The pre-event breakout, it happens to the best of us. We spoke to the skin experts to find out what really zaps zits quickly. Spoiler, that toothpaste trick? It isn’t a thing.
A consistent skincare routine. 2 litres of water. 8 hours sleep. You’re ticking all the boxes for a clear complexion but even slaves to good skincare get hit with breakouts. And these unsolicited spots have evil minds because they always crop up at the most inconvenient of times. Seeing your ex at a party this weekend? Oh, hello spot the size of Jupiter in the middle of your face. Work presentation tomorrow? Good morning, angry hormonal chin crater. Getting married in the morning? You’re being joined by a whitehead down the aisle. Cue, panic picking, squeezing and, inevitably, making it work. Instead, take a breath, and follow these pro approved tips and tricks for getting rid of a spot fast.
1. Up Your Cleanser Game
Sure, you don’t need a dermatologist to tell you that washing your face will help reduce the chances of breakouts. But, if you’re worried about a pimple erupting just in time for that family photo then maybe think about switching to a cleanser that includes active ingredients that target bacteria causing acne. Our top pick? Azelaic acid. The gentle chemical exfoliant can be tolerated by all skin types and works to break up acne causing blockages, plus it’s a wonder ingredient for reducing redness. Yes, sometimes it really is as simple as washing your face better. Find it in The Cleanser.
2. Treat Outbreak with Retinol
Using retinol (or Vitamin A) is a speedy spot solution that many dermatologists and skincare experts swear by. Skin health specialist Dija Ayodele and skin expert Caroline Hirons told me that they dab a retinoid onto a brewing spot in place of spot gel. Why? Retinoids increase cell turnover helping to ‘zap’ a zit. Apply at night and trust that the pesky pimple will be less angry and visible by the time you wake up.
3. Ice, Ice, Baby
It’s an oldie, but a goodie. Dr Barbara Sturm is a fan of using ice to reduce inflammation and reduce how red or pigmented the spot will become. Don’t apply ice directly to the offending area, wrap it in a flannel and hold to the spot for a minute. Repeat over the next few hours, let it come back up to normal temperature and perform your skincare routine as normal.
4. Pop like a Pro
The ‘official’ spot squeezing recommendation is to leave it well alone. Popping pimples can “lead to permanent scarring and can even push the infection deeper and make it worse”, says cosmetic scientist Michelle Wong. But, sometimes the temptation is just too much. If you can’t resist a squeezing sesh then please, we beg of you, follow these steps. Only go ahead and pop if your spot looks like it’s ready to burst. Next, make sure your hands are clean, it sounds obvious but you don't want to add any more bacteria or dirt to the area. Next, soften the skin by holding a warm, clean flannel over the spot for five minutes, this will help the contents of the spot to come out more easily. Don’t use your fingernails. Instead, wrap a tissue around your fingers to protect the skin from being punctured and minimise the spread of bacteria. Pull, don't push. Hold the skin taut on either side of the spot, if it’s ready to pop it should drain on its own instead of you having to push the pus out. Finally, apply an astringent such as witch hazel to the area, this will not only clean it but will help new spots forming.
5. Kill it with Aspirin
No, swallowing a pain killer won’t get rid of your spot but this nifty DIY trick might. Crush up an aspirin and mix it with a few drops of warm water and apply to the spot (just like you would a spot gel.) What’s the magic? The active ingredient in Aspirin is acetylsalicylic, which, as you might have guessed from the name, is similar to the popular active acne busting skincare ingredient salicylic acid. Leave the solution for up to 15 minutes to help minimise the appearance of a swollen spot.