I'm prescribing First Aid Beauty's latest skincare launches to anyone with sensitive, acne-prone skin.

By Mary Shannon Wells
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First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Acne Clearing Pads with White Clay and Skin Rescue Acne Clearing Charcoal Cleanser with Probiotics
Credit: Courtesy First Aid Beauty

If there's one thing to be said about most acne products on the market, it's that they're almost always drying. Sure, sometimes you need a fast-acting spot treatment that will dry up a zit in time for tomorrow night's date. And the vacuum-cleaned, tighter-than-tight feeling that comes after using a face wash filled with benzoyl peroxide can actually be satisfying if you're feeling super oily or suffering from multiple breakouts. But on the average day and for the average breakout, most acne products are just too darn harsh on our skin, especially if your skin is on the sensitive or dry side. These stripping products can cause dry spots, redness, and irritation, which can leave you feeling worse than the pimple that started it all. Intense acne products shouldn't be used every day, but if you have occasional or chronic breakouts, acne treatment and maintenance should be an every day priority. There's good news: You no longer have to suffer through dryness and irritation caused by severe acne products.

You've probably noticed skincare and makeup brand First Aid Beauty in the aisles of Sephora, and you may have tried its award-winning Ultra-Repair Cream or popular tinted moisturizer, but its latest skincare launches are worth an "add to cart."

The brand's Skin Rescue Acne Clearing Pads with White Clay and Skin Rescue Acne Clearing Charcoal Cleanser with Probiotics work well separately or together to treat acne in a gentle but effective way. Here's my breakdown of them.

We'll start with the Skin Rescue Acne Clearing Pads with White Clay. Seeing these acne pads gave me immediate flashbacks of the alcohol-and peroxide-laden ones I used in middle school that you could smell from a mile away and that purged your skin of every last natural oil it clung to. Luckily, these little guys were nothing like that. Formulated with 2 percent salicylic acid, which you recognize from other acne products, these pads do the job of zapping blemishes quickly. It's the other ingredients that set them apart from similar salicylic acid products, though. Natural ingredients like tea tree oil, kaolin clay, and willow bark extract paired with moisturizing ingredients like glycerin leave you feeling fresh, not dried out. You'll also notice some brightening effects after continued use, and the tea tree oil leaves a spa-like scent on the pads. One pad is saturated enough for your entire face, and you simply wipe it across all areas (avoiding under and around your eyes) after cleansing. For extremely sensitive or dry skin, start off using this product a few times a week, rather than every day. While it's not as drying as other acne products, super sensitive skin will probably need to adapt to this one a bit. I have combination skin, and I was able to use these wipes after washing my face both morning and night, so find a schedule that works for you.

The Skin Rescue Acne Clearing Charcoal Cleaner with Probiotics was unlike any charcoal product I've used before. I love to whip out a charcoal mask when my pores are feeling clogged, but they basically strip everything from your pores and wouldn't be healthy for every day use. I could feel this face wash working to cleanse my pores but my skin felt soft and smooth afterward, not tight and stripped. Like the pads, the cleanser has 2 percent salicylic acid, so you might not want to use both products on the same day if you have sensitive skin. Of course, it has active charcoal to absorb dirt and grime, plus two types of clay and yogurt extract to purify and smooth. Your skin will feel clean but not totally ravaged, and although those with very dry skin should be wary of any product with salicylic acid, this one wasn't drying to my combination skin. This cleanser is gentler than the pads, but they both serve separate purposes.

If you need a quick, easy acne product that works as hard as stronger products but won't dry you out, try the Acne Clearing Pads. If you need a cleanser for acne prevention and management that will also leave you feeling clean but not dry, go with the Charcoal Cleanser. Like I said, people with extremely dry or sensitive skin might not want to use these products every day because of the 2 percent salicylic acid. For my skin, however, I loved using them to address existing issues and fight off future ones.

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If you feel like you've been through every acne product on the market without any luck, try a combination of these two products from First Aid Beauty.