Zit immunity does not come with this gig (though we think it should, TBH). But having the opportunity to try out so many products—not to mention expert-approved tips and advice—could be the next best thing. Through trial and error, we now have our blemish-fighting routines down to a science so that when our skin does decide to go on strike, we know exactly how to restore order in a matter of hours.
We all have different complexions, so whether you have sensitive, oily, or combination skin, there’s a strategy here for you. Keep scrolling to see our go-to methods for getting rid of zits in as little time as possible.
As someone who’s dealt with breakouts for the larger portion of my life, I’ve tried just about every method out there. What seems to work best for me is washing my face every night with a cleanser that has salicylic acid (like L’Oréal’s Go 360 Clean, $7), followed by swiping my face with astringent on a cotton ball. The best tip I’ve found for clearing a major blemish, believe it or not, is any kind of store-brand acne cream with 10% benzoyl peroxide. It’s the same strength as the prescription creams I used to get at the dermatologist, but way cheaper, and just as effective (if not more!). I dab a pretty sizable glob on any noticeable breakouts and wake up the next morning with it half the size. By day three, it’s gone!
When I have a zit, I have to get it out of my skin. Which means yes, I pick it. After a shower, I get as much out of it as I can, and then I dab it with hydrogen peroxide to kill the germs and dry it out. I’ll usually ice it to bring down the redness and then apply my skincare routine as usual, with the addition of LJH Tea Tree 90 Essence ($45), which calms and heals the inflammation without over-drying.
I only ever seem to get random breakouts on my forehead, and they’re always of the small whitehead variety. Thus, I feel okay with—gasp!—popping them very, very gently (Kerry Benjamin said it was okay!). After cleansing, I’ll wrap my index fingers in two tissues and gently squeeze out the zit, then follow immediately with my holy-grail acne-fighting product, Medik8's BetaGel ($68). This little-known product is from London, where all good things and people come, and it is the only thing I rely on to get rid of breakouts and pimples overnight—literally. (I’ve previously waxed poetic about my love for this cult gem.) Then, I apply a light moisturizer, like Glossier’s Priming Moisturizer ($25), either hit the hay or conceal it with a dab of Amazing Cosmetics’ Amazing Concealer ($42), and continue with my day.
I have extremely sensitive skin, so when blemishes do show up, I have to be careful about my approach. Clay powder is perfect for me because it’s gentle and natural, but it’s also no wuss—it sucks the impurities right out without drying out the rest of my skin (in fact, it usually leaves it softer). I usually mix a little of Now Foods’ European Clay Powder ($8) with apple cider vinegar to form a paste, let it dry on top of the pimple, and when I wash it off, I’ll do a quick extraction of any remaining oil (since the clay has usually pulled it to the very top of the pore). I’ll then cleanse and tone as usual—Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Oil Cleansing Wipes are a great antiseptic, FYI—and I try not to use concealer unless I have somewhere important to be, in order to air it out. For when I’m on the go, Fat and the Moon’s Pimple Mud ($13) is basically the same concept in an itty-bitty container.
What are your favorite zit-blasting methods and products when time is of the essence? Tell us in the comments below!