You look in the mirror halfway throughout your day and notice that your clear skin has been shockingly invaded by every girl’s nightmare—a blemish that has the ability to do some damage to your complexion. Your heart sinks into your stomach, right? And ironically, these things tend to show up a day or only hours before a special event where a pimple was never on the RSVP list. Fortunately, there are some things that could help reduce the appearance of that zit overnight, and that doesn’t involve caking on foundation—which, let’s face it, will end up making it worse—or canceling your plans altogether. Take a look at some of these tips, tricks, and ingredient suggestions and get to work on banishing the blemish.
Don’t Go Crazy With Face-Washing
After discovering you have a pimple, one of the first things you might instinctively want to do is run to the bathroom and wash your face over and over again. Pause and rethink this. Shocking your skin with a new routine might not be the best idea. Over-washing could actually end up making this little blemish worse. Covering it up with a bandage, in an effort to block yourself from touching isn’t ideal either. “Excessive washing of the face may actually make acne worse by creating irritation and dryness. Band-aids are also quite irritating. In addition, excessive washing may lead to rebound oiliness of the skin and create more acne,” explains New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Douglas Altchek.
The Alternative to Popping Your Pimple
We’ve been told to absolutely avoid popping a pimple with our fingers—and for very good reason! “You should never pop pimples because it turns the inflammation inward, which can result in scarring,” explains Dr. Tanzi. So what DO you do in this situation? “Instead, you should use a washcloth with very hot, but not scalding water in a hot compress to draw out the pus. It will ‘pop’ on its own,” says Tanzi.
Try Tea Tree Oil
A bottle of tea tree oil is good to have around the house in case of an unexpected breakout. It’s non-irritating, so it works well with sensitive skin and is an anti-bacterial ingredient, so it’ll get to work on that annoying pimple. Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, co-director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery in Washington, DC, suggests treating your blemish with a tea tree oil spot treatment in addition to taking 600 mg of ibuprofen, which is an anti-inflammatory and will reduce the redness and size of your pimple.
Consider Salicylic Acid
Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi also suggests looking for a spot treatment that includes salicylic acid. This substance is used in many anti-acne products and is known for its reputation to help clear up blemishes and exfoliate the skin.
Start Your Product Research and Look for Key Combinations
Make sure to check the back of skincare products for a combination of key ingredients. “I recommend treating the blemish with a topical combination product, such as benzoyl peroxide and clindamycin. This provides both a peeling agent and an antibiotic,” explains Altchek. If you’re looking for a cleanser, Dr. Altchek recommends using a micro-polish product, like the Altchek MD Daily Exfoliating Cleanser, which is helpful for acne-fighting purposes and includes glycolic acid and soothing candula extract. To treat a blemish, Dr. Altchek also recommends using Altchek MD Doctor’s Skin Remedy, a soothing skin protectant that relives irritations, and is made with beeswax, cocoa butter, and eucalyptus oil.
Head to the Dermatologist’s Office
If your blemish isn’t a just a clogged pore but something more serious, heading to the dermatologist’s office for a more serious treatment might be a good idea. “If you feel like it is a big, deep, cystic pimple and you are able to get into a dermatologist’s office for a steroid injection, you should do that. That would be most effective. If not, then cleanse the area to remove dirt and oil and spot treat the pimple with benzoyl peroxide—which is antibacterial and will help dry out the pimple,” explains Dr. Robyn Gmyrek, a New York City-based dermatologist.
Look in Your Kitchen for Problem-Solving Ingredients
Dr. Gmyrek suggests dissolving an aspirin tablet with a few drops of water and applying it on a blemish as a paste to decrease inflammation and redness. She also says that ingredients like honey, lemon juice, and sea salt can be utilized. “In addition, honey is a natural antiseptic and when applied to a pimple can help. Lemon juice, which is citric acid, is also antiseptic and an astringent, which will help dry out the pimple. Baking soda made into a paste, applied and left on for 20 min or so, helps as it is antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Sea salt dissolved in water and applied to a pimple also seems to help by decreasing oil and destroying bacteria. None of these home remedies has been compared to each other, so it is difficult to say which would work the best,” explains Dr. Gmyrek.