College Beauty Awards: The All-Stars for Acne-Prone Skin

This is a sponsored feature. All opinions are 100% our own.

Isn’t it a fun feeling when your skincare routine leaves you on read? Students are constantly battling things that wreck skin in college, re: hormonal breakouts, stress pimples, dry patches when someone falls asleep with their makeup on again 👀. As such, university years require products that yield results quickly and gently, not ones that bail when your face feels like its erupting with adult acne. You don’t need that kind of stress in your life!

If you’re looking for solutions with clout, that are also kind to sensitive skin, you’re found the right place. Below are the moisturizers, masks, microdarts and more that college women swear by for treating everything from blackheads to stubborn maskne. And when in doubt, don’t forget to talk it out with your derm.

Stubborn Acne + Stubborn Marks


Neutrogena,, $25; shop now

Say hello to Neutrogena’s new OTP of skincare. This is a two-part system inspired by the #1 dermatologist recommended acne prescription. The AM formula tackles breakouts throughout the day with benzoyl peroxide, and the PM works on tough post-acne marks with retinol while you snooze. For best results, use ‘em together, and just wait for the skin glow up.

Clear Complexion Cleanser


Boscia,, $28; shop now

All hail this gentle, creamy cleanser! It makes quick work of clogged pores and deep cleans skin to keep blemishes away. For those of you who have struggled with acne for a long time and haven’t been able to find a results-driven daily cleanser, this just might be your ticket.

Clear Skin Cleansing Bar

Ulta Beauty

Urban Skin Rx,, $15; shop now

Some of you have never had your life simplified by a 3-in-1 product, and it shows. This sponge in a jar is actually a cleanser, mask and exfoliator. It’s delivers effective results for oily and acne-prone skin, and it’s the best-case scenario for folks who loathe spending a bunch of time washing their face.

Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Serum


Peace Out,, $34; shop now

Stans of Peace Out’s Acne Healing Dots collectively lost their minds when the brand released a new serum this year. So, let us be one of the first to tell you that this formula lives up to the hype. It clarifies skin without the extra dryness that often accompanies acne treatments, and its blemish-calming power is so potent.  

Oil-Free Acne Facial Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin


Neutrogena,, $10; shop now

Those of us with ultra-sensitive skin know how much of a struggle it can be to find a moisturizer that doesn’t send skin howling. (Truly, let’s cancel the mindset of “if it burns, it must be working.”) This hall-of-famer is designed to heal dry, angry skin and the redness it leaves behind, all using the most nourishing formula. It’s clean, light, and will make you feel oh-so soft.

Blemish Balm

OSEA Malibu

OSEA,, $48; shop now

Blemish Balm was an acne award winner in 2019, but students couldn’t let another year pass without the highest praise for this lightweight moisturizer. No, it doesn’t feel like much when you put it on. But the results speak for themselves, and it’s hard not to fall in love with the calming earthy scent. Bet.

Therapeutic Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask


Peter Thomas Roth,, $52; shop now

This maximum strength mask makes your zits go away — and they never come back again. Let us be frank: The mask absolutely slaps. It’s formulated with sulfur and clay, AKA a formidable combo that erases pores and works on even deep, painful kinds of acne.

Balance It All Essentials Set


Ole Henriksen,, $40; shop now

This system offers the most generous sizes and skin-loving formulas for when you need acne care on the go. Complete with the Find Your Balance Oil Control Cleanser, Balancing Force Oil Control, and the Counter Balance Oil Control Hydrator, it has all the essentials to maintain a fresh face while traveling.

Deep Blemish Microdarts

Peach Slices

Peach Slices,, $9; shop now

Pimple patches can be hit-or-miss (or just a sneaky way to cover up a huge zit during your Zoom class), but these patches by Peach Slices deserve tons of gold stars. The “microdarts” are tiny, self-dissolving darts saturated with ingredients that target whatever pimple you stick it on. No pain, just clear skin!

Effaclar Adapalene Gel 0.1%

Ulta Beauty

La Roche-Posay,, $30; shop now

This is the best prescription-strength retinoid out there that you don’t need a prescription before. When you need the tough stuff, use this address concerns like acne and textural issues, or fine lines and wrinkles if you’re already thinking about those things. You only need to apply a pea-sized amount to your whole face, and a little goes a long way.

Acnedote Maximum Strength Face & Body Scrub


Alba Botanica,, $6; shop now

Backne, oof. Body breakouts are a whole other realm of skincare, so we’re truly so grateful that this 2-in-1 scrub exists to do it all. The sandy texture sloughs oil and dirt away, acting tough on breakouts while leaving behind the smoothest skin ever.