One way to stop yourself from picking is to apply an acne patch. It’ll form a physical barrier to absent-minded fiddling, and psychologically you’ll feel you’re taking care of the problem. Some styles are nearly invisible when they’re on, so you can even wear them during the day. Or slap one on before going to bed and wake up with a dramatically diminished zit.

CosRx Acne Pimple Master Patches

Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch Hydrocolloid Acne Absorbing Spot Dot

3. Switch to an acne-fighting cleanser.

According to Dr. Zeichner, salicylic acid is a go-to ingredient in an acne-fighting cleanser. “It’s a beta hydroxy acid that removes excess oil and dead cells from the surface of the skin to keep the pores clear,” he says. In short, using a face wash formulated with it is beneficial for combatting breakouts.

CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Facial Cleanser

4. Use spot treatment.

For the same reasons listed above, spot treatments formulated with salicylic acid are ideal for treating the inflamed area without irritating the rest of the skin. Both Murad Rapid Relief Acne Spot Treatment and Bliss Clear Genius Acne Spot Treatment contain 2% salicylic acid.

Murad Rapid Relief Acne Spot Treatment With 2% Salicylic Acid

Bliss Clear Genius Acne Spot Treatment

5. Don’t over-dry the affected area, though.

That said, be careful not to use too much of any chemical exfoliant. “People think if a little salicylic or glycolic acid is good, more is better,” NYC derm Neal Schultz, MD, says. “It gets to the point that the active ingredient irritates the skin, making it scaly and flaky and red.” To prevent irritation, try a lower concentration of the active ingredient once you’ve already broken out. Dr. Zeichner recommends checking your label for a concentration of benzoyl peroxide around 2.5%. One that really works: Paula’s Choice Clear Regular Strength Daily Skin Clearing Treatment.

Paula’s Choice Clear Regular Strength Daily Skin Clearing Treatment

6. Tone down on toner.

When you have a, shall we say, disturbance in the force, any astringents can “disrupt the skin barrier and cause inflammation and irritation,” says Dr. Zeichner. Unless you have very oily skin, skip the zit itself when you’re doing this step in your skin care routine. (And in that case, a gentle toner like Avene’s Eau Thermale–or any of these best toners—is your safest bet.)

Avène Eau Thermale Gentle Toning Lotion

Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Toner

7. Get a facial.

Instead of squeezing or over-drying, simply consider getting a facial. “People smother alcohol, acids ,and anything they can in an attempt to dry the pimple out, but your skin is smart and will respond with more oil production,” says Kristin Gunn, CLT, LMA, celebrity esthetician and owner of Beaux Medspa. “Instead, see your esthetician for an acne facial if you need some help!”

8. Choose your makeup wisely.

For all the salicylic acid out there, there are certain ingredients to steer clear of. “People who suffer from acne should avoid makeup that contains mineral oil or lanolin,” Dr. Nazarian says. “These ingredients are comedogenic, meaning they have a high likelihood of clogging pores and triggering acne.” Check the labels to make sure your complexion products don’t contain either.

“If you must wear makeup, skip the powder and primer as these are prone to clogging pores and exacerbating your problem,” says Gunn. “Makeup that contains fragrances, dyes, acrylics, parabens, and silicones are most triggering.”

9. Try makeup with salicylic acid.

Slathering makeup over a breakout seems like a necessary evil: You want to hide the offender in question, obviously, but it can feel as if you’re also suffocating it. That’s why Dr. Zeichner recommends using an acne-fighting primer. “If you are breaking out, you may want cosmetic coverage with makeup, but the problem is that some makeups themselves can block the pores and make matters worse,” he says. “An acne-preventing primer is an important step if you have breakouts.”

Jori Skincare Acne and Oil Control Primer

Neutrogena Skin Clearing Blemish Concealer with Salicylic Acid

“There are also makeup products that can actually address pimples while providing coverage,” says Dr. Garshick. “In general, it’s okay to still wear makeup when having a breakout but it’s important to make sure the makeup is non-comedogenic and won’t clog the pores or make a breakout worse. Some makeups may actually contain acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid which can actually treat the breakout while covering it up.”



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