Zappin' Zits to Hades: Spot Treatment Smackdown

It's been forever and a day since I published a blog post so I don't want to take too long to come up with an intro!

If you know me, you know that acne is my constant woe. Over the past year, my skin has improved a lot but I still get a spot now and then, especially when Aunt Flo comes around. I don't always like using all over face treatments because they can be drying and many times unnecessary for my skin. Spot treatments are the solution! Often times they're more potent than all over treatments which means they have the potential to tackle zits more effectively.

Because there are so many skin types and so many types of acne, there are also many spot treatments. Over the past year or two, I've had the opportunity to try a ton-- some featuring more holistic ingredients and some featuring classic topical treatments your dermatologist would recommend. In this post I'm reviewing my experience with each, but just cause something worked or didn't work for me, doesn't mean you'll get the same experience!

Side note: I'm also a huge fan of pimple patches and will soon share a post reviewing 5 or 6 that I've tried!

Up & Up 10% Benzoyl Peroxide

Price & Availability: $3.49 via Target

Star Ingredient: 10% Benzoyl Peroxide

Full Ingredients: Carbomer, Disodium EDTA, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, Laureth-4, Sodium Hydroxide, Water.

What kind of spots do I use it on? Everything!

There's nothing bougie about this spot treatment. But it freakin' works. It contains 10% benzoyl peroxide, an ingredient often prescribed by dermatologists to teens fighting acne (speaking from personal experience.)

But of course, there are some downsides to benzoyl peroxide. One, it's very drying. Two, it can stain your pillowcases. Three, it's too strong for some people's sensitive skin. The good thing is that it's effective even when used in short-contact therapy!

What is short-contact therapy? It's basically when you apply a product for a limited amount of time, wash it off, but still reap the benefits of the product. I picked up this trick on Reddit and it's been a total game changer for me! I'll apply benzoyl peroxide on my zits first thing in the morning and then 5- 10 minutes later wash it off with cleanser.

This short contact therapy works very well for me! It doesn't dry out my skin or leave a weird white patch. It helps bring under the skin bumps to a head and helps heal actual whiteheads more quickly. It pretty much works on all types of acne for me.

From what I've read, the 10% isn't really necessary as benzoyl peroxide is effective at 2.5%. But the formulas with lower percentages are more expensive, so I stick to this cheapo. If you don't have access to Target, the Clean & Clear Persa-Gel 10 is essentially the same thing.

Aesop Control Anti-Blemish Gel

Price & Availability: $23.00 via Nordstrom, Saks, & Aesop

Star Ingredients: Niacinamide, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, & Salicylic Acid

Full Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Water (Aqua), Polysorbate 80, PEG-150 Distearate, Niacinamide, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Polysorbate 20, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Phenoxyethanol, Benzyl Alcohol, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Peel Oil, Panthenol, Disodium EDTA, Bisabolol, Ormenis Multicaulis Oil, Salicylic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Benzalkonium Chloride, Lactic Acid, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Oil, Leptospermum Petersonii Oil, Zingiber Officinale Root Extract, d-Limonene, Citral, Linalool, Geraniol, Eugenol

What kind of spots do I use it on? Whiteheads (but it does nothing.)

This was the first product I tried from Aesop and boy, was it a disappointment. On paper, it looked fabulous! The ingredients list has brightening ingredients, acne fighting ingredients, and soothing ingredients. It has it all! Unfortunately, it did literally nothing for my skin.

The formula is very runny and easily leaks out of the tube which means it's not something I can easily pop into my bag.

It has a somewhat pleasant, medicinal scent. It's easy to spread on the skin. It does sort of form a film but it's invisible over makeup. It doesn't dry out my skin. Too bad it didn't work for me!

Beautyrx Dermstick for Pores (PR Gift)

Price & Availability: $29.00 via Beautyrx, Dermstore, & HSN

Star Ingredients: Glycolic Acid, Benzoyl Peroxide, Salicylic Acid, & Tea Tree Leaf Oil

Ingredients: Water, Butylene Glycol, Methyl Gluceth-20 Benzoate, PPG-14 Butyl Ether, Glycolic Acid, Benzoyl Peroxide, Cucurbita Pepo (Pumpkin) Seed Extract, PEG-40 Stearate, Salicylic Acid, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copoly, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Squalane, Sorbitan Stearate, Stearyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 60, Cetearyl Alcohol, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Xanthan Gum, Ceteareth-20, Phenoxyethanol, Ammonium Hydroxide, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Disodium EDTA, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Benzoic Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, Benzethonium Chloride

What kind of spots do I use it on? Whiteheads but mostly blackheads on my nose.

I'll be honest, whenever I see something claim to "minimize pores" I'm hella skeptical. But this ๐Ÿ‘ delivers ๐Ÿ‘ results ๐Ÿ‘. It has an effective blend of acids plus there's benzoyl peroxide and trea tree oil. They aren't messing around at all.

The packaging is very handy. It has a slanted, rubber applicator that's easy to use and clean. It works on whiteheads but it also works on blackheads! I like using it on my nose where I have blackheads galore. Of course, it doesn't completely erase them, but it does minimize them. And the rubber applicator makes it easy to apply to the corners and crevices of my nose.

I wouldn't recommend this for sensitive skin as it is pretty potent stuff. It stings upon application although the longer I use it, the less it stings. The other downside is the amount of product you get-- it's not a lot for $30. The plus side is that it lasts a long time as a little goes a long way.

Sunday Riley Saturn Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask

Price & Availability: $55.00 via Sephora, Dermstore, & Barney's

Star Ingredients: 10% Sulfur, 4% Niacinamide, & 1% Zinc PCA

Ingredients: Water, Sulfur, Isoamyl Laurate, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Niacinamide, Gum Arabic, Bentonite, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Polyglyceryl-2 Caprate, Olive Oil Glyceryth-8 Esters, Zinc PCA, Allantoin, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate,, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Leptospermum Scoparium (Manuka) Branch/Leaf Oil, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, Corallina Officinalis Extract, Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract, Amber Powder, Melia Azadirachta Flower Extract, Coccinia Indica Fruit Extract, Solanum Melongena (Eggplant) Leaf Extract, Ocimum Basilicum (Basil) Flower/Leaf Extract, Quartz, Polysorbate 60, Sorbitan Isostearate, Tocopherol, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Polysorbate 20, Alcohol Denat., Chlorphenesin, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Caprylyl Glycol.

What kind of spots do I use it on? Under the skin bumps, whiteheads, and healing pimples.

Oh how I wish this mask came in mini form (the one I have is a mini I got for free at their pop-up.) While this is marketed as a mask, I solely use it as a spot treatment so not to waste it.

It stinks to the high heavens, probably thanks to the sulfur. But it's also the sulfur that's zapping those zits to the deepest pits of hell so I don't mind. This stuff seriously works, but I do need to wear it for some time to see results. If I treat it like a mask and apply it for 20 minutes and wash it off, the results are minimal.

But if I use it as a spot treatment and leave it on for a few hours, the results are immensely better! It helps brings my under the skin bumps to a head so they can heal faster. It also makes whiteheads already at the surface of my skin smaller and less red. It even speeds up the healing process of already healing zits.

Do beware of how long you keep it on your skin. I have heard from some people that their skin became irritated when they applied it as an overnight spot treatment. Personally, my skin could tolerate it. But it's probably best to experiment with shorter periods of time first, just in case!

It comes packaged in a tube which is fine for the formula. It's got a light and fluffy clay formula. I'm afraid of buying the full sized version because I don't want it to dry out before I finish the entire thing. As I use it as a spot treatment instead of a mask, I don't use very much at a time.

Tata Harper Clarifying Spot Solution (PR gift)

Price & Availability: $35.00 via Sephora, Nordstrom, the Detox Market, Cult Beauty, & Tata Harper

Star Ingredients: Lactic Acid, Willowbark Extract, Copper, Magnesium, and Zinc

Ingredients: Hordeum Vulgare Leaf Juice*, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract*, Propanediol, Water, Glyceryl Stearate, Santalum Spicatum (Sandalwood) Seed Oil, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, L (+) Lactic acid, Glycerin, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Seed Oil, Sambucus Nigra Fruit Extract, Cetearyl alcohol, Squalane, Aroma**, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Oil*, Leuconostoc Ferment Filtrate, Lactobacillus Ferment, Brassica Oleracea Italica (Broccoli) Extract, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Gaultheria Procumbens (Wintergreen) Leaf Extract, Bioflavonoids, Zinc PCA, Copper PCA, phytic acid, Tremella Fuciformis (mushroom) Extract, Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil*, Lentinus Edodes Extract, Medicago sativa (Alfalfa) Extract*, Spiraea Ulmaria Flower Extract*, Calendula officinalis (Calendula) Flower Extract*, Arnica montana (Arnica) Extract*, Borago officinalis (Borage) Leaf Extract*, Aloe barbadensis Leaf Juice*, p-Anisic Acid, Sodium Phytate, Sodium Citrate, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl glucoside, Acacia Senegal Gum, Xanthan gum, Benzyl Alcohol, Citral, Citronellol, Eugenol, Geraniol, Linalool, Limonene

What kind of spots do I use it on? Whiteheads and healing spots.

I love that this spot treatment uses a blend of holistic and medicinal acne healing ingredients. You got lactic acid, but you also have ingredients like sandalwood seed oil and ferments! I grew up with my mom applying sandalwood paste to my zits so I'm always interested when I see ingredients from my childhood, like sandalwood and turmeric, gain traction in American skin care.

This little tube of goodness features a paste that I can apply day or night. It can be a bit drying but I don't care much because of the results. Sometimes I'll apply it on top of makeup because it's invisible! Thanks to the applicator, it's easy to apply it only to a small patch of skin. The cap screws on tight so it's something I can easily pop into my bag for reapplication during the day.

When I apply it to my whiteheads, it dries them out a bit and makes them smaller and less red. I'll also apply it to already healing spots to help them shrink more.

Odacite Bl+C

Price & Availability: $32.00 via Nordstrom, the Detox Market, Cult Beauty, & Bloomingdales

Star Ingredients: Black Cumin + Cajeput Oils

Ingredients: Highest-grade cold-pressed certified virgin organic Black Cumin (Nigella sativa) oil, Certified organic Cajeput (Melaleuca minor) essential oil, Certified GMO-free Vitamin E (Toco- pherols) oil.

What kind of spots do I use it on? Under the skin bumps.

It took me a while to get around to liking this. Unlike the other spot treatments in this post, this does not provide quick, overnight results. It's something I have to consistently apply for days before I get a result. But it's worth it because there's absolutely no irritation or dryness. According to the brand, it works by targeting acne-causing bacteria.

I don't use it on whiteheads because I like those to go away ASAP. Instead, I use this on deeper under the skin bumps/ cysts to calm them down and remove redness. The brand suggests diluting it a carrier oil to use it all over the face, but I just use it straight out of the bottle and apply it to the spot. It is a bit of an oily oil; it leaves my skin oily. But after sometime it eventually absorbs.

You don't get a ton of product for the price, but it's another one of those products where a little bit goes a long way. It's also a product I can apply atop makeup because it is clear.

Cocokind Turmeric Spot Treatment

Price & Availability: $9.00 via Free People, Amazon, & Cocokind. Can be found in stores at Whole Foods.

Star Ingredients: Turmeric and Tea Tree Oil

Ingredients: Organic sunflower oil, organic beeswax, organic turmeric, organic ginger root, organic tea tree oil

What kind of spots do I use it on? Whiteheads, healing pimples, scars.

I've seen so many people singing Cocokind's praises on Instagram, I simply had to purchase something from them during Whole Foods's beauty sale. Alas, my first foray into the brand's offerings has been a flop. This spot treatment works for many, but it did nothing for me.

It comes in a wide chapstick container. Unsurprisingly it also has the consistency of chapstick; it's sort of hard and you swipe the top layer on your skin. It leaves a slightly greasy, yellow layer of product on the skin so it's probably not something you could wear with makeup.

The instructions say to apply it post cleansing and then rinse it off after 20 minutes. I saw no results with that so I decided to leave it for progressively longer periods of time. I left it on for 3 hours and still saw no results. I also consistently used it for a few days in a row and again, still saw no results. They recommend using it on breakouts, pimples, or discolored spots but sadly it worked on none.

I like the idea of the stick but sadly my skin was unaffected by it.

Sooo what's the best one?

Dat's a hard question, sis. If I had to pick one based on effectiveness, price, ease of use, packaging, and all that jazz... it would be the Up & up benzyl peroxide treatment. It's dirt cheap and it works on a variety of skin issues. There's absolutely glamorous about it but that's okay.

That said, variety is the spice of life and I have a skincare addiction. So I would happily repurchase the Tata Harper spot solution to use on spots during the day. And the Sunday Riley to use as superpowered overnight treatment. And the Odacite to gently coax out under the skin bumps. And the Beautyrx to minimize blackheads/ sebaceous filaments on my nose. Ah, the life and times of a skincare addict ๐Ÿ˜‰

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