Anything Can Be A Spot Treatment


Last Saturday morning I woke up with a pretty normal face. A normal Saturday face—puffy eyes and some slight discoloration—at least. Nothing exceedingly alarming. Around 3:00 PM I noticed a deep, painful red welt forming beneath the skin on my chin, topped with a microscopic white head. The pimple—a big one—had shown up out of nowhere. No warning signs at all! I attempted the usual route: a quick initial pop, topped with a pimple patch. But then, the popping didn’t go as well as planned, and I was out of pimple patches. Panic ensued.

When you have a giant zit on your face, it’s hard to remember what your face looked like before there was a giant zit. It’s hard to picture a time in the future without the giant zit on your face. It’s hard to go on, most especially when you are out of pimple patches or any other spot treatment. In my desperation to recover my former self, I scrambled around my apartment looking for something—literally anything—that might do the trick in lieu of an actual spot treatment. Some of the things I found made a lot more sense than others, but here is what I did try:

Rosehip oil

Typically this is my go-to for healing the scars that follow bad zits. By focusing it directly on an active, angry pimple, I sincerely believe I sped up the recovery process by a lot. Not to mention that it helped calm and hydrate the area, which made it easier to conceal in the interim. Would rec.

Apple Cider Vinegar

I read about it on the internet, so I did it. Except that I didn’t have Apple Cider Vinegar, I only had the white wine vinegar I use to make my favorite Dijon vinaigrette (PSA: Mike’s Hot Honey is the key to my recipe. Try it). So I used that instead. It’s actually very different from Apple Cider Vinegar. It’s really not the same at all. Maybe if it were, it would have worked.

Tea Tree Oil

When my recent ear piercing was still healing, I’d put tea tree oil on it a couple times a week and it seemed to help any existing inflammation. It works on the zits too—usually! Mixing with a moisturizer helps to keep the oil from totally drying out the surrounding skin too much.

A potato

Did you know there is an entire reviews section on dedicated to “Potato”? I have the tab open now in my browser: “Potato reviews on” The varying results are 100% entirely inconclusive. But I tried it myself. I cut a little potato disc and then cut a little square out of that disc and put it on my zit. I had to lay down for it to stay there, so I watched Queer Eye and left it on for 30 minutes. By this time, my zit was so confused about what was happening that nobody will ever know whether it took any kind of effect, but I’m not saying I wouldn’t try this again. See also: Potato peels for scarring??? (Recommended by subscriber “EnergeticCape.”) Will report back on that.

A Cold Cream

Avène’s is my go-to when I’m camping because of its ability to keep reactions at bay. Using a Q-Tip, I applied it to The Spot after the rosehip oil had soaked in. It felt immediately better. I believe in this as a spot treatment, I do.

An undereye patch

Well, who knows? If your Chanel Undereye Gels reduce puffiness and redness under your eyes, who’s to say they can’t do the same on a pimple? Not me! I went ahead and tried it. Just half of a whole eye patch. If nothing else, it kept my own grubby little fingers from touching and further contaminating the spot. Like a pimple patch in a pinch.

A pickled red onion

On vacation in South Korea a few years ago, my dad had a toothache—a really terrible one. The women on Jeju island told him to put an onion on it for the pain...and it worked. A lifesaver until he was able to get back to his dentist. I thought it might work the same way for my zit. I didn’t feel up to putting a raw, pungent onion on my face for a number of reasons, so I used one of the pickled red onions from my salad (because they pair really well with the aforementioned vinaigrette) and I can say with some level of certainty that it significantly decreased the irritation I’d originally caused by trying to pop a zit that wasn’t ready. In the end, my face smells a little more like vinegar and a little less like an onion, and my zit might actually be going away.

—Anna Jube

And if you're willing to invest in your potential future acne now, read all about pimples patches here.