It鈥檚 pretty hard to feel good about yourself and your skin when there鈥檚 a glaring, mountainous zit on your face 鈥 believe me, I know. I鈥檝e struggled with cystic acne (I feel you, Lili Reinhart) pretty much all of my adult life. Overall, I actually can鈥檛 complain about my skin, but when I get a聽zit (which was nearly every day for a while), it鈥檚聽the kind that takes up serious real estate on my face, lasts for weeks, and then leaves unsightly scarring. I tested every product I could get my hands on, and I鈥檓 happy to report that I now have a repertoire of skin care products in my arsenal that help me flatten those painful blemishes in no time.

1. Bioderma Sensibio Micellar Water聽($11): A long, hard-earned lesson I鈥檝e learned is that聽clear skin is clean skin, and聽how you聽remove makeup is crucial. While I love the feel of the K-beauty聽double cleanse, no matter how many types of cleansing oils I tried, they all left little milia,聽AKA teeny white bumps under the skin of my cheeks. Instead, I switched to using Bioderma聽micellar water (Sensibio is my favorite!) on extra-soft cotton pads to take off my makeup. This oil-free facial wash and makeup remover gave me all the benefits of a deep clean without being too aggressive.

2. La Roche-Posay Toleriane Purifying Foaming Soap Free Cleanser ($15): This purifying option cleans your face without feeling stripped. I never have that tight, over-washed sensation since it鈥檚 so gentle on hyper-sensitive skin like my own. If you prefer something that聽offers salicylic acid, a runner-up is the Biore Baking Soda Acne Scrub for Combination Skin ($6).

3. Differin Acne Treatment聽($29): Differin is an over-the-counter retinoid (adapalene to be exact)聽that works best when you spread a small amount of it all over your face every evening. This is important: Since it is a retinoid, use ONLY at night! (Overuse will lead to unwelcome pigmentation if you use it during the daytime.) Retinoids stimulate your skin cells to turn over more quickly,聽and adapalene is particularly good at soothing inflammation and swelling caused by acne. I usually rub this聽solution on after washing. Unlike prescription retinoids which can irritate the skin if applied on damp skin, you don鈥檛 have to wait the full 30 minutes after washing to use.

4.聽Murad Rapid Relief Acne Spot Treatment ($22):聽This beauty buy is kind of a godsend at unclogging your pores. Warning: You鈥檒l want to be careful if you鈥檙e using Differin聽as well, since聽combining these two聽products could irritate your skin. My face responds well to both; it does burn a tiny bit sometimes, but that鈥檚 because it contains 0.5 percent salicylic acid. You can use it twice a day; in the morning, I put this聽treatment on under makeup.

5. Kate Somerville Anti Bac Clearing Lotion ($42): This is about as close as you can get to prescription formulas as it offers five percent benzoyl peroxide, which acts as an antiseptic on your inflamed pores. I also have a prescription for Benzac 10, which has 10 percent benzoyl peroxide, but Kate Somerville鈥檚 Anti Bac is pretty comparable. Again, I have to say聽that you should be careful when using this in conjunction with salicylic acid and adapalene. You might want to alternate days (or nights) if you have really sensitive skin. I put it on straight after the Murad Spot Treatment and have zero issues 鈥 in fact, for me, the two seem to work even better together.聽In the daytime, I usually rub it on, then apply my makeup afterwards. In the evening, after my face has been thoroughly cleansed, I put it on before bed.

6. COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch ($5): Holy moly, this product works! After all my treatments have sunk into the skin, I slap one of these suckers on over my bump, and in the morning, it flattens out completely. If my blemish isn鈥檛 gone, it鈥檚聽at least greatly reduced. Each pack comes with 24 hydrocolloid patches of varying sizes, and it聽does a great job at sucking the gunk out of your pores. Believe it or not, it works even on those oozing, painful ones that make you feel like all hope is lost. You鈥檙e welcome.

What鈥檚 your secret weapon? Tweet us @BritandCo!

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