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9 best spot treatments for banishing blemishes fast

Tackle unwanted acne with hardworking ingredients and gentle formulas

<p>Salicylic acid is one of the best-performing ingredients to help clear up your complexion</p>

Salicylic acid is one of the best-performing ingredients to help clear up your complexion

Whether you have breakouts every time you get your period, or experience spots sporadically, there’s one thing we can all agree on – we want to get rid of them fast.

Inflamed, red, sore and often painful, spots are a common skin bugbear, but luckily there are a host of hardworking ingredients at our disposal to treat and prevent them.

Salicylic acid is one of the best-performing ingredients for dissolving clogged pores, while niacinamide is also a popular choice, thanks to how it is said to support the skin barrier and reduce inflammation.

Read more:

How we tested

We’ve been testing a number of targeted spot treatments for weeks to find the best money can buy. We examined each on how quickly they reduced the size, redness and inflammation of spots, while taking into account a variety of budgets and their ability to prevent future breakouts. Ranging from spot stickers, rollerball serums and cooling gels to calming creams, these are the ones we rated above the rest.

The best spot treatments for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Dots for Spots acne patches: £13.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for sensitive skin – Ameliorate blemish overnight clearing therapy: £12, Cultbeauty.co.uk
  • Best overnight spot treament – Origins super spot remover blemish treatment gel: £13.20, Lookfantastic.com
  • Best sulphur spot treatment – Vichy Normaderm SOS anti-blemish sulphur paste: £17, Boots.com
  • Best for hormonal acne – La Roche-Posay effaclar A.I. breakout corrector: £12.50, Boots.com
  • Best for fast healing  – Murad rapid relief spot treatment: £21, Lookfantastic.com
  • Best spot patches – ZitSticka killa patches: £27, Cultbeauty.co.uk
  • Best for preventing breakouts – Kate Somerville eradikate blemish treatment: £24, Spacenk.com
  • Best spot sticker – Starface hydro-stars spot stickers kit: £11.99, Superdrug.com

Dots for Spots acne patches

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

These fast-acting, blemish-busting hydrocolloid patches exceeded our expectations and they’re a great affordable alternative to the pricier spot patches on the market. Our reviewer is constantly battling with hormonal acne, particularly on the chin area, so we tried the pack of 60 and since first using them three months ago, have barely made it halfway through the pack.

They’re small, circular, translucent stickers with a strong but not damaging adhesive and we found it best to apply them before bed. They work brilliantly on whiteheads – after a few hours worn on inflamed cysts and whiteheads, the size of spots was dramatically reduced as they drew the fluid from them and healed within a few days rather than weeks. Once removed, the only sign of a spot left was a very slight lingering redness. They don’t budge once applied and are vegan and fragrance-free too.

Ameliorate blemish overnight clearing therapy

Best: For sensitive skin

Rating: 8/10

This is an upgrade to your typical sulphur paste, which typically can be very drying. Ameliorate has created a formula with lactic acid, niacinamide and willow bark extract to decongest and reduce redness. The minute tip means it’s easy to apply just the right amount and it’s a thick, opaque texture which stays on the spot without dripping down your face. While we found it best to apply before bed, as it’s not designed to be worn beneath makeup and is too obvious to wear to the office, make sure you apply it 15 mins before you hit the pillow to avoid any mess.

Origins super spot remover blemish treatment gel

Best: Overnight spot treatment

Rating: 7/10

This longstanding cult favourite has a unique gel texture and is clear, so if you did want to apply it during the day it wouldn’t be visible at all. Containing salicylic acid and saw palmetto, it works to prevent and treat blemishes by removing excess oil and impurities. We like how easy it was to spread across skin as it helped tackle bigger breakouts which weren’t confined to just one spot, but rather scattered across areas like our chin or foreheads. There’s a slight tingle on application and within a few days, angry, sore and red blemishes were smaller and less irritated.

Vichy Normaderm SOS anti-blemish sulphur paste

Best: Sulphur spot treatment

Rating: 8/10

When you think of typical sulphur pastes, it conjures up a terrible scent, with a heavy mixture that’s difficult to remove without tugging on the skin with a wet flannel. Vichy’s version is much more user-friendly, with no scent, and dispensing the perfect amount for one application.

Along with sulphur, it contains niacinamide and glycolic acid and efficiently soaks up excess oil and pus to encourage spots to heal quicker. It does a great job at getting rid of emerging spots before they have time to get bigger or become sore, so while it’s not going to get rid of your spots overnight, it does noticeably reduce their impact.

La Roche-Posay effaclar A.I. breakout corrector

Best: For hormonal acne

Rating: 9/10

We loved the cream-based texture of this, which felt like rubbing in moisturiser, with no tingling effect or stickiness once dry. It’s part of La Roche-Posay’s brilliant effaclar range, designed to treat acne-prone skin, and the tube feels generous as only a small amount needs to be applied. It’s good if you have an area with multiple breakouts – we found it did a great job on hormonal acne on our chin, on clusters of stubborn spots. It’s not quite as fast-acting as others we tried, but with regular use, applied twice a day to cleansed skin, it’s a good one to keep on hand if you regularly experience breakouts.

Murad rapid relief spot treatment

Best: Overall

Rating: 9/10

This fast-acting gel gave transformative results in hours and we constantly reached for it as soon as a breakout hit. There’s an ever-so-slight tingle when put onto the skin, but it absorbs quickly and can be applied as many times as you need. We found it particularly effective when put on just before bed, as the salicylic acid, pine and thyme extract formula got to work at reducing redness, the size of a blemish and taking away the uncomfortable sting from inflamed skin. It dries down quickly, but, as it’s a gel, it’s clear and therefore leaves no trace.

ZitSticka killa patches

Best: Spot patches

Rating: 9/10

While it’s easy to dismiss spot patches as nothing more than a gimmick, we can confirm these do a spectacular job at reducing the size and redness of a blemish. One kit comes with eight patches and eight salicylic wipes, which you use to clean the area before applying the circular stickers.

Designed to be worn for six hours to get the most benefits, we wore them through Zoom calls, Facetimes and overnight. They’re discreet and very comfortable – you quickly forget you’re wearing them. The next morning, or six hours later, we saw a noticeable difference in the size of our blemish, especially larger cysts, which is an impressive feat for a sticker with less than 1cm diameter. They didn’t slip once and stayed on even when we splashed our face with water.

Each one is packed with hyaluronic acid, salicylic acid, niacinamide and sodium hydroxide, which, combined, create a cocktail of skin-soothing, blemish busting and calming ingredients.

Kate Somerville eradikate blemish treatment

Best: For preventing breakouts

Rating: 8/10

This is your classic spot-drying treatment. The solution is a watery pink, but settled at the bottom of the glass bottle is a paste, then once applied to a spot using a cotton bud, it absorbs fluid and pus from a blemish. It dries almost instantly and then hours later, fades to an off-white colour, so it works best when used before bed and washed off in the morning. It won’t get mess on your sheets, however, nor will it drip down your face. Thanks to a formula packed with 10 per cent sulphur, zinc oxide and salicylic acid, it not only tackles blemishes head-on, it also absorbs excess sebum to prevent future breakouts.

Starface hydro-stars spot stickers kit

Best: Spot sticker

Rating: 8/10

Loved by Caroline Hirons and Hailey Bieber, these fun yellow star-shaped stickers are an effective tool for ensuring you don’t pick or squeeze spots – which, FYI, will only make them more inflamed and harder to heal. These hydrocolloid patches work by drawing out fluid from the affected area, stopping bacteria getting in and preventing you from touching your face too much.

Starface recommends you leave them on for six hours – we wore one overnight as well as during the day working from home. In each pod there are 32 stars, so you’ll always have a plentiful supply, and they’re so weightless you’ll forget you’re wearing them.

Read our full review of Starface hydro-stars spot stickers kit

The verdict: Spot treatments

The top spot goes to Dots for Spots acne patches for their ease of use and impressively fast results. We saw an immediate reduction in size and redness after wearing them once, you get plenty of use out of a pack of 60 and they’re easily accessible with next-day delivery on Amazon. 

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