Use it: To treat and soothe red, inflamed blemishes.
How it works: Salicylic acid can have a calming, anti-inflammatory effect on pimples. “It also breaks down the ‘cement’ between cells in clogged pores to help unplug them,” says Valori Treloar, a dermatologist in Newton, Massachusetts, and a coauthor of The Clear Skin Diet ($24, amazon.com). Try Murad Clarifying Cleanser ($26, murad.com).
Good to know: Salicylic acid is less irritating than more potent treatments, so it may be better for those with dry skin. It also tends to work well on stubborn blackheads.