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Forget bad hair days. A bad skin day is far more likely to prompt a bout of magnifying mirror-induced hysteria, and, unlike lank locks, a pimple can’t be disguised in a top-knot. But aside from taking our skin to one side and telling it to ‘calm down dear,’ there are a raft of zit-zapping tips to guarantee an altogether clearer outlook. Cue our strategic countdown to operation blemish buster:
How to get rid of a spot in a week:
The good news: Time is on your side! Like a stroppy toddler, it’s all about getting your skin into a routine to help calm future tantrums. 'Many preventative treatments such as retinoids (for non geeks that’s skin-loving vitamin A derivatives) need a bit of time to work,' says cosmetic dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting.
The bad news: Any blemish strategy requires a bit of patience, so stick at it. Getting the best results may also mean skipping that Mars Bar. 'Ditch the sugar, fizzy drinks, processed and fried foods and start alkalizing your body with green juices to help cleanse from the inside,' advises facialist extraordinaire Abigail James. 'Taking a daily probiotic to keep the gut flora healthy also has a huge impact on the skin.'
How: Start with a good routine; invest in a non-comedogenic cleanser and moisturiser, exfoliate twice a week to unclog pores and use topical spot treatments and oil-regulating masks as needed. With one week at your disposal you also have time to invest in a few professional treatments such as sebum-reducing peels and facials, which combine LED light treatments to promote healing and blitz acne-causing bacteria.
How to get rid of a spot in a day:
The good news: You are allowed to squeeze (in parameters!). 'If you’re going to squeeze, do it at night. Attempting it during the day will simply make the spot look worse. Also only (and we mean only) do it if there is a visible head,' says James.
The bad news: If you’ve gone down the squeezing/topical treatment route, your skin may be looking a little worse for wear so choose your make-up wisely. For coverage that won’t cake, go for an oil-free liquid foundation rather than a stick concealer and dab onto the spot using a small brush.
How: 'Start with a cleansing mask first thing in the morning. Then alternate between applying ice cubes (wrapped in a muslin cloth and rubbed over the spot for a few seconds) and salycilic acid-containing products (dabbed directly onto the spot) sporadically throughout the day,' says James.
How to get rid of a spot in an hour:
The good news: All is not lost – it’s possible to at least reduce the size and redness of an angry spot (enough to disguise it for date night anyway). 'An anti-inflammatory treatment that contains benzoyl peroxide will help to extinguish the fire and work reasonably quickly,' advises Dr Bunting.
The bad news: Most spot treatments tend to be drying; 'If skin is flaky, smooth the surface with a little non-comedogenic moisturiser to prime it for make-up,' says Dr Bunting.
How: Apply a deep-cleansing clay mask and leave on for 20 minutes before dabbing the spot treatment directly onto the pimple and allow to dry. And if you don’t have any targeted spot treatments to hand? 'Apply milk of magnesium to help dry the spot out and rebalance your skin’s pH,' says James.
How to get rid of a spot in five minutes:
The good news: Concealers these days are pretty good at camouflaging eruptions, even those a Mount Vesuvius scale.
The bad news: This is a strictly no-picking zone. 'Be realistic, with five minutes to hand, conceal and don’t squeeze,' warns Dr Bunting. 'It's almost impossible to cover anything freshly fiddled with, as make-up won’t adhere.'
How: 'Apply an ice cube wrapped in muslin over the affected area for a few seconds to take some of the heat out before wiping over with either witch hazel or a dab of lavender essential oil,' says James. Then get ready for mission cover-up; 'My camouflage of choice is Vichy’s Dermablend Foundation Stick,' says Dr Bunting. 'At this stage your spot shouldn’t be too dry so this product is great as it stays put, won’t clog pores and masks anything.'
Words by Eleanor Young | Group Digital Deputy Editor | Marie Claire, Instyle & Look