Which came first, the chicken or the egg? This is a trick question, of course, because mother dinosaurs popped out eggs long before Mother Earth decided to develop some chickens. You might be asking yourself a similar question about pimples. People always got them, and spot treatments were always there to get rid of them. Which came first Here’s the thing: new spot treatments are none other than their predecessors from before, or even their predecessors from a few years ago, like the goopy pink dry lotions you used too liberally in high school. If breakouts are the egg, spot treatments are the chicken, and the more they develop, the better they are for your skin and acne. Here’s what’s new and improved on the category – and man, it’s a lot.
The physical blockers
Let’s say you don’t want to put anything on your pimple – it is causing you too much distress as it is, and the two of you just need some space to calm down. This is where pimple plasters come into play. To be clear, pimple patches are nothing new. But they have evolved. Some have active ingredients fused with the hydrocolloid, like this one from Cica Care with Centella asiatica, to soothe active or cracked pimples. Or if you are looking for something completely invisible, The Klog’s Soft Sheild Pimple Patches come in a large pack of 42 and will go completely undiscovered during the day. (Play Where’s Waldo with this pic of founder Charlotte Cho swearing she wears eight of them.) Mending for fun, not working? Starface’s limited edition glow in the dark and the holographic Hydro Stars are only back for a week, so stock up while you can.
The sneaky pacifier
When it’s time to make peace with a zit, go for an acne-friendly moisturizer. Now I know what you’re thinking: moisturizer? On a zit !? But before you scroll away in disbelief, listen to me. The crowd is just a red herring. You can actually get quick relief from a pimple by tackling redness and dryness, two major signs of inflammation. In addition, treating inflammation as it occurs reduces the risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. (Imagine you are a hostage taker and your skin is the hostage.)
This approach is why La Roche-Posay’s Cicaplast Baume is a historically great acne treatment. However, if you want to try something with a new shine, you can opt for Rael’s Cica Spot Corrector, which combines Centella asiatica and its ingredients madecassosidic acid and asiaticoside with willow bark extract, a natural source of salicylic acid. The AC Ultimate Spot Balm by CosRx hides tea tree and calamin behind Cica and zinc to treat pimples very sneakily while keeping them calm at the same time. And if you’ve already popped a zit, Hero Cosmetics’ Rescue Balm (containing panthenol, peptides, allantoin, and vitamin E) is a great way to heal or smoothen flaky crusts.
The smelly superheroes
What do acne skin care and Shrek have in common? Lots of layers, like an onion It’s sulfur. You could always find the smelly stuff in Derm-prescribed washes and in the De La Cruz ointment, which was affectionately described as both a mayonnaise emulsion and a creamy fart. But now it’s a dozen cents for spot treatments, and luckily, brands have figured out how to neutralize most of the lingering odor. Sulfur is a great spot treatment because it’s antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory. While it can help dry out the infected pus (sorry) in a whitehead, it does so gently. Plus, sulfur is keratolytic, which is a fancy way of saying it is a scrub. An anti-inflammatory scrub is essentially the best thing you can do for a cyst under the skin, and anecdotally, sulfur is great at treating those cysts too.
Vichys Normaderm SOS is the French answer to sulfur and contains a whopping 10 percent of it. Versed’s game is over too. However, if you only want to dip a toe, sulfur plays an important role in The Inkey List’s succinic acid treatment, albeit at just 2 percent.
The charged staples
The friendly MD PhD Bruce Banner went into gamma rays and came out of The Hulk. Regular old Steve Rogers got a small dose of Super Soldier Serum and became Captain America. And the daily ingredients your skin already loves can be brought to maximum safe concentrations and used as a spot treatment. These charged products have popped up all over the place and you really need to know your skin before diving into them.
Did you respond well to vitamin C serums? Try Peach & Lily’s Transparen-C Pro Spot Treatment, which uses a very high percentage of THD ascorbate, a stable, oil-soluble form of vitamin C, dark mark – kojic acid and tranexamic acid also help lighten, and the combination would likely irritate an active pimple. Try BHA 9 from Paula’s Choice, the makers of your favorite salt. Used on the most stubborn bumps and is a more targeted method of clearing blockages. Finally, Kinship’s Pimple Potion combines two acne-fighting ingredients that you might not want to mix yourself up: salicylic acid and retina, a super-powerful OTC retinoid. It’s best for combo breakouts where all types of pimples are present at roll call.
Photo via ITG