Having blemish-prone skin, I know the feeling of a new pimple staring back at me when I look in the mirror. I, too, have searched Google for “the quickest way to get rid of a blemish.” However, most of the time they are caused by internal/lifestyle factors (particularly hormonal imbalance, poor nutrition and poor sleeping habits) and there are no magic topical treatments to instantly clear the skin.
Nonetheless, after trying a number of different remedies (even some of the more bizarre ones), I came up with a brief list of the ones I found most effective. While they cannot clear a full-blown breakout overnight, they can help shrink small blemishes, and heal inflamed skin.
1. Essential Oils and Spot Treatments
Some essential oils, especially lavender oil and tea tree oil, have antibacterial properties that can help with skin infections and inflammations. Tea tree oil is considered a great alternative to benzoyl peroxide, which is commonly used as a spot treatment. A study has shown that while tea tree oil is as effective as benzoyl peroxide, it causes fewer side effects.
However, since essential oils are concentrated and powerful, they need to be applied carefully to prevent irritation. The best way is to to dilute the tea tree oil with another carrier oil such as jojoba, sweet almond or grape seed. Add three drops of tea tree oil to one teaspoon of carrier oil. Apply it directly to the blemish with a cotton pad, making sure to cover the whole spot. Do not apply it to your whole face, even if you have several blemishes, but stick precisely to each spot. Reapply it every couple of hours until the blemish decreases in size or heals.
If you prefer, you can try a pre-formulated spot treatment that contains essential oils like tea tree and lavender. The advantage is that they are already diluted, ready for use and come in handy, roll-on sticks to make application easy and quick. They are also purse-friendly, so you can reapply throughout the day wherever you are. The two that I have tried and found to work well are the Desert Essence Blemish Touch Stick and Osmia Organics Spot Treatment.
2. Face Masks
Certain face masks can help tremendously with drying blemishes and preventing them from growing into larger pimples. Thanks to their high mineral content, clays can soothe irritations, remove toxins and shrink blemishes. Willow bark is another ingredient to look for in a face mask as it contains salicin, which is similar to aspirin. It is an effective anti-inflammatory ingredient. Fruit enzymes gently exfoliate the skin, removing dead skin cells and promoting skin renewal.
My favorite mask to use for this purpose is the Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask. Having a gel-like consistency, it is easy to apply and keep on the skin, especially when compared to powdery clay masks. I like to cover the spot as soon as it is forming and I keep it on for hours (or even overnight).
3. Manuka Honey
Manuka honey is a great option for people with multiple blemishes, as it can safely be applied to the entire face. Look for a Raw Organic Manuka Honey Active 16+ like Wedderspoon, which has the highest naturally occurring active ingredient. It contains a natural form of antiseptic, antibacterial hydrogen peroxide, that deep-cleanses the skin and heals infected blemishes.
A few more tips:
1. First of all, no matter the size of the blemish, do not squeeze it. By squeezing it, you can make the blemish worse and even end up with a scar.
2. Keep up with your skincare routine. Cleanse with a mild cleanser twice a day and moisturize as usual. When you do not cleanse your skin, you risk letting your pores get clogged — and that results in more spots. Use a light moisturizer, like Dr. Alkaitis Organic Soothing Gel, which contains natural, anti-inflammatory ingredients.
3. Do not touch your face, especially with dirty hands. By transferring bacteria onto your face, it increases your chances of breaking out.
4. Take care of your skin from the inside-out: eat well (plenty of seasonal, local produce, and healthy fats), drink enough water, skip sugar and processed/fast foods, and get enough sleep (7-8 hours).
5. Try not to stress out about it. Stress can affect sebum production and lead to more breakouts. And remember, blemishes happen to most of us.
Photo credits: Lilly Wallace
More from Lilly Wallace