It always seems as though pimples show up just in time for a fancy formal event or the day before a first date. Before you start plotting a cover-up job—or worse, picking at it—there are a few tricks for reducing the severity of your zit.
The best thing about these tips is that all you have to do is walk into your kitchen. So when a pimple threatens to ruin your day, head to the pantry or medicine cabinet, and stop it in its tracks.
01. Ice Cube
There’s nothing like the bruising sensation of a newly blossoming pimple. These types of pimples certainly feel like someone punched you in the face, and guess what? You can treat it as if someone actually did—with ice. Icing the beginning stages of a pimple is the best way to prevent it from growing, as the cold acts to reduce the inflammation. Take an ice cube and wrap it in a clear plastic bag, and then gently press it against the swelling. Only ice it for a few minutes at a time, and be gentle.
02. Crushed Aspirin
Again, a pimple is just like any other inflamed injury, so treating it with anti-inflammatory methods is the way to stop it in it tracks. For this trick, reach into your cabinet and pull out your aspirin (you’ll need the uncoated kind for this). In a little bowl or plate, crush three to five tablets of uncoated aspirin, and add a little water to create a paste. Once you have the perfect consistency (it should be somewhere between chalky and watery), apply the paste to your pimple, and leave it on for about twenty to thirty minutes. Aspirin also contains salicylic acid, an ingredient in many acne treatment products. Feel free to repeat the spot treatment process every couple hours.
03. Baking Soda
That little orange box of Arm & Hammer underneath your sink can actually help heal your acne. For spot treatments, mix baking soda and a few drops of water to create a paste. Apply it to your pimple, and let it dry for about twenty minutes. How does it work? The mild anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties of the baking soda lessen the irritation caused by inflamed acne. Baking soda is known to draw out impurities and will bring your pimple to a head, so make sure you are ready to deal with a whitehead before using this method. Baking soda also has an exfoliating texture that can help remove any dead skin cells or debris clogging up your pores.
When you’re in a bind and don’t have your regular zit-zapping creams or gels, try using white toothpaste. The plain white kinds have ingredients that can fight bacterial acne, such as baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Avoid whitening toothpastes with bleaching ingredients—those will irritate your skin. We suggest Tom’s of Maine Anticavity toothpaste, which contains baking soda. Apply a dab to the area, and leave it on for a couple hours. Warning: Toothpaste isn’t made for delicate facial skin, and repeated use within a short period of time on the same pimple can cause drying and more irritation. Make sure you only use this method once or twice in order to avoid more redness.
05. Eye Drops
Believe it or not, drops that reduce eye redness can also reduce the redness of your pimple. Although this isn’t a healing method and certainly isn’t a long-term fix, it can help when you’re desperate to quickly reduce the red, inflamed appearance of a pimple. The drops narrow swollen blood vessels and are often moisturizing, so you don’t have to worry about drying out your skin. You can apply the drops directly to your pimple, or you can get creative and apply chilled cotton balls that have been soaked in the drops in order to alleviate swelling. Just leave them in your refrigerator for an hour or so before applying.
06. Tea Tree Oil
You probably already knew this one, but tea tree oil is a mild antiseptic and anti-inflammatory—perfect for drying out zits and reducing swelling. Apply with a cotton swab, and leave it on for a few hours or overnight. Upon first use, you will definitely feel the oil working on your skin. It should gently tingle, as though you put menthol on your face. If it starts to burn, however, gently wipe it away with a water-soaked cotton ball. Err on the underuse side for this one—the drying properties of tea tree oil can cause redness and skin peeling if you use it too often. If you have sensitive skin and are concerned about the harshness of tea tree oil, try diluting it with a few drops of water to lessen the intensity.
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