Nothing throws a devoted skin care regimen off its track like the sudden arrival of an inflamed, painful pimple. Even if you are vigilant about removing your makeup every night, washing your pillowcase regularly (hello pore-clogging bacteria!) and steering clear of foods like dairy that can contribute to breakouts, most of us are susceptible to a pesky pimple here and there. We’re sharing the top dos and don’ts of how to cover a pimple fast, plus the best acne treatment products to help clear your skin.
Rule #1 – Hands off! Never EVER pop a pimple.
Where do we even begin to explain the problems that can be caused from popping a zit? While it’s tempting to pick or pop blemishes, resist the urge! Popping a pimple can lead to infection, permanent scarring (called pits) or discoloration of the skin. Not to mention picking at your skin can turn a pesky pimple that might last a couple days into a much longer issue.
Pro Tip: Confession time! Even though we know better, we’ve all popped a pimple a time or two. If you’ve done so and are noticing discoloration from acne scarring, try SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense. This daily use dark spot corrector is incredibly effective against post acne marks and post anti-inflammatory discoloration. It’s powered by a blend of 3% tranexamic acid, 1% kojic acid, 5% niacinamide and 5% HEPES to brighten skin and minimize discoloration. In fact, after just 12 weeks of use, 81% of men and women using this product saw an improvement in their post acne marks.
Rule #2 – Skip the homemade remedies.
Save your toothpaste for where it belongs—on your teeth! While your mother’s tried and true remedy for pimples may be a dab of toothpaste or a paste of crushed aspirin, we recommend you stick to proven formulas to treat acne. We consulted with board-certified dermatologist and LovelySkin founder and CEO Dr. Joel Schlessinger to get his take on how to treat a sudden blemish:
“While it is always tempting to manipulate newly formed acne bumps, it almost always ends up poorly. If you can wait at least until they form a pustule, there is a fighting chance that you won't obtain a scar and end up making the area last longer via efforts to pop it. My rule of thumb is that if it takes too much pressure to empty an acne bump, chances of scarring and forming a scab/crust are much higher.”
Rule #3 – Wash your face with an exfoliating cleanser.
Before reaching for spot treatments, make sure you’ve thoroughly cleansed your skin using a cleanser formulated with alpha or beta hydroxy acids. These types of acids particularly great for getting rid of pimples because they exfoliate away the dead skin cells that clog pores and contribute to breakouts.
Product to Try: LovelySkin LUXE Clarifying Gel Cleanser
This gel cleanser blasts existing blemishes with 2% salicylic acid and exfoliates dead skin cells with 2% glycolic acid to promote a refreshed, smoother complexion. The addition of 3% afaLUXE works with skin’s natural moisture factors to keep the complexion comfortable and soft (not tight and itchy like some cleansers).
Rule #4 – Blast the blemish with a spot treatment.
A pimple typically heals within three to seven days, but if you’ve got a big event or special day planned, you don’t want a pimple ruining your day. A natural remedy you can try is applying ice wrapped in a thin towel to the blemish. The ice will reduce redness, swelling and inflammation while easing any pain you might feel. Then, it’s okay to use a spot treatment to zap a zit. Look for salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide or sulfur in spot treatments, but it’s important to note these ingredients treat acne in different ways. Here’s the difference:
- Salicylic acid exfoliates and helps remove oil and dead skin cells that clog pores.
- Benzoyl peroxide goes deep into pores to kill the bacteria that cause breakouts.
- Sulfur helps dry up excess oil on the surface of the skin, unclogging and tightening pores.
Product to Try: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo
This 5.5% benzoyl peroxide treatment visibly heals stubborn blemishes in just a few days by delivering oxygen deep into pores to eliminate bacteria. Featuring an advanced micronized formula, this acne treatment also improves skin’s texture with micro-exfoliating LHA.
Product to Try: patchology Breakout Box
If you’re on the go and a pimple pops up, these handy dots are a lifesaver! Formulated with 0.5% salicylic acid, tea tree oil and volcanic ash, stick these easy to use dots on blemishes for at least eight hours (or overnight) and remove. They absorb excess oil near the site of the breakout while eliminating pore-clogging bacteria. As a bonus, this breakout box also contains colloidal dots to discourage whiteheads from forming.
Product to Try: Epionce Purifying Spot Gel
This potent blemish treatment uses a combination of sulfur and Resorcinol Monoacetate to absorb excess oil and help dry up a blemish quickly. Sunflower and coconut oil keep skin balanced and optimally moisturized. Just apply a thin layer of this antibacterial gel on the blemish a few times a day until it’s healed. If you notice any excessive drying of the skin, apply it just once a day and gradually increase usage until your skin adjusts.
Rule #5 – If all else fails, conceal it!
If spot treatments aren’t doing to trick and you need to get out the door fast, cover it up! But, it’s important to pay special attention to formulations if you are looking for the best makeup for acne. Steer clear of anything with oil to avoid clogging pores and exacerbating existing blemishes. Look for mineral formulas, as these allow skin to breathe properly. If you can, choose multitasking formulas that also contain exfoliating, zit-zapping ingredients.
Product to Try: Dermablend Quick Fix Concealer
This non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic concealer is perfect for covering up a particularly red or inflamed blemish. Formulated with high performance pigments, this stick concealer glides on smoothly to provide up to 16 hours of full coverage benefits without looking caked on. Plus, it contains kaolin clay which helps absorb excess oil near the site of the pimple.
Product to Try: jane iredale Zap & Hide Blemish Concealer
Conceal and heal blemishes with this stick that comes in three shades and contains beneficial botanicals like willow extract to soothe redness and inflammation. Tea tree oil minimizes excess oil production, and a cooling metal tip reduces swelling.
Rules #6: Prevent pimples from popping up in the first place.
Regular exfoliation and a complete acne routine are a key component in the best acne-prone skin care regimens. While this won’t eliminate pimples immediately, it does help prevent them in the first place.
Product to Try: LovelySkin LUXE Acne Care Gel
Developed by LovelySkin CEO and board-certified dermatologist Dr. Joel Schlessinger, this purifying gel contains revolutionary ingredients that renew skin while maintaining optimal hydration. Powered by vitamin C, Dead Sea minerals and potent amino acids, this treatment rids skin of pore-clogging impurities while keeping skin comfortable.
Product to Try: SkinCeuticals Adult Anti-Acne System
If you’re continually experiencing breakouts (even in your adult years), considering revising your regimen by choosing a complete anti-acne system. This three-step system includes a pore purifying cleanser formulated with both salicylic and glycolic acids, a low pH toner formulated with dioic acid to help reduce excess sebum and an oil-free exfoliating serum to help prevent breakouts and minimize uneven skin tone from inflammation. As a bonus, it also helps with fine lines and wrinkles that can pop up alongside adult acne!
Discover additional acne care tips by reading the LovelySkin blog!