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Spots. Blemishes. Breakouts. Call them what you will. But no one likes when they turn up uninvited.
Dealing with spots can be tricky. From toothpaste on the chin to Sudocrem face masks, in my youngers years I tried them all. But now I am older, and hopefully wiser, I wanted to share my 3-step method for dealing with spots that for me, actually works, without making the whole situation far worse in the long run.
A little disclaimer…
I will say before you read on that this method seems to work on the spots I get now. At the age of 28 I get occasional nasties, usually on my chin, a couple of times a month. They could be hormonal, they could be down to a poor diet, they are annoying, but I can deal with them.
BUT I have experienced hormonal spots (due to a change of contraceptive pill) where no skincare, I mean nothing, would work. My strict skincare regime would maybe ease their aggressiveness for a day or two, but then they would be straight back it with vengeance.
There are some instances where just nothing that you can buy on the shelves will help. And in that case you need to talk to a specialist (luckily mine eased off when I changed to another new pill). But if you are just suffering with the occasional breakout and don’t know where to start then this 3-step method might help.
It should go without saying that if you suffer from spots it’s important to keep your skin clean and cleansing twice a day (with an oil-free cleanser) should be second nature. Also, please try not to squeeze them. Everyone is guilty of it (including me) and it can be just so very satisfying, but it can also aggravate skin and leave you with scars, dark marks and pigmentation (more on that later).
Here are the three steps I use for a little extra helping hand when I’ve got a new unwanted friend, or two, or three.
1. Reduce – with a clay mask
When my skin is plagued with blemishes a clay face mask is one of my absolute essentials. Clay masks are ideal for drawing out impurities and reducing oiliness in the skin which can lead to further spots. Clay masks that contain anti-inflammatory properties such as Witch Hazel and Tea Tree can help reduce the appearance of a spot, minimising it and eliminating redness.
My current go-to is Alpha-H’s Clear Skin Blemish Control Mask*. I work with Alpha-H as part of my day job so of course recommend them a lot, but this mask genuinely makes a difference to the size of large spots in just 10 minutes. If I’ve got a particularly nasty one I’ll use it on just that specific spot, leave for 10 minutes, and then wash away before continuing the rest of my skincare. It works every time to help reduce my spots.
2. Treat – with salicylic acid
My next step in my attempt to tackle ‘breakouts’ is to treat the skin with a spot reducing acid such as salicylic acid (though glycolic acid or retinol may also work for you).
Salicylic acid is a chemical exfoliant known for its ability to slough away dead skin cells and reduce clogged pores, including whiteheads and blackheads.
Salicylic acid is not just great for those big beefy spots but also for those pesky under the surface blemishes that create unwanted texture. Basically, I wish I knew about it when I was thirteen and had a forehead full of bumps that tea-tree oil alone couldn’t manage to shift.
There are some great options for salicylic acid treatments available to us now. If you are looking for a really affordable option, then The Ordinary and The Inkey list have some great options. It’s a little thicker than other lightweight toners so is better used as an ‘on the spot’ treatment rather than all over exfoliator. I of course love Alpha-H’s Clear Skin Tonic* and swipe it all over. As with any acid, don’t forget to follow with SPF in the morning!
3. Heal – with vitamin serums
I feel like when talking about spots we’re told a lot about how we can get rid of them but not much about the lasting effect it can leave on our skin.
Once the spot has reduced and is no longer ‘active’ (in other words there’s no more ‘pus’) it’s time to think about how you are going to reduce the mark it’s left behind. I have pigmentation around my mouth and on my chin from giant spots I had YEARS ago. And probably squeezed within an inch of their life. And now I am paying the price.
I recently discovered that vitamin serums can be massively helpful in healing the dark marks and scars left from spots gone by. Vitamins C & E specifically are great at this. Vitamin C is well-known for helping to tackle pigmentation and Vitamin E has natural healing properties. After trying Alpha-H’s Vitamin E Serum* a couple of months ago I quickly noticed how much faster the mark left from a spot would reduce and eventually disappear. I promise this is not an AD for the brand, but I use them a lot, thanks to work, and they really are that good! There are lots of products containing Vitamin C & E out there so choose whatever works for your budget and whichever texture works best for your skin type.
So, there we have it. My 3-step method for dealing with spots. Have I missed any of your best tips for dealing with spots? Let me know in the comments…
And remember, no matter how tempting, do not just cover your face in Sudocrem. It may work in the short term to reduce redness but will clog your pores and only lead to more spots in a few days. Don’t get stuck in a Sudocrem cycle!