We know from so many years of speaking to readers that spots can have a real impact on confidence and feelings of wellbeing. And of course they don't only affect teenagers; there's a near-epidemic of adult acne. We ask testers to self-identify as spot-sufferers in their tester profiling questionnaires – so we can be 100% sure that these products went to women who could truly put them through their paces, with each going to 10 breakout-prone panellists. If your skin's erupting, our testers confirm: of the many spot-targeted products out there, these are definitely worth a go.
GOLD AWARD La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo (+)
So this is confusing: the winning product has the word ‘Duo’ in the name, but actually turns out to be one tube of skin-correcting, anti-imperfection, shine-reducing, hypo-allergenic moisturiser specially formulated for oily, blemish-prone skin at any age, promising to keep skin hydrated for 24 hours. (Good for men, too, we’re told.) Widely recommended by dermatologists, Effaclar Duo (+) targets the appearance of both blemishes and blackheads, while helping to protect against the pesky brown and red-coloured marks that are often the legacy of breakouts. The key actives are niacinamide, salicylic acid (to unclog pores), hydrating glycerine and zinc PCA, to control sebum and mattify shine.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘I only have the occasional spot/lump but this worked well. The results were fast and the red lump totally disappeared within a few days with no visible mark. There was no stinging or burning when I applied the thin transparent cream/serum. It was absorbed immediately. The lump was very red and quite large. By day 2, the redness had faded and the lump was smaller. By day 3, there was very faint redness and hardly any lump’ • ‘This is fantastic. I get hormonal red lumps under my skin. By day 2 the spot/lump I tested this on was much reduced and not painful, and by day 3 it was gone entirely’ • ‘I LOVE this product. It has become a firm favourite and I have bought more. Within three days the spot was totally gone. I found it best not to cover areas without spots as it made my skin slightly dry’ • ‘I tried this over my full face, which has white heads and red lumps. There was no visible improvement until day 6 when my face started to look visibly clearer and calmer. Day 10 saw significant improvement. I even got compliments on how clear my skin looks. This product does the job 100 per cent. Fantastic!’ • ‘There is no camouflage in this product – more like a transparent gel – but make-up went on well over the top and lasted fine’ • ‘This is a little miracle and I would recommend it to anyone with spots, marks and blemishes. Use continually and it keeps those spots at bay. Since using this I haven’t had a recurrence of spots with heads. I used this on different types of spots and all over my face as a normal moisturiser at night and under SPF during the day. I have bought this for my son and I’m now on my second tube.’
£16 for 40ml - click to buy
SILVER AWARD Alpha H Clear Skin Blemish Control Gel
Last year’s Gold Award-winner was only just pipped to the post for 2019 by La Roche Posay, but remains as effective as ever: a lightweight, intensive 'on-the-spot' gel – from a high-tech skincare name – which features renowned botanical antibacterials for its actions: eucalyptus, wild oregano and tea-tree, along with pore-unblocking salicylic acid and soothing, redness-diminishing vitamins B3 and E. In a slim tube with a fine nozzle, it's designed to be applied to individual spots as required, over or under make-up.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
'I liked this product, whenever I saw a hormonal spot about to break out, I applied this quickly, morning and night, and it seemed to take down any redness within hours. I think it probably stopped a few coming out into a proper spot as well. With those that had already got there, the Alpha H seemed to tackle them quickly and I was only left with a very faint mark afterwards, which quickly faded.’ • ‘On day 1, the spot I tested, which had a white head, had dried up by the end of the day. Day 2 it began to scab over. Day 3 the scab came off with cleansing. I applied it morning and night’ • ‘This product was lovely and refreshing to use on painful skin. Make-up went on fine when applied over the top of it - sometimes spot treatments tend to cause ‘rolling’ of the product, but this product didn't do that. I liked the strong smell of eucalyptus. I tried it on angry red lumps. It didn't sting but felt as if there was cold air on my skin. By Day 2, the lump would be less red and starting to go down. On Day 3, the area might still be a bit read but lump would be gone. I applied the product three times daily’ • ‘A small amount went a long way on my skin and the improvement in the appearance of facial spots and blemishes within three days was excellent. By Day 3, the spots were almost gone; it was a huge improvement and my skin looked so much clearer. My skin was clear within a week and I felt the product provided protection against new spots during the few weeks I was using it. I also applied it to individual spots that occurred on my chest/shoulders and it was very effective here as well’ • ‘A really convenient product to carry in my make-up bag just in case I got a spot during the day. I applied it over make-up and it quickly dried clear. It does the job and is super easy to use.’
£16 for 20ml - click to buy
BRONZE AWARD Kate Somerville EradiKate Blemish Treatment
We’ll forgive the dreadful pun in the name of this product because it performed so well! A bestseller in the cult Kate Somerville range, it is formulated with the highest possible level of sulphur (10%), which spots just hate. Salicylic acid also features, to reduce the appearance of enlarged pores, with zinc oxide to absorb excess serum. They recommend applying the minute you feel a spot’s threatening – but the how-to is slightly unusual: you need to dip a clean cotton swab into the sediment in the bottom half of the bottle (do NOT shake it, which was our initial urge!), and apply to affected areas; allow to dry and rinse off in the morning.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
'I tried this product, which looks like calamine lotion, on menstrual red lumps around my chin. It has a very medicinal fragrance and feels like you are using a product formulated to tackle breakouts. The spots were less sore by end Day 1. Redness less on Day 2. Day 3 spots less pronounced. A great product for breakout emergencies’ • ‘I tried this on a spot with a white head, applying overnight. After day 1, the spot was less inflamed and sore. Day 2 it had shrunk and was easier to conceal. By Day 3 it had almost disappeared. It was a bit of a faff to use and because it’s pink it is obvious on the skin’ • ‘It has quite a strong fragrance, which is slightly medicinal and slightly chemical. I didn't have a problem with this as it seemed appropriate for the type of product. Once I had worked out how to get the product out of the bottle it was easy to apply with a cotton bud. I tried it on various types of spots; it stung if used on broken skin but not otherwise. It is very obvious on the skin being bright pink. I only used it at home. But it is brilliant. It works really well and quickly, and is effective on all different kinds of spots’ • ‘Love this, it’s the best spot product I have ever tried. I've been using it on my husband for his spots and he actively asks for it whenever he feels one coming on. It is very obviously pink but we used it at night so this was not so much of a big deal. Spots are instantly soothed and we found disappeared entirely after a couple of days.’
£22 for 30ml - click to buy