We’ve all been there: Weeks of preparation for a big party and on the night before, you notice that a zit has crept up on you.Whether it’s due to stress, hormones, unbalanced diet or a lack of hygiene (yucks!), pimples always have the worst timing—kind of like a relentless ex who always finds a way to come into your life. And if heading to your derm for an emergency cortisone shot isn’t an option, your next way can’t be just rolling over, calling off your plans and staying home instead. Make sure you arm yourself with these SOS essentials so you’ll never be caught off guard again:
#1 Treat With Salicylic Acid
You’ll never go wrong with one of the best skincare ingredients for clarifying pores. Also known as BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid), salicylic acid is oil-soluble and that means it’s able to penetrate oil plugs to dissolve the nasty gunk. Cleanse your skin with a cleanser that’s fortified with salicylic acid, like SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Cleanser, $49 for 240ml, to unclog congested pores and regulate sebum levels. It also contains glycolic acid and glycerin to eliminate dead skin cells and lock in moisture respectively so skin is well hydrated and doesn’t feel dry or tight.
Alternatively, use a skin-clearing acid pad like First Aid Beauty’s Skin Rescue Anti-Breakout Pads with White Clay, $46 for 60 pcs. Made with 2 per cent salicylic acid, it also contains kaolin clay and tea tree oil for their purifying and antiseptic properties. Plus, we like that it’s free of alcohol so it doesn’t dry out skin, which can often lead to flaking.
#2 Eliminate Bacteria
Another ingredient that works quickly to eliminate breakouts is benzoyl peroxide. A potent anti-bacterial ingredient, benzoyl peroxide works by killing the bacteria that’s trapped within your clogged follicle to cause this inflammation. But before you go ahead and apply a thick layer over your zit, it’s important to note that benzoyl peroxide does dry out the skin, so be sure to first apply an oil-free moisturiser before dabbing on a thin layer of any benzoyl peroxide product over specific spots. Try Benzac Spots Treatment Gel 2.5%, $16.50 for 60g, which has a non-irritating concentration of benzoyl peroxide to minimise peeling and reduce sebum production.
#3 Soothe Swelling
Beyond angry pimples, swelling occurs every time there’s inflammation because that’s how the body deals with potentially harmful foreign bodies. Whether you’re stung by a bee or experiencing a bout of breakouts, the detection of foreign bodies leads to white blood cells being activated to quell infection and prevent it from spreading. As a result, there’s an increase of blood flow to the site of inflammation, which explains why the area of inflammation (like where you’ve just scraped yourself, or have a cluster of zits) feels warmer, swollen and looks red. And just like how many facial treatments utilise cold gel masks or cryotherapy probe to sooth inflammation, you can very well apply the same principle in the comfort of your own home using an ice compress. The cold temperature constricts blood vessels, so there’s less blood flow to the pimples, which helps alleviate swelling. Plus, the cold can also help to numb the area temporarily so angry zits feel less painful.
#4 Counter Redness
While applying an ice compress can help reduce swelling and some redness, it’s impossible to eliminate redness completely. Which is why makeup pros always keep colour correctors in their kit to help neutralise redness or any other discolourations. Easily available in department stores and even drug stores, colour correctors are usually green, lavender or peach. To counter redness, look for those that have a green tint like Cover FX Correct Click in Green, $28. It blends easily and seamlessly so it remains undetectable under makeup.
#5 Hide & Conceal
And if all else fails, always make sure you keep a trusty full-coverage concealer on hand. When shopping for a concealer to hide blemishes, the worst thing you can do is get one that might clog pores, so make sure the formula is non-comedogenic. Or better yet, opt for one that is infused with skin-clearing ingredients that help treat blemishes while concealing them. We like It Cosmetics Bye Bye Breakout Full Treatment Concealer, $46, which contains a gentle AHA/BHA complex, sulphur, tea tree and witch hazel extracts to unclog pores and keep acne-causing bacteria at bay. Zinc oxide and kaolin clay absorb excess sebum to keep complexion matte, while peptides and hydrolysed collagen helps keep skin surface smooth and supple so makeup doesn’t crack or crease.
Text: Joyce Cheo / Additional reporting: Arissa Ha