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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

57 Models Considered
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Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best acne therapeutic system kits

Anyone who struggles with acne knows how hard it is to get breakouts under control. Putting together a skincare routine to treat your acne on your own can be a real challenge, though, which is why an acne therapeutic system kit can be such a lifesaver.

These kits include a collection of products designed to target breakouts with proven acne-fighting ingredients. They’re meant to be used together to ensure that your skin is free of dirt, oil, and bacteria that can lead to acne. The kit takes the guesswork out of selecting different products, so you can be sure that you’ll see results.

However, there are quite a few acne therapeutic system kits on the market, so it can be difficult to choose the right one. 

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Acne doesn’t just occur on the face. Some people also experience acne on the shoulders, chest, back, and even buttocks.

Key considerations

Acne type

Not all acne therapeutic systems treat every type of acne. That’s why it’s crucial to understand the type you have so you can choose an effective option for your skin problems.

Noninflammatory acne refers to acne that doesn’t involve swelling. Blackheads and whiteheads fall into this category, and they generally respond well to over-the-counter (OTC) acne treatment systems.

Blackheads result from clogged pores and have a dark appearance because the top of the pore remains open, exposing to the air the oil and dead skin cells trapped inside. Whiteheads also result from pores clogged with oil and dead skin, but the top of the pore closes, so the blemish looks like a bump. These are a little harder to treat than blackheads, but they can respond well to certain OTC acne systems.

Inflammatory acne consists of red and swollen blemishes. These also result from excess oil and dead skin cells clogging pores, but bacteria also gets inside, resulting in an infection below the surface that causes the swelling.

This type of acne, which includes papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts, can be somewhat painful, but some types respond to certain OTC acne systems depending on the active ingredients they contain. Severe inflammatory acne may require prescription products like oral or topical antibiotics for effective treatment.

Kit contents

Acne therapeutic system kits vary in terms of the products they include. Depending on your needs, you may want a few basic products or an entire range of products to make up your entire skincare routine. Common products found in these acne systems include the following:

Treatments: Nearly every acne system contains an acne treatment designed to treat existing breakouts and reduce redness and swelling. Depending on the system you choose, the acne treatment product may be a cream or a serum.

Cleanser: Many acne treatment kits contain a cleanser meant specifically for acne-prone skin. The cleanser washes away excess oil, dirt, debris, makeup, and bacteria to help keep your pores clean and clear.

Toner: Some acne systems also include a toner, a product typically used after cleansing to remove any lingering dirt or residue that your cleanser might leave behind. Acne toners typically contain acne-fighting ingredients that can deep clean the pores.

Exfoliator: An acne therapeutic kit may contain an exfoliating product, which helps remove dead skin cells that can clog the pores and cause breakouts. Some kits include manual exfoliators or scrubs that buff away dead skin cells, while others contain chemical exfoliators that contain acids to dissolve the bonds that hold dead skin cells on the surface of the skin.

Mask: A face mask is like an intense treatment product that sits on the face for a specific period before you rinse it away. Acne masks contain acne-fighting ingredients that help treat existing breakouts, exfoliate the skin, and deep clean the pores.

Moisturizer: Many acne-fighting ingredients can dry out the skin, so some acne systems include a moisturizer to restore hydration. These moisturizers are typically oil-free to avoid clogging the pores and triggering further breakouts.

Active ingredients

For an acne therapeutic system kit to effectively treat acne, it must contain the right active ingredients. There are several acne-fighting ingredients commonly used in OTC products. Some systems feature multiple active ingredients to target acne in multiple ways. Some of the most common to look for include the following:

Benzoyl peroxide: This is a highly effective acne-fighting ingredient that kills bacteria, exfoliates, and controls excess oil. OTC benzoyl products range in potency from 2.5% to 10%. Benzoyl peroxide can work on both noninflammatory and inflammatory acne. Note that there are drawbacks to using it: it can dry out the skin, cause redness, irritate sensitive skin, and bleach fabrics it comes in contact with.

Salicylic acid: Salicylic acid helps prevent clogged pores by deep cleaning the pores. OTC salicylic acid products typically range in potency from 0.5% to 5%. Salicylic acid generally works best for noninflammatory acne. Note that it can cause slight stinging and may irritate sensitive skin.

Sulfur: Sulfur helps get rid of dead skin cells and excess oil that might clog the pores. It’s frequently used with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid in products. Like benzoyl peroxide, sulfur can have a dehydrating effect on the skin.

Tea tree oil: This is a natural ingredient that offers antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Tea tree oil can work on both mild to moderate noninflammatory and inflammatory acne.

Alpha hydroxy acids: These can help remove dead skin cells and treat inflammation. Glycolic acid and lactic acid are the most commonly used AHAs found in acne products. In addition to treating breakouts, AHAs can help smooth the skin to reduce the appearance of existing acne scars.

Caution1
Caution
Avoid squeezing or picking at acne. You’re more likely to experience scarring and/or infections.
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Features

Quantity

Every acne therapeutic system kit contains at least two products, but many contain three or more. A kit should always have acne treatment products for use all over the face or targeting specific breakouts. Some kits include two treatment products: one for use during the day and a more hydrating formula for use at night.

Other acne systems also include a cleanser and a toner for a nearly complete skincare routine. To combat any dryness, you might want to look for a kit that contains an acne-safe moisturizer too.

Some deluxe kits also come with a face mask and/or exfoliator. You can also find systems that include a sunscreen product since acne-fighting ingredients can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.

Fragrance

As with many skincare products, some acne treatment kits have fragrance to give the products a more pleasant smell. However, if you have sensitive skin, artificial fragrances can irritate the skin and even trigger breakouts. Look for a fragrance-free system if you know that your skin is sensitive to synthetic fragrances or you just don’t like heavily scented products.

Guarantee

Because treating acne can be a process of trial and error, some brands offer a satisfaction guarantee on their kits, which means you can get 100% of your money back if you aren’t happy with the results within a certain trial period. For most brands, the trial period is 60 days, but some may only allow you 30 days to return the product.

Accessories

Treatment concealer: iT Cosmetics Bye Bye Breakout Concealer
When you get the occasional breakout, you can use a concealer formulated for acne to cover and treat it at the same time. We love this one from iT Cosmetics because it offers full coverage and contains both salicylic acid and AHA to treat acne.

Acne scar serum: Mederma PM Intensive Overnight Scar Cream
If you want to fade scars from past breakouts, an acne scar serum can speed up the process. This one from Mederma is a favorite because it comes from a trusted brand and is effective on both old and new scars. 

To limit redness and dryness, apply acne treatment products only on the areas where you break out, not all over the face.

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Acne therapeutic system kit prices

Acne therapeutic system kits vary in price based on the active ingredients used, the number of products, the size of the containers, and the formula’s quality. Most kits cost between $13 and $118.

Inexpensive: The most affordable acne therapeutic kits are typically those from drugstore brands that include just a single active ingredient. These systems usually contain three products, but you can also find some two-product kits from higher-end brands in this price range. You’ll generally pay between $13 and $30 for these kits.

Mid-range: These acne kits usually contain at least three products and more than one active ingredient. You can also find some kits from luxury beauty brands that contain two products in this price range. They generally cost between $30 and $70.

Expensive: The most expensive acne systems are typically those that include four or more products and several active ingredients. Kits from luxury beauty brands with three or more products also fall in this price range. You’ll usually pay between $70 and $118 for these kits.

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Did You Know?
Cystic acne, which consists of deep, painful bumps under the skin, is one of the toughest types of acne to treat. It often doesn’t respond to OTC systems.
Staff
BestReviews

Tips

  • Be patient. It might take two or three months of consistent daily use before you see significant results.
  • Try different active ingredients. It helps to choose an acne system kit that includes more than one active ingredient. That allows you to experiment with different acne-fighting ingredients to see which one works best for your acne.
  • Start with low-strength ingredients. If you’re new to using acne products, it’s best to start with low-strength formulas or you could experience dryness, redness, and other skin irritation.
  • Try a prescription treatment. If your acne doesn’t respond after several months using an OTC acne kit, it might be time to consult a dermatologist for a prescription treatment.
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Adult acne affects nearly 50% of women and 25% of men.

FAQ

Q. Do I have to use all the products in an acne system kit?

A. You don’t necessarily have to use all the products that come in an acne kit to see results. If there’s a product you don’t like, such as a toner or facial scrub, you can skip it or substitute a product from another brand that you like.

Q. How often should I wash my face if I have acne?

A. You might be tempted to wash your face several times a day to get rid of dirt, oil, and bacteria that may otherwise clog your pores. However, cleaning too much can actually trigger breakouts because it strips your skin of moisture and causes it to overproduce oil to compensate. To keep your skin clean and well balanced, wash your face just twice a day: once in the morning and once at night.

Q. Can adults use acne therapeutic system kits?

A. Absolutely! Many adults still struggle with breakouts even after they’re no longer struggling with teenage hormones, so a kit can be a convenient way to treat adult acne.

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