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How to Break up with Breakouts -- for Good

Posted by Cariset on

One of the reasons I became addicted to testing facial products and treatments is because I suffered from adult acne for a loooong time. There was a stage in my life when I'd be battling 5+ facial pimples on any given day (even more during that time of the month). After spending thousands of dollars on products and treatments and countless hours perusing the dark corners of skincare blogs, Ifinally found the solution -- this app called Facetune. Kidding! In reality, my journey to clear skin was not simple or linear, but I developed an effective treatment process along the way. So next time you get a zit -- we all get them -- don't freak out. We've got this!


#1 Diagnose Your Blemish

When a pimple rocks your world, it's tempting to immediately start picking at it or slathering on creams. However, different types of zits require different treatments, so proper diagnosis is key. There are three types of blemishes you need to know: 
  • Cysts are those annoying, painful bumps that hang out under the surface of the skin for days or weeks until your body reabsorbs them. They typically appear around your chin and jawline, and like a submarine, they are meant to stay deep, down under. 
  • Pustules (why do they have to come up with names that are almost too gross to type?) are bumps that quickly force their way to the surface of your skin, begging to get popped. They show off their contents; you can usually see the white fluid in the bump, surrounded by red skin.
  • Blackheads or whiteheads are non-inflammatory acne. With this type of pimple, there is generally no swelling or redness, just clogged pores. 

#2 Treat It Accordingly

Now that we've diagnosed, time to follow the below playbook, which breaks down treatment details by type of zit. With any blemish, remembering what NOT to do is just as critical as taking action, so get ready to exercise self-control.  
  • Cysts: Remember, these types of blemishes will never rise to the surface of the skin, no matter how hard you pick or pop. The fastest way to get a cyst to disappear is to visit your trusted dermatologist for a cortisone shot within the first day or two, which will reduce the size and pain of the cyst within hours.  For an at-home remedy, I've found applying a clay or sulfur product as an overnight spot treatment to be very effective. Try this Peter Thomas Roth mask or this organic Swedish treatment.
  • Pustules: Do NOT go crazy with immediately applying drying products. If you apply a drying treatment before the whitehead has reached the surface, it will trap the infection, causing the zit to last longer. Instead, give it a day or two to allow the infection to get ready for extraction. When ready, wash your hands, prep with a warm washcloth for two minutes, wrap your fingers in tissue paper and gently squeeze down around the zit to extract. The key word here is gently. Fluid should easily work its way out in one or two tries. Anything more than that means it isn't ready. Post-squeeze, dab on something soothing to kill any remaining bacteria while helping heal the skin, such as anti-inflammatory witch hazel or antimicrobial tea tree oil
  • Blackheads/whiteheads: Focus on chemical exfoliation with AHAs. TheseDr. Dennis Gross Daily Peels are a godsend and probably the second most important beauty product I'd bring with me if stranded on a deserted island (sunscreen being #1, duh). 

#3 Think Long-Term

Now that you've successfully diagnosed and treated the pimple at hand, invest some time brainstorming how to prevent future breakouts. This part of the strategy will look a little different for everyone. You should speak with your dermatologist and try various tactics to see what works best for you. Given most of my acne was cystic and driven by unbalanced hormones, a combination of taking spironolactone (prescription required), cutting out dairy, and building a routine consisting of high quality products (check out my routine here) has done wonders to minimize breakouts for me over the past few years. If you suffer more from pustule blemishes, you may find lasers, facials, and a Retin-A gel to be most effective. Keep calm, patient, and consistent to say bye-bye to blemishes for good.

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