Even the brightest of us aren’t free from hormonal changes, 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, spot treatment can help by delivering powerful skin cleansing ingredients directly to the pimple in question.
“The goal of spot treatment for acne is to reduce damage by shortening the duration of the lesion and reducing the risk of long-term effects, such as discoloration or scarring,” explains the dermatologist. Terrence Keaney, MD, based in Alexandria, Virginia. The precise 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 timing – the earlier you use it, the better. “If you can apply a spot treatment at the first sign of a blemish, sometimes the ingredients can penetrate deep enough to minimize the growth of that rash,” says the Los Angeles esthetician. Cynthia Franco, who counts Salma hayek and The weekend among its clients.
Salicylic acid is often (but not always) the star of these formulas; It is an oil soluble ingredient unique in its ability to penetrate clogged pores while gently exfoliating the surface. “However, it needs to be paired with a moisturizing ingredient so it doesn’t dry out the skin,” Keaney adds. He recommends looking for ingredients that may also calm the inflammation behind the blemish, like niacinamide.
While liquid spot treatments are the most common, you can also find patches and stickers often made from hydrocolloid dressings, the same material used to promote wound healing. It works both to protect the blemish in question and to trap acne-fighting ingredients in the skin. In fact, says Keaney, “the hydrocolloid improves the penetration of the active ingredients into the skin.”
Whichever format you choose, your acne treatment should be the last in your routine. “I still think it’s best to continue a full skin care regimen, which includes cleansing, toning and moisturizing, before spot treatment,” says Franco, who also recommends using it twice. per day. Sticking to your usual routine, including moisturizer, prevents the affected area from getting too dry or potentially irritated, which only fuels the inflammation.
For your next wandering escape, these treatments can help you achieve clarity faster.