How to Create Your Own Acne Treatment Kit

Choosing and Using Inexpensive Products You Put Together Yourself

Some of the most popular over-the-counter acne products are three-step acne treatment kits. These all-inclusive products contain everything you need for a complete skin care regimen—a cleanser, a toner, and a lotion. Some even come with a bonus mask. 

Ready-made kits are convenient, but they aren't necessary for effectively preventing and treating acne-prone skin. If your acne is mild, you can put together your own three-step treatment with products you can buy over the counter at your pharmacy that will likely be just as effective, and most likely less expensive. If you want to save money, many bargain brands are just as good as brand name ones. 

A few caveats: If you have moderate acne to severe acne, or if you've already used over-the-counter (OTC) treatments with no results, you should see a dermatologist. And if you're already under a doctor's care for your acne, stick to the products and regimens he prescribes: Don't add a homemade treatment routine to your existing one.

When you're ready to put together a customized three-step acne treatment regimen, head to the skin care aisle of your drugstore and/or raid your own stash of products and look for the following items. Use them as described and hopefully you'll see a clear improvement in no time.


Start With a Cleanser

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Look for a cleanser that contains the active ingredient benzoyl peroxide. You'll find it listed on the label with any other ingredients in the product. Some cleansers contain salicylic acid too; both ingredients together may work better than one alone. 

Anything else in the product really doesn't matter, but do let your skin type guide your choice of type of cleanser: If you have oily skin, one that foams may be best. A non-foaming cleanser will be a better choice for you if your skin tends to be on the dry side.

Exfoliating beads can be a great addition, as long as your skin isn’t super sensitive and your acne isn't too inflamed. If you start with a beaded product and it irritates your skin, switch to a plain one. 

Use the cleanser you choose twice a day—in the morning before you put on makeup (if you wear it) and at night before bed.


Tack on a Toner

Young woman doing her beauty routine
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Toners help to exfoliate skin—that is, slough off dead skin cells that can contribute to clogged pores that cause pimples in the first place. Choose a toner that contains salicylic acid and/or glycolic acid. 

As for other ingredients, if you have dry or sensitive skin, opt for an alcohol-free toner. It will be less likely to sting or burn, and it won't dry out your skin.

Soak a cotton ball with your toner and apply it twice a day, after you use your cleanser. 


Add a Lotion (or Two)

Woman applying face cream in front of mirror

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This will be the backbone of your over-the-counter treatment regimen. Look for a benzoyl peroxide lotion or cream. Start with a 2.5 percent to 5 percent strength product; a generic one is fine. You can move up to a 10 percent strength once your skin becomes used to the product and if you feel you need a more aggressive treatment.

Keep in mind that acne lotions are not skin moisturizers. In fact, they actually can dry out your skin, so you may want to add an oil-free moisturizer under your treatment lotion. Apply it first, give it time to absorb completely, and then smooth your benzoyl peroxide lotion over it.

This is the last step in your twice-daily regimen. After you've applied treatment lotion, don't wash your face until next time.


Include an Optional Mask

Girl applying facial mask in bathroom
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As a bonus, you can use a medicated mask to help boost the results of your three main products. A mask can help exfoliate, reduce oiliness, deep clean, and make skin feel softer and smoother.

Once again, look for a mask that contains one of these ingredients: glycolic acid, sulfur, salicylic acid, or benzoyl peroxide. But don't use one every day or you could make things worse by irritating your skin. One to three times a week, following the directions carefully, is often enough.

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