Targeted Blemish Correctors
Five years since I first started blogging and it saddens me to say that I'm still on the anti-blemish bandwagon. Finding a solution to my spot-ridden skin was actually the motivator behind it all in the first place, yet regular breakouts are still something I suffer with even this far down the line. A combination of sometimes managing periods of relatively clear skin and a general reluctance to turn to harsh medications means I'm still searching for a solution that works for me – ideally by the means of a targeted spot-fighting product that tackles breakouts while leaving the rest of my healthy skin well alone.
At this point I feel as though it would be impossible for me to create a comprehensive list of all the products I've tried in the past. Over the years I've gone from having no set skincare routine to applying a barrage of products on a daily basis, and right back again.
From creams, lotions and gels to the latest blemish-fighting technologies, here are just a handful of the targeted blemish correctors currently in my arsenal.
Origins Super Spot Remover
Active ingredients: SALICYLIC ACID
- Invisible on the skin
- Poorly designed packaging
The Origins Super Spot Remover seems to have marked many people's first foray into blemish-fighting treatments. I actually didn’t try it for myself until much later on, when a desperate search for something fast-acting led me to a host of circa-2012 blog reviews. It’s not a product that I’ve had a particularly great experience with since, although to this day I still know people who swear by it. Something in the formula just doesn't seem to work for me, and the faff of trying to squeeze a blob of the thick, gloopy formula out of its poorly designed plastic bottle just isn’t worth the hassle. Props to Origins for creating an overnight blemish treatment that’s completely invisible on the skin - but it's not one that I reach for on a regular basis.
Skyn: Iceland Blemish Dots
Active ingredients: Willow Bark, Salicylic Acid
- Invisible on the skin
- Clean and easy to use
- Relatively expensive
The Skyn Blemish Dots are without a doubt one of the most effective anti-blemish treatments I’ve found to date. When applied to new spots that are yet to rise above the skin, I’ve found them to be reliable at reducing size and inflammation - often meaning the spot never comes to the surface at all. They’re not quite as effective on active spots that have already made their appearance known, although there’s something to be said for a product that manages to draw the head from particularly stubborn blemishes without the need to pick or squeeze (vile, I know). I’ve read countless stories of people applying these to their skin in the morning and being able to go about their day with the sticker undetected, yet applying a dot post-evening cleanse and leaving it on until morning works for me. If your partner is as used to sleeping next to someone covered in spot lotion as mine is, they’re unlikely to bat an eyelid at these.
Mario Badescu Drying Lotion
Active ingredients: Salicylic Acid, Sulfur, Calamine
- Good for active blemishes
- Noticeable when applied
- Fiddly and potentially messy to use
Mario Badescu appear to have the blemish fighting game down. Their line is heavy with products that promise to buff, wash and dry spots away almost instantaneously - and for the most part they’re a brand that I’d wholeheartedly recommend. Drying Lotion is perhaps the most famous of the bunch, and consists of both salicylic acid and calamine. The two components remain separated in the bottle - as it should be - and a clean cotton bud is needed to dip and apply the lotion to the skin. It’s one of the best products I’ve come across for tackling active spots - those that have already risen above the surface and are, for want of a better phrase, whiteheads. I can’t imagine not having this in my arsenal - but I only use it on already active blemishes. Speaking from experience, I’d also strongly recommend purchasing the plastic bottle as opposed to the glass one. Both are sure to get messy after continued use, but the former is significantly easier to store and travel with.
La Roche Posay Effaclar A.I.
Active ingredients: Niacinamide, Piroctone Olamine, Glycacil
- Undetectable on the skin
- Not as good as other products in the range
I got through a few tubes of Effaclar A.I. back in university. It’s slightly different to the others in that it’s got an almost serum-like consistency, and can be rubbed onto blemishes and across the surrounding skin without leaving a trace. For years LRP’s Effaclar range was my go-to, and I still sing it’s praises on a regular basis, but for the first time since I can remember I'm not currently using anything from it - in fact I’m not even sure I own anything. On the whole the range is affordable and effective, at least for the most part. I found that the products started to work less and less for me as time went on, which could just be due to my skin getting too used to its active ingredients. It’s something I’d definitely be open to going back and trying however, although I did find Effaclar Duo [+] to be just as, if not more, effective than this, and slightly more gentle on the skin.
Active ingredients: N/A
- Easy to use
- No need to repurchase
- Initially costly
- Needs perserverance
The FOREO Espada remains to this day the most expensive skin clearing tool that I’ve ever purchased. At over £100 it’s certainly an investment, yet it works out considerably cheaper than regular appointments with a qualified laser technician. It’s a tool that I dig out in my deepest, darkest moments of skin-related despair, yet for me the results just don’t justify the price. Spending so much on a tool like this leads to high expectations - however subconsciously - and its inability to make an impact on blemishes in anything fewer than 3 sessions admittedly disappointed me. It’s also worth noting that this type of treatment isn’t likely to work as well on hormonal acne, as it’s focus is on destroying acne-causing bacteria under the skin. I won’t get rid of it, partly because I refuse to give up on something so expensive, and partly because with some perseverance it does seem to lessen the size and inflammation of some blemishes. Even so, it’s not something I consider a must-have.
The Ordinary Salicylic Acid
Active ingredients: Salicylic Acid
- Easy to use
- Not effective on all blemishes
I've mentioned before that I'm a big fan of using salicylic acid on my skin, so naturally I jumped on The Ordinary's 2% formula. It's by far the cheapest blemish treatment that I've tried, and the relatively high concentrate of active ingredients means it's even better value for money than it first seems. The Ordinary recommend applying a small amount to active spots as and when needed, or taking it across the skin to prevent future flare-ups. Personally I find it a little too harsh for the latter, but it's definitely a valued asset in my skincare collection. Of the two, I'm usually more likely to reach for the Skyn Blemish Dots over this, simply because I find them to be slightly more effective. For those looking for a more affordable solution however, this is definitely a good option.