I’m yet to meet a woman who can honestly say “Never had one”. Even Carrie Bradshaw had a zit!
While for some lucky women, breakouts are accidental and they get away with a tiny red spot, for most of us, breakouts is simply part of life.
Breakouts, just like the overall appearance of skin, is affected by many factors – skincare products, food, medicines you take, environment, stress, hormones, etc. And since breakouts always come as a surprise, I’d say “expect the unexpected”.
That’s why today I am talking about what to do when you get a breakout. What you can do to support your skin and which products come handy.
From the moment you notice the breakout, there are two main stages of treating it. The first one is when the papule is still growing and the infection is in full force. At this stage it’s important to have a lot of patience and NOT to pick on the pimple no matter how tempting it is.
Since a breakout is inflammation of the skin, it’s important to support the skin with products which have great anti-inflammatory properties such as Laurel Anti-Inflammatory Serum or Mahalo Rare Indigo and most of all spot treatments.
Two of my favorite spot treatments are moss Zen Physic and Laurel Blemish Treatment. While the Zen Physic is no longer in production, if you still have a bottle of it, hold on to it and don’t throw it away (unless you’ve opened it more than 12 months ago). Ingredient-wise these two spot treatments are different but what they do have in common apart from the beautiful dark green color is the loving approach towards acne. Unlike the majority of the spot treatments, both Zen Physic and the Blemish Treatment are very gentle to the skin, effectively healing and treating the breakout. All plants were carefully chosen to address inflammation, create a healthy microbe balance, and prevent scarring.
The Blemish Treatment, as well as Zen Physic, are very concentrated and as you need just a drop in the evening as a last step in your skin care ritual before going to bed, a bottle of Blemish Treatment will last you forever.
Another spot treatment which gets praised a lot is the one from Osmia Organics. I haven't tried it personally but I am a huge fan of Osmia and have great respect for the people who have recommended Osmia's spot treatment.
From personal experience, I would recommend you stay away from drying spot treatments as they tend to dry the skin and especially if you apply a little too often, you’d end up wondering what’s worse - an angry pimple or the dry, flaky skin after it?
My other go-to remedy is the Purifying Mask from La Bella Figura. I like to apply it as a spot treatment on the blemish only, if I don’t have time for full masking experience of if I have had a mask recently. I find a combination of using the Purifying Mask in the evening, followed by my evening skin care ritual with the Anti-Inflammatory Serum and then finishing it off with the Blemish Treatment to be an incredibly powerful combination.
Depending on the type of pimple, the infection may or may not appear on the surface. The opinions whether to pop the pimple when the whitehead is visible vary. Some aestheticians are against popping as it may worsen the infection. Others see it as a good thing as it is a way of draining the infection. If you decide to go for the latter, make sure that you wait for the whitehead to be visible, wrap your fingers in a tissue and gently squeeze out the infection. Right after that I like to apply Laurel Healing Balm which is a staple at home and trust me its name is not a coincidence. If you don’t have the Healing Balm, the Blemish Treatment is also great because of its healing properties.
There are also acne cysts. They can be very painful, take significantly longer to heal and occur deeper in the skin. Also, the infection may never surface. Warm compressing is the way to go here. Soak a clean towel, cotton ball, or sponge in warm water and apply to the cyst until the towel, cotton ball, or sponge loses heat. When it cools off, re-soak in warm water. Best to do this 2-3 times a day.
When the infection fades away, you’re left with a scab or a dark spot. How dark the spot is depends on how inflamed the breakout was, as well as your skin tone. These dark spots are called post inflammatory pigmentation and normally go away without treatment.
This process could take a while and if you feel like being proactive towards it instead of just sitting back and waiting, you might want to consider products which reduce discoloration such as La Bella Figura Crema Supernova or their Modern Radiance Concentrate, both brightening heroes due to the high concentration of Vitamin C. The Brighten Mask from Laurel is another superstar in this category.
Exfoliation also helps as it removes the hyperpigmented dead cells. Don’t over exfoliate though as this can strip barrier function causing dehydration as well as inflammation.
As I already mentioned earlier, it’s important to have a lot of patience. Don’t expect overnight miracles. You will see progress but probably not as fast as your heart desires. The skin needs time to heal and you can’t force it. Just like a tiny cut on your finger won’t disappear in a day, a blemish won’t go away after one (spot treatment) application.
With regards to the products, you don’t need to have all products listed. Moreover, these are merely recommendations. You may find that the Anti Inflammatory Serum or the Blemish Treatment alone is enough for you. You may not even need brightening products as your breakouts never develop further than red papule which disappears very quickly and you never get dark spots. Focus on what your skin needs during the different stages of the breakouts – anti-inflammatory and healing versus brightening and exfoliation, and look for these properties among the products you already have in your cabinet and new ones you buy. Products like the Mahalo Rare Indigo balm calm inflammation AND are rich in Vitamin C so they will help you throughout the entire process.
When we talk about acne and breakouts we use words such as "fighting", "getting rid" of blemishes, "banishing" etc and while no one ever wants to have a zit, it’s time to befriend the beautifully perfectly imperfect skin we have skin and to support it. I love the description which Celestyna, founder of moss, used for acne – “rebel skin”. It’s even cool!
Zooming on the negativities and obsessing with banishing a pimple distracts us from the main point at hand – acne or even a single breakout is your skin’s cry for help. There’s something causing that inflammation and you need to address it.
Until a few years ago I sincerely believed that I had acne throughout my entire teenage years and the majority of the years to follow. In a moment of providence, while looking back at photos it dawned on me that on all of them my skin was clear, glowing and not a single pimple was to be seen. How come? Did somebody photoshop my photos?
After a lot of thinking and revisiting of my high-school memories, I finally realized that it was probably 3-4 times a year I would get a nasty pimple usually on my nose, sometimes even an acne cyst which would linger for a week or two. And that was it! I was so obsessed with that "bastard" and “getting rid” of it to an extend that years later I genuinely believed that I always had acne. It's only now know that I had beautiful skin and because of that I was quite negligent towards it and that would result in a breakout. What a waste of time! It was only after that realization that I changed my approach to breakouts and my skin in general.
So no more banishing breakouts, ok? How about helping your skin to heal instead?
Let me know how you treat breakouts. What are your go-to remedies?
Image of the Blemish Treatment by Smells Like a Green Spirit.