It's the magical acne antidote. 
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You know what’s the worst kind of acne? Recurring acne. You know, those uncanny breakouts that seem to keep popping up no matter what you do. There’s nothing worse than finally and triumphantly squashing a pimple, only to have it rear its ugly head in the same freaking place. 

For me, that area is my forehead. Thanks to this skincare phenomenon, I’m eerily good at predicting the spot of my next zit. It’s actually pretty normal, albeit unfortunate, to experience recurring breakouts. Dermatologists will cite many reasons why this happens—along with possible steps you can take to end the vicious cycle. It could be chalked up to bad habits (i.e., touching your face in the same area) or hormonal problems. Face mapping can help, too

But here’s the thing: I’ve been cursed with combination skin, meaning my cheeks are prone to dry patches while my forehead is prone to acne. Lovely combination, right? If you’re also afflicted with combo skin, you know that the tricky part is treating both areas at once. Because most cleansers and skincare treatments are applied to your whole face, targeting different needs on different areas poses a challenge.

That’s why I’m the biggest proponent of pre-soaked pads. For one, they’re great to travel with when you cannot carry other liquid toners and treatments. These high-potency cotton pads already come saturated with formulas that exfoliate and resurface skin, lighten dark spots, and help skin look firmer. Thanks to its singular swipe application format, you’re able to apply the pads only to the areas where you need it. That means I’m able to apply an exfoliating, chemical peel on my forehead and a hydrating pad on my cheeks. 

I swear by this skincare category for a lot of my needs, but my holy grail pads are Alba Botanica Acne Pimple Pads. The brand is dedicated to super clean, 100 percent vegetarian products that are chock-full of botanical ingredients, but these textured pads have to be my favorite—it’s infused with 2 percent salicylic acid to medicate existing acne. It also contains a naturally astringent witch hazel and thyme extract that wipes away oil and grime, preventing new breakouts from cropping up. 

Application feels great. The sensation is cooling, a bit tingly, but there’s no stinging feeling that I usually experience with astringent acne medications. It’s gentle enough to use daily without irritating my sensitive skin (it has the leaping bunny certification and made without parabens, phthalates, or synthetic fragrances), so I swipe one on my forehead as part of my daily skincare routine.

It’s hard even for me to believe, but since I’ve started using this daily, I haven’t experienced a significant breakout in months. Blackheads and clogged pores are no longer a problem, and in one clean sweep, my skin appears smoother, firmer, and more even-toned than before. My only worry is running out of the stuff, but since it’s only $9 for a set of 60, restocking comes easy. Bottom line: I highly recommend trying one a day for yourself if you’re all-too-familiar with zits that just won’t quit. 


To buy: Alba Botanica Acne Pimple Pads, $9;