There's acne, and then there's cystic acne. And if you've ever suffered from one (or a million) of the painful, under-the-skin blemishes we're talking about, then you know all too well that it requires measures far more extreme than the typical whitehead, blackhead, or surface-level bump does. This is because, unlike your average pimple, cystic acne is rooted deep beneath the skin and most likely caused by something environmental or internal, making OTC and topical treatments almost useless. The good news is that there are plenty of treatments that can tackle those painful, pulsing pimples (sometimes even before they start!), you've just got to find the right ones. Lucky for you, we've rounded up the Top 10 products for cystic acne on the market below, all backed by user reviews, best-seller lists, editorial mentions, and more. From miracle-working cleansers to super affordable spot treatments, keep scrolling to shop the products that are guaranteed to beat your biggest, baddest blemishes. Opening image: @differinus
Did you like our 10 Best Cystic Acne Treatments? Check out our 10 Best Serums For Acne for more top-ranked finds!
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Obagi CLENZIderm M.D. Daily Care Foaming Cleanser
WHY YOU NEED IT: Salicylic acid is a BHA that helps remove excess oil, slough off dead skin cells, and dry out pimples, making it an excellent addition to any acne routine. Using a cleanser formulated with the powerhouse ingredient is an easy way to incorporate it into your regimen without adding too many steps.
HELPFUL TIP: Because salicylic acid can cause dryness, we suggest using this cleanser only once daily until your skin adjusts.
Renee Rouleau Anti Bump Solution
WHAT IT DOES: Most acne spot treatments merely treat surface blemishes, but this one is specially formulated to tackle those painful, under-the-skin bumps you can't see. When used immediately upon discovering a new cyst, most users experienced a 50% quicker recovery.
BEST FOR: For cysts that are bad enough to need a cortisone shot, try this first—you won't be disappointed.
Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion
WHY WE LOVE IT: "I've tried tons of products for my cystic acne, from harsh, skin-burning retinol to new birth control. This is the one thing that really tackled those deep, invisible cysts, and I literally saw the results overnight. It also costs just $19, which is far less than similar products I've seen."
LOVED FOR: Formulated with a blend of B vitamins and amino acids, you won't find any scary, skin-drying ingredients in this product.
Murad Rapid Relief Acne Spot Treatment
WHAT IT DOES: Murad's game-changing spot treatment will reduce blemish size and redness in as little as four hours. No need to cancel your plans tonight.
HELPFUL TIP: Feel free to wear it under your makeup—it won't pill or peel.
Clinique Acne Solutions Clinical Clearing Gel
BEST FOR: A cost-friendly alternative to a leading topical prescription
USERS SAID: “This product has to be one of the best beauty products I've ever used. I apply it as a spot treatment at night to any blemishes that pop up, and by morning, they are gone. To this day, I'm still blown away by it.”
Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Face Wash
WHY YOU NEED IT: Benzoyl peroxide works by killing acne-causing bacteria deep within the skin, which is why it's such a no-brainer for cystic bumps. This one from Neutrogena rings up under $10, and trust us—the results are worth way more.
HELPFUL TIP: Try combining this with a salicylic acid spot treatment. Because the two ingredients tackle acne in different ways, using them together can produce some serious skin-clearing results.
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Acne Treatment
WHY YOU NEED IT: Mild to moderate acne-prone skin, meet your match in this dual action blemish treatment that reduces breakouts in 3 days without causing irritation.
WHAT IT DOES: Micro-exfoliating LHA evens out skin texture to give you clear, blemish-free skin.