No matter how many times our derms/moms/past selves yell at us, we’ve all been there: staring at our faces in the mirror, letting the defeat of a popped pimpled gone wrong wash over us. Mostly because it always goes wrong. (When’s the last time you were glad you messed with your face?) But alas, shame isn’t going to make the redness go away any quicker, so we talked to two experts—dermatologist Annie Chiu and makeup artist Ashleigh Ciucci—to figure out how to put makeup on a popped pimple when you have to go out in the world.
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First, Dr. Chiu begs, go back in time and not pop the pimple at all, because scars and bacteria and other general malady. But say you gave into temptation and you’ve only got a few minutes before you have to head out the door (fun times!) and look presentable/not ooze in public. Here’s what you do:
Hold a Q-tip or warm compress to the site to stop any bleeding or sebum, then clean the area with warm water and mild soap (Dr. Chiu likes Cetaphil). If you’ve got a few minutes to spare, “use warm paste of crushed aspirin and water as a compress to reduce inflammation quickly to help drain contents.” Once you wash it off and the pimple stops leaking, get the Visine: “It immediately gets the red out of the pimple, making it easier to cover,” Chiu says.
Then, dab a bit of Neosporin on the inflamed (but not oozing!) site with a tissue, Ciucci recommends, especially if you’re in a rush. Following by dusting the area with translucent powder, “then find your finest-tipped makeup brush and dot a waterproof concealer like Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer right onto the spot. Tap it with your ring finger, and finish with a touch of translucent powder to set it.”
In a perfect world, that’d hide the pimple all day, but we all know it usually looks like a cakey mess by noon. “Plus, if you layer product upon product upon product all day, it can blend with your natural oils to further anger the blemish,” says Ciucci who recommends keeping Dinoplatz Magic Wand Makeup Removers, the same Make Up For Ever Concealer, Muji Thin Cotton Buds, and M.A.C Blot Powder in your purse as a makeshift emergency touch-up kit.
Then, try not to mess with it: Your body will go into healing mode, and any picking or exfoliating before the skin’s actually dead will do more harm (scarring) than good. If you can’t resist a good pick—or, if you feel like you could keep squeezing and get more pus out (you won’t)—pick up a packet of those hydrocolloid blister pads at the drugstore. Throw it on when you’re at home to help draw out whatever gunk’s left in there, and more importantly, to keep your hands away from your face.