Why Most Acne Spot Treatments DON’T Work


Whenever a blemish appears, the goal is to get it to heal quickly. Most people have a myriad of zit-zapping spot treatments in their bathroom and will apply these generously the moment a blemish pops up in hopes of drying it out to get it to go away more rapidly. This may come as a real surprise but, most spot treatments actually make the blemish stick around longer when used in this way. It will also lead to a prolonged recovery time with scarring. Yes, it’s true. Let me explain why.

With my 27 years experience as an esthetician and my deep understanding of how the skin functions, I know that when there is an infection within the pore, (pustule and papule blemishes—not cysts), the natural process is for the infection to come up and out through the skin’s surface. This is the skin’s way of healing itself.

The slow-down occurs when a spot treatment is applied in an effort to dry out the blemish the moment it appears. The reason why most spot treatments don’t work is because they interfere with the healing process. Meaning, the infection WANTS to come out and if you dry it out on the surface, you’re creating dead, flaky cells, which keep the infection from coming out naturally. It essentially traps the infection under the skin when it desperately wants to get out. (Have you ever tried to squeeze a blemish that has been dried out with a spot treatment? I’m sure you’ve experienced sheets of skin peeling off which will result in more scarring. Not good.) The best solution is to leave it alone (without the application of a drying spot treatment) to get rid of it faster.

However, when the infection comes to the surface appearing as a whitehead, you can gently squeeze it out as long as it comes out in one or two tries. Anything more than that means it wasn’t ready to come out and you will injure the skin resulting in a red or dark scar. Be sure to wrap your fingers in tissues when trying to pop a pimple. Applying a warm, damp washcloth to the blemish beforehand for two minutes can soften up the skin to make for an easier extraction. If you have a sterile lancet, you can pierce the blemish to get it out more easily.

Once the whitehead is removed, dabbing on a zit-zapping product like this super powerful Night Time Spot Lotion can be useful during this phase since it gets into the pore lining to dry out any remaining bacteria to help close up the skin. Then when it’s all healed and you’re left with a dark, discolored mark, use Post-Breakout Fading Gel to make it the scar disappear quickly.

You can’t always control a blemish from appearing but what you do have control over, is what happens when it shows up. I encourage you to be patient and let the healing process run its course without interference. Your skin will be clearer and less scarred because of it. Always work with Mother Nature, never go against her.

Note: The one type of acne spot treatment that CAN be applied the moment a blemish appears to encourage healing and reduce visible inflammation is this one.

Looking for our most comprehensive solution for breakouts? Shop our Emergency Zit Kit, complete with everything you need to tackle blemishes at every stage.

Read: Do You Have Whiteheads, Blackheads, Pustules, Milia Or Cysts?
Read: What’s The Best Spot Treatment For Blemishes?
Read: Five Ways To Hydrate Oily, Acne-Prone Skin Without Causing BreakoutsWhich skin care products are best for you? See our nine skin types or take the Skin Type Quiz and get products recommended.Need expert advice from a licensed esthetician? Schedule a virtual consultation to get customized advice in person, over the phone or online via Skype or FaceTime.For more expert advice check out the blog. Also sign up for our skin tip e-newsletter, follow Renée Rouleau on Twitter and Instagram and join the discussion on our Facebook page. You’ll be your own skin care expert in no time. Get the #ReneeRouleauGlow!

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