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16 Do’s and Don’ts to Get Rid of Pimples Fast

by Emily Linehan on June 19, 2020

Pimples always seem to show up at the worst time possible, and while picking and popping the pimple is always tempting, there is a right way and a wrong way to clear these breakouts, fast. 

If you are looking for a strategy to clear your acne quickly, here are my best tips on exactly what to do when these pesky pimples pop up (and also what not to do even though it is tempting or trendy.)

  1. Do ask for professional help. If you haven’t already, always start with my free online skin consultation so we can troubleshoot your skin, uncover any acne triggers that might be contributing to these breakouts and come up with the perfect game plan to not only get you clear but keep you clear. If you are already on your personalized Emme Diane skin regimen, make sure to check-in so we can see what adjustments might need to be made to your skin regimen to clear up these breakouts quickly.
  2. Don’t apply a paste made of crushed aspirin. While this is a trendy tip, unfortunately, aspirin does not actually contain salicylic acid as commonly thought. Aspirin contains acetylsalicylic acid, which while related to salicylic acid, it does not have the same effect on the skin. 
  3. Do ice your face after cleansing. If there is a magic wand for acne, this would be it! Icing your pimples not only helps to reduce inflammation but it also hinders the progression of acne bacteria. The proper way to ice the face is immediately after cleansing. Roll two ice cubes in a continuous circular motion on the skin for about one minute. While Ice rollers are quite popular these days, they are not as sanitary or as cold as an ice cube, so my suggested method is always with a good ole’ ice cube! 
  4. Don’t pick or pop the pimple. When you have an alien growing on your face, it can be hard to keep your hands off. However, picking and popping your pimples will backfire on and create larger breakouts that take months to heal (and may cause scarring). It can be hard to break this habit, so I have my No Picking Agreement which gives you tips and tricks on how to train yourself to stop picking your skin. 
  5. Do make sure to avoid all food triggers. Aside from junk food, fast food and pizza that we know can trigger acne, there are many other foods that are major acne triggers. Some of the biggest offenders are dairy, soy, most protein powders, peanuts and peanut butter. To ensure you are avoiding all possible food triggers and advice on amazing substitutes, please be sure to fill out my complimentary online skin consultation.
  6. Don’t apply toothpaste to the pimple. While you may find that toothpaste dries out the pimple, it also irritates the skin and does nothing to kill the bacteria or address the root cause of the breakout. This old wives tale is not only false but can also lead to another skin issue called perioral dermatitis which I refer to as an acne imposter (but is actually a fungus that is trigger by toothpaste). So definitely ditch the toothpaste skin hack and instead, use my Pink Potion spot treatment to clear pesky pimples seemingly overnight!
  7. Do make sure you use Emme Approved Acne Safe Makeup. While most skin care products on the market have hidden pore clogging ingredients in them (even the ones formulated for acne prone skin), makeup is even worse! While some makeup claims to be non-comedogenic (or not pore clogging), this is just a marketing claim that any company can use to describe their product, even if it does contain pore clogging ingredients. Be sure that you are using Emme Approved Acne Safe Makeup to avoid this hidden clear skin saboteur. 
  8. Don’t over dry the skin. While it is understandable to try everything you can think of to get rid of a pimple, generally less is more. By pulling out the “big guns” like medicated cleansers, multiple acne treatments and serum as well as DIY suggestions from Pinterest, overworking the skin will only lead to more rebellious breakouts and irritated skin. This is especially true with cystic acne. Dealing with breakouts is very similar to dealing with a 2 year old throwing a temper tantrum. The more stressed and crazier you get, the worse the toddler and breakout will be. But if you stay calm, consistent and almost ignore them, both the toddler and the breakout will simmer down much faster. 
  9. Do use a spot treatment. Like mentioned above, spot treating is a great way to help clear breakouts quickly without over drying the skin. My Pink Potion spot treatment combines the acne fighting trifecta with the calming and soothing power of camphor, anti-bacterial sulfur and anti-inflammatory salicylic acid to quickly and effectively reduce inflammation and redness. Just use a q-tip to dot it on your pimple at night after the last step in your skin routine!
  10. Don’t take supplements that contain biotin. While Biotin is generally thought of as a supplement for healthy skin, hair and nails, believe it or not, it is a major acne trigger for those who are acne prone. Unfortunately, it is found in most multivitamins on the market, but can also be hidden in other supplements and protein powders. So be sure to double check all your vitamins, supplements (including sports supplements) and protein powders for this major acne trigger. 
  11. Do consider your hormones. As I am sure you guessed, hormones are a major trigger for acne. A woman’s natural hormone fluctuations can be a trigger for acne which is why we tend to have those breakouts during “that time of the month”. However, if the hormones are out of balance, this can lead to bigger acne issues. If you feel like your hormones are out of balance, I always suggest seeing a specialist for hormone testing as an imbalance can really affect your skin (and health in general). Also, birth control and some hormone replacements can be incredibly triggering to acne. You will want to AVOID the low-dose, low estrogen versions of birth control (the ingredient Ethinyl Estradiol needs to be .035mg or higher to be acne safe) or progesterone only versions of birth control (such as the IUD's or shots, "mini-pill" or implants) as these are the ones that are triggering to acne prone skin. Of course, whatever your doctor decides overrides my suggestions, but it is important for you to know all the hidden triggers that could hinder your clearing progress. For more information about hormones and acne, please check out my blog here.
  12. Don’t touch, play with, investigate how big it got in the last hour. It is so tempting to fiddle with that growing pimple on your face. It’s almost like your fingers are attracted to it like a magnet. Aside from the obviously dirty hands on the face, the pressure from touching a pimple can lead to tons of trouble under the skin. I compare it to that cross-section picture of a glacier where the mass of snow and ice that is above the waterline is 10 times smaller than the massive ice below the water. The same is true with our pimples. We can only see a very small part of the situation; underneath that pimple, there is lots of bacteria that is creating inflammation and trouble that you cannot see. The trouble is that bacteria “eats” living tissue, it is deteriorating the lining of the pore wall making the pore incredibly fragile. When you continuously touch a pimple, it can cause the pore wall to burst and infect all the surrounding pores. This is why it feels like a pimple comes back even bigger the next day when you play with it. So, don’t make this fragile situation worse…hands off that pretty face!
  13. Do consider using a high frequency tool. This buzzy wand (that sounds like electricity) is one of the oldest tools in the esthetics world and it is still around today because it works! A high frequency tool creates ozone which is made up of 3 oxygen atoms that “suffocate” acne bacteria (acne bacteria is anaerobic meaning it cannot live in an oxygen rich environment). When you have a pesky pimple pop up, using a High Frequency Tool can help clear those breakouts even quicker, and is a good alternative to picking or popping! My suggested way to use it is after cleansing and icing the skin, apply a hydrating gel to the skin, like my Skin Quencher Gel, and use the tool for no longer than one minute. 
  14. Don’t forget your hair care or body/hand lotion can be a possible trigger. Typically, this is something that I mention to clients who are dealing with acne on their hairline or body acne, but your hair care and body care products can and do migrate to your face! As you can imagine, most are quite pore clogging due to the oils and hydrating ingredients found in the products. If you struggle with breakouts on the forehead, temples or cheeks/jawline where your hair touches your face, you may want to consider swapping them out. My recommendation for acne safe body care is my Sensitive Body Wash and Essential Body Lotion. For acne safe hair care, here is my list of Emme Approved Acne Safe Hair Care Products. 
  15. Do make sure to follow a proper pre workout and post workout skin care regimen. Sweat creates the perfect environment for acne bacteria to thrive and grow rapidly. So, not performing your post workout skin routine immediately after sweating will trigger acne significantly. This is a major trigger that keeps clients from clearing. It will be important that on the days you workout/sweat that you perform your post workout skin care routine immediately post workout. This means at the gym, yoga studio, etc. before driving home. On the days you workout, you will do your morning routine in the morning, post workout routine immediately after working out, night routine before bed; 3 times a day. My Clear Skin? No Sweat! Skin Care Workout Guide explains what your post workout skin routine would be based on what time of day you workout.
  16. Don’t stress! When all else fails, always check in with me so we can do a deeper dive to figure out what is triggering these breakouts. There is always a reason why the skin is acting up and once we determine it, there is always a solution to have clear, blemish free skin!
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