Since when did caring for acne-prone skin get so expensive? Whether it’s a pack of pimple patches or a powerful, derm-developed peel, the products we use to treat and prevent our breakouts aren’t cheap. Inflation certainly doesn’t help things, either.
The good news is, affordable acne products do exist—many of them are ripe for the picking at your neighborhood Target. Take a trip to your local Targét (we won’t twist your arm…), and you’ll find yourself in an aisle of beautifully curated skin-care goodies that are nice to your skin and wallet. As for the acne-friendly ones, well, you just need to know what to look for.
To cut your Target trip time in half, dermatologists recommend checking the label for ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, adapalene, and salicylic acid. Benzoyl peroxide, “removes dead skin cells and excess oil from the skin and kills bacteria causing acne,” says Aanand Geria, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist based in New Jersey. You’ll also want salicylic acid and adapalene, commonly known as Differin, in your regimen, as these ingredients unclog pores and prevent new breakouts from occurring. And don’t forget about alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), which calm inflamed skin, remove dead skin cells, and promote the growth of new skin cells, according to Dr. Geria.
Or, just jot down these five products that Dr. Geri recommends on your shopping list for an even faster checkout. All of them are acne-friendly and—better yet—$30 or less.
Bioré, Daily Purifying Cleanser — $7.00
For a deep-cleaning cleanser, Dr. Geria says you can’t go wrong with Bioré’s Daily Purifying Cleanser. A double-duty product, it’s infused with natural charcoal—a key ingredient in drawing out skin impurities—and hints of rose quartz to penetrate the pores, dig out buildup, and detoxify acne-prone skin. Ideal for all skin types, the Bioré Face Wash cleanses your skin without stripping it of essential oils. Plus, it’s unscented, vegan, and cruelty-free.
Elf, Putty Primer — $12.00
Elf’s Putty Primer does more than just cover up pimples—It can prevent future breakouts, too, says Dr. Geria. “It contains 1.8 percent salicylic acid, zinc, and kaolin, which are all good acne defenders,” he says. Creamy in consistency, the primer is easy to apply and quells signs of inflammation upon first swipe. It also doubles as a grippy primer, keeping makeup in place all day while soothing irritated skin. For just $12, it’s an effective and cost-friendly multitasker worth a spot in your cosmetic bag.
Mighty Patch, The Original — $11.00
The saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover” holds true for the Mighty Patch. Small on the outside, these hydrocolloid-infused stickers deliver a “mighty” impact, flattening and shrinking zits and pimples in a matter of hours. “The ingredient is a medical grade gel that gently absorbs and traps dirt and grime,” explains Dr. Geria. Weirdly satisfying, you can see the product doing all the work when the gunk comes out. The pack of 24 is unscented, which is ideal for most skin types, including people with oily, combination, and acne-prone skin. Slap one on and say goodbye to popping and picking because these patches will absorb your blemishes in no time.
La Roche-Posay, Acne Treatment 3-Step Treatment Kit — $30.00
For a holistic approach to acne treatment, Dr. Geria recommends La Roche-Posay’s Acne Treatment. “This kit contains a 3-step treatment that has a medicated gel cleanser with two-percent salicylic acid, a clarifying solution with two-percent glycolic acid, and a final step with 5.5-percent micronized benzoyl peroxide,” says Dr. Geria. The salicylic acid keeps pimples and zits at arm’s length, and is suitable for acne-prone and oily skin.
Rosen Skincare, Moisturizer — $21.00
Transport yourself to the tropics with this pineapple-scented cream. It’s infused with a combination of kojic acid, pineapple enzymes, and hyaluronic acid that hydrate skin, fade dark spots, and prevent discoloration as a result of pimples and zits. And when you purchase a jar, you’re directly supporting a Black-owned business.
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