I recently found myself asking a skin question that hadn't crossed my mind in a long time: Why am I breaking out? Aside from a treacherous battle with cystic acne that came and went in my mid-20s, my pimple situation over the last few years has been minimal. Of course, one-off zits arrive here and there (that's life!), but rarely do I experience full-blown breakouts. So about four weeks ago, when I noticed one pustule, then two, then three, then four pop up on my skin out of nowhere, I knew something was up.
I can typically trace any blemish back to a particularly stressful week, overdoing it on sugary snacks, or neglecting my water intake, but since none of those shortcomings were at play this time, I was stumped. It wasn't until I was chatting with my mom about our updated haircare routines that I started to connect the dots. You see, at the start of quarantine, I'd vowed to learn how to better care for my natural hair texture and had begun incorporating a lot more oils and heavy creams into my hairstyling regimen. It made total sense that these new products could have something to do with the breakout since the pimples I saw cropping up were all on my forehead (not an area I typically break out in), and the bulk of the hairstyles I'd recently mastered saw my coils cascading down toward my brows much more often than before.
Photo:Courtesy of Versed
This discovery didn't make those oily product-induced zits magically vanish, but as timing would have it, our friends over at Versed were preparing to launch a brand-new collection of products that might be exactly what my skin woes were calling for. Enter Keep the Peace Acne-Calming Cream Cleanser ($17), Game Over Acne Drying Treatment ($17), and Back-Up Plan Acne-Control Body Mist ($15), the brand-new collection of Versed products specifically formulated to treat acne. Our clean, vegan, and endlessly cool sister brand is known for its results-oriented formulas, but today it released its first range dedicated to head-to-toe acne treatment.
As soon as fellow beauty editor Erin Jahns and I got to testing, we found that we were both loving our results despite our radically different skincare concerns. Keep scrolling for everything you need to know about the latest products sure to help us all keep breakouts at bay, and don't miss out on our detailed (and brutally honest) editor reviews.
Keep the Peace Acne-Calming Cream Cleanser
Photo:Courtesy of Versed
Any good skincare routine starts with a thorough cleanse, and as such, this cream cleanser is meant to be the first step in your acne-fighting regimen. Unlike traditional acne cleansers, which can be super drying and have an overly medicinal smell (you know, the ones we swore by as teenagers), this one melts into a luxurious lather that gently lifts dirt and grime out of the pores without leaving the skin feeling stripped or uncomfortably tight. It employs OTC-strength 1.5% salicylic acid, a BHA that exfoliates the skin and unblocks clogged pores to get rid of dirt, bacteria, and buildup all while reducing swelling. The expertly crafted formula also antioxidant-rich ingredients like blue tansy and apple fruit extract to protect the skin and further soothe inflammation.
Game Over Acne Drying Treatment
Photo:Courtesy of Versed
If you've been literally or figuratively burned by acne-drying treatments in the past, then this product will be a game changer. It goes to work on whiteheads and blackheads by pulling acne-causing impurities to the surface and drying them out without hurting the surrounding skin. It can be used as an overnight treatment on budding zits or as a mini mask atop breakouts to effectively rid the skin of pustules. The hero ingredient here is 10% sulfur, the oil-absorbing, impurity-drying element that unclogs pores by exfoliating dead cells on the skin’s surface. Not only that, but sulfur is way also gentler than other popular acne-drying ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, so it can get the job done without wreaking havoc on the rest of the skin. Bentonite clay and kaolin clay help to further de-clog pores and absorb excess oil.
Versed Back-Up Plan Acne-Control Body Mist
Photo:Courtesy of Versed
Acne happens everywhere, not just on the face. That's where this neck-down body mist comes into play. Instead of relying on harsh detergents that zap the moisture out of your skin, this super-fine mist treats and prevents acne all over by providing a lightweight, fast-absorbing layer of bacteria fighters that keep working long after your spray them. Our good sis salicylic acid is back to lend a hand (this time in OTC-strength 2% strength) to do its exfoliating magic as tea tree oil and witch hazel help control excess oils, soothe redness, and clear and refine pores to prevent future breakouts. The non-aerosol, 360-degree continuous spray bottle makes it easy to reach any spot that might need a dose.
The Beauty-Editor Reviews
Main skin concerns: Enlarged pores, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, fine lines
The thing that struck me most about this cleanser at first was how much the appearance of it reminded me of a particularly harsh acne face wash I used in my teenage years. Just like that old foe, this paste dispenses in a thick swirl with just a tinge of shimmer in it. This similarity threw me, but I knew something was very different as soon as I started working it into my skin. Rather than the usual medicated or overly perfumy scent typically omitted by these types of cleansers, I was met with a delicate soapy smell that couldn't possibly be covering up the toxic stench of harsh chemical ingredients. The more experienced I get with skincare, the more I lean into a less-is-more mentality with fragrance in the things I slather onto my face.
It's hard to explain exactly what this cleaner feels like as it lathers, but I think it's important to mention because it's so dang satisfying. Somehow, you can actually feel this face wash gripping and removing grime, which isn't a sensation I can say I'm used to from my other go-to cleansers. It creates a luxurious, foamy slip that removes everything from excess sebum to any makeup remnants leftover from my cleansing balm. (I'm a religious double-cleanser!) After using this wash for a few weeks, I've definitely noticed my pores appearing more refined and an overall smoothness to my skin that I'm super pleased about. I never thought I'd be compelled to use any sort of acne product long term, but I'll happily continue using this cleanser.
Normally, I wouldn't be a good candidate to test a product like this one, but as mentioned above, the opportunity to try this drying treatment came right on time. I had four zits scattered across my forehead, two of which were in the early stages and still deep under my skin, one that was on the verge of coming to a head, and one that I'd tried to squeeze too early that was just plain angry at me. After applying this treatment on all four blemishes overnight for two nights in a row, I noticed that the swelling and redness in each of them had subsided considerably. Unlike other drying lotions I've used in the past, this one didn't irritate the skin around my zits, either. Although I was still left with some hyperpigmentation after those pustules subsided (happens every time), I'd say my skin healed a lot quicker than usual after a pimple or breakout strikes.
I really didn't know what to make of this spray, since I've never experienced acne anywhere below the neck, and the only thing I like putting on my body after a shower is a luxe oil or shea butter to seal in moister. So I decided to try out an off-label use of this spray by using it to freshen up after my workout! Sometimes after my morning sweat on the weekends, I'll try to knock out an errand like hitting the grocery store before hopping into the shower. Instead of just heading out of the house in all my funky, sweaty glory, I pat my perspiration dry and then sprayed my arms, legs, stomach, back, and underarms (which stung just a little) with this stuff. The cooling effect was super soothing, and I can only imagine that my skin was way less germy and odorous than it would have been otherwise. I can't say I'll be using this on the regular, but I can see it coming in handy here and there.
Main skin concerns: Acne, uneven skin texture, sensitivity/irritation
"First off, if I were blindfolded and instructed to use this cleanser, A) I would never in a million years think it was a salicylic acid–spiked acne formula, and B) I would guess it was infinitely more expensive and perhaps a member of the La Mer or Eve Lom brand clans. (Yep, it's just that hydrating, dreamy, and luxurious.) As someone who has experimented with lots of acne cleanser due to my breakout-inclined skin, this new launch from Versed sets a new precedent. Not only is it nontoxic and sustainably packaged, but it's also the only cream acne-fighting cleanser that hasn't turned my skin into a stripped, red, angry mess or—surprise—exacerbated my breakouts. (For the record, lots of acne-geared cleansers, especially ones with clean and natural ingredients, perpetuate my pimples.) This one lathers beautifully and leaves my skin feeling clean, glowy, topped up with moisture, and super-refreshed. Best of all, I haven't noticed any new bumps since I started using it every day—even during my period!"
"To be fully transparent, I had kind of given up on acne-drying treatments. And then I tried this one, and I've basically been wearing it around the house ever since. (My roommate can attest!) This treatment has everything an effective acne treatment needs and nothing it doesn't—key ingredients like sulfur and a mix of strategic clays (bentonite and kaolin) suck up excess oil, de-clog pores, and exfoliate the dead skin cells and buildup that contribute to uneven, bumpy texture, which is one my main skin gripes at the moment. I apply a thin layer of this cream over clean skin anywhere I have bumps (whiteheads, blackheads, or full-blown zits), and by the end of the day, I swear they're flatter and less noticeable. This stuff is acne magic, tubed! Plus, the smell isn't as strong and nose-wrinkling as other sulfur-based products I've tried, and despite all of the "acne-drying" ingredients, it hasn't left my skin parched, tight, or flaky.
All right, so since I don't actually have any body acne right now, I feel like I can't provide true testimony as to how effective this spray is at treating breakouts. That said, I have had issues with "bacne" and "chestne" before, and after spraying this around and getting a sense of what it feels like, smells like, etc., I can say it's significantly more pleasant to use than most other formulas I've come across. My skin felt calm, and silky-smooth after I sprayed it on my chest (the formula is also designed to be preventative, so it can't hurt, right?) and despite lots of sweat and self-tanning applications that can cause me to break out on my chest, I haven't had any issues. I also appreciate that the ingredients are nontoxic, you get a continuous 360-degree spray that even works upside down, and it sinks into your skin super fast, so there's no waiting around to get dressed. I'm excited to keep using and experimenting with this one!
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