An Honest Review of Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion for Pimples

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products. Healthcare professionals review articles for medical accuracy. Learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Mario Badescu Drying Lotion

mario badescu drying lotion

Byrdie / Bianca Lambert

What we like
  • Made with zit-zapping ingredients

  • It treats one spot at a time

  • It helped make pimples smaller overnight

  • It comes in a glass bottle

What we don't like
  • Can potentially over-dry certain skin types

If you're looking to zap a zit (or two) fast without irritation, buy Mario Badescu's Drying Lotion.


Mario Badescu Drying Lotion

mario badescu drying lotion

Byrdie / Bianca Lambert

We put Mario Badescu's Drying Lotion to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review. 

Another day, another self-induced breakout. If you've read any of my previous reviews, you know that I have sensitive, reactive skin. Even with that knowledge, I still find myself somehow overdoing it with exfoliation. This skincare no-no then causes my skin to react with angry whiteheads, typically on my cheeks and jawline where I get my hormonal breakouts. I imagine the blemishes that pop up would eventually show themselves. However, once my skin is irritated, it gets dry, loses its luster, and is sensitive to the touch. 

Even if I haven't found the perfect cadence to prevent over-exfoliation, I know that following up my heavy-handed practices with drying masks or cleansers just makes matters worse. But, the lingering whiteheads bug me. For this reason, I am on the hunt for a spot treatment I can use only on the active pimples that stubbornly stay for up to two weeks.

Read on for my experience using the highly-recommended Mario Badescu Drying Lotion on my skin.

Meet the Expert

Morgan Rabach is a board-certified dermatologist, the co-founder of LM Medical in New York City, and a media expert on all things skin. She’s also an Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

mario badescu drying lotion

Best For: Drying up surface pimples overnight

Potential Allergens: No

Active Ingredients: Salicylic Acid, sulfur, and calamine 

Clean?: Yes

Price: $17

About the Brand: In 1967, Mario Badescu—a cosmetic chemist and aesthetician—founded the namesake brand. The brand is best known for its signature facials and product line. 

About My Skin: Sensitive with reactive breakouts and hyperpigmentation 

My skin is its own person— well, the epidermis. As I work to get to know my skin better, it does tell me a lot. For starters, it dislikes most physical exfoliators and foaming cleansers. My skin also hates when I overdo it on trying out new products; it likes routine. As long as I stick with my skincare regimen of a cream cleanser, a toner (only at night), vitamin C, retinol, and the occasional post-chemical exfoliating face oil—I'm in good shape. 

mario badescu drying lotion

Byrdie / Bianca Lambert

The Feel & Smell: Like a clay face mask 

At first glance, the pink clay-like drying lotion settled at the bottom of the bottle. It screamed messy treatment.

When placing my Q-tip in the bottle, the pink lotion grabbed onto the cotton and didn’t drip or budge.

Once applied, the bubble gum pink mix dried down like a clay mask. The lotion does have a smell, but it would not prevent me from using this as a spot treatment.

mario badescu drying lotion

Byrdie / Bianca Lambert

The Packaging: Glass and recyclable 

The small bottle comes in both a glass and plastic option. I found the packaging easy to use and mess-free. One thing to keep in mind when using the drying lotion is you'll need to supply your own q-tip. I love this design because there's no double-dipping.

The Results: Stayed on overnight and shrunk my active whiteheads

I applied a few dots of lotion to my blemishes after completing my nightly routine. Because I use retinol at night, I skipped it on the areas I was spot treating. When I woke up the next morning, there was a little hint of pink on my pillow. I am a wild sleeper, which is probably why I woke up to subtle pink residue, but the spot treatment was still intact.

As someone who has tried many products, I don't believe in overnight skincare miracles. However, I believe in treatments that make the skin better over time, and this is one of them. Did my pimples magically disappear overnight? No. But, my spots were much smaller and a lot less irritated. That is a double-win in my book. 

To coincide with this spot treatment, board-certified dermatologist Morgan Rabach recommends benzoyl peroxide washes and Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) which will help take out dark spots leftover from acne.

mario badescu drying lotion

Byrdie / Bianca Lambert

The Ingredients: Breakout fighting ingredients 

With two key acne-fighting ingredients—salicylic acid and sulfur— and soothing ingredient calamine— this spot treatment is ready to take care of surface breakouts. For starters, salicylic acid is a BHA that penetrates the skin breaking up and dissolving dead skin cells. While the BHA breaks up the gunk under the skin, sulfur dries out blemishes, fights bacteria, and promotes exfoliation. Finally, calamine (zinc oxide and 0.5% iron oxide) soothes. 

"The drying lotion contains salicylic acid which helps dry up acne and sulfur and zinc which are both anti-inflammatory and take the redness out," says Rabach. "However, if used on a big surface area of the face, it can lead to flaking and increased sensitivity."

The Value: It's worth it 

Having a zit-zapping pink skincare superhero on call in the bathroom cabinet is never a bad idea, especially one that is tried-and-true formulated with ingredients proven to stop pimples in their tracks. This product requires minimal application for results, and I imagine you'd only need to replace this once or twice a year. 

mario badescu drying lotion

Byrdie / Bianca Lmabert

Similar Products: At a range of prices 

Kate Somerville EradiKate Acne Treatment ($26): Formulated with 10% sulfur, this acne spot treatment reduces redness and inflammation in two days, according to the brand.

Bye Bye Blemish for Acne Drying Lotion ($9): This drugstore overnight spot treatment is made with maximum strength salicylic acid and 10% sulfur. 

Final Verdict

Mario Badescu's Drying Lotion does just what it says: stops pimples in their tracks and calms them at the same time. I'd say that's worth the investment.


  • Product Name Drying Lotion
  • Product Brand Mario Badescu
  • UPC 785364130081
  • Price $17.00
  • Weight 1 oz.
  • Best for Acne-prone skin types
  • Ingredients Isopropyl Alcohol, Aqua (Water,Eau), Calamine, Camphor, Sulfur, Resorcinol, Salicylic Acid, Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Talc, Glycerin
Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Decker A, Graber EM. Over-the-counter acne treatments: a reviewJ Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2012;5(5):32-40.

Related Stories