be looking for. Without further ado, let’s delve into the amazing products.

Best Acne Treatment for Men - Face Wash

1. Exposed Skin Care Acne Facial Cleanser - Asin B002CIXVVI

To start, we want to provide an option for teenagers since acne is prominent in this demographic. If you’ve researched your options, you’ll know that there are dozens and dozens of products. For us, we believe this acne treatment for men to be the best. Although focused mainly on teenagers, there’s no reason why you can’t try Exposed Skin Care’s product as an adult (male or female!).

Ultimately, the brand believes that clean skin will always lead to clear skin. Therefore, this product offers a deep but gentle clean while also remaining hypoallergenic, soap-free, and non-comedogenic. By using this men’s acne wash, you’ll relieve the skin from oil, dirt, and debris. Importantly, the skin’s lipid layer is also treated without irritation that usually comes from harsh detergents. Some products in this niche use laureth and lauryl sulfates which can cause problems with the skin.

Exposed Skin Care acne products for men have a great reputation in the industry because they combine two important factors; natural extracts and botanicals for smoothness AND actives to fight acne. There are three main ingredients that allow for such great results;

• Pro-Vitamin B5 - Perfect for the management of oil production
• Salicylic Acid - Added for pore shrinking and unclogging
• Sage Extract - Limits irritation and keeps the skin moist

In fact, the whole formula contributes to skin cleansing and regeneration including olive leaf extract and alpha and beta hydroxy acids. By using this men’s acne wash, your face remains free from bacteria and this should lead to a clearer face.


• Provides a thorough yet gentle cleansing
• Rids the pores of dirt and grime
• Ideal for teenagers and adults alike


• Some people have complained of dry skin despite the dryness-prevention ingredients

2. Humane Benzoyl Peroxide 10% Acne Treatment Body and Face Wash - Asin B00PO7GKLM

As a face and body wash, this acne treatment for men is prescription-free and is known to kill the bacteria that normally causes acne; this should deal with existing spots while also preventing new breakouts. How does it work? The magic ingredient this time is Benzoyl Peroxide because it clears the blocked pores, treats pimples and whiteheads, reduces blackheads, and even helps with cysts underneath the skin.

There are three common reasons why acne appears and Humane attempt to remove them all; clogged pores, bacteria, and inflammation. However, if you have sensitive skin, we recommend steering clear of this men’s acne wash because it has a 10% concentration of Benzoyl Peroxide (one of the highest on the market). Also, it has been designed to treat moderate to severe acne.

If you use this spot treatment for men, we should provide a warning because your skin may get worse initially. It’s possible that the pore blockages won’t unclog easily, and this can cause further inflammatory pimples or whiteheads. Known as ‘purging’, this should go within four weeks and your skin will then show signs of improvement.

As well as avoiding fragrances, you won’t find formaldehyde, parabens, sulfates, propylene glycol, or any other toxic ingredients in this acne face wash for men. For those who don’t like to waste the product, it comes with a neat lotion pump; only a small amount is required per application. Since it is not a foaming product make sure you don't use too much at once.

When you make the switch to Humane, we recommend applying one or two pumps to start to see whether you react negatively after a few days. If there’s no irritation, allow it to sit on the affected areas for up to five minutes and then rinse very thoroughly to keep away any breakouts.

WARNING: For those with sensitive skin or specific skin disorders, such as eczema, have a conversation with your doctor before choosing this Humane product. Here, they will tell you how Benzoyl Peroxide can actually interact with some foods, tobacco, other drugs, and alcohol; medical advice can be invaluable.

Also, Benzoyl Peroxide can bleach fabrics so use old washcloths and towels (and potentially even bed sheets) while using this men’s acne treatment.


• Each bottle will last a long time
• Brilliant solution for severe acne
• Deals with all types of acne and all causes too


• Those with sensitive skin will have to look elsewhere

3. Neutrogena Men Skin Clearing Acne Wash - Asin B01I05FUII

There are certain names that have become synonymous with the men’s skincare niche and Neutrogena has certainly earned this position. You should never buy a product based off brand reputation alone, but Neutrogena has come up trumps again with this men’s acne wash.

Rated as the #1 OTC skincare brand, something judged by dermatologists, you’ll be in great hands with this acne treatment for men. As we saw in the introduction, the 2% salicylic acid is key because it will free your pores from dirt and oil. With a gentle formula that doesn’t irritate skin, existing breakouts will have no chance of survival while new breakouts don’t have the conditions to thrive; so, your skin remains clear.

The great thing about Neutrogena is that they understand the difference between men’s and women’s skin; they don’t try to create a product that works for both. As long as it’s used on a daily basis, future breakouts will be prevented (and it even makes the facial hair soft for shaving!).

In terms of ingredients, you won’t have to worry about parabens, and this is always great news. What’s more, the bottle itself locks (making it ideal for travelling!) and it offers a handy pump.


• Provides long-term results
• Reliable brand name
• Clears blocked pores
• Clarifies the skin


• Comes with a fragrance

4. Jack Black Deep Dive Glycolic Facial Cleanser - Asin B00IKXXVDM

With this acne face wash for men, we have two main purposes;

• Firstly, when applied to damp skin, the cleanser dries with the skin and it becomes a purifying face mask that allows for deep cleaning (clever, right?).

• Secondly, it can be applied as a normal cleanser after washing the face. Either with a cotton wool pad or the fingertips, spread it evenly around the face before removing with a generous amount of water and a corresponding facial toner.

With these two functions, the Jack Black acne treatment for men has quickly gained in popularity. It should help to unblock the skin, wash away dead skin cells, grime, and dirt, unclog the pores, and just allow the skin to breathe. Regardless of your skin type, you should be left with smooth, firm, and, perhaps most importantly, clean skin.

When talking about the best acne treatment for men, it’s good to look for a cleanser that’s full to the brim with organic ingredients; these will not only exfoliate and cleanse the skin but make it healthier too. For example, Jack Black offer the following;

• Volcanic Ash - Although this addition might sound a little strange, it contains natural particles and antioxidants to resurface and exfoliate the skin.

• Glycolic Acid - To remove the build-up of dead skin cells, glycolic acid is effectively a chemical exfoliant and will leave your skin feeling soft and firm. Interestingly, this acid can also prevent ingrown hairs.

• Kaolin Clay - As the third key ingredient, we want to focus on kaolin clay because this is a natural absorbent and will draw out oil, dirt, and other skin impurities.

If you want to avoid dry skin, you’ll be in great hands because Jack Black have decided to create this acne wash for men without parabens, fragrances, and alcohol (hooray!). With this in mind, it can be applied to the face without worrying about hurting the eyes. It is goes on your face nice and thick leaving it squeaky clean.

We know that some men are worried about buying products like facial cleansers, so you’ll be glad to know the packaging looks bold and masculine. Jack Black are big advocates of men’s skincare and the message that being well-groomed is never a bad thing…and we’re right behind them.


• Serves two important functions
• Deals with breakouts
• Feels great on the skin (looks great too!)


• Some with sensitive skin have experienced irritation

Best Acne Treatment for Men - Cream

5. BPT3 Acne Treatment - - Asin B009A291L8

While the Humane product we saw earlier wasn’t suitable for sensitive skin, we do now have a sensible solution in BPT3 Acne Treatment. Once again, we come across Benzoyl Peroxide (the most effective ingredient to fight acne), but the concentration is far less potent this time at 3%. Perfect for mild acne treatment, this lower concentration reduces the risk of dryness, itching, and redness.

If you don’t need 10% of Benzoyl Peroxide, this less powerful (but still efficient) acne product for men is ideal because you don’t need to risk the side effects that may occur. Also, penetration improves with the Micro Milled Benzoyl Peroxide in this acne treatment; not only is this more effective than standard Benzoyl Peroxide, it causes less irritation too because it won’t just sit on the surface of your skin.

For any dryness that does happen to occur, the problem is quickly resolved thanks to the Tea Tree oil included in the formula. This combination is actually really rare, but the BPT3 Acne Treatment seems to have mastered it wonderfully. Elsewhere, the healing process is helped by the following ingredients;

• Macadamia Oil - Often, skin with acne will be short of linoleic acid (a fatty aside present in macadamia oil).

• Jojoba Oil - Much like the natural human skin sebum, jojoba oil is rich in wax esters which softens the skin.

• Witch Hazel - As a natural astringent, this ingredient will soak up any excess oil on the skin.

• Shea Butter - Softening the skin, shea butter is effectively a non-comedogenic emollient softener thanks to vitamins A and E (as well as phytonutrients).

• Allantoin - Finally, and stay with us, the upper layers of dead skin cells will benefit from boosted desquamation. Furthermore, the extracellular matrix benefits from increased water content.

WARNING: Again, we provide a familiar warning here because the first couple of weeks you may see more pimples than before you started to apply the product. As long as you keep applying, the acne treatment will get to work, and you’ll notice improvements. If six weeks pass and you don’t see a change, we recommend trying a different option.

Don’t feel discouraged by the initial results because it will all be worthwhile in the end; show patience and you will be rewarded.


• Helps to moisturize the skin
• Clears the face
• Isn’t too powerful


• Includes comedogenic ingredients

6. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Dual Action Acne Treatment Cream - Asin B004L8J15C

As our final acne product in this list, we come to La Roche-Posay; the only treatment in the market that contains micronized Benzoyl Peroxide as well as Lipo Hydroxy Acid. With this combination, and 5.5% concentration for the Benzoyl Peroxide, there’s an exfoliation effect for the cells and this removes oil, dirt, and debris from the pores.

The main reason we love this acne treatment for men is the fact that the creators have clearly thought about how it works in practice. With many treatments, the molecules are larger than the pores; this means they don’t quite have the right access to clear them properly. With La Roche-Posay, the molecules (ingredients) are smaller than typical pore size which allows them to get right in and treat the acne from the inside out. If you stop using the product, the acne shouldn’t return within days because you’ve cleared the pores fully.

As well as being dermatologically tested on sensitive skin, this acne treatment for men is proven to yield results; in fact, a 60% acne reduction in 10 days.

Alongside the ingredients chosen to fight acne, there are also moisturizers which should prevent dryness. Meanwhile, you’ll have a product that works on blemishes, blackheads, clogged pores, and whiteheads. Ultimately, the skin is exfoliated, cleared, and will be smoother than ever.

Free from oil, the cream should be applied to a dry, clean face and will absorb quickly. It’s also flexible in how you apply; either as a spot treatment or full-face cream.


• Keeps the face moisturized
• Offers micronized active ingredients
• Works for different types of acne
• Molecules are smaller than the pores


• The cream can be too strong for some

7. TreeActiv Cystic Acne Spot Treatment - Asin B01BPCAWK4

If you’ve experienced cystic acne, you’ll know how horrifying and frustrating it can be. As the worst type of breakout, they can itch and hurt, picking inflames them (they can seem huge!), and they can survive 17 lifetimes before disappearing. You’ll also know that most products that claim to help cystic acne are in fact…well, useless. They help with regular whiteheads and blackheads, but not with stubborn cystic breakouts. With this, you normally apply the same treatment for weeks with seemingly no results.

Throw your other products away because this acne treatment for men from TreeActiv has been specifically designed for you. As the name suggests, it only uses natural ingredients which makes it safer than most. While soothing the skin and dealing with acne, the effective ingredients also promote healthy skin.

This time, Benzoyl Peroxide is nowhere to be seen because the manufacturers decided it causes too much swelling, inflammation, dryness, and irritation. Instead, this particular treatment utilizes natural anti-cyst and antibacterial ingredients, alongside botanicals, to heal the skin without the irritation that normally comes with it.

Normally, acne products for men use one or two active ingredients to complement their more powerful ingredients. For TreeActiv, they’ve decided to combine several active ingredients. Your skin will enjoy;

• Bentonite Clay - Providing relief from irritation, this clay will also remove toxins from the skin.
• Tea Tree Water - Another ingredient that can remove all impurities and clear the pores thanks to antibacterial properties.
• Witch Hazel - With antimicrobial properties, the bacteria that causes acne is removed and this prevents future breakouts.
• Aloe Vera - As the fourth active ingredient, aloe vera can heal wounds and reduce inflammation.

As these four ingredients combine, your acne will clear without irritation even while you sleep; you don’t have to worry about a thing. We love TreeActiv for this acne treatment for men is free from potentially harmful chemicals; it’s 100% natural. No SLS, no parabens, and no other added chemicals.

As a result, you will pay a little more for this product, but we think it’s worth it. You get natural ingredients, your skin is soothed, and breakouts are treated (while also preventing future breakouts!). The bottle might be small, but it’s a powerful product that goes a seriously long way.


• Powerful and effective
• 100% natural formulation
• Works quickly


• The jar is small

8. DRMTLGY Acne Spot Treatment - Asin B075G394PS

As well as the face, this spot treatment for men can also be used on the back and chest in the battle to reduce redness, clear the pores, and reduce inflammation. DRMTLGY say it is effective in treating blackheads, breakouts, whiteheads, and pimples. Not only that, it does so within just 24 hours. Fortunately, it also masters the balance between unclogging oily pores without causing excessive dryness.

There are two main ingredients in this spot treatment for men and two reasons why it works so powerfully;

• Glycolic Acid 5% - In order to remove cellular debris and boost cellular turnover, glycolic acid is present in the form of sugar cane. Over time, the appearance of scarring will reduce, and you’ll have a clearer complexion overall.

• Micronized Benzoyl Peroxide 5% - Ah, our old friend again. This time, we have 5% concentration and what’s considered USP (United States Pharmacopeia) grade Benzoyl Peroxide. While dealing with breakouts, it allows to penetrate deep inside pores to also prevent new breakouts. As a USP-grade product, this means it falls within USP requirements of the highest quality; this should prevent irritation and dryness thanks to a gentle formula.

In addition to these two acne treatment ingredients, we shouldn’t ignore three botanical extracts which have been added to soothe and calm the skin.

• Arnica Flower Extract - Added for soothing and calming effects.
• Calendula Flower Extract - Especially useful for bringing moisture to chapped and dry skin.
• Allantoin - Taken from comfrey plant roots, this ingredient is all about stimulating healthy tissue and healing the skin.

Depending on your need, we like this acne treatment for men because it can be applied to pimples alone or the whole face as a preventative tool. As a liquid gel, it absorbs almost instantly and gets to work extremely fast. If you wake up with a pimple one to three days before a big meeting or a date, this will be one of your best options.


• Acts quickly
• Effective
• High-quality ingredients


• Some users have experienced slight irritation and redness

Best Acne Treatment for Men - On the Spot

9. Proactiv Emergency Blemish Relief - Asin B00TI6TSLO

While some products are offering brand-new formulas and all sorts of secret ingredients, Proactiv are sticking with their two-decade old product (and it’s not hard to see why!). Despite small improvements over the years, this acne treatment for men has remained largely the same and now has 20 million customers from a multitude of countries.

Why choose Proactiv Emergency Blemish Relief? Firstly, it’s fantastic track record means that dermatologists actually recommend this product for blemishes and acne-related problems. When breakouts occur simultaneously, some feel as though they need a whole shelf full of products to deal with the problem. Fortunately, Proactiv has come to the rescue.

With 5% micro-crystal Benzoyl Peroxide, you can treat acne effectively because it gets deep into the pores. Thanks to the unique formula, surprise pimples are dealt with quickly, excess sebum is absorbed, and the pores are unclogged. Not only does this Proactiv acne treatment for men clear the skin, it keeps it free from new blemishes too.

One thing we love about this option is that it is invisible and can be worn without anybody in the world noticing. As an inconspicuous product, you can wear it to work, on a date, or even on your wedding day. Let’s say you wake up the day before a big event and notice a single spot or blemishes, apply a layer of Proactiv Emergency Blemish Relief. If you want to speed up results, make sure your face is clean and dry before application; you could also use cotton swabs rather than fingers. It is advisable to apply the product to the areas that need attention 1 to 3 times a day.

Thankfully, this men’s acne treatment is non-comedogenic and has been dermatologically tested. When a product has the dermatology seal of approval, this is when you can really trust in it.


• Will treat blemishes and acne pimples simultaneously
• Tested and trusted by dermatologists
• Invisible after application


• Leans more towards eliminating blemishes

10. Mighty Patch Original Hydrocolloid Acne Absorbing Pimple Patch - - Asin B074PVTPBW

Do you find that going to bed with all sorts of products on your face can be just as frustrating as the acne and zit itself? Suddenly, you find yourself trying to find a position that doesn’t rub your face and the lotion on the pillow, and you’re forced into sleeping awkwardly. What’s more, Benzoyl Peroxide can leave the skin flaky, sulfur smells, and salicylic acid makes you stick to the pillow.

We have a solution to all of these problems; a patch. Much like a sticker, you simply apply it to the face, and you’ll notice it turning white while it expands. Whether you wear it for a couple of hours in the evening or overnight, you can peel it off after and you should see a difference with the zit.

Using hydrocolloid technology, these small, transparent circular patches reduce inflammation by drawing out nasty fluids. Not only does redness reduce and the zit flatten somewhat, you also won’t be able to pick at the spot because it’ll be covered. Considering picking can slow healing and prevent acne treatments for men from working effectively (not to mention the risk of infection and scarring!), this is a great news.

Since these small stickers draw out fluid, they work best on pimples with pus inside. Once whiteheads have fully developed, this is the time to use the stickers; in some cases, the stickers can actually bring pimples to a head by drawing the fluid towards the surface.

Unfortunately, they won’t be effective on blackheads and those with cystic acne should contact their dermatologists before testing.

When people ask for the best acne treatment for men, most look for creams and washes when patches can work just as well (assuming you choose the right product, of course!). Free from drugs and approved by the FDA, this is a safe product and one that also attempts to limit dryness. In each box, you’ll find three sheets of 12 patches that have been made in Korea with the highest quality standards. As long as the pimple is clean and you allow it time to work, it will stay in place and bring the results you want.


• Free from drugs
• Great results thanks to a high-quality design
• No hassle
• Prevents scratching and picking


• Only effective on whiteheads

Different Types of Acne

Did you know that human skin has hundreds of thousands of hair follicles covering the back, face, neck, and chest? Otherwise known as pores, they sometimes produce too many sebum, and nobody really knows why. What we do know, however, is that this causes a blockage. Normally, skin oil (sebum) travels to the surface. However, it now gets stuck and harbors bacteria.

With this in mind, there are three main types of acne that can result from this overproduction of skin oil:

Cystic Acne

Starting with the most severe, these inflamed breakouts can be painful and will often leave scars. Normally, it starts an infection. Home acne remedies and many over the counter acne treatments can actually make them worse so visit a dermatologist for a proper solution.

Comedonal Acne

From the most severe to a mild form of acne, sufferers won’t normally experience inflammation or pain. Instead, it comes out as whiteheads or blackheads on the surface.

Comedonal acne is common in young men and boys going through puberty. Although it can also occur in later life where the skin reacts negatively to grooming products, the most common cause is excess sebum in skin pores.

Inflammatory Acne

You can recognize this third type of acne by redness and swelling under the blocked pore. Sadly, when left untreated, it can lead to further issues.

• Pustules - Pimples
• Nodules - Painful and swollen bumps
• Papules - Red blemishes

What Causes Acne?


Often, you’ll read that your diet is causing acne, so you desperately research the best diets for acne treatment. For example, some research has shown that high-carb diets can cause breakouts because of the increased insulin production our body needs to break down this nutrient. As the body requires more and more insulin, this causes male hormone testosterone increases and, therefore, acne. While this research is indeed correct, the connection between stomach and skin is actually very small.


On the other hand, stress is a much larger factor. Cytokines, inflammatory markers, increase whenever we experience stress and anxiety. Suddenly, breakouts occur as these chemical signals encourage the production of oil.

These days, we understand the importance of a healthy, balanced lifestyle and this contributes to acne too. Whenever stress is experienced, the stress hormones are elevated, and this then increases testosterone (and dreaded acne!).

Poor Hygiene

If we can dispel another myth, poor hygiene is unlikely to influence acne at all. For the most part, it comes down to hormones and genetics; you don’t have to worry about skipping the odd shower every so often. Of course, not washing your face at all will lead to a buildup of dead skin cells and oils so be careful.

As an example, we see lots of men go to the gym, get all sweaty, and then forget to wash their face. When you do this, the sweat and dirt clog the pores and you’re more likely to get acne. In fact, there’s a term for breakouts that occur from pores blocked by sweat; ‘bacne’. As sweaty t-shirts and vests rub against the skin, you’re just pushing sweat and bacteria deep into the pores and this leads to pimples and blackheads.

Dry Skin

Back to the actual causes, acne can come from excessively dry skin. Whenever you dry your skin in attempt to remove excess oils, you’re risking taking too much oil away and creating the perfect conditions for acne. When the skin is too dry, the glands furiously work away to produce more oil to fix the problem. You clean away the oils, the glands work even harder, and it’s a negative spiral.

Anabolic Steroids

For the bodybuilders among us, you should be aware that acne can come from anabolic steroids. According to recent studies, one in every three takers of anabolic steroids get acne. Meanwhile, around half of these sufferers will develop the severe form (cystic acne).

While some experience it on the chest and back, others have their confidence knocked as it appears on the face. In terms of men’s acne treatment, it’s actually incredibly difficult because those looking to build muscle mass will continue taking anabolic steroids while also trying to treat their skin issues; however any typical acne treatment will be negated by the fresh supply of steroids. As soon as you stop taking these performance-enhancing drugs, the acne treatment can get to work, and the breakouts should clear.

The Sebaceous Glands

With most of the causes in this list, the problem comes back to the sebaceous glands. Whether it’s steroids or adolescence, these glands start to produce more and more oil. However, for men beyond the years of puberty and growing up, the question remains: why does the over-production of cells still occur? The truth is, we don’t know. Dermatologists have been trying to find the answer to this question for many years.

More than environment or diet, genetic predisposition plays a huge role. Often, we have our parents to thank for the type of skin we have and whether or not it is susceptible to hormone surges.

Preventing Acne for Men

Before we go into more detail about the ingredients in the best acne treatments for men, we first want to talk about acne prevention. Prevention will always be better than the cure, right?

We have good news - there are some things you can do to limit the risk of acne. First and foremost, get into the habit of washing your face with warm water and gentle facial cleanser once in the morning and once in the evening. While showering, try to unblock the pores and remove dead skin cells with some light exfoliation.

From here, introduce a skincare regimen that promotes clear and clean skin. While searching the market, you’ll come across ‘oil-free’ products. Are these best? Well, they do potentially prevent breakouts from clogged pores and keep the skin moist. Yet, we shouldn’t look at oil as the enemy during this process. In fact, tea tree oil can be magical men’s acne treatment with its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. When applied regularly, you can reduce irritation, swelling, redness, and even the appearance of acne-related scars.

In this guide, we’re trying to encourage you to think carefully about the skin care products you use, and this is the next way to prevent acne. When you use products packed with the wrong toxins and chemicals, the risk of acne skyrockets. As irritation and inflammation occur, white blood cells increase, and this can lead to pimples. Wherever possible, take advantage of natural ingredients in men’s grooming and skin care products.

Also, we want to talk a little about a balanced lifestyle. The best acne products for men in the world can’t undo a poor lifestyle with late nights, poor hydration, lots of alcohol, and smoking. If you really want to see improvements with your acne, you need to pay attention to your sleeping habits; if possible, aim for eight hours of sleep every night.

Elsewhere, you can lower your stress levels through exercise. As we’ve already seen, stress leads to acne, so start exercising today. We aren’t saying you need to run a marathon, just a simple walk or game of badminton will do as a starting point. When you find a fun way to exercise, it doesn’t become a chore and your body will thank you in return. Of course, don’t forget to shower and wash away the sweat afterwards otherwise bacteria will settle in the pores.

This brings us to the ingredients you use and look for in men’s acne products. Wherever possible, the aim should be to shed dead skin cells and kill bacteria because this removes the environment that acne needs to develop.

To remove the buildup of dead skin and sebum, there are many chemicals that work together including sulfur, salicylic acid, AHA/BHA, lactic acid, and Benzoyl Peroxide. With salicylic acid, for example, this is a chemical exfoliator and works alongside Benzoyl Peroxide and sulfur to unclog the pores and leave the skin feeling smooth and free from pimples.

Ingredients in the Best Acne Treatments for Men

Earlier, we said that men’s skin care products with the wrong chemicals and toxins will lead to irritation and all sorts of other problems. With this, you’re probably wondering about the ‘right’ type of chemicals and this is a fair question.

When buying over-the-counter acne treatments for men (and reading amazing guides like ours!), you’ll see a number of ingredients appear time and time again so let’s take a look at what each offer.

Salicylic Acid

As one of the most common ingredients in many over-the-counter acne treatments, you’ll find concentrations up to 2%. It’s also an important ingredient in men’s skin care products for warts, psoriasis, dandruff, corns, and calluses. As the skin cells shed too quickly, they clump together, and the hair follicles become blocked. With salicylic acid, we have an ingredient that tries to slow down the shedding process. By doing this, and also breaking down whiteheads and blackheads, clogging is less likely, and your skin can remain clear.

Note: For some, salicylic acid has been known to cause irritation and this is especially true when combined with other over-the-counter acne treatments for men. Also, not everybody sees results and a stinging sensation can be felt during application.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Secondly, we have an ingredient that has the support of the FDA in concentrations up to 10%. Available as a wash, cream, or gel, it’s an antibacterial agent so will get into the skin and attack acne bacteria (P. Acnes). With slight drying and peeling, experts believe this can prevent breakouts while reducing inflammation.

While people believe that the 10% concentration Benzoyl Peroxide in acne treatment products yield the best results, this isn’t necessarily the case. It depends on your skin because the lower concentrations can sometimes bring great results without all the side effects of higher concentrations.

Note: As you first introduce this acne treatment to your skincare routine, you should expect some itchiness, dryness, and redness. Up to three people in every 100 are allergic to Benzoyl Peroxide and they experience inflammation and crusting after use. Be careful, the ingredient can also bleach fabrics (and even your hair!).

Alpha Hydroxy Acids

In acne treatment products under 10% strength, alpha hydroxy acids are common, and the two main examples would be lactic acid and glycolic acid. By exfoliating the skin’s surface, these acids remove dead skin cells and improve tone and texture. Once in this position, the skin is encouraged to increase cell turnover which, in turn, heals acne lesions and prevents clogging in the pores. With exfoliation, you can also put an end to flaky skin.

Note: As well as experiencing some redness and stinging, you should NEVER apply a chemical peel above 10% strength at home (professionals can help instead!).

After using alpha hydroxy acids, the outer layers of skin are actually removed which makes you prone to sunburn in the following days. For around a week afterward, we recommend using a sunscreen to prevent further damage.

Tea Tree Oil

Some prefer to go for natural ingredients, so we couldn’t leave out the wonderful tea tree oil. Despite a long history with acne treatment, it’s now gaining popularity again and the antiseptic properties make it perfect for mild cases. Additionally, it can remove dead skin cells and fight inflammation.


Much like salicylic acid, resorcinol can be used to treat other skin problems such as psoriasis and eczema as well as acne. Unlike salicylic, it isn’t strong enough to stand alone so will normally be paired with other ingredients (like sulfur). However, it does break down rough skin which makes it an ideal acne treatment for men with whiteheads and blackheads.

Note: Naturally, this chemical has the potential to cause irritation. Therefore, you shouldn’t use it in conjunction with other alcohol products, cleansers, irritating soaps, astringents, and medications.


Talking of sulfur, this is another chemical with plenty of history because of its peeling and drying actions; it’s an ingredient used in soaps, washes, and creams around the world. There are problems with sulfur; 1) it can discolor the skin when used alone and 2) it doesn’t smell so great. To deal with these two issues, sulfur is only ever used alongside sodium sulfacetamide or Benzoyl Peroxide.

There’s a risk to using sulfur; existing whiteheads and blackheads can be removed, but it can also encourage cell adhesion and, as a result, new breakouts. With a bacteriostatic property, sulfur prevents the growth of acne bacteria - it cannot kill it, however.

Note: In addition to the poor smell and discoloration issue, sulfur has been known to cause fissures around the mouth, excessive peeling, and redness. We almost have good news in that sulfur isn’t really something to which people tend to be allergic. Unfortunately, allergies are more common with sodium sulfacetamide (the most likely partner for sulfur during production). If you’re allergic to sulfa drugs, we recommend avoiding this combination of ingredients in your men’s acne treatment products.


Finally, we have a vitamin A derivative which sheds dead skin cells, frees pores from oil, sebum, and dirt, and affects the oil chemistry in the skin. It also has a bonus feature and something we haven’t really seen in this guide so far - an ability to boost the production of collagen. If you ever look in the mirror and feel shocked by wrinkles and fine lines, the solution is more collagen and retinol will help.

Note: On the one hand, retinol will lighten acne-related dark marks. On the other, it shouldn’t be used too much otherwise you’ll go crazy with the irritation that comes.

What Ingredients Will Help Me Most?

We know what you’re thinking, ‘well, that doesn’t really help, how am I supposed to know which ingredients to prioritize?’. With this in mind, here are three considerations;

• Limit the side effects by starting with the lower concentrations. Over time, you can increase the strength in increments and find one that brings results for your skin.

• If you have no idea where to start, choose Benzoyl Peroxide. Not only can most people tolerate this ingredient without any problems, the lower concentration acne treatment products for men, even at 2.5%, can work wonders and you won’t even need to consider 10%.

• Stubborn acne symptoms may benefit from a combination of ingredients and products. For example, those experienced with breakouts will tell you to use two different acne treatment products; one at night and another in the morning.

Remember, we’re all unique so find what works for YOU and stick with it.

Tips for Getting the Best Results

Before starting your men’s acne treatment program, we have some tips so that you aren’t left feeling disappointed or making common mistakes.

Follow Application Instructions

After buying a product, only apply the amount they recommend on the packaging. While it might seem helpful to layer half a tube on at once, this will only cause redness, drying, peeling, and irritation.

Be Patient and Consistent

You can’t just apply some acne treatment cream at night and expect to wake up in the morning with the problem gone, so don’t feel disheartened and keep going. The key to success is regular application and, when we say regular, we mean it. Treat it like brushing your teeth or showering, make it a normal point of your morning and evening routine.

Depending on the product and the severity of your acne problem, it may take up to four months so keep going. If you try one acne treatment for two weeks, stop for a week, try another, and then stop again, your skin doesn’t have time to heal.

While on the note of patience, you might have to go backwards before going forward again. If you get new pimples, this doesn’t mean you should immediately throw the cream in the trash. If you have questions or concerns, contact your dermatologist. Otherwise, be patient and keep applying the men’s acne treatment regularly.

Don’t Stop

If the root cause of the acne hasn’t been treated, your over-the-counter solution isn’t going to stop breakouts from coming back once you stop applying. If you want to control the symptoms and prevent new breakouts, keep applying the acne treatment and consider switching to more of a maintenance regimen once your skin is clear.

Be Gentle

When washing your face, use a gentle, pH-balanced cleanser and be careful not to rub too vigorously because this will make the problem even worse.

Long-Term Acne Treatment Options

If you stop applying your treatment after the acne has cleared, even with the best acne treatment for men, they will soon come back. For some, you’ll have more of a long-term improvement in mind and this is the inspiration for our next section.

Photodynamic Therapy

In a world of traditional acne treatments and products with decades of experience, this therapy is comparatively new. Since the therapy comes with downtime and certain risks, it will be reserved for those who have moderate-to-severe acne and are having trouble managing it normally.

Ultimately, the aim is to reduce the size of the sebaceous glands. When this is achieved, less oil is produced. Be careful, this is a permanent change and there are implications to adjusting the sebum output of your skin. For one thing, your skin’s ability to fight bacteria and retain moisture will immediately reduce.

Chemical Peels

We touched on this acne treatment earlier, and it’s something that only a professional should administer. After talking with a dermatologist, the acids in the peel will remove superficial layers of skin. Normally, the experts will be reluctant to use peels on darker skin tones because the acids can cause darkening in the skin itself.

If you have darker skin, don’t worry because some of the best acne products for men now utilize the same chemicals as those found in chemical peels. Although the strength is reduced somewhat, you can still generate positive results when used consistently.

Light Therapy

Just as the name suggests, this is a solution that uses light to prevent pustules and pimples. Despite having fewer side effects than most acne treatments, it cannot be used for men with severe acne lesions. Also, light therapy won’t completely clear acne.


By reducing the oil glands’ size, less oil is produced and the skin cell production rate in the pores is also reduced. In the early days, there’s a chance your acne will get worse, but history tells us that this will change as long as you keep going. It seems counter-intuitive, but this is a solution that has been used since the 1970s.

Sometimes called isotretinoin, it’s actually a vitamin A derivative and comes in a pill. Depending on your case and the strength you need, your acne treatment program may last for three, four, or even six months.

Cortisone Shots

For those who need immediate relief, a dermatologist may suggest cortisone injections. When injected into an acne lesion, inflammation will reduce almost instantly, and this helps a patient to feel more comfortable.

Laser Therapy

We’ve seen light therapy, but this time it is lasers designed to treat light-to-moderate acne. By killing bacteria, there could be an improvement in inflammation and sebum levels. Although early days, scientists are encouraged by laser therapy’s new work with severe breakouts.

Home Treatments

As well as professional acne treatments for men, you’ll find plenty of home acne remedies with a little research and there are a few we like. With lemon juice, you have a harmless source of vitamin C and a natural antioxidant.

Elsewhere, people have found joy with an oatmeal face mask, baking soda paste, steam therapy, honey and cinnamon face mask, and green tea. You’re probably laughing at the oatmeal face mask (we don’t blame you!) and think you would have to be crazy to try it, but oatmeal will actually absorb excess oils.


Before we let you get back to your day (thank you for sticking with us to the end, by the way!), we’re going to finish on some acne treatment myth-busting.

‘Just sit in the sun for twenty minutes per day and your acne symptoms will disappear’

Nope. However much we wish this were true, it’s actually false. Regardless of your skin type, over-exposure to the sun will cause skin damage. In turn, this creates irritation and more acne. If you ever experience a breakout from nowhere, think back a couple of weeks because sunburn may actually be the cause.

‘You can clear up acne by scrubbing the face’

It’s easy to think this; especially when commercials tell us to scrub away. However, blocked pores stick together deep within the skin’s layers rather than starting at the surface. When you scrub away at the skin, this will actually irritate the pores and make the clogging problem worse.

In our experience, it’s best to wash a maximum of twice per day and with bare hands so you can be gentle.

‘Don’t pop your pimples because this is dangerous’

This may not come as a surprise since we’re busting acne treatment myths, but there is no scientific evidence to suggest this to be true. If you try to pop a pimple before the yellow or white center comes up, there’s a danger of making it more severe. In fact, you can even cause a scar by scratching away before it’s ready. Yet, removing a pimple that is ‘ready’ to be popped will not cause you harm.

When done correctly, you can reduce the risk of infection and start the healing process. Be careful not to pick the skin because this is one of the biggest problems that plastic surgeons encounter. Often, the surrounding skin is just as damaged as the acne lesion due to constant picking.

Thank you for reading

This is a heavy men’s acne treatment guide with LOTS of useful information, so feel free to save it to your bookmarks and share the message with friends and family. If you have a favorite product that we didn’t mention in our list of best acne treatment for men, feel free to leave a message and we can get a discussion going in the comments.

Otherwise, thank you for reading and we wish you the best of luck in your acne-removal journey!

Author's Bio: 

Greg Mercer has dedicated himself to producing helpful guides for people to benefit from for over half a decade. Helping others enjoy a better quality of sleep, and life in general, was the main reason he started publishing his reviews and guides.