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Does A Quick Acne Cure Exist?

By Megan Griffith

Reviewed for medical accuracy by Dr. Jaggi Rao,
MD, FRCPC Double board-certified dermatologist

There are lots of places on the Internet you can find advertisements for products claiming to be the one and only acne cure. Most of it is pure nonsense at best. This article takes a look at what products work and how long it actually takes to get rid of acne.

Least Expensive Acne Treatments
The best acne treatments are usually the least expensive ones.


  • Many websites promote products that claim to get rid of acne in 24 hours, in 3 days, in 7 days, or in just a month.
  • All of these products fail miserably.
  • Most medical treatments only reduce the number of blemishes by 30% to 75% over a 90-day period.
  • The best-performing acne treatments happen to be the least expensive and most accessible1. They are benzoyl peroxide, tea tree oil, and salicylic acid.
  • Don’t try to fight acne with just one method. Use an acne-fighting system, like Exposed Skin Care.


One website claims that the B-vitamin panthothenic acid eliminates acne fast and completely. It identifies pantothenic acid as an herb.

Another website correctly identifies vitamin B5 as panthothenic, and then incorrectly identifies it as “the only non-prescription treatment proven to work against acne.” Actually, there is just one study of vitamin B5 for acne, involving volunteers in Hong Kong. There have been several thousand studies of non-prescription treatments for acne that do work to some degree.

And yet another website claims that its product made from extracts of ten “superfoods” can clear acne in 10 days, during which customers will also lose 10 pounds. No clinical study has ever shown that any of the 10 superfoods in the product cures any acne, but one study found that one of the antioxidants in the product helps users lose an additional pound every six months without dieting.

There simply aren’t any diets, foods, or nutritional products that get rid of all of your blemishes in 24 hours. Or in three days. Or even in 30 days or six months.

The boldest claims are made for products that are not clinically tested. When they sound too good to be true, they are. But how effective are clinically tested products for acne?

No Medication Gets Rid Of 100% Of Acne, Either

Some medications are usually better than others—different users getting different results—but no medication gets rid of all acne blemishes. Here are some key findings of published medical research.

  • Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid often recommended for exfoliating oily skin to break up blackheads2. A study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology reported that using a salicylic acid product three times a week got rid of  an average of 48% of blackheads in three months.
  • 0.05% tretinoin topical is the strongest over-the-counter form of Retin-A available in the USA. A study of tretinoin topical as an acne treatment for teens3 found that it got rid of and average of 30% of pimples and 36% of blackheads in three months.
    Clindamycin is antibiotic favored for acne treatment in Canada (although it is also available in the US, Australia, and Europe) because it has relatively few side effects. A study by the Medicis Corporation in Phoenix, Arizona found that it got rid of an average of 60% of pimples and 49% of blackheads in three months.
  • Benzoyl peroxide is the world’s most commonly used treatment for truncal acne, also known as back acne or bacne. A study reported in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology that using a 5.3% benzoyl peroxide foam4 every day for 3 months got rid of an average 75% of blackheads and pimples on the back.
  • Tea tree oil is the world’s most commonly recommended herbal therapy for acne. Scientists at the Isfahan University of the Medical Sciences in Iran found that applying a 5% solution of tea tree oil5 to the skin for 6 weeks reduced, on average, the number of pimples by 47% and the number of blackheads by 40%.
  • Oral contraceptives are often used to treat premenstrual acne. One study found that switching to brand of oral contraceptive called Yaz reduced the number of pimples by an average of 51% and the number of blackheads and whiteheads by an average of 48% in three months, while another study found that the same contraceptive reduced the number of pimples by 48% and the number  of blackheads and whiteheads by 39%.
  • Zilieuton is a new drug for acne. Phase II clinical testing found6 that using it for 30 days eliminated, on average, 41.2% of acne blemishes.
  • Diet is often recommended for treating acne, but the medical literature only records five clinical studies of diet as a treatment for acne. A clinical trial conducted7 at the RMT University in Melbourne, Australia concluded that reducing glycemic load (reducing both the consumption of sugars and the total consumption of carbohydrates) reduced the average count of acne blemishes by approximately 50%.

In going through the fact-based literature of acne treatment, two things stand out about the results. One thing that stands out is that real-world acne treatment methods, as opposed to some wild idea marketer hypes to sell you a product, typically find that it takes about three months to get rid of just 50% of blemishes. And the other thing that stands out in the findings of medical science is that simple, inexpensive, natural treatments like benzoyl peroxide, tea tree oil, salicylic acid, and diet are just as effective as most medications. Just because something costs more and is only available with a doctor’s prescription does not mean it works better.

But what do you use if you want to get rid of all of your blemishes?

Acne Treatment Systems

Using a single method to treat acne will never get rid of all of your blemishes. And, to be honest about  it, using a treatment system will never get rid of all of your blemishes, either. However, a good acne treatment system, offering you a combination of skin treatments, will usually get rid of 90% or more of your blemishes in 30 days. You may get visible results the very first day and up to a 30% reduction in the count of blemishes in 7 days, but completely clear skin usually takes about 30 days.

That’s why you just shouldn’t use acne skin care products that don’t come with at least a 30-day money-back guarantee. There is just no way you can know whether they will work in less than 30 days.

And it’s also why you need a system for fighting acne. At the very least, you need a cleanser for removing dead skin that can clog pores8. You need a treatment serum to reduce the production of oil in your skin if you have oily skin, or a moisturizer to help keep your skin soft (and your pores open) if you have dry skin. You need a clearing tonic to get rid of blackheads and you might also benefit from the one nutritional supplement that reliably relieves acne on all skin types, Lactobacillus.

You can choose from several acne treatment kits at great prices with a one-year money-back guarantee at Exposed Skin Care. Many other good products by other manufacturers are reviewed on this site. But don’t try to fight acne with just one product alone. To get rid of all your blemishes you need to tackle acne with a balanced system of products that can help you achieve clear skin and keep it clear for good.


  1. Decker A., Graber E.M. Over-the-counter Acne Treatments. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. 2012;5(5):32-40.
  2. Arif T. Salicylic acid as a peeling agent: a comprehensive review. Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology. 2015;8:455-61.
  3. Eichenfield L.F., Sugarman J.L., Guenin E., Harris S., Bhatt V. Novel tretinoin 0.05% lotion for the once-daily treatment of moderate-to-severe acne vulgaris in a preadolescent population. Pediatric Dermatology. 2019;36(2):193-199.
  4. Bikowski J. A Review of the Safety and Efficacy of Benzoyl Peroxide (5.3%) Emollient Foam in the Management of Truncal Acne Vulgaris. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. 2010;3(11):26-9.
  5. Enshaieh S., Jooya A., Siadat A.H., Iraji F. The efficacy of 5% topical tea tree oil gel in mild to moderate acne vulgaris: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study. Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology. 2007;73(1):22-5.
  6. Zouboulis C.C. Zileuton, a new efficient and safe systemic anti-acne drug. DermatoEndocrinology. 2009;1(3):188–192.
  7. Smith R.N., Mann N.J., Braue A., Mäkeläinen H., Varigos G.A. A low-glycemic-load diet improves symptoms in acne vulgaris patients: a randomized controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2007;86(1):107-15.
  8. Draelos Z.D. The effect of a daily facial cleanser for normal to oily skin on the skin barrier of subjects with acne. Cutis. 2006;78(1Suppl):34-40.
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