You're breaking out like a bad prison movie, and you have a big day coming up. There's almost no time, and you need your face to get back to normal. What do you do? Don't worry, there are tried and true steps you can take to clear up acne in a day, and with regular treatments, keep it at bay. If only treating acne were as easy as rhyming!
Part One: Prepping Your Face
- 1Wash up. In order to clear up acne, you need to start by giving your face a nice wash. Acne consists of bacteria that have invaded your pores, and the first step is to fight back with a gentle, but effective acne wash.
- Some people use a washcloth when washing their face, but hands are just as effective, if not less irritating. Take the directed amount of acne wash, mix it with warm water, and gently rub it into your face in a circular motion.
- 2Exfoliate your skin. Get into the habit of exfoliating with an acne scrub every week, literally every week. Exfoliating means gently wiping away the top layer of dead skin cells that accumulate on the epidermis, clearing the way for a nice new layer of vibrant, acne-free skin. When you wash your face with a gentle exfoliant, take care not to rub too hard.
- 3Rinse well. Get some cool water going and rinse your face well, gently scrubbing as you do.
- Where warm water opens your pores and allows the acne wash to properly clean the pores, cold water constricts the blood vessels and causes the pores, and surrounding skin, to tighten.
Part Two: Short Term Solutions For Treating Acne
- 1Try some benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide is used to kill the bacteria that contribute to acne. Benzoyl peroxide comes in different concentrations, but benzoyl peroxide with a 2.5% concentration is just as effective as 5-10% solutions, and it's less irritating to the skin to boot. Benzoyl peroxide also helps peel away layers of dead skin, leaving brighter, more rejuvenated skin in its place.
- 2Use salicylic acid. Like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid kills bacteria responsible for pimple growth. It also causes skin cells to shed more rapidly, promoting the growth of new skin. Put small amounts of salicylic acid onto affected areas before you go asleep, after you have washed your face.
- 3Use toothpaste. Toothpaste contains silica, which is the drying agent you find in bags of beef jerky, among other things. Basically, toothpaste will dry out your pimple overnight, reducing it in size.
- Make sure to use natural toothpaste when you dab it onto your skin. Some toothpastes containing sodium lauryl sulfate can irritate the skin. Watch out for it before applying.
- 4Try tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is an antibacterial essential oil that can blast the microbes that have started to make a home inside of your pores. With a dropper, dab a Q-Tip with a bit of tea tree oil and apply to pimples as needed, being careful not to put on too much.
- Tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory properties that can make the redness and size of the pimple less noticeable.
- 5Crush up some aspirin. Crush up an aspirin tablet and add just enough water to make it into a paste. With a Q-Tip, add the aspirin paste to the pimple(s) lightly, covering entirely. Let dry. Aspirin is another anti-inflammatory, meaning it will help the skin fight against inflammation, making the pimple less visible. Let the aspirin paste fight the pimple overnight.
- 6Use astringents on the affected areas. Astringents are agents that cause the skin to contract or get smaller. Some pharmaceutical astringents contain antimicrobial ingredients that will help fight the pimple in addition to reducing the size of the pimple. Here are some astringents to consider using:
- Store bought astringents. These come in different types and sizes. Look for one that contains benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Ask for astringents that are gentle on the skin.
- Natural astringents may also work in a pinch. They include:
- Lemon juice. The citric acid here kills the bacteria that cause acne and act as a skin-tightener. Many people swear by it. Slice a lemon and gently rub it over the affected area.
- Banana peel. Banana peels are helpful in treating insect and mosquito bites, and may be helpful in reducing the size of some pimples. Gently rub the banana peel over the affected area. Also try putting the banana peel with a dash of salt, a teaspoon of vinegar and a tablespoon of maple syrup in the blender. Apply on your face and leave for 7 minutes. Wash with a face wash and dry.
- Witch hazel. Another great astringent with a ton of applications. Look for witch hazel that doesn't contain alcohol. Apply a small bit over affected area and let dry.
- Green tea. Green tea is an astringent that's packed with lots of antioxidants, which help reduce signs of aging by fighting free radicals. Steep a tea bag in some hot water, remove the tea bag along with all the liquid, and place onto affected area briefly.
- 7Apply ice cubes if necessary. Rub an ice cube over the acne on your face until the area goes numb. When your face goes numb, stop; leave your face alone until it's warm again.
- As mentioned above, ice will help diminish the size of the pores by constricting the blood vessels underneath the skin. If your acne is painful, it should help ease the pain.
- If you have a lot of acne, work in sections. When one section goes numb, move to the next section.
- Repeat this process around your face.
Part Three: Longer Term Solutions
- 1Sleep. Sleep deprivation and stress can cause hormonal changes, which in turn make your face more susceptible to breakouts. Get a full eight hours of sleep every night.
- 2Remove stress from your life. Doctors aren't completely sure why, but they do know that there is a link between stress and skin disorders, specifically stress and acne. Somehow, the cells that produce sebum, which is the stuff that ultimately causes acne, become unregulated when a person experiences a lot of stress.
- Find creative outlets for your stress. Some people detach from stressful situations by taking a walk. Others pour their stress out onto a canvas by painting. Whatever it is that you do to decompress, do it early and do it often.
- Try meditation techniques. Become aware of your body, focus in on your breathing, and slowly push your awareness to the outer limits of your body, obliterating thought altogether. Meditation takes time, but it's worth it.
- 3Shampoo your hair regularly. Oils from your hair can cause acne. In addition, change your pillowcase every week. The oils that transfer to your pillowcase from your face and hair tend to be dirty and irritating. They're best to avoid.
- If you have longer hair, tie it back, away from your face.
- Wash your face regularly during the day. The more oily your skin, the more frequently you should wash it. Be sure to use a gentle, non-drying cleanser. The goal is not to dry your skin out, which could actually make things worse, but to keep the excess oils off your skin.
- 4Exercise. For pretty much any ailment aside from muscle or bone damage, exercise is a panacea. Exercise is a great option for getting your circulation going, and anything that promotes good circulation also helps keep your skin healthy and vibrant-looking. A couple things to remember when you exercise:
- Always wear sunscreen if exercising outdoors. The benefits of
getting your circulation jumpstarted can be outweighed by the
disadvantages of sun damage if you're not careful. Wear sunscreen that
is light and doesn't irritate or sting your skin.
- Shower or clean yourself after you exercise. When you sweat, your pores can get clogged with salty, dirty residue that's leftover from your workout. Be sure to wash your body, and especially your face, after you exercise.
- Always wear sunscreen if exercising outdoors. The benefits of getting your circulation jumpstarted can be outweighed by the disadvantages of sun damage if you're not careful. Wear sunscreen that is light and doesn't irritate or sting your skin.
- 5Take oral acne medications. These have been shown to reduce or eliminate acne in a variety of ways. Talk to your doctor or your dermatologist about which medications might be most effective for you.
- For females, oral contraceptives such as birth-control are sometimes used to treat acne. The birth control regulates the hormones produced by the body, cutting down on breakouts.
- Other oral antibiotics attack the bacteria that causes acne. They can assist in reducing the number of breakouts, as well as in fighting inflammation. Patients are usually given a higher dosage earlier on before being moved to a lower dosage.
- For severe cases, isotretinoin, or Accutane, is available through a prescription. Isotretinoin is a vitamin-A derivative that shrinks the glands that produce sebum. It comes with various risks and side-effects, which you should fully understand before embarking on a course of treatment.