The Best Quick-Fix Spot Treatments To Clear Up Pimples — Starting At $5

Imagine, for a second, that you could have a superpower — any superpower. What would you choose? Flying would be pretty righteous, provided you’re not afraid of heights; telekinesis means never having to get up off the couch mid-episode of The Crown to refill your wine glass ever again. Invisibility could save you a lot of embarrassment, the perfect escape tactic for those moments when the person who takes your ticket at the movie theater tells you to enjoy the film and you say, "You too!"

But the most super of all possible superpowers — the one thing that would make it worth a life newly devoted to saving the world while putting your safety, and the safety of your loved ones, at unfathomable risk — might just be the ability to snap your fingers and watch your breakouts vanish. Sure, it doesn't have quite the same sparkle as being able to shapeshift or read minds, but when it comes down to it, what wouldn't you do to be able to clear your skin instantly?

But back to earth: Superpowers aren't real, you can't buy an invisibility cloak at Zara, and there's no known incantation one can mutter to erase all their zits just like that. But in the absence of magic or molecular manipulation, these fast-acting breakout-fighters are the next best thing. And whether you're willing to pay $95 for a supposed miracle tonic or want to keep your budget around $5, there's a super-powered spot treatment perfect for you, ahead...

The price isn't a typo: This concentrated blemish-fighting formula is as potent as anything else you'll find on the market, and it's one of the absolute cheapest, too. With a strong dose of 2% salicylic acid to keep pores clear, and a special form of gentle, alcohol-free witch hazel, you can use this one to nix existing zits or use all-over for maintenance.
The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution, $5.30 Buy
Everything you could ever need to stop a breakout in its tracks is hiding in this tiny-but-mighty tube, which incorporates salicylic acid, vitamin B3, azelaic acid, caffeine, and skin-soothing extracts of cucumber and clove in a vegan, cruelty-free formula that even helps cut down on redness and hyperpigmentation.
Tarte Blemish Bully Acne Spot Treatment, $16.00 Buy
Esthetician Renée Rouleau has a cult-like following of celebrity clients, beauty editors, and armchair skin-care enthusiasts alike — and this revolutionary anti-acne serum is one of her biggest hits. Unlike most other topical treatments, it actually delves deep into pores to reduce redness and inflammation associated with large, painful underground cysts that take forever to heal.
Renée Rouleau Anti Bump Solution, $47.50 Buy
To "put a band-aid on" a problem is usually a euphemism for covering something up without actually solving the root of the issue, but these waterproof patches do both. Stick one on a particularly nasty zit before bed and the hydrocolloid bandage will absorb gunk from pores and reduce inflammation overnight, all while protecting your skin from further irritation.
CosRx Acne Pimple Master Patch, $6.00 Buy
Why use one type of technology to fight acne when you can use three, all of which have their own unique way of doing it? Encapsulated salicylic acid penetrates pores without overdrying, active probiotics kill the bacteria that causes breakouts in the first place, and silver ions act as a natural antiseptic — all while camphor, zinc, and sulfur heal damaged tissue to help skin recover faster.
Sonya Dakar Blemish Buster, $29.00 Buy
Beyond just combating breakouts, this lightweight gel does for your skin-care routine what Ikea does for your home furnishings: streamlines, simplifies, and makes good skin — like good taste — seem accessible. By pairing acne-fighting ingredients like retinol and lactic acid with vitamins and antioxidants sourced from turmeric and portulaca, you get a well-rounded treatment that fends off dryness, irritation, and the development of fine lines, too. (Oh, and it's from Sweden.)
Verso Blemish Fix, $90.00 Buy
It goes without saying that, if you're going to call something a "miracle," it better be good. Fortunately for fans of this powerful concoction, from the eponymous skin-care line of one of London's top facialists, it delivers on all fronts, using salicylic acid to clarify and a blend of soothing mint and rosemary to soothe and heal — not to mention how very, very chic it'll look in your bathroom cabinet.
Amanda Lacey Miracle Tonic, $88.00 Buy
You already know and love acne-spot patches — now meet the next greatest innovation in the world of things you can stick on your face. These detoxifying strips use the same hydrocolloid technology to absorb oil, debris, and impurities from clogged pores while zapping blackheads and refining skin texture with vitamin A, and unlike other "pore strips," they peel away gently and easily so you don't tear your first layer of skin off into the process.
Peace Out Pore Treatment Strips, $19.00 Buy
This multifunctional spot treatment, part of a new line from the company behind ColourPop, ticks the three boxes of affordable, effective, and cute. Powered by acne-fighting stalwarts like sulfur, zinc oxide, and salicylic acid, along with soothing calamine and camphor, it's the best way to nix breakouts and ease inflammation without spending more than $12.
Fourth Ray Later Hater, $12.00 Buy
The Champagne-taste-on-a-beer-budget version of pimple patches, these $8 detox dots are formulated with salicylic acid, charcoal, and exfoliating tomato extract to lift the gunk out of your pores. Available in your choice of black or red stickers, they're not subtle or remotely flattering — but they get the job done.
Yes To Detoxifying Charcoal Zit Zapping Dots Facial Treatment, $8.99 $8.09, Buy
This unassuming tube looks like something you'd spot on the pharmacy shelf through the pickup window while you're waiting for your prescription — clinical, generic, not cute. But what's inside is a multitasking acne treatment that reads like a laundry list of everything you could ever need to fight a breakout: pore-purifying sulfur, clarifying Chinese skullcap, soothing vitamin E, brightening licorice, replenishing aloe vera, antioxidant-rich green tea...
DHC Acne Spot Therapy, $19.50 Buy
Yes, the first thing that stands out about this hard-working spot treatment is the absurd price tag — but that sticker shock won't hurt quite so badly once you see what's inside. Formulated with a handful of ingredients you've already heard of (salicylic acid, willow bark extract, sodium hyaluronate, colloidal sulfur) and a few you probably haven't (horse chestnut extract, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, colloidal silver, kojic acid), the formula works in three phases, taking care of pre-, post-, and presently broken out skin while hydrating, too. Pat it onto blemishes straight or mix a couple drops in with your moisturizer; either way, $160 is a comparatively reasonable price to pay for clear, healthy skin.
111Skin 3 Phase Anti-Blemish Booster, $160.00 Buy
Resist the urge to shake, shake, shake this cute little bottle, and just dip a cotton swab into the charcoal sediment on the bottom instead. It's a lot less entertaining than watching it all swirl around, sure, but the potent combination of calamine, zinc, colloidal sulfur, willow herb extract, salicylic acid, and — yes — activated charcoal nixes blemishes practically overnight. (Which, by the way, is when you'll want to use it.)
Boscia Charcoal Spot Corrector, $28.00 Buy
Has there ever been an easier way to "take care of" breakouts Tony Soprano-style than with this handy rollerball, which contains zit-zapping salicylic acid and tea tree and nourishing rosehip and vitamin E all in one bottle? No. There has not.
The Better Skin Co. Better Skin Zit No More, $18.00 Buy
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