A lot can happen in the lifetime of a zit. Dates. Grocery shopping. The pub. Parties at the club. You could cycle through a couple weeks’ worth of outfits at work before it’s gone. Acne just doesn’t care about your plans! Quick fixes are always tempting, but there’s a time and a place for spot treatments. Used properly, they can do a lot! Used improperly, they’ll put you on the fast track to scarring. Let’s take this step by step.
There are the zits the appear without any warning (don’t you love that?). Then there are the ones that creep in. Usually they’re cystic. The tell-tale sign of a cystic zit is intense pain and pressure from deep within the skin. You cannot pop this pimple. It won’t work! Even a cortisone shot isn’t the right move—it might leave you with a lingering dent that’s actually a scar. Scary. Don’t let this happen to you.
If you find yourself with one of these, the first step is acceptance. Know you’re not alone—Renée Rouleau is there for you, as is her Anti-Cyst Treatment. Use it twice a day as soon as you feel a bump coming on. Its lactic and citric acids will cut the cystic lifespan down by at least half. (Several ITG staffers attest to this.) Why use this one first? While it does fight inflammation, it's also a humectant, so it won't dry out that top layer of skin. Even better, it's a clear serum, so it won’t get in the way of your makeup. This is a slower process than most spot treatments, but patience is a virtue.
The Red Phase
If the case in question is not a cystic pimple (or once the cystic one has finally come closer to the surface) the best remedy is a drop of the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion. Use this with a Q-Tip because there is literally no other way. The Drying Lotion exfoliates like the Anti-Cyst does, but it’s less nurturing: It’s got salicylic acid, alcohol, camphor, zinc oxide, and sulfur to really dry the thing up. It works, and quickly. Just be careful not to overdo it—it'll dry up too much if used excessively. Best used after cleansing and applying a moisturizer that won’t clog your pores. You may have a zit, but your skin still has needs!
The Almost-There Bit
If your pimple has come to a visibly-white head, just under the very outer layer of the skin, you’re free to pop it–IF, and ONLY IF, it comes easily. Extractions are a tricky thing; if you’re nervous, err on the side of caution. And know: Some zits never get to a pop-able place. Those you just have to sit out with some Anti-Cyst Treatment at your side.
If you do manage to extract the infection, follow-up with a toner treatment like Amanda Lacey Miracle Tonic or French pharmacy Hexomedine to disinfect the area and keep inflammation down. Toning stops additional pimples from cropping up in the surrounding area and kills whatever bacteria still threatens the rest of your perfectly glowing and dewy skin.
The Healing Period
And also the prevention period, because nothing’s worse then getting rid of one zit just to start tending to another. Here’s your new routine: Start by using a gentle, chemically exfoliating face wash–La Roche Posay Effaclar is 2% salicylic—to keep skin clean and clear. At night, moisturize with Pai Rosehip Oil to promote skin cell regeneration, targeting dark spots and scars. In the morning apply a Vitamin C serum like Drunk Elephant’s C-Firma after cleansing. And even after the spot has faded, you can keep these in rotation for clearer skin. Done.
For a longer-term treatment of acne, read here for the best tips in the biz–then bookmark for later.