Sometimes it feels as though your complexion has a direct line to your social calendar, because sure enough, as soon as you have a big day planned—or even the big day—it goes into complete meltdown and a spot rears its ugly head. So what do you do (apart from cry a little)? Firstly, don't panic. It is never as bad or as big as you think it is. Next, it's time to make some savvy skincare decisions, as well as decide whether or not to pop it. That's why we've set about to find out everything you need to know and get the best advice on how to deal with these pesky spots once and for all. You and your skin can thank us later.
Read on to find out exactly what to do (and what not to do) when you need to get rid of a spot pronto.
Help! I've got a spot on my big day
"The best course of action depends on how developed the spot is. If it's in its infancy and is just a red lump, leave it alone!" advises Priti Patel from the Riverbanks Wellness and Anti-Ageing Clinic. "Trying to pop it will only make it worse. If you can't get to a therapist, then an effective home treatment is to crush an aspirin and mix it with a little water to make a thick paste. Apply to the area and leave for 10 minutes, and then rinse off with warm water. This will help to reduce the redness and swelling, dissolve dead skin cell and unclog pores.
"This remedy has been around for a number of years, but do not do it if you have an allergy to aspirin. The other option available is to use colour correcting makeup to take the redness out. If it has a whitehead, then you can leave it alone or pop it, but there is a specific way to do so."
How to pop a spot correctly
"The best time to pop a spot is after a shower when the skin is at its softest and more supple. Start by using a warm cotton pad, and gently press the spot to try and release the infection nearest the surface. You have to be extremely gentle here. Take a moment and leave it for 10 minutes, and then with another clean, warm pad, press gently again. The idea is to release just the infection.
"If you do this with little to medium pressure and nothing happens, leave it alone. Firstly, you don't want to create more of an immediate situation with a hole and oozing blood, but you also don't want to spread dead skin cells, sebum and bacteria, as this might scar and cause pitting on the skin in the long run. Immediately after successfully releasing the infection, use a spot relief/antiseptic treatment cream that has ingredients to calm the inflamed skin and treat the spot."
Can you spot-proof your skin?
"If you are acne-prone, it's a good idea to have regular skin treatments, as this will prevent your skin from flaring," says Patel. "Prevention rather than cure. And there are a few options out there, so I would advise you go and talk them through with a dermatologist to see which will suit you best.
"LED light treatments: These strengthen the skin's barrier and promote the skin to heal faster, so if you do have flare-ups, spots will heal much faster.
"HydraFacials: They involve exfoliation and a glysal peel, which will deeply cleanse the skin and remove excess oil and cell debris form the pores, giving your skin a healthy glow.
"Skin peels: These peels will absorb excess oil, are antibacterial and prevent outbreaks from occurring with little to no downtime.
"Retinol peels: The help with moderate to severe acne that has not improved with other treatments. When applied to the skin, retinoids can unclog pores allowing other medicated creams and gels to work better, as they penetrate much more effectively. They also reduce acne outbreaks by preventing dead cells from clogging the pores and also help with pigmentation. The only downside to this peel is you will have a couple of days where the skin is dry and flaky."
I've heard about cortisone injections: Yay or nay?
"Cortisone is a type of steroid, and I wouldn't recommend it as an acne treatment, mainly because there are so many more treatment options available to treat the spot in a better way," Patel advises. "An injection may burst the spot under the skin, which then can cause the infection to spread. There is also a larger risk of causing indentations, skin thinning and thread veins so I would advise you stay away."
Scroll on to discover our three favourite spot treatments.
A fantastic moisturiser you can use day and night, and it will have your skin looking clearer in four weeks. It's the product beauty editors reach for when their skin is being unpredictable.
Designed to be used as a daily moisturiser to keep breakouts at bay but also as a targeted spot treatment at night to reduce the size and intensity while you sleep.
This has become a cult product for its prowess in drying up spots quickly. It combines calamine and salicylic acid, and it's best used overnight to reduce and calm the skin.
Packed with salicylic acid, the spot-fighting ingredient, as well as red algae, which helps reduce redness. This may be a small bottle, but it packs a serious spot-busting punch.
Containing all the ingredients you need to zap zits (salicylic acid, zinc, liquorice root and meadowsweet extract), this lightweight serum will help control oil production, keep shiny skin away and reduce spots.
Up next! Caffeine in skincare? We've got everything you need to know.