4 DIY Acne Spot Treatments Approved by Dermatologists
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Your aspirin may work on more than just headaches.
An all-too-relatable scenario: desperately applying every product in our cabinets on the unsightly pimple that seemed to have formed on our face overnight. Getting a pimple always seems to come at the worst possible times, so if you’re seriously in a pinch, spot treatments are perfect for targeting stubborn pimples.
Though the market is filled with loads of acne spot treatments, you can easily achieve the same results with a little bit of experimenting—and dermatologist-approved guidance. Medical-grade treatments typically include key ingredients such as salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and azelaic acid, but you can get similar results using at-home remedies (and for a lot less cash).
Below are 4 DIY spot treatments to quickly get rid of pimples at home, according to expert dermatologists.
Aspirin is an anti-inflammatory medication, so by crushing the medication into a powder/paste, it makes for the perfect pimple remedy, according to Brendan Camp, MD, a double board-certified dermatologist based in NYC. The idea is that the aspirin paste is absorbed through the skin to reduce redness as well as swollen acne papules and pustules. Though there is no scientific evidence that the medication is effective in spot-treating acne, the active ingredient, acetylsalicylic acid, is super similar to salicylic acid, according to Dr. Simran.
Important note: If you’re looking to give this treatment a try, be careful on the type of aspirin you buy. Avoid any coated tablets to ensure you’re getting the most pure ingredients possible prior to testing on your skin.
Tea Tree Oil
“Tea tree oil has natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, and can also act as an antifungal,” says Simran Sethi, founder and CEO of Skin by Dr. Simran Sethi. So, essentially, it’s amazing at reducing redness and swelling of pimples or breakout spots.
But don’t go dabbing the raw oil onto your skin. When applying to sensitive areas such as your face, pure tea tree oil can sometimes cause irritation, so it is best to dilute it with a damp cotton ball or mix it in with a moisturizer before applying.
Who knew this could be used for more than just baking bread? Apparently, according to Simran, you can mix this baking essential with distilled water to help inflammation, especially related to clogged pores. Not only this, but “if blended into a creamy texture, baking soda can gently exfoliate pores to remove debris that is often the cause of acne and breakouts.”
But be warned, this should only be used in a pinch! If too much is added to the mixture, it can cause a bit of dryness. The key to ensure DIY recipes work is through proper skin hydration, so be sure to load up on exfoliation and cleaning on or around the acne and breakout areas to promote a strong skin barrier.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has been a go-to DIY remedy for lots of different skin ailments over the years. It has known antimicrobial properties, making it great for combating inflammation and redness, according to Erum Ilyas, MD, a board-certified dermatologist with Schweiger Dermatology Group and founder of AmberNoon.
Dr. Ilyas does warn that dilution is key with this remedy as well. “We do know that when [ACV] is not diluted, it can be very irritating to the skin. When it is too diluted, it may lose its antimicrobial properties. Finding the right balance may be difficult when your goal is to improve a spot and not make it worse.”
Try using it in a water-based toning pad or as a mist with 1-part apple cider vinegar to 3-parts water. According to Jason Emer, MD, board-certified dermatologist, this makes it much less irritating and more controlled.
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