Philosophy Clear Days Ahead Fast-Acting Salicylic Acid Acne Spot Treatment ($18)Dab this product on the affected area to knock out a pimple fast--it kills bacteria and packs a maximum strength amount: 2% salicylic acid.
Neutrogena Rapid Clear On-the-Go Acne Treatment Pen ($10)A portable solution to use at the first sign of a zit, this pen packs 0.5% salicylic acid, so it's good for multiple applications.
Murad Acne Treatment Concealer ($21)In an ideal world a zit would only appear at night, and thus, be treated in private. But when a blemish appears during the day, try layering a medicated concealer over affected areas. This one has 2% salicylic acid and doesn't get dry or cake-y.
Benefit Cosmetics Boo Boo Zap! Medicated Acne Treatment ($16)Thanks to its low amount of salicylic acid (0.5%), this can be used on ultra-sensitive skin. It reduces redness and swelling around the pimple and can actually help it heal, too.
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Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment ($8)A tried-and-true staple in the fight against zits is Clean & Clear, and for a good reason. This is a no-frills, 2% formula that will reduce blemish size quickly and effectively.
There may be thousands of products swearing to zap your zits, but there's one ingredient at the heart of many that's actually doing the work: salicylic acid. Your first encounter with the ingredient was probably around age 13; now it's a mainstay in your medicine cabinet. But what does it actually do? Do you need 0.5% or 2%? How often can you use it? We checked with an expert, dermatologist Dr. Murad, to get the answers and picked out a few of our favorite salicylic acid-based formulas, below.