The best acne system to combat acne – Top 5 choices of 2018

With different people having different skin types, genetics, living under different environmental conditions and other factors influencing the formation of acne blemishes on the skin, finding the one acne system that really works for your specific case can be like searching for a needle in a stockpile of hay.

To make your life a little easier and help find the best skincare products that effectively combat acne, we have carefully reviewed over 20 products in this category, and comprised a list of the top 5 acne system choices available on the market today.

Proactiv review packaging

Proactiv +3 has been a leading acne treatment system since 1995, developed by dermatologists and tried by over 20 million customers worldwide. All three components of the system are designed to synergistically complement one another when combating acne, while also decreasing the chance of future breakouts.

The active ingredient of Proactiv +3 is advanced, micro-crystal, 2.5% benzoyl peroxide, which is paired with 0.5% salicylic acid for some extra precision when dealing with the most problematic skin areas.

The system is designed for all skin types, however, it is best suited for oily and normal skin. The product has been reported by customers to reduce pore size and redness as fast as on the second day of use.

That being said, the product is rather slow. It may take up to 8 weeks to start seeing noticeable improvements, which can be irritating.

What we like

✓ Proven track of record

✓ Strong acne combating properties

✓ Prevents future breakouts

What we don't like

 Takes too long for desired results

 Small bottle sizes

Our rating


Paula's choice regular kit

The kit consists of three products – cleanser, exfoliator and skin clearing agent. The cleanser is a soap free gel that removes excess oil, environmental debris and dead skin cells from the skin.

The exfoliator’s active ingredient is salicylic acid, which helps reduce pore size, while soothing redness and irritation. Finally, the skin clearing agent brings 2.5% benzoyl peroxide as the active ingredient to the table, which effectively combats acne causing bacteria.

Paula’s choice is designed to be suitable for all skin types, however, due to the aggressiveness and drying properties of benzoyl peroxide, it’s mostly recommended for normal, oily, sensitive and combo skin types.

The product is quick to show positive results. Customers have reported achieving an almost fully cleansed skin in as little as 6 days, even in the case of severe cystic and hormonal acne. It’s also compatible with cosmetics and other skin care products.

What we like

✓ Suitable for sensitive skin

✓ Strong acne combating properties

✓ Compatible with other skincare products

✓ Quick to show positive results 

What we don't like

 Occasional allergic reactions


Our rating


Dermalogica clear start kit

Dermalogica is carefully designed to balance the skin’s hydration. It utilizes natural, soothing ingredients like Calming Balm Mint and Lavender to deal with redness and irritation. Active ingredients include salicylic acid (0.5%, 1%, 2% for breakout wash, toner and night time care respectively)   and 2.5% benzoyl peroxide (daytime care).

The kit is designed for all skin types, and is particularly effective for dry and sensitive skin, due to it being very gentle, non-irritating and non-drying, even though it contains very aggressive ingredients.

While the kit isn’t super-fast to show positive results, the upside is that the skin keeps getting better and better which each subsequent use. It is also very consistent – if your skin responds positively to the treatment, you can be sure that there won’t be any side effects or unexpected reactions (not working after some time, allergies, etc.) in the future.

Customer reviews are very positive, with most confirming that it suits dry, sensitive and combo skin very nicely, and with continuous use, improves skin texture making it look younger.

What we like

✓ Non-drying and non-irritating

✓ Soothing and stress relieving

✓ Balancing skin hydration

✓ Compatible with other skincare products

✓ No side effects

What we don't like


 Poor packaging

Our rating


La Roche Posay Effaclar Acne Treatment System

La Roche-Posay is a highly reputable French beauty lab, known for its non-drying, hypoallergenic and dermatologically approved skincare products. The brand is trusted and recommended by over 25.000 dermatologists worldwide.

The acne combating active ingredient is 5.5% micronized benzoyl peroxide, which allows to cleanse some of the deepest skin pores. This unique state of benzoyl peroxide (micronized) can be found only in La Roche-Posay products. As for the cleansing properties, the system utilizes lipohydroxy acid, which allows for precise, cell by cell exfoliation.

The product is designed for all skin types, however it has been most effective for people with oily, sensitive and combo skin types. It can also dry the skin during exfoliation, so you will need to use a moisturizer to counter that.

The product has been reported to show positive results in as little as 3-5 days. Side effects happen from time to time (redness, dryness, itchiness), but all of them are mild and can be dealt with easily. No severe reactions have been reported.

What we like

✓ Highly reputable manufacturer

✓ Recommended by 25.000 dermatologists worldwide

✓ Super deep pore cleansing

✓ Compatible with other products

What we don't like

 Can cause mild allergic reactions

 Can make the skin itchy during the first week of use

 You need to use a moisturizer along with it

Our rating


Acnefree packaging

The kit is comprised of 3 products – cleanser, toner and repair lotion. The active ingredient in the cleanser is 2.5% benzoyl peroxide, which cleanses the skin from excess oil, debris and dead skin cells. The toner contains vitamins, Chamomile and Aloe, and helps rebalance the skin, control hydration, oil production and post-acne marks. The repair lotion contains 3.7% benzoyl peroxide, which combats acne causing bacteria and works to prevent future breakouts.

The product is designed to deal with mild to moderate acne breakouts and is suitable for all skin types. However, it’s is not recommended for users with very sensitive skin or those allergic to benzoyl peroxide.

Noticeable improvements can be observed on the second day of use, with satisfying results generally being achieved after two weeks of consistent use.

What we like

✓ Extremely affordable

✓ Reported to be as good as Proactiv+

✓ Suitable for all skin types

What we don't like

 Can cause moderate dryness

 Can cause allergic reactions

Our rating


Do Those Acne Systems Bleach Skin, Clothing or Hair?

All benzoyl peroxide containing products bleach clothes, towels and hair to some extent, but never skin. It is advised to be careful and use old sheets during the treatment period to avoid discoloration.

How to Pick the Best Acne System for Your Specific Case?

Even when presented with the top 5 acne treatment systems, it’s hard to answer the ultimate question, isn’t it?

“Which one is best for my case?”

It’s important to remember that in case of acne, the choice isn’t straightforward – for all you know, number 5 might be the best choice for your specific case. While Proactiv is definitely the leading acne system available on the market based on numerous factors and a huge user base, you shouldn’t rush with your verdict.

The correct acne system choice depends on a number of things and varies for different people. Here is how to approach the matter correctly. Below are the six variables that are essential when choosing an acne system:

  1. Skin type

  2. Active ingredients

  3. Allergies towards ingredients

  4. Natural vs. Chemical ingredients

  5. Price vs. Reward

  6. Size

1. Always start with your skin type. Knowing and understanding your skin correctly will help pick the right solution. It will also help narrow down the list of possible choices if you know what you are looking for. Sometimes, people report positive reactions even when having unsuitable skin type when using a given product, but that has to do with specifics like genetics. Generally, you want to prioritize the products that are advertised for your specific skin type.

2. There are a number of active ingredients that are used in different acne systems, but not too many. Check the list of active ingredients when shopping for a new product and get to know what you are going to try. If you have used a few products that are based on the same active ingredient, but unfortunately they accomplished nothing, it probably means that your skin doesn’t respond to that type of treatment. This will put you on the track to look for different active ingredients until you find the one that works for you.

3. Most active ingredients (and some of the inactive ones) are very aggressive and there is a fairly good chance that your skin might be allergic to them. It’s best to buy a sample of the product that you are going to try for the first time, to determine how well your skin will respond to the treatment. Also, try to memorize the ingredients of the products that caused discomfort/allergies – it will be a huge help when shopping for skincare products in the future.

4. A lot of people believe that natural ingredients are better when it comes to skincare products, and they are correct. However, this doesn’t mean that chemical ingredients are always worse. When it comes to producing results, chemical ingredients are a lot faster, and they also offer much deeper cleansing properties. If you aren’t allergic to chemical ingredients listed in the product description, don’t rush to neglect every product that isn’t natural – oftentimes, the combination of natural and chemical is the most suitable choice.

5. The affordability of skincare products is another important factor when making a buying decision. They say beauty requires sacrifices, however, those sacrifices need to be justified. It is not uncommon for well-known companies and brands to increase the price of their products for no apparent reason – simply because they have a good reputation. Make sure to compare the price vs. the reward you are getting: in some cases, it’s simply not worth it.

6. Lastly, pay attention to the size of the product you are buying. Some sellers trick customers by offering the same products in much smaller bottles, which is a sly way to generate easy income. Also, you want to get a good idea of how long the product will last you to be able to plan ahead: skin is very delicate and requires consistent treatment for the best possible results.

The best acne system to combat acne – Top 5 choices of 2018
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