We’ve all experienced an emergency-level pimple before a big event. Our dermatologists always recommend sticking to a consistent and effective skin routine to manage acne and lay the foundation for healthy skin, but sometimes you need something a little extra to get rid of a blemish fast. That’s where spot treatments come in. No matter what kind of acne you are dealing with, spot treatments are designed to help get rid of spots ASAP. There’s lots of options out there, so we made this guide to help you figure out what treatment you need.
These little bandages cover zits to deliver key acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid and tea tree oil, or draw fluid from the spots to help them heal (this ability makes them great for whiteheads!). Both types of patches provide a physical barrier between the pimple and the outside world to help keep germs out and moisture in. They also protect the bump from UV light to promote healing and can help prevent you from picking at your spot. We love these little stickers so much we dedicated a whole post just to them. Head over to learn more!
*Best for: whiteheads and inflamed spots.*
Benzoyl peroxide is a tried-and-true ingredient that is well-researched and known to fight inflammation and acne-causing bacteria. Applying a concentrated spot treatment directly to your breakout can help dry out the spot(s) and calm swelling. Make sure to pair this treatment with a good moisturizer! Benzoyl peroxide can be irritating so applying a soothing lotion or cream with it can get you its acne-fighting benefits without the dryness.
*Best for: inflamed pimple types.*
Salicylic acid is another clinically-proven ingredient with documented, acne-fighting results. It is a type of beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that works by dissolving dead skin cells to keep pores clear. Choose this type of spot treatment to fight blackheads and whiteheads rather than inflamed or cystic pimples. Its exfoliating action will help skin cell turnover and clear clogged follicles.
*Best for: blackheads, whiteheads.*
Drying lotion is a bit of a controversial topic. Some people swear by it, but not everyone is a fan. These formulas often contain acne-fighting ingredients like clay, sulfur, zinc, and salicylic acid, but they can also contain a lot of alcohol. Alcohol will dry out your breakouts and kill bacteria, but it can also cause flaking and trap remaining bacteria underneath dry skin. We asked our medical director, Dr. Aimee Paik, for her thoughts on this divisive product. She says, “The drying lotion contains salicylic acid, which can be effective for certain types of acne. Salicylic acid can be helpful for comedones or whiteheads. But it will be less helpful for treating deeper seated lesions or cysts. Formulations that also contains alcohol may be fine for very oily skin, but it can be very drying to less oily skin types.”
*Best for: contacting your dermatologist to see if you are a good candidate!*
Spot treatments can be a helpful tool in your acne arsenal! Keep an eye on key ingredients and always be sure to keep your skin moisturized to combat dryness and flakiness so you can be on your way to clearer skin fast.
What’s your favorite spot treatment? Let us know on Twitter @hi_apostrophe!