You’re in office at 4pm, having your late noon coffee and you notice an angry, red pimple has come to pay you a visit. You’re generally alright with it – except, you have a big event to attend where the pimple won’t be so forgiving in your portraits. You bring out the ice and toothpaste and go through every “hack” online – but the pimple is a guest that will be a guest with a long vacation to while. First things first – this is a situation which we’ve had to go through more than once. At least I have. And I generally have good skin days. One time on my birthday, I had to sport a zit on the tip of my nose. I wish the knowledge about acne and emergency pimple treatments (which totally work, not going to suggest if they didn’t) which I have now was with me back then. Or someone just told me bb, it’s gon’ be ok. An acne is, but a guest no matter how long it stays.
While on one end I have this list where I tell you my tried and tested techniques, an accumulated wealth of knowledge arching over a large 11 years (I’m not old, I just have a lot of experience with acne!), I am also very skin positive. What might be a once in a blue moon occurrence for us might be a daily reality for a lot of us – and here’s why our acceptance of acne matters more than ever. Also there’s no such thing as an adult acne – sorry to break your bubble – it’s a skin condition that can happen at anytime and at any age (even babies get natal acne from the hormones in breast milk!). Your skin doesn’t get a label automatically once you turn 19, “Hey, the bad zit witch has left! You’re safe now.” Needless to say, one yardstick doesn’t measure all, but what should be of prime importance is that we understand that it is our mental health over acne, not acne over mental health. Now let’s begin!
1. Treat every pimple like a wound
I clearly remember reading this somewhere as a 20 year old, but I cannot for the life of me recall where. But this is the sanest advice that saved me. Your acne is a wound. Treat it like one. Which means let it dry, let it stay clean, wait for it to heal. And do not touch it with dirty fingers because that’s not something you’d do to a cut, then why this? Trust me – once your perspective shifts, your attitude will too.
2. Ditch the toothpaste
Please for the love of God, spare that tube of toothpaste. Most toothpaste contains fluoride, sodium lauryl sulfate, menthol, eucalyptus extracts and mint – which can do one of the following
a.) cause more acne,
b.) burn you because of the coolness and heating of menthol + eucalyptus (eucalyptus on its own is also considered a treatment for acne, but this combination is a bit harsh)
c.) dry out the acne and make it flaky, and dry and even give you a reaction. Don’t believe everything you see online. Colgate is not going to heal your pimple, only your halitosis.
3. Tea tree oil is your best friend
The oil which any empirical evidence in healing acne is, as you might have guessed, tea tree oil. Use it as a spot treatment and it will actually dry out your pimple quite a bit. It is known for drying out wounds, abscess, pimples and is also antibacterial in nature. Here are some that I like –
The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil, Organic Harvest Tea Tree Essential Oil, Juicy Chemistry Tea Tree Essential Oil
4. Use a pimple patch
The day I discovered a pimple patch, I couldn’t wait to sing its praises to anyone who listened. This is my favourite. The best ones I’ve tried are from CosRx, and the Innisfree Bija Trouble Spot Focus Duo Patch that come with vials of salicylic acid and bija extracts, which disinfect the area and also heal it. It is also amazing at pulling out all the gunk from the pimple with no pain. Other good one is from Dr Belmeur but it is not as aggressive at zapping acne like the other two. I recommend having these in your kit always.
Innisfree Bija Trouble Spot Focus Due Patch, CosRx Acne Pimple Master Patch, Dr Belmeur Clarifying Spot Patch Kit here and here
5. Don’t have a pimple patch? Use this instead
Another nuskha – don’t worry if you have no pimple patch at hand. If it’s an emergency, you can make do with a tiny band-aid, and over the counter clindamycin gel or salicylic gel. Use topically only over the pimple (not on the whole face), cover the area with a bandaid or a hydro-colloid dressing/bandage and go off to sleep. It will decrease the redness and size tremendously. If you’re worried about salicylic acid gel or clindamycin gel, you can use honey + turmeric as well.
6. Use ice and stay off anything dairy and caffeine
I often say, no acne takes work my friends. It takes alertness and carefulness which tbh, ain’t nobody got time for. But say you have your periods in a week and that is when you have the highest chance of getting an acne. Try staying hydrated, going off of caffeine, regularly changing your pillowcases, wiping your phone clean with an alcohol swab every 3-4 days, and being careful about touching your face with dirty hands. Hormones in dairy also clash with our hormones to give us acne, so limiting oral consumption is a good idea. Try rubbing an ice cube wrapped in a towel on your face to cool your face – it helps massively.
7. Use a drying lotion
Like a pimple patch, drying lotion is bomb. If Kylie swears by it, so should you. A drying lotion has a layer of calamine and salicylic acid. Dip a Q-tip straight in, do not mix the solution. And apply straight to the required area as the last step of your skincare routine at night and follow as many times as required. I particularly love the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion.
8. Use this homemade facepack
Try a homemade mask my mom uses for me – and it works. Especially if you’re having a widespread angry break out bout. Mix rose water, raw milk, multani mitti (fuller’s earth) and chandan or sandal (sandalwood powder) and a pinch of turmeric. Use everyday before taking a shower. Here’s why it works – the rose water and chandan cool any skin agitations, the multani mitti dries the acne, and the raw milk contains lactic acid which is an AHA that is mild as well as hydrating, and clears acne without drying out your skin like a sandpaper. Another facepack that works is – multani mitti, a few drops of clove oil, and rose water. Clove oil is also good at drying acne, but, use it in limits. As it can burn if misused.
9. Concealer is your best friend
If nothing else works – try a concealer. Use a green concealer to cancel the redness of the zit, and layer with a spot concealing method. Use a concealer that is the exact colour of your skin, set it with a powder, and forget about the rest! Here are some I like –
Maybelline Master Camo Correcting Kit here and here, Nyx Conceal Correct Contour Palette, Kiko Milani Colour Correct Concealer Palette.
9. Follow up with a sunscreen
I don’t think people realise how much wearing sunscreen can improve acne. It helps scars heal properly without darkening and protects acne prone skin from additional damage. I love the Loreal UV Perfect Essence, Innisfree Extreme UV Protection Cream Water Base, La Shield Sunscreen Gel.