Even the most radiant among us are not without the changes in hormones, inadvertently clogged pores, and genetic predispositions that set the stage for occasional acne. Whether you have a single blemish or are looking at a constellation, a spot treatment can help, delivering powerful skin-lightening ingredients right to the pimple in question.
“The goal of an acne blemish treatment is to reduce the damage by shortening the duration of the injury and reducing the risk of long-term effects, such as discoloration or scarring,” says the dermatologist. Terrence Keaney, MD, based in Alexandria, Virginia. The precision approach means that the rest of your skin avoids contact with the strategic cocktail of ingredients, thus avoiding unnecessary irritation.
Getting the best results from your spot treatment can be a matter of time, meaning the earlier you use it, the better. “If you can apply a spot treatment at the first sign of a blemish, the ingredients can sometimes penetrate deep enough to minimize the growth of that rash,” says the Los Angeles esthetician. Cynthia Franco, who counts Salma Hayek other Weekend among your customers.
Salicylic acid is often (but not always) the headline for these formulas; It is an oil soluble ingredient unique in its ability to penetrate clogged pore while gently exfoliating the surface. “However, it must be combined with a hydrating ingredient so it doesn’t dry out the skin,” Keaney adds. He recommends looking for ingredients that can also calm the inflammation behind the blemish, such as niacinamide.
While liquid spot treatments are the most common, you can also find patches and adhesives often made with hydrocolloid dressings, the same material that is used to promote wound healing. It does double duty both to protect the blemish in question and to trap acne-fighting ingredients within the skin. In fact, Keaney says, “the hydrocolloid improves the penetration of active ingredients into the skin.”
Whichever format you choose, your acne treatment should be the last of the routine. “I always think that it is best to continue with a complete skin care regimen, which includes cleansing, toning and hydration, before the spot treatment,” says Franco, who also recommends using it twice a day. Sticking to your regular routine, including moisturizer, prevents the affected area from becoming too dry or potentially irritated, which only fuels further inflammation.
For your next erratic breakout, these treatments can help you reach clarity more quickly.