I just asked 8 beauty editors what their go-to emergency spot treatments are—here are their verdicts

The very best products, from the very best in beauty

A woman applying one of the best spot treatments to her face
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you often find yourself dealing with acne, you'll know that feeling of horror when you look in the mirror one morning and see a giant blemish brewing. There's nothing like it, particularly if your day is packed full of important work meetings or social occasions and you don't have a huge amount of time to carry out an in-depth acne skincare routine. Whatever type of acne you're dealing with—whether it's sore red spots, enlarged blackheads or tiny little blemishes in a cluster—breaking out is never fun. 

Luckily, I have some pretty knowledgable beauty mates who offered to share their top hacks and go-to product recommendations for spots. From pimple patches to salicylic acid-powered gels, this is the ultimate line-up of blemish beaters from the best editors in the 'biz. You're welcome!

1. Murad Deep Relief Blemish Treatment 

Amerley Ollenny

(Image credit: Amerley Ollennu)

"In my opinion, cycle syncing—where you switch up your lifestyle practices to complement where you’re at in your cycle—works wonders. Everything from my workouts and food choices to my skincare is cherry picked with my cycle in mind. I’m so in tune with my hormones that I know exactly when I’m most likely to breakout—a week before my period is the most troublesome time. 

"So, a few days before that I up the ante on my skincare and apply a thin layer of Murad Deep Relief Blemish Treatment in the areas where I generally breakout: around the jawline and the forehead. Salicylic acid is the hero ingredient, and it works wonders thanks to its ability to penetrate pores and slow down oil production, as well as dissolve dead skin cells, debris and oil to stop acne in its tracks. 

"And if one or two spots do happen to appear, I dab the treatment on each one, day and night, which quickly makes them less angry-looking and reduces their size in no time." — Amerley Ollennu, freelance beauty & lifestyle editor

2. Hero Mighty Pimple Patches Original

Mica Ricketts

(Image credit: Mica Ricketts)

"As someone who has had acne since her teenage years, I honestly think I’ve tried every spot treatment on the market. However, in my experience I’ve yet to find any true miracle workers that totally obliterate a spot overnight—despite what they might claim. Instead, I’ve found that the best thing to do is strip back your skincare routine entirely to a basic cleanse, serum (something with salicylic acid and niacinamide) and moisturise routine and then let the breakout run its course. 

"For me, the thing that helps my spots to heal the quickest is by leaving them entirely alone—and that means not touching them. As a serial face toucher, this is easier said than done, but I find that applying the Hero Mighty Patches is a great way to keep the area away from my prying fingers and to help the blemishes heal in a clean environment. I particularly rate the Surface versions, which are really large and great if you tend to break out in hormonal clusters like I do. 

"The other thing that I swear by when I’m in the midst of a particularly bad breakout? I change my pillowcase every single day. (Apologies if this is something that you do already, but I’m a change the bedsheets weekly kind of girl.) However, I’ve found that using a clean pillowcase daily can really help with reducing the amount of bacteria that might be transferring to my face each night and generally helps to reduce the length of time that spots might otherwise hang around for." — Mica Ricketts, freelance beauty editor & copywriter 

3. Murad Rapid Relief Spot Treatment

Lucy Abbersteen

(Image credit: Lucy Abbersteen)

"My skin is more prone to blackheads than pimples, but when I get one or two spots around the time of my period, my skin goes all out. We are talking the enormous, sore and swollen kind of blemish that brews painfully under the skin for a good couple of days. 

"There are a couple of spot gels that I've found can help to take these down, but the one I've currently got on the go is Murad's Rapid Relief Spot Treatment. With 2% salicylic acid—one of the MVPs of spot treatment ingredients—it can reduce a blemish within as little as four hours, while thyme, pine, horse chestnut and oat extracts work to soothe and reduce irritation. It's not the cheapest option but you don't need to apply much of it and the bottle lasts for ages. I really rate it." — Lucy Abbersteen, freelance beauty editor  

4. Clinisoothe+ Skin Purifier

Madeleine Spencer

(Image credit: Madeleine Spencer)

"The best spot treatment has to be Clinisoothe sprayed liberally on a cotton pad, held to the spot, then chased with a Hero spot patch. If I do that, my spots heal more quickly. I’m also a big picker, so the spot patches help prevent me from doing damage.

"This brings me onto my top spot tip: leave them alone. It’s bad advice because if you’re anything like me you won’t listen, but do it if you can because your skin will be clearer and happier for it." — Madeleine Spencer, Freelance Beauty and Wellness Editor at Evening Standard

5. Caudalie Vinopure Salicylic Spot Solution

Lollie King

(Image credit: Lollie King)

"The Caudalie Vinopure Salicylic Spot Treatment is my absolute holy grail when it comes to spot treatments. The treatment itself is green, which counteracts any red or angry looking blemishes. 

"It contains salicylic acid, niacinamide and tea tree to quickly minimise the appearance of the spot within hours. This is a must have!" — Lollie King, freelance beauty editor

6. Beauty Pie 10% Azelaic Acid Skin-Clearing Gel-Cream

Molly Burdell

(Image credit: Mollie Burdell)

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"I am very prone to getting pesky under-the-skin spots on my chin and jawline thanks to that little friend named hormonal acne. I've been trialling the Beauty Pie Happy Face 10% Azeliac Acid Skin Clearing Gel-Cream and I am so impressed how quickly it has cleared my skin. 

"The azelaic acid is on hand to keep breakouts at bay by unclogging pores, reducing inflammation and inhibiting breakout-causing bacteria. Plus, the added benefits of niacinamide and rose fruit extract help to strengthen and smooth the skin. Just this morning my friend complimented me on how clear and glowing my skin looked—I can't remember the last time it was this blemish-free." — Mollie Burdell, freelance beauty editor & presenter

7. Medik8 Blemish SOS

Jacqueline Kilikita

(Image credit: Jacqueline Kilikita)

"I've contended with breakouts since I was 11 years old and gone through my fair share of stripping treatments. Medik8 Blemish SOS is nothing like those. The star ingredient is gentle salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid (or BHA) that reduces inflammation and exfoliates inside the pore. 

"The salicylic acid is a 2% concentration, which dermatologists believe is ideal. The tube may be on the small side, but the formula is mighty. I apply just a dab to angry, red breakouts and it works to bring them down fast." — Jacqueline Kilikita, Deputy Beauty Director at Refinery 29

8. Starface Hydro-Stars Pimple Patches

Keeks Reid

(Image credit: Keeks Reid)

"When I have breakouts, I swear by spot patches—that may be the most boring answer ever but they're genuinely my go-to! I love the Starface patches, and they are the only ones that have really worked for me. 

"I tend to only get spots on my chin, so I'll do my night-time skincare routine, then I'll take some micellar water, wipe the spot and follow with a spot sticker (once dry)." — Keeks Reid, freelance beauty editor

Rebecca Fearn

Rebecca is a freelance beauty journalist and contributor to Marie Claire. She has written for titles including Refinery29, The Independent, Grazia, Coveteur, Dazed, Stylist, and Glamour. She is also a brand consultant and has worked with the likes of The Inkey List on campaign messaging and branded copy. She’s obsessed with skincare, nail art and fragrance, and outside of beauty, Rebecca likes to travel, watch true crime docs, pet sausage dogs and drink coffee. Rebecca is also passionate about American politics and mental health awareness.