affordable acne treatments

The Best Acne Treatments and Acne Products for All Skin Types

Regardless of your age, we know how frustrating acne can be. For those that suffer from moderate to severe chronic acne, you know all too well the disappointment you feel after trying yet another product that promised incredible results, only to have it do nothing for you. With shelves upon shelves of products claiming to zap zits and shrink pores, knowing which product to choose for your skin can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Luckily, our skin experts are here to share the best acne treatments (that actually work!).

Why does acne form?

But first, the basics. Simply put, acne is a result of hair follicles getting clogged with sebum (oil) and dead skin cells. When these follicles become clogged, they can develop an overgrowth of bacteria, thus causing acne. Since our entire body is covered with these tiny follicles, acne can appear anywhere and at any age. Aside from clogged pores, another common cause of acne can be an imbalance in your hormones.

What acne solution suits me best?

With there being multiple types of acne, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment plan. Our team of doctors and nurse practitioners are experts on skin care and can help you formulate a custom routine that fits your skin type using one, or a combination of, products that can cleanse and exfoliate the skin. They’ll also recommend different treatments for the skin issues you want to resolve. Below, we list some of the top products used to alleviate acne and maintain a cleaner, smoother face.

Salicylic acid

This powerhouse ingredient is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) and works by dissolving excess oil while gently exfoliating the skin. It also contains anti-inflammatory properties, making it a great option for most acne types, including those experiencing cystic breakouts. One thing to keep in mind is that, given the strength and nature of the ingredient, excessive use can lead to dry skin and mild irritation; it is wise to incorporate just one product containing the ingredient for daily use.

Glycolic acid

As an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), glycolic acid also serves as a gentle exfoliant. Much like salicylic acid, this AHA will help clear out dead skin cells. However, it’s also significantly smaller in molecular size in comparison to BHAs, so it can travel deeper into the surface layer of your skin. This gives you the added benefit of more efficient collagen and elastin production. As a chemical exfoliant, you’ll want to be careful not to overuse glycolic acid in your routine to avoid dryness or irritation.

Lactic acid

Lactic acid is another key player in the chemical exfoliant family, but is a more gentle option for those with sensitive skin. What makes this AHA unique – and one of the best acne products, in our humble opinion – is that it also acts as a humectant, meaning it draws water to itself from the environment and can be hydrating. If you are new to chemical exfoliants or have dry, sensitive skin, incorporating lactic acid into your routine would be a great place to start.

Azelaic acid

Azelaic acid is quickly gaining popularity in the skincare community. Like its fellow chemical exfoliants, azelaic acid works to exfoliate the skin, but what makes it unique is its antibacterial properties and its ability to target melanocytes (melanin-producing cells). If you struggle with any form of hyperpigmentation, azelaic acid may be the missing ingredient to your perfect routine.

Benzoyl peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is another household name, but unlike salicylic acid, this is an antibacterial ingredient. Products containing benzoyl peroxide are ideal for treating areas where excess sebum can cause flare-ups, such as the back or chest. It’s worth noting that a stronger concentration does not always equate to higher efficiency when it comes to this ingredient. When selecting your products, you will want to skim the active ingredients to see that the formulation has no more than 2% benzoyl peroxide; any higher, and it has the potential to bleach clothing or dry out your skin.

ClearLight™ Acne Treatment

A Cosmetic Laser Centers favorite for treating moderate inflammatory acne is ClearLIGHT™. This therapeutic light treatment uses APC (Acne PhotoClearing) technology to destroy the bacteria that causes painful inflammatory acne, without the mess of topical creams and ointments, and with no dryness and irritation. It’s pain-free, requires no downtime, and patients typically need around ten sessions total, with results visible in as few as four to six weeks.


Most commonly known for their place in anti-aging regimens, retinoids also act as an effective acne treatment. Retinol and retinal prompt skin cells to turn over at a faster rate while offering anti-inflammatory properties as well. Retinal is known to be more gentle than retinol, but both formulas effectively exfoliate the skin, lighten post-acne scarring, and decrease oil production. They also have the potential to be irritating to the skin, especially for those with sensitive skin types. It’s best to start with a low-concentration formula and work your way up over time.


Isotretinoin is an especially strong, oral retinoid that requires a dermatologist’s prescription. This treatment has the same benefits as topical retinoids, but with increased effectiveness. It typically takes six to nine months for results to show. However, with its strength comes the likelihood of prominent side effects, such as skin becoming extremely dry and sensitive. Using gentle, hydrating topical products is a must while taking isotretinoin.

Dapsone gel

Dapsone serves as both an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory topical treatment and has a proven record to help with blackheads, whiteheads, and deeper, more painful pimples. This treatment requires a dermatologist’s prescription and is often recommended alongside other products for treating stubborn acne. As with many products on this list, it has the potential to be drying, so use it as directed.

Cortisone shots

Consider this treatment your quick-fix for acne emergencies. Cortisone works to curb inflammation, making it ideal for severe cystic breakouts and hormonal flare-ups. With a cortisone shot, you can expect to see significant results in as little as 24 to 48 hours, but it is not suited for long-term usage.

Acne treatments in Pittsburgh, PA

Here at Cosmetic Laser Centers, our knowledgeable team members are eager to answer any questions you may have and will gladly talk you through everything you need to know. We are proud to offer ClearLIGHT™ treatment and other skin tightening treatments in Pittsburgh, with two locations convenient to Wexford, Cranberry, and Robinson Township. If you’re ready to take action and achieve the clear skin you’ve been dreaming of, contact us online to set up an appointment, or call us at 724-269-2893 to get started.