How to get rid of a spot
Forget bad hair days, a bad skin day is far more likely to prompt a bout of magnifying mirror-induced hysteria, and, unlike lank locks, a pimple can’t be disguised in a top-knot. But aside from taking our skin to one side and telling it to ‘calm down dear’, there is a raft of zit-zapping tips to guarantee an altogether clearer outlook. Cue our strategic countdown to operation blemish buster:
Read more: The InStyle beauty desk on their 10 best spot treatments to try at home...
HOW TO GET RID OF A SPOT IN A WEEK:
The good news: Time is on your side! Like a stroppy toddler, it’s all about getting your skin into a routine to help calm future tantrums. 'Many preventative treatments such as retinoids (for non geeks that’s skin-loving vitamin A derivatives) need a bit of time to work,' says cosmetic dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting.
The bad news: Any blemish strategy requires a bit of patience so stick at it. Getting the best results may also mean skimping on that Mars Bar. 'Ditch the sugar, fizzy drinks, processed and fried foods and start alkalizing your body with green juices to help cleanse from the inside,' advises facialist extraordinaire Abigail James. 'Taking a daily probiotic to keep the gut flora healthy also has a huge impact on the skin.'
How: Start with a good routine; invest in a non-comedogenic cleanser and moisturiser, exfoliate twice a week to unclog pores and use topical spot treatments and oil-regulating masks as needed. With one week at your disposal you also have time to invest in a few professional treatments such as sebum-reducing peels and facials which combine LED light treatments to promote healing and blitz acne-causing bacteria.
HOW TO GET RID OF A SPOT IN A DAY:
The good news: You are allowed to squeeze (within parameters!). 'If you’re going to squeeze do this at night time rather than during the day which will simply make the spot look worse and only (and we mean only) do it if there is a visible head,' says Abigail.
The bad news: If you’ve gone down the squeezing/topical treatment route, your skin may be looking a little worse for wear so choose your products (and make-up) wisely: 'I love La Roche Posay’s Effaclar Duo + as it’s gentle enough for more sensitive-skinned adult acne sufferers and won’t interfere with cosmetic application,' says Dr Bunting. For coverage that won’t cake, go for an oil-free liquid foundation rather than a stick concealer and dab onto the spot using a small brush.
How: 'Start with a cleansing mask first thing in the morning. Then alternate between applying ice cubes (wrapped in a muslin cloth and rubbed over the spot for a few seconds) and salycilic acid-containing products (dabbed directly onto the spot) sporadically throughout the day,' says Abigail.
HOW TO GET RID OF A SPOT IN ONE HOUR:
The good news: All is not lost - it is possible to at least reduce the size and redness of an angry spot (enough to disguise it for date night anyway). 'An anti-inflammatory treatment that contains benzoyl peroxide will help to extinguish the fire and work reasonably quickly,' advises Dr Bunting.
The bad news: Most spot treatments tend to be drying; 'If skin is flaky, smooth the surface with a little non-comedogenic moisturiser to prime it for make-up,' says Dr Bunting.
How: Apply a deep-cleansing clay mask and leave for 20 minutes before dabbing the spot treatment directly onto the pimple and allow to dry. And if you don’t have any targeted spot treatments to hand? 'Apply milk of magnesium to help dry the spot out and rebalance your skin’s PH,' says Abigail.
HOW TO GET RID OF A SPOT IN FIVE MINUTES:
The good news: Concealers these days are pretty good at camouflaging eruptions even on a Mount Vesuvius scale.
The bad news: This is a strictly no-picking zone. 'Be realistic, with five minutes to hand, conceal and don’t squeeze,' warns Dr Bunting. 'It's almost impossible to cover anything freshly fiddled with, as make-up won’t adhere.'
How: 'Apply an ice cube wrapped in muslin over the affected area for a few seconds to take some of the heat out before wiping over with either witch hazel or a dab of lavender essential oil,' says Abigail. Then get ready for mission cover-up; 'My camouflage of choice is Vichy’s Dermablend Foundation Stick,' says Dr Bunting. 'At this stage your spot shouldn’t be too dry so this product is great as it stays put, won’t clog pores and masks anything.'
Read more from InStyle's Acne Diaries: In Volume One, find out what causes acne, in Volume Two, discover how to get rid of acne, and in Volume Three, read four skin experts' top acne treatment recommendations.
OUR FAVOURITE SPOT SLAYERS:
Origins Super Spot Remover Blemish Treatment Gel, £14
This potent zit-zapper is a beauty editor staple. With salicylic acid as well as purifying essential oils, it gives a reassuring tingle and shrinks pesky pimples overnight.
Clinique Anti-Blemish Clinical Clearing Gel, £14
This skin hero can be used all over the face to control breakouts or as a nifty on-the-spot treatment.
Clarins Truly Matte Pore Minimising Serum, £16
Forget sticky, this super-serum helps to reduce pore size and absorb excess sebum to prevent breakouts.
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo +, £15.50
Not only does this does-it-all product help to heal existing blemishes, it also helps to clear up hyper-pigmentation marks.
Aveda Outer Peace Anti-Blemish Pads, £22 for 50 pads
Simply swipe over the skin to gently exfoliate and help unclog pores as well as prevent future breakouts.
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