If you’re like the vast majority of men, you had acne as a teenager. Those pimples were just another obstacle in surviving the Awkward Years, but, fortunately, you survived.
Then again, acne isn’t just for adolescents. Men of all ages experience acne breakouts, although the chances of getting them tend to decrease with age. But if you’re a man – or male teen – who suffers from acne, we’re here to help.
In this post, we’ll discuss the best acne treatment for men, including the highly-regarded Tiege Hanley Daily Moisturizing Acne Cream.
We’ll discuss various types of acne, their causes, and how to get the most from your treatment.
Table of Contents
Before you buy: A couple of things you need to consider when purchasing acne treatment
There are a few things to keep in mind while you’re choosing an acne treatment that’s right for you – including the fact that acne is not the same for every man. In other words, there’s not one right way of treating acne that works for everyone.
For starters, it’s important to identify your skin type: is it normal, dry, oily, or a combination of two of them? Additionally, there are different ways in which acne manifests on your skin: pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, cystic acne, and acne scars.
Perhaps more importantly, however, you need to know what type of acne you have (and we’ll delve deeper into acne types later):
- Cystic Acne – the most severe type
- Inflammatory Acne – can range from mild to moderate in severity
- Comedonal Acne – the mildest form of acne
If you’re buying an over-the-counter acne treatment, you’ll notice several common ingredients, including:
1. Benzoyl Peroxide
Benzoyl peroxide kills the bacteria that cause acne while removing excess oil and dead skin cells which may clog pores. Benzoyl peroxide ranges in strength from 2.5% to 10% in OTC products.
2. Salicylic acid
Salicylic acid keeps pores unplugged and ranges in strength from 0.5% to 5% in OTC treatments. It may cause mild stinging and skin irritation.
3. Alpha hydroxy acids
There are two types of alpha hydroxy acids used in non-prescription acne products: glycolic acid and lactic acid. Both types treat acne by removing dead skin cells and reducing inflammation. They also stimulate skin growth and smoother skin.
Sulfur is another ingredient in OTC acne products that removes dead skin cells and excess oil. It’s often combined with other ingredients, such as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide.
The question is: which ingredients are right for you and your type of acne? Here are some things to consider:
- If you’re still unsure, choose a product with benzoyl peroxide. Most people tolerate benzoyl peroxide (without side effects) and even a lower strength – in the 2.5 range – is effective for many people.
- Start with lower strength products to minimize the redness, dry skin, and clogged pores caused by acne. Slowly increase the strength of your product and how often you use it, until the treatment proves effective.
- Combine products and ingredients. You may find it helpful to use products with different ingredients to treat stubborn acne symptoms. You even could use one product in the morning and a different one at night, and don’t be afraid to experiment until you find a product (and ingredient) that works for you.
As mentioned, we’ll discuss types of acne and treatments a bit later in this post, but let’s first take a look at our choices for the best men’s acne treatment products.
The 6 best acne treatments for men 2019
If there’s one thing to be said about Tiege Hanley, it’s that it has you covered for all of your facial skin needs. From face wash to moisturizer and eye serum, Tiege Hanley offers something for every inch of your facial skin.
Its long list of products includes a kick-ass acne cream that will keep the redness and swelling under control while preventing future breakouts.
Tiege Hanley employs a chemist – known only as “The Chemist” – who formulates all of its products. According to TH, The Chemist is a firm believer that diet and excessive face-washing don’t clear up acne but that a topical treatment makes all the difference. Tiege Hanley’s acne cream is infused with salicylic acid, which helps shed the top layer of skin cells
It also reduces the side effects of acne and blackheads while incorporating a moisturizing formula that helps minimize dryness.
The Tiege Hanley acne cream also works by fighting bacteria that lead to breakouts while also unclogging pores. It even helps reduce the appearance of acne scars while preventing future breakouts.
Other key ingredients in the Tiege Hanley acne cream are plantain extract and KuKui Nut oil. Plantain extract helps accelerate wound healing while also helping the skin to regenerate. It also reduces the chances of scarring. KuKui Nut oil helps to moisturize skin while also protecting it without clogging pores.
- Helps unclog pores
- Reduces acne scars
- Limits acne breakouts
- Perhaps not as good for dry, sensitive skin
Tiege Hanley is a company devoted to men’s skin care – particularly facial skin. Their commitment is evident in their acne cream, a product designed to keep breakouts, scars, and clogged pores to a minimum.
Let’s add another critical ingredient to our list of acne-fighters: tretinoin. Unlike some other acne treatments, which are considered cosmetics, rather than medications, tretinoin is a powerful medication that improves the appearance and health of your skin by increasing cell turnover.
We mention tretinoin because it’s a key ingredient in the hims Acne Kit – which is available to hims subscribers at a fraction of the cost you’d pay for a doctor’s prescription.
Tretinoin is, indeed, powerful stuff and comes in several strengths. In the U.S., the most potent tretinoin cream available contains .1% tretinoin, while the weakest is .005%. As with most medications, the stronger the cream, the more significant the results.
And it does work, both as an acne treatment and, as one study showed, as a treatment for aging’s effects on the skin, such as wrinkles and skin discoloration.
The hims Acne Kit also contains vitamin B3 and clindamycin, an antibiotic that treats many bacterial infections, including acne. It comes in a cream form that you apply every morning on clean skin and then every other evening (before you use other facial skin products).
The Acne Kit is effective in that it stops propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) from reproducing while decreasing the inflammation associated with acne. It also increases cellular turnover in the skin to leave it feeling healthy and new while preventing whiteheads, blackheads, and other skin lesions associated with acne.
You’ll need to practice patience with acne treatments that contain tretinoin, but many users say the wait is worth it, considering the results. Generally, it takes up to six months, but often less, to notice results from tretinoin. Note: you may experience a slight increase in acne in the first couple of weeks of use, but it’s only temporary as your body adjusts to the medicine.
Tretinoin is a long-term product that is typically safe enough to use for a couple of years, if not more.
- Powerful acne fighter that also helps treat aging skin
- Proven results
- Good for long-term use
- May experience dry, flaky skin at first
The hims Acne Kit packs a powerful punch that stops acne in its tracks and continues to stop it for the long-term. You’ll like its results.
Neutrogena is a big name when it comes to men’s skincare. While tradition and reputation don’t necessarily guarantee a great product, Neutrogena’s Men Skin Clearing Acne Wash delivers on its promise of reducing acne breakouts.
Besides, Neutrogena is the number-one-rated OTC skincare brand (as rated by dermatologists) in the U.S., so it must be doing something right. That said, what do we like about its Men Skin Clearing Acne Wash?
First, the key ingredient in this acne wash is salicylic acid, which keeps pores unplugged by removing oil and dirt trapped in them. It not only treats your current breakouts but helps prevent them from happening again in the future.
There’s a lot more to like, as well, including its gentle formula that doesn’t irritate skin – and even softens facial hair before shaving. The folks at Neutrogena are mindful of the fact that men’s skin is of a different texture than women’s skin and formulates their treatment options accordingly.
Another thing we like is that Neutrogena’s Men Skin Clearing Acne Wash is designed to prevent future breakouts. Yes, you’ll need to use it daily and over a long period, but you will see results. It clarifies your skin while minimizing breakouts before they become too extensive. Oh, it’s also paraben-free, which we always like.
The Men Skin Clearing Acne Wash comes with a convenient pump that’s travel-friendly and unlocks very easily.
- Unclogs plugged pores
- Clarifies skin
- Good for long-term use
- Some reviews say it’s too drying
Neutrogena’s Skin Clearing Acne Wash is a no-nonsense, proven acne treatment. It clarifies skin while minimizing breakouts. Moreover, it softens facial hair before shaving.
Fact: some men have oilier skin than others. For that matter, so do some teenagers and women, but the point is that men with oily skin causing their acne should seek treatments specific to their skin. That’s where a product such as Kiehl’s Men’s Oil Eliminator Deep Cleansing Exfoliating Wash comes into play.
Kiehl’s number one option for men’s acne treatment has men with oily skin in mind. When used daily, the Deep Cleansing Exfoliating Face Wash removes excess oil, sweat, and other grime to A) clean pores and B) reduce the shine that comes with oily skin. As its name suggests, the Deep Cleansing Face Wash also removes dead skin cells to leave your skin smooth and refreshed.
The key ingredients in Kiehl’s face wash are salicylic acid, argan shells, and apricot seeds. Salicylic acid works to unplug clogged pores, while apricot seeds and argan shells handle the exfoliating process. It’s a formula that packs a punch but is still suitable for sensitive skin, plus it’s paraben and sulfate-free.
Kiehl’s understands that dealing with oily skin is often a challenge, but their Deep Cleansing Exfoliating Wash provides maximum oil control that few other, if any, products can match.
- Ideal for oily skin
- Exfoliates and protects
- Leaves skin feeling smooth without irritation
- May overly dry skin
If oily skin is your issue, Kiehl’s has the solution with its Deep Cleansing Exfoliating Face Wash. It tames excess oil and other skin problems that may lead to acne.
Treating acne is often complicated, but Via Naturelle believes it has simplified the process with its Acne Treatment Pills Supplement. How? By including 29 acne-fighting ingredients that work together to take on all the problems caused by mild to moderate acne.
Even better, the ingredients are natural, and you don’t need to worry about harsh chemicals interacting with your skin. That’s a problem with some acne treatments: treatments that may have unpleasant side effects or even cause your acne to worsen.
That said, let’s take a look at some of the ingredients found in Vie Naturelle’s Acne Treatment Pills:
- Vitamins A, C, D, and E
- Vitamin B12
All of the above help keep skin healthy while fighting acne from the inside out of your skin’s pores. They also help heal skin by replenishing important nutrients that make your skin look and feel healthy.
Vie Naturelle’s supplement also heals blemishes while preventing future breakouts, restores and soothes dry skin, and restores the natural balance of skin while fighting acne. Again, its unique combination of vitamins, minerals, and herbs fights acne without damaging the skin.
It also produces results quickly, as many users report healthier skin after only two weeks of taking Vie Naturelle’s Acne Treatment Pills.
- Several powerful acne-fighting ingredients in one supplement
- Helps heal and soothe skin
- The pills are large and hard to swallow for some
Vie Naturalle’s packs several acne-fighting and skin-replenishing ingredients into one powerful supplement. It not only stops acne from forming but also repairs the damage caused by it.
Because acne is more common in adolescent males than adults, we’d be remiss in not mentioning the best acne treatment for teenage guys.
And while there are a lot of contenders out there, we think the Acne Facial Cleanser by Exposed Skin Care is at the top of the list. It’s not just a product for teenagers, however, as many men – and women – have used it with good results.
The theory behind Exposed Skin Care’s acne treatment is that clean skin means clear skin. Their acne facial cleanser provides a deep but gentle cleansing of facial skin that’s soap-free, non-comedogenic, and hypoallergenic. It removes oil and dirt from your face and penetrates your pores while eliminating acne-causing bacteria. Furthermore, it maintains your skin’s lipid layer while helping to keep skin smooth.
The folks at Exposed Skin Care recommend using their acne facial cleanser in conjunction with their Acne Treatment Serum. The two products work best when used twice a day to provide an extra kick in clearing and preventing acne blemishes.
While many deep cleansing products contain harsh, irritating ingredients, the Acne Facial Cleanser by Exposed Skin Care is sulfate and paraben-free. If you buy their 60-day basic kit, you’ll get the facial cleanser and Acne Treatment Serum, as well as their Clearing Tonic that helps rejuvenate troubled skin.
But the Acne Facial Cleanser works well on its own and should replace harsher soaps if you suffer from acne. If you’re looking for a product that provides the kind of deep cleaning that keeps acne-causing bacteria away, then Exposed Skin Care’s product is for you. Many reviewers have tried other products without seeing the kind of results that they got with the Acne Facial Cleanser.
- Deep cleans your face
- Gentle yet strong enough to get rid of oil and dirt
- Great for teenagers
- May cause excessive drying of the skin
Clean skin promotes clear skin, and Exposed Skin Care’s Acne Facial Cleanser provides the deep cleansing that you need if you struggle with acne.
Getting the most out of your acne treatments
It’s important to understand a few rules of the road before beginning any acne treatment. Here are some things to keep in mind.
1. Be consistent
Clearing acne means being consistent in your treatments. Make it a point to not skip days or doses, and, if possible, apply your treatment at the same time each day to help you remember. Also, leave your acne treatment container where you can see it. You don’t want it to become “out of sight, out of mind”.
2. Popping pimples
Keep your hands to yourself! Popping and picking at pimples prolongs healing time while increasing the risk of scarring. Furthermore, picking pimples drives infected material deeper into the skin.
3. Don’t use too much medication
Slathering on excess amounts of your treatment product won’t heal your acne any faster. Instead, too much product causes drying, irritation, peeling, and redness.
4. Don’t look for a quick fix
Who doesn’t want their acne to clear up overnight? The problem is, there is no quick-fix for getting rid of acne – no matter what the late-night TV hucksters tell you.
5. Stick with it
This point is related to #4 above, i.e., skin often reacts slowly to treatment. Acne may come on fast – seemingly overnight, in some cases – but it won’t heal that quickly. Don’t give up on your treatment if you don’t get immediate results.
6. Beware of scrubbing and cleansing too vigorously
Washing your facial skin is recommended, of course, but over-scrubbing and cleansing it may worsen the problem. Gently wash your face with a pH-balanced cleanser that lessens inflammation while adding moisture to the skin.
7. Stopping treatment when acne is gone
Keep in mind that OTC acne treatments don’t “cure” acne. They do a good job of controlling symptoms, including breakouts, but your pimples will return if you quit using your treatment once your skin is clear. Accutane, a type of treatment we’ll look at a bit later, is something of an exception, but not everyone can use it.
Acne: Types & treatments
We’ve touched briefly on the types of acne, but it’s time for a more in-depth look, as well as a rundown of various treatment options.
- Comedonal acne
Comedonal is the mildest type of acne and doesn’t cause painful swelling or inflammation in most cases. It usually manifests as blackheads or whiteheads on the skin. Blackheads occur when dirt and germs under the skin’s pores cause the skin to appear dark. Males going through puberty, as well as young adults, will experience some form of comedonal acne in their lives. It also may occur because of allergic reactions to skin or hair products, but most acne lesions, such as whiteheads and blackheads, occur because of a hard blockage of excess sebum in skin pores.
- Inflammatory acne
Inflammatory acne is evident by swelling and redness under the blocked pore. It often forms nodules (swollen, painful, and sizable bumps), pustules (common pimples), and papules (small reddish blemishes).
- Cystic acne
Cystic is the most severe form of acne and consists of painful, inflamed breakouts which leave scars. It’s usually the result of infections in the skin, and many OTC products and home remedies will exacerbate symptoms. Visit a dermatologist if you have cystic acne.
It’s safe to say there are more types of treatment for acne than there are types of acne. From OTC medicines to home remedies to dermatologist-prescribed products, there are many ways to combat acne breakouts. We’ve talked primarily about over-the-counter products, but here are just a few other treatment options (as well as a look at acne’s causes – and myths).
- Accutane – Accutane works to reduce the size of the skin’s oil glands and, therefore, the amount of oil that they produce. It also slows down the rate at which the skin produces cells within the pore. Your acne may get worse during the early stages of Accutane treatment, but results are promising over the long haul. Accutane – also known as isotretinoin – was discovered in 1979 and is a vitamin A derivative. It’s administered in pill form and prescribed for up to 4 ½ months or more, depending on the strength of dosage.
- Photodynamic therapy – Photodynamic therapy is a relative newcomer to the world of acne treatment. Often reserved for moderate to severe acne because of the seriousness of the procedure and the downtime required following each treatment, photodynamic therapy reduces the size of sebaceous glands that produce oil. However, permanently reducing your skin’s sebum output may have long-term consequences because of sebum’s positive qualities, such as helping the skin to retain moisture and fighting bacteria.
- Chemical peels – Professionally-administered (don’t try it at home) chemical peels involve the use of acids to remove superficial areas of the skin. The strength of chemical peels varies from treatment to treatment but work best on people with lighter skin, because the acids used in the peel may cause darkening of the skin. It’s imperative that you talk with a dermatologist before using chemical peels for acne treatment if you have darker skin. The good news, however, is that people with darker skin can use OTC products that contain the same chemicals used in chemical peels (but at a lower percentage).
- Laser treatments – Laser treatment often is effective for treating light-to-moderate acne while showing potential for use in treating more severe breakouts. The light used in laser therapy works to kill bacteria that may cause acne. Laser therapy also may lower sebum levels and even may reduce inflammation.
- Light therapy – Light therapy uses non-laser sources of light that help prevent everyday pimples and pustules. More severe acne lesions don’t respond as well to light therapy, however. Light therapy has lower potential side effects than some treatments and also is relatively affordable. While it produces results, light therapy will not clear acne completely.
- Cortisone shots – One of cortisone’s function is to fight inflammation, and cortisone often is injected directly into inflamed areas to provide relief. Many patients have experienced immediate benefits after cortisone is injected into an acne lesion. Dermatologists regularly use cortisone shots to treat skin inflammation.
- Home remedies – Let’s not forget home remedy treatments for acne – of which there are plenty. For instance, many people have tried lemon juice, an excellent antioxidant, thanks to its vitamin C. Some use baking soda paste, which kills bacteria and absorbs oil, while others use an oatmeal face mask, because oatmeal also absorbs excess oils from your skin. Other DIY treatments include a honey and cinnamon facial mask, green tea, and steam therapy.
3. Causes of acne
Some of us grew up with parents telling us to quit eating potato chips and other greasy foods, because they cause acne. Fact is, gobbling down chips and chicken wings will ruin a well-balanced diet, but they won’t cause you to break out in pimples. Stress, on the other hand, can contribute to acne’s formation, but a steady diet of junk food just gives you indigestion, among other potential health issues.
Another myth is that poor hygiene is a factor in acne’s formation. Dirty skin, however, doesn’t cause acne and, in fact, scrubbing the skin too hard with harsh soaps and chemicals can worsen the problem.
Biologically speaking, acne’s causes are traceable to genetic predisposition; if one of your parents had acne, the odds are better that you’ll get acne. It’s the same with male pattern baldness. Hormones also play a role in acne’s development.
Scientifically speaking, acne is a disorder of the sebaceous glands below the skin. The glands produce oil and may increase in size due to hormones, while skin cells may become sticky and block pores with acne-causing bacteria. As the bacteria increases, so does the appearance of acne on your skin.
As an aside, if you use supplements that contain steroids as part of your fitness or body-building routine, your chances of getting acne are increased.
4. Shaving with acne
- Use warm water and an anti-bacterial cleanser before you begin shaving. Doing so softens the pores and opens them up.
- Shaving creams or oils that contain tea tree oil help your razor glide more easily over the skin.
- Shave with the grain (i.e., the direction in which your hair grows).
- Wash your face thoroughly after shaving to remove excess oils and shaving cream.
- Avoid shaving too closely if your acne is extensive. Leave a short stubble instead.
How we chose the best men’s acne products
Acne treatments come with different ingredients and formulas, but our method for choosing the best acne products is hardly top-secret. As with all of our “best of” reviews, we looked for products that have plenty of positive reviews and a strong track record of delivering proven results over time. We ignore products that promise a quick-fix or aren’t backed by sound science. We like products with natural ingredients, but that didn’t determine our final choices. We think you’ll be well-served by the products listed here.
As always, we’d love your feedback and questions. Do you have a favorite acne treatment not mentioned here? Or, have you tried one of the products listed above? Let us know!
Until next time, friends.