Acne Skin Care Reviews


Canstar Blue’s acne skin care review has seen Nivea, Benzac AC, Clearasil, Neutrogena, Clearasil, Clean & Clear and Cetaphil compared on their consistency, feeling on skin, effectiveness, packaging, value for money and overall satisfaction.

See Our Ratings Methodology

Most Satisfied Customers | Nivea

Nivea is the clear winner in Canstar Blue’s 2019 acne skin care comparison, achieving five stars for effectiveness, consistency, feeling on skin, packaging, value for money and overall satisfaction.

Nivea squeezes into top spot in acne skin care ratings

There’s nothing quite as deflating as waking up in the morning, looking in the mirror and finding a big pimple at the end of your nose! But for many people, it doesn’t just end with one spot. Acne is a skin condition that’s characterised by red pimples on the skin – particularly the face, neck and back – due to inflamed or infected sebaceous glands. It’s most common with 12 to 25-year-olds, but some younger or older people can also be affected, with boys more commonly affected than girls. We’ve all seen those funny movies with the hapless spotty teenagers, but acne is no laughing matter. It can be painful and will definitely be demoralising to the person suffering with it.

Non-prescription, over-the-counter acne products will usually be the first option for new sufferers, and hopefully the last. So, which brands actually provide a clear answer on what pimple-fighting treatment works? Well, that’s the question our acne skin care review attempts to answer. We’ve sought to find out which brands are rated highest by users, so you have a better idea of which could be worth trying. Some of these products can be expensive, so you’ll want a treatment that is effective, but also doesn’t cost the earth. Our customer research included more than 400 Australian adults who have used these products over the last 12 months. So, what did we find?

Nivea was this year’s breakout performer, earning five-star reviews in every category – effectiveness, feeling on skin, consistency, packaging, value for money and overall satisfaction. Read on for details.

Best-Rated Acne Skin Care

The six brands in Canstar Blue’s acne skin care review were rated in the following order for overall satisfaction:

  • 1st Nivea
  • 2nd Benzac AC
  • 3rd Clearasil
  • 4th Neutrogena
  • 5th Clean & Clear
  • 6th Cetaphil

Nivea was untouchable in our 2019 acne skin care review, achieving five-star reviews across the board, as well as being the only brand to earn top marks in any category. Benzac AC and Clearasil scored four stars for overall satisfaction, followed by Neutrogena, Clean & Clear and Cetaphil on three stars apiece.

Now we know which brands are rated best, below is a guide to the different products and treatment options available from them.

Acne skin care brands



From cleansing to moisturising, Nivea has created a wide range of face and body care products designed to complete Aussies’ everyday routines. The brand targets options for various skin types, including those which are blemish prone, combination, dry, oily, and sensitive. Its products are aimed to wipe away dirt and several other factors that can contribute to breakouts. When it comes to acne, the brand sells items like:

  • Nivea 3-in-1 Daily Deep Cleansing Wipes
  • Nivea Daily Essentials All-in-1 Cleanser
  • Nivea Daily Essentials Clean Deeper
  • Nivea Daily Essentials 2-in-1 Wash & Scrub
  • Nivea Daily Essentials Gentle Exfoliating Scrub

Nivea achieved five-star ratings across all categories – consistency, feeling on skin, effectiveness, value for money, packaging and overall satisfaction.

Benzac AC

Claimed to kill up to 94% of bacteria that causes acne, Benzac AC is an acne treatment stated to provide users a pimple-fighting formula containing mixture of Benzoyl Peroxide and AC technology. Benzac also offers a number of options created as part of a three-step process: cleanse, treat, and moisturise. The range includes facial cleansers as well as face and body wash to remove impurities, unblock pores and control oiliness without drying the skin. The range features:

  • Benzac AC Moderate Strength 5% Acne Wash 200ml
  • Benzac AC Moderate Strength 5% Acne Gel 50g
  • Benzac AC Mild Strength 2.5% Acne Gel 50g
  • Benzac Clear Skin Acne Control Kit 3 Pack
  • Benzac Daily Facial Liquid Cleanser 300ml

Benzac AC earned a respectable four-star rating for effectiveness, consistency and overall satisfaction, while scoring three stars on feeling on skin, value for money and packaging.



Clearasil is a US brand of skin care and acne medication. It offers a range of products from everyday prevention to rapid acne treatment. Its Clearasil Ultra Treatment Cream is stated to help break down dead skin cells to open pimples then penetrate deep down into pores to help absorb excess oil and kill pimple-causing bacteria. Its products include:

  • Clearasil Ultra Treatment Cream 20g
  • Clearasil Ultra 5 in 1 Cleansing Wash 150ml
  • Clearasil Daily Clear Oil Free Gel Wash 150ml
  • Clearasil Ultra Rapid Action Pdsa 65s
  • Clearasil Daily Clear Regime Pack

Clearasil was rated four stars for overall satisfaction, effectiveness and packaging, with three stars on value for money, consistency and the feeling on your skin.



Neutrogena specialises in cosmetics, hair care and skin care, offering a range of products for those suffering from pimples or acne. Its Oil-Free Acne Wash features Salicylic Acid and is alcohol-free. It’s stated to penetrate deep to clean pores and prevent pimples by removing excess oil and surface buildup. Other ingredients are aimed to condition the skin and leave it residue-free and oil-free, according to the brand.

  • Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash 175ml
  • Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Scrub 125ml
  • Neutrogena Visibly Clear Spot Proofing Smoothing Scrub
  • Neutrogena Visibly Clear Spot Proofing Purifying Toner
  • Neutrogena Visibly Clear Spot Proofing Daily Wash

Neutrogena got three stars for overall satisfaction, effectiveness, feeling on skin and consistency. However, it scored four stars for packaging and value for money.

Clean & Clear

Owned by Johnson & Johnson, Clean & Clear features a line of skin care products designed for pimples and acne sufferers. From daily scrubs to foaming face washes, there’s plenty to check out from the brand. The brand’s Advantage Pimple Control Cleanser is designed to remove trapped dirt and dead skills to help reduce breakouts.

  • Clean & Clear Advantage Pimple Control Cleanser 150g
  • Clean & Clear Essentials Foaming Face Wash 150ml
  • Clean & Clear Essentials Oil-Control Toner 100ml
  • Clean & Clear Deep Action Daily Scrub 150ml
  • Clean & Clear Morning Burst Facial Scrub 141g

Clean & Clear got three stars for overall satisfaction, effectiveness and consistency, but four stars for all other rated variables.


Cetaphil features a line of skin care products designed for dermatology needs. This includes cleaners, creams and lotions. Its Pro Acne Prone Oil-control Foam Wash is claimed to be gentle on skin but still remove excess oil. Plus, it’s stated to be hypo-allergenic and can be used in combination with acne medication, according to the brand. The line-up includes:

  • Cetaphil Pro Acne Prone Oil-control Foam Wash
  • Cetaphil Pro Acne Prone Oil-free Facial Moisturising Lotion SPF25
  • Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
  • Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser
  • Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleansing Wipes

Rounding out this year’s results, Cetaphil was rated three stars for overall satisfaction and all other categories, except for value for money where it got four stars.

What to consider when buying acne skincare?

Head and shoulders portrait

In addition to finding out which brands are rated best for acne skin treatments, our research was also able to reveal the key drivers of customer satisfaction:

  • Effectiveness: 27%
  • Value for money: 23%
  • Feeling on skin: 22%
  • Consistency 20%
  • Packaging: 3%

Other results of note from our survey include:


Effectiveness is the most important factor when it comes to satisfaction in acne skin care products, our research found. An effective acne treatment can be hard to find, especially with different skin concerns. However, there are plenty of options in the market so you should be able to find something that’s right for you. Our survey showed 48% of Aussies have tried multiple brands to find one that works best for them.

Value for money

Young woman choosing cosmetic cream in beauty shop.

Value for money is the second most important driver of customer satisfaction. A quarter (26%) of people said they only buy skin care products when they’re on sale, which might suggest that there are plenty of consumers who are willing to pay more to find the product that works for them. Nevertheless 26% of survey respondents is still a significant number, meaning there are many who are happy putting their trust in the cheaper brands. On average, consumers spend $45/month on skin care products.

Feeling on skin

Acne skin care products are designed to clean your skin, remove all those hidden nasties, and leave it feeling soft, so it shouldn’t dry out your skin when you use it. For different skin types, there are specific options targeting these factors. Our research shows that most acne skincare users have combination skin (27%), closely followed by those with sensitive skin (16%), dry skin (15%), oily skin (15%), normal skin (13%) and acne-prone skin (13%).


man spraying water on face

Generally, brands offer different types of products with different consistencies – so you can choose what you prefer most. Our survey found that 53% of respondents last purchased a cleanser, followed by moisturiser (31%), spot cream (23%), exfoliator (17%), toner (13%), mask (10%) and BB cream/CC cream (9%).


Our survey shows that packaging is the least important driver of satisfaction in acne skin care products. That seems pretty obvious – after all, it’s what’s on the inside that counts! But while the packaging isn’t going to be directly linked to clearing up your acne problems, a product that’s well designed and easy to use could still make life a little easier.

What causes acne?

Acne typically starts during the years of puberty, and people with oily skin are often worse affected. Teenage acne can last for years, but contrary to popular belief, it is unlikely to be caused by a poor diet or bad hygiene. Acne will more likely be the result of heredity or hormones, so staying away from greasy foods or scrubbing your face multiple times a day won’t alter your predisposition to this particular skin problem. Stress also won’t cause acne, but it could aggravate it further.

The severity of acne can vary from mild to very severe. It starts when greasy secretions from the skin’s sebaceous glands (oil glands) plug the tiny openings for hair follicles (plugged pores). If the openings are large, the clogs take the form of blackheads – those unsightly, often painful spots with dark centres. If the openings remain small, the clogs take the form of whiteheads – small, flesh-coloured bumps. Both types of plugged pores can develop into swollen, tender inflammations or pimples, or deeper lumps or nodules. Nodules associated with severe cases of acne are firm swellings below the skin’s surface that become inflamed, tender and possibly infected.

How to cure acne

Acne is certainly common, so what’s the best cure? According to the experts, acne can be treated with a combination of remedies, including over-the-counter skin care products, specific acne medications, and even chemical or laser procedures. Treatments could last for several months in the worst of cases, and inflamed acne needs to be treated early to prevent permanent scarring. Even after the acne is gone, you could need ongoing treatment to keep the spots away in the long term.

The consensus of health professionals is that acne is likely to be determined by heredity or hormones – which are obviously out of your hands – but there remains no definitive answer. However, there may be some things you can do to help prevent it, or at least manage it better. Common advice from the experts is to never pick or squeeze pimples, however tempting it might be to do before heading out the door to work or school! And while poor hygiene is unlikely to cause acne, regular washing with mild cleansers will help keep skin clean, less irritable and hopefully less greasy. You can’t stop oil glands from producing oil, but you can remove oil on the surface of the skin by using a gentle toner or antibacterial pads.

If you’re unfortunate enough to suffer an outbreak of acne, consult your local pharmacist or doctor to determine the best cause of treatment.

About the author of this page

This report was written by Canstar Blue’s home & lifestyle journalist, Tahnee-Jae Lopez-Vito. She’s an expert on household appliances, grooming products and all things grocery and shopping. In addition to translating our expert research into consumer-friendly ratings reports, Tahnee spends her time helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services, while highlighting the best deals and anything you need to be aware of.

Body Wash Ratings

Picture credits: George Rudy/, Dmitri Ma/, SeventyFour/, Elnur/

More about Acne Skin Care

Our acne skin care ratings saw a number of brands perform well in different areas:

  • Best Overall: Nivea was rated best for overall satisfaction, ahead of Benzac AC and Clearasil.
  • Best for Effectiveness: Nivea was also deemed best for effectiveness, followed by Benzac AC and Clearasil.
  • Best Value: Nivea was a clear winner for value for money, with Clean & Clear and Neutrogena the next best rated.
  • Best Feeling on Skin: Nivea was a clear winner for feeling on skin, leading the way from Clean & Clear and Clearasil.
  • Best Consistency: Nivea was again the best-rated for consistency, ahead of Benzac AC and Clearasil.
  • Best Packaging: Nivea was clearly rated best for packaging, followed by Clean & Clear and Neutrogena.


Frequently asked questions

Canstar Blue surveyed 3,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased and used a non-prescription / over the counter acne skin care product in the last 12 months (this includes cleansers, toners, exfoliators and spot cream targeted for acne) – in this case, 479 people.

Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.

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