You woke up with an angry pimple. From every angle, it’s practically staring at you in the face in the mirror. You want to get rid of it, now. The first thing you should avoid is trying to pop that sucker yourself, because this can make the pimple even worse than it looks now. Instead, treat it with medicines that get at the heart of why it’s there in the first place, advises Joshua Zeichner, MD, the Director of Cosmetic & Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
Next time you’re lamenting your zit fate, try these six products to chase it off your face for good.
With 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide, this product contains just the right amount to reduce the bacteria present in pores that causes pimple eruptions—all without being too harsh and triggering irritation. Dr. Zeichner cautions that benzoyl peroxide can bleach fabrics, so protect your pillowcases if you go to bed after applying it.
You guessed it: 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide stops P. acnes bacteria to address everything from larger pimples to a whitehead or two. With very few ingredients for a skincare product (there’s only five, one of which is water) and fragrance-free, you can feel confident using it even if you have sensitive skin.
This product is a classic for a reason—and if you stopped using it when you were a teen, it’s time to bring it back in your arsenal. It’s expertly formulated with 2 percent salicylic acid to exfoliate and sop up pore-plugging excess oil. You’ll love this one because the tipped applicator makes it super simple to target the pimple and apply it precisely to the spot.
Just what you’re looking for: 2 percent salicylic acid to clear out those pores, along with oat extract to ease redness and soothe. Witch hazel has also been added for more oil-busting benefits. The gel dries clear and won’t peel off, so it’s ideal to dab a thin amount under makeup and go about your day.
We admit, it’s certainly not fancy, but sometimes the simple things are the best. This topical corticosteroid cream with 1 percent hydrocortisone helps quickly soothe the enraged spot and reduce redness. Petrolatum, glycerin, and mineral oil offer an infusion of hydration to combat the dryness that commonly happens with spot treatments.
Along with the right amount of inflammation-reducing hydrocortisone, this adds chamomile, antioxidants, and vitamins A, C, and E, so it can also help calm, moisturize, and generally help your skin feel more comfortable throughout the treatment. And, since hydrocortisone is an expert multitasking ingredient, you can keep what’s leftover to treat irritation or itchiness in the future.