You wouldn't know it by looking at me, but my early 20s were blemish-riddled. I thought getting through high school relatively unscathed by acne meant I had superior skin genes and that breakouts were something I was just lucky enough to have skirted in life. Boy, was I was wrong: Once breakouts became a regular occurrence, I was dead set on learning to banish them right away.
So even before I became a beauty editor, I fancied myself a pimple-treating expert. I had sourced tips from anyone who would listen, scoured every corner of the internet for testimonials, and tested what felt like endless amounts of products in search of a tried-and-true program to rid my face of the unsightly boulders that would appear. And I actually did it.
Of course, diet, genetics, hormones, and a bevy of other factors can be the root cause, so speaking with a physician is always a smart idea. But regardless of the source, there are solutions that can help to at least ease the pain (and look) of a breakout. Ahead, see tips for shrinking a pimple faster than you can say boo, and 10 products to help you do it.
The first step to any skincare regimen, including one aimed at getting rid of pimples, is to cleanse. This one by Eminence is nice because it's balancing and super gentle while still effectively removing excess oil and buildup.
For me, gently cleansing has always been the key to stopping a breakout in its tracks. It's so tempting to go the abrasive route (the burn means it's working, am I right?), but the last thing we want to do is cause more inflammation—that's what got us here to begin with. I love this foaming wash by EltaMD: My skin feels really clean (but not overly dry) after using it.
Whether you feel a single zit coming on or are experiencing an all-over breakout, this mask will help to sop up excess oil and calm irritation inflammation. You can use it as an overnight spot-treatment as well.
This is one of my favorite masks right now, whether I'm breaking out or not. It's cooling on application and never hardens to an uncomfortable crust. Plus, my skin looks like it drank a 12-ounce green juice after I use it.
You can use this AHA serum all over the face to help keep dead skin and other pore-clogging debris at bay, but I like to use it as a spot treatment as soon as I see the whitehead in a pimple starting to emerge. I read one Dermstore review that said this product "melts whiteheads," which was both gross and intriguing.
I know this is a controversial step, but I take comfort knowing that I try really hard not to target pustules too directly until they've come to a head, per the instruction of, like, every skin expert ever. This means resisting the urge to go in with drying lotions the second a bump appears, to avoid drying out or scarring the skin on the outside of a blemish, effectively making it harder for the infection to emerge via a whitehead. But the second I do squeeze that ripe whitehead, this is the product I use to get any remaining gunk out.
Whether your pimple is still under the skin or has raised to a whitehead, protecting the delicate skin around it from free radicals is a must. This antioxidant-rich formula is like a shield, and over time, it can help improve acne-prone skin.
Fair warning: This one will cost you, but I've found that its discoloration-fighting powers are worth the price tag. The good news is that you can use it every day, not just when dealing with pimple-induced discoloration.