Unexpected spots can strike at any moment, and they’re never more unwanted than when they flare up the night before a big occasion. Regardless of what’s happening tomorrow – job interview, first date, or nothing whatsoever – you’re here to find out how to get rid of that pimple as fast as possible, and we’ve got the answers.
But remember the first rule of spot club. Don’t pop it. It may be satisfying but you’re putting yourself at risk of scarring or even making the pimple last even longer if the wound fills with bacteria and closes again. Instead, choose from an army of blemish battlers – serums, pastes, gels, masks, stickers – packed full of the best ingredients for acne-prone skin, like salicylic acid, niacinamide, and zinc.
First thing first, check out our handy guide to identifying what type of breakout you have so you know best how to treat it. Then scroll down to discover the best fast-acting spot treatments
1. Best spot treatment for papules and pustles
Drying out a spot may not be the most recommended form of treatment, but it is one of the quickest way to get rid of a breakout overnight, and is still much safer than popping. Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion utilises sulfur to dry out the pimple and combat bacteria, but the formula also contains calamine to calm skin and salicylic acid to clear the pore. It’s popular because it’s a fast worker and performs well, even on particularly stubborn blemishes.
2. Best spot treatment for spots that need popping
If you’ve broken the first rule of spot club and popped your spot, or if you’ve accidentally caught it, or maybe it’s broken through the skin and formed a head and you’re feeling tempted to pop it… now is a great time to stick on a spot sticker. These basically act like mini dressings or plasters, covering the wound to prevent bacteria from getting in, creating the right environment for the skin to heal, and preventing you from picking at the spot and making it worse. Some (like these Starface Salicylic Acid Hydrocolloid Patches) also contain ingredients like salicylic acid to help clear the pore and draw out buildup.
3. Best spot treatment for 'under the skin' spots
These spot stickers are great for when you can feel the subtle soreness of a spot lurking beneath the surface or a hard and painful bump beginning to form. These kinds of spots are deep-rooted and often don’t come to a head, which can make them harder to treat. Unlike gels or pastes which sit on the surface, the Zitsticka Killa patches have tiny microdarts which infuse spot-fighting ingredients into the skin in order to quickly target the root of the blemish.
4. Best spot treatment for sore and painful spots
If your spots are sore and painful to touch, then take a soothing, calming approach and apply the Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Sleepair Intensive Mask – this cooling gel treatment will work a treat to reduce redness, itchiness, and inflammation while you sleep. The hero ingredient is cica, whch works fast to calm inflammation, soothe irritation, and repair damaged skin.
5. Best spot treatment for blackheads and whiteheads
If you’re prone to oily skin and experience blackheads and whiteheads, then you need to add salicylic acid to your routine. It’s the only exfoliating acid that’s oil-soluble, which means it can absorb deep into skin to clear the pore. When pores become clogged with oil this easily allows for buildup to form, usually from dead skin cells, bacteria, and dirt. If the buildup reaches the surface of the skin it oxidises, which turns it black. Salicylic acid penetrates the oil and dissolves the buildup – what’s more, it’s an anti-inflammatory so helps to calm redness and swelling as well. You’ll find salicylic acid included in lots of cleansers, masks, and serums, but if you’re after a targeted spot treatment, try Dermalogica’s Clear Start Clearing Booster.
6. Best spot treatment for reducing inflammation
Okay, this one’s not gonna take down a hormonal acne flareup in one go and prevent all future breakouts, but what it will do is soothe painful spots and reduce inflammation, taking down swelling and calming redness instantly. The chill constricts blood vessels, stimulating circulation which helps the immune system to clear out the blemish. If you catch the spot at just the right time, you may well prevent it from getting any worse. An ice cube will work, but the By BEAUTY BAY Facial Ice Roller is less messy (and also does double-duty to relieve under-eye puffiness) – just remember to clean it after each use.
7. Best spot treatment for preventing pigmentation
Sometimes, spots bring friends. If your breakouts tend to leave behind scarring or pigmentation, look out for treatments that contain ingredients like squalane and niacinamide, which help to protect and heal skin while the blemish targeting ingredients (such as salicylic acid and zinc) do their thing. By taking a gentle approach, you can help to prevent the damage caused to skin which leads to lingering post-inflammatory pigmentation.