We know the golden rule when it comes to acne is to never squeeze a zit, but we’ve all been there, done that: popped a pus-filled zit on our faces, and then had to bear with dark acne scars for months after.
But then, we discovered pimple creams, or spot treatments, which hold magical zit-zapping powers with their hero blends of salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and sulfur. Just dot these pimple creams onto a red spot, and the pimple disappears or heals quickly overnight.
Spot treatments are indeed a must-have when it comes to fighting acne. To help you in this battle, we’ve rounded up the best pimple creams to get, including well-rated ones from Korea and Japan!
Best pimple creams from Korea
COSRX Centella Blemish Cream
Centella asiatica might not be the first ingredient that comes to mind for treating acne, but when it comes to soothing irritated acne skin? Check. This centella-infused cream reduces redness and calms the skin, making your skin look clearer and brighter than before.
This pimple cream comes in a glass jar, unlike most others that come in a tube. If you’re tempted to slather it all over your face – don’t. Instead, apply the thick cream to the areas of concern. It’ll leave a white cast, just like most pimple creams would.
COSRX Centella Blemish Cream retails for RM48 on Althea.
Pyunkang Yul Acne Cream
Pyunkang Yul Acne Cream is more of a moisturiser than a pimple cream or spot treatment, but it’s one that fades blemishes if you’re committed to keeping it in your routine.
White willow bark extract also regulates sebum production, Centella calms the skin, and peptides strengthen the skin barrier for a healthier glow.
According to reviewers, this hypoallergenic moisturiser is ultra-lightweight and comfy on the skin. Since it absorbs into the skin quickly to soothe and hydrate, you can wear it around even during the day without white patches of pimple cream showing!
Pyunkang Yul Acne Cream retails for RM71.11 on Shopee.
Aprilskin Carrotene IPMP™Clearing Solution
Clear your pimples without drying out your skin with the Aprilskin Carrotene IPMP™Clearing Solution, a spot treatment made with carrots (in the form of beta-carotene) and thyme (in the form of thymol) – two ingredients you’ll find in your kitchen.
The brand’s signature blend of carrot and thyme has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which is why it’s so effective at soothing “angry” breakouts.
The pimple cream also has other hero ingredients like exfoliating salicylic acid, Centella, and blemish-fading niacinamide. It’ll work to calm your pimples by morning while reducing redness and blemishes.
Aprilskin Carrotene IPMP™Clearing Solution retails for RM75 instead of RM102 on Aprilskin.
Innisfree Bija Cica Balm
By now, you should already know that Centella Astica is a popular ingredient in Korean skincare when it comes to soothing irritated skin. Well, cica, short for Centella Astica, is the very ingredient that stars in Innisfree Bija Cica Balm!
The pimple cream is formulated with not one but four forms of Centella Asiatica – madecassoside, madecassic acid, asiaticoside, and asiatic acid – to calm irritation on the skin. There’s also bija seed oil, which nourishes the complexion.
A gel moisturiser that doubles up as a pimple cream, the Bija Cica Balm can be applied all over your face or concentrated on your acne spots to heal them overnight!
Innisfree Bija Cica Balm retails for RM72 on Althea and RM102 at all innisfree outlets.
Benton Goodbye Redness Centella Spot Cream
If you’ve got red spots popping up all over your face, the Benton Goodbye Redness Centella Spot Cream is the pimple cream to help you banish your breakouts overnight.
Made with an ultra-calming blend of centella asiatica extract, tea tree, and calamine, the pimple cream feels fresh and quickly soothes irritated skin.
Reviewers count on this pimple cream to flatten their red spots fast, with some even saying that, after they apply the cream, their pimples are gone in as quickly as an hour.
Since the pimple cream has a pink tint, you’ll want to wear it at night before you go to bed. Wake up the next morning to skin that’s clearer and calmer!
Benton Goodbye Redness Centella Spot Cream retails for RM54.88 on Yesstyle.
Medicube Red Cream
The Medicube Red Cream is a skin-saver for those whose acne comes hand in hand with oily skin.
This thick moisturiser is laced with 20 botanical extracts including tea tree oil, which work together to regulate sebum production and calm inflamed skin in the process.
Use this soothing cream over time, and you’ll notice fewer pimples popping up on your acne-prone skin!
Medicube Red Cream retails for RM126.64 instead of RM168.86 on Guardian.
TIA’M AC Fighting Spot RX Cream
Use the TIA’M AC Fighting Spot RX Cream, and you’ll see your pimples vanish with no trace of dark scars. This pimple cream is useful not only for drying out your acne spots but also for fading the blemishes that are often left behind.
Besides a powerful zit-zapping blend of niacinamide, zinc, Centella, and tea tree, the formula contains spicules.
Think of spicules as little “darts” that carry active ingredients and penetrate deeper into the skin. They effectively target acne even before it reaches the skin’s surface!
TIA’M AC Fighting Spot RX Cream retails for RM38 on Shopee.
Some by Mi Super Miracle Spot All Kill Cream
The Some by Mi Super Miracle Spot All Kill Cream contains AHA, BHA, and PHA to shed dead skin cells, remove gunk from deep within your pores, and even skin tone.
Formulated with this trio of hydroxy acids, this pimple cream effectively calms angry spots, as well as fades blemishes within as quickly as two weeks.
So many reviewers have submitted before and after photos, and, we have to say, they’re proof that Some by Mi’s Super Miracle Spot All Kill Cream is, indeed, miraculous.
Some by Mi Super Miracle Spot All Kill Cream retails for RM52.62 on Shopee.
Best pimple creams from Japan
Lion Pair Acne Cream
A Japanese pimple cream, the Lion Pair Acne Cream contains anti-inflammatory ibuprofen piconol (IPPN) and anti-bacterial isopropyl methyl phenol (IPMP) to treat acne at the root.
Impressively healing acne spots without drying out the skin, this pimple cream also helps to prevent pesky whiteheads from forming. Apply a thin layer of this pimple cream and it won’t leave a white cast, so you can easily dab it onto your acne spots during the day.
Lion Pair Acne Cream retails for RM63.37 on Yesstyle.
Orbis Clear Body Smooth Lotion
This precious find is for those who have annoying acne popping up, not on their visage but, on their chest and back. A spray-on lotion (not cream), Japanese brand Orbis’ Clear Body Smooth Lotion is formulated to combat breakouts on the body!
Besides regulating sebum production, infused botanical extracts help to calm inflammation and boost skin’s clarity, so you wake up to smoother skin in no time.
If you enjoy a cool, minty sensation, you’ll love that the formula contains menthol to relieve uncomfortable acne.
Orbis Clear Body Smooth Lotion retails for RM145.69 on Yesstyle.
Rohto Mentholatum Calendula Acnes Anti-Bacteria Spot Dressing Day & Night
This one might not be a pimple cream, but it definitely deserves a spot on our list.
Japanese brand Rohto Mentholatum Calendula Acnes Anti-Bacteria Spot Dressing Day & Night pimple patches are so thin, they sit extra comfortably and appear almost invisible on the skin.
Just that much slimmer, these are a good alternative for those looking to swap out their COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch for something new!
The patches are infused with calendula, which has powerful anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties to help banish your zits. One pack comes with 52 pieces, which means you’ll get to use them for a long time.
Rohto Mentholatum Calendula Acnes Anti-Bacteria Spot Dressing Day & Night retails for RM54.34 instead of RM60.37 on Yesstyle.
Best pimple creams from Europe and USA
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo
Trust dermatologist-recommended brand La Roche-Posay to create a pimple cream fit for acne-prone skin: the Effaclar Duo.
This moisturiser doesn’t just improve your skin only after application, it also improves your skin’s health in the long run. The ingredients Aqua Posae Filiformis (APF) and Mannose are responsible for strengthening the skin’s barrier and restoring skin balance over time.
Translation? Even when you stop using the Effaclar Duo, you should still see your skin continue to reap the results and flaunt a blemish-free radiance for about a month after.
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo retails for RM109.90 on Watsons.
Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Spot Gel
The Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Spot Gel contains 10% benzoyl peroxide, which is an ingredient known for killing acne-causing bacteria and treating inflammatory acne.
Apply Neutrogena “maximum strength” pimple cream on your angry red spots to reduce swelling fast. Take note, however, that if it’s your first time using benzoyl peroxide, it’s best to start slowly to allow your skin to get used to this new ingredient.
Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Spot Gel retails for RM50.26 on iHerb.
De La Cruz Maximum Strength Acne Treatment Ointment with 10% Sulfur
Sulfur is another ingredient that dermatologists rely on when it comes to treating acne.
How sulfur works is that it softens the outermost layer of the skin to prevent pores from getting clogged, destroys acne-causing bacteria, and absorbs excess oil. It’s an ideal ingredient to use on oily and acne-prone skin.
The caveat, however, is that sulfur has an unpleasant smell (think: rotten eggs). Even though other skincare products might mask the smell of sulfur with other chemicals, De La Cruz Maximum Strength Acne Treatment Ointment doesn’t.
Despite its woozy egg smell, this drugstore pimple cream is still a fan-favourite for its low price point and, simply, because it works. Just avoid putting on this pimple cream before you go out for a date, and you (and your acne-prone skin) will be just fine!
De La Cruz Maximum Strength Acne Treatment Ointment with 10% Sulfur retails for RM34.93 on iHerb.
Pacifica Dry It Out Acne Gel Spot Treatment Maximum Strength
Dry out your blemishes with Pacifica Dry It Out Acne Gel Spot Treatment Maximum Strength, which uses salicylic acid, niacinamide, and witch hazel to soak up your pimples fast.
Word of warning: Even though effective at clearing acne, some reviewers say that this pimple cream causes a slight tingling or burning sensation on the skin.
Pacifica Dry It Out Acne Gel Spot Treatment Maximum Strength retails for RM42.11 on iHerb.
Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment
With the power to make spots disappear even before they form, the Clean & Clear Advantage Spot Treatment is a must-have pimple cream to have in your acne-fighting arsenal.
The formula dissolves oil to allow pore-clearing salicylic acid to penetrate the skin as well as witch hazel to soothe skin and reduce swelling.
Whenever you feel a pimple emerging, swipe this clear formula onto your area of concern; you might not even have to bear with an angry red boil on your face before it’s already cleared!
Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment retails for RM79 on Shopee.
Hero Cosmetics Rescue Balm
Don’t make the mistake of popping your pimples, says every dermatologist ever. But, if you do, count on the Hero Cosmetics Rescue Balm to, well, come to the rescue.
With its replenishing blend of peptides and antioxidants, this post-blemish pimple cream works to reduce redness, moisturise, and even skin. Your skin will be sent into repair mode quickly, so you’ll see your blemishes heal fast!
Hero Cosmetics Rescue Balm retails for RM43.31 on iHerb.
Origins Super Spot Remover Acne Treatment Gel With Salicylic Acid
Origins Super Spot Remover might be tiny, but it works mightily to zap away your zits overnight. Just a little bit of this clear gel on your areas of concern should help to reduce the size of your pimples and even prevent them from forming again.
How does it do that? Salicylic acid penetrates pores, degunks them, and sloughs away dead skin cells, leaving your skin clearer and fresher by morning. You’ll feel a slight tingle, but think of it as sensory proof that the pimple cream is working its magic.
Origins Super Spot Remover Acne Treatment Gel With Salicylic Acid retails for RM110 at Zalora.
Mario Badescu Drying Lotion
Mario Badescu Drying Lotion has got two hero acne-fighting ingredients in its blend: salicylic, which degunks pores, and sulfur, which absorbs oil and destroys acne-causing bacteria.
The potent duo effectively shrinks zits in a flash – all you have to do is swipe the formula onto your pimple and leave it to dry. This pimple cream leaves a pink cast, so we’d only use it to treat our spots before we go to bed.
Mario Badescu Drying Lotion retails for RM98 on Sephora.
Featured image credit: herocosmetics/Instagram, haulswmaria/TikTok
Related read: Is your skin purging or breaking out? We ask 3 dermatologists