Certain beauty ingredients gain a reputation after copious time spent in your beauty cabinet. You know turmeric’s an anti-inflammatory powerhouse, retinol’s a multitasking anti-ager, and hyaluronic acid’s like coconut water for your complexion. But knowing what to grab when your skin’s breaking out kind of feels like throwing a dart at a board.
The good news is that there are lots of options for those zits—and once you’re familiar with them—it’s like having an acne army on standby for whenever pimples rear their heads.
“Face masks or clay-based substances work well, and you can use them as spot treatments too,” say Shirley Chi, MD, a California-based dermatologist. Or you can reach for the traditional spot treatments—as long as they contain certain star ingredients.
“The simplest ingredient I really like is kaolin clay,” notes Dr. Chi. “It’s very detoxifying, decreases redness, and tightens pores. It’s really good for drying out pimples—just don’t leave it on for more than 10 minutes or it can over-dry.”
Then there’s sulfur, a lesser-known zit buster. “I like sulfur because it kills germs and clears pores,” says Dr. Chi, who just cautions against using if you’re allergic. (Before applying it to your face, do a spot test on your arm to make sure you aren’t.)
Acids also work wonders for slaying pimples. “Glycolic and salicylic acids are great for breakouts,” she says. “Glycolic is an exfoliator that gets rid of dead skin cells which in turn clears pores and gives you healthier, fresher skin. And salicylic actually penetrates to the bottom of your oil glands, so it cleans everything up better than other acids.” Now, when breakouts happen, you know what to do. Slather these on—and your acne won’t stand a chance.
Keep scrolling to add these treatments to your skin-care arsenal.
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