Treat With Salicylic Acid
You’ll never go wrong with one of the best skincare ingredients for clarifying pores. Also known as BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid), salicylic acid is oil-soluble and that means it’s able to penetrate oil plugs to dissolve the nasty gunk. Cleanse your skin with a cleanser that’s fortified with salicylic acid, like SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Cleanser, $49 for 240ml, to unclog congested pores and regulate sebum levels. It also contains glycolic acid and glycerin to eliminate dead skin cells and lock in moisture respectively so skin is well hydrated and doesn’t feel dry or tight.
Alternatively, use a skin-clearing acid pad like First Aid Beauty’s Skin Rescue Anti-Breakout Pads with White Clay, $46 for 60 pieces. Made with two per cent salicylic acid, it also contains kaolin clay and tea tree oil for their purifying and antiseptic properties. Plus, we like that it’s free of alcohol so it doesn’t dry out skin.
Another ingredient that works quickly to eliminate breakouts is benzoyl peroxide. A potent anti-bacterial ingredient, benzoyl peroxide works by killing the inflammation-causing bacteria trapped in your follicle. But before you go ahead and apply a thick layer over your zit, it’s important to note that benzoyl peroxide does dry out the skin, so be sure to first apply an oil-free moisturiser before dabbing on a thin layer of any benzoyl peroxide product over specific spots. Try Benzac Spots Treatment Gel 2.5%, $16.50 for 60g, which has a non-irritating concentration of benzoyl peroxide to minimise peeling and reduce sebum production.
Beyond angry pimples, swelling occurs every time there’s inflammation because that’s how the body deals with potentially harmful foreign bodies. Whether you’re stung by a bee or experiencing a bout of breakouts, the detection of foreign bodies leads to white blood cells being activated to quell infection and prevent it from spreading. As a result, there’s an increase of blood flow to the site of inflammation, which explains why the area of inflammation (like where you’ve just scraped yourself, or have a cluster of zits) feels warmer, swollen and looks red. And just as many facial treatments utilise cold gel masks or cryotherapy probe to soothe inflammation, you can do the same in the comfort of your own home using an ice compress. The cold temperature constricts blood vessels, so there’s less blood flow to the pimples, which helps alleviate swelling. Plus, the cold can also help to numb the area temporarily so angry zits feel less painful.
While applying an ice compress can help reduce swelling and some redness, it’s impossible to eliminate redness completely. Which is why makeup pros always keep colour correctors in their kit to help neutralise redness or any other discolourations. Easily available in department stores and even drug stores, colour correctors are usually green, lavender or peach. To counter redness, look for those that have a green tint like Cover FX Correct Click in Green, $28. It blends easily and seamlessly so it remains undetectable under makeup.
Conceal, conceal, conceal
And if all else fails, always make sure you keep a trusty full-coverage concealer on hand. When shopping for a concealer to hide blemishes, the worst thing you can do is get one that might clog pores, so make sure the formula is non-comedogenic. Or better yet, opt for one that is infused with skin-clearing ingredients that help treat blemishes while concealing them. We like It Cosmetics Bye Bye Breakout Full Treatment Concealer, $46, which contains a gentle AHA/BHA complex, sulphur, tea tree and witch hazel extracts to unclog pores and keep acne-causing bacteria at bay. Zinc oxide and kaolin clay absorb excess sebum to keep complexion matte, while peptides and hydrolysed collagen helps keep skin surface smooth and supple so makeup doesn’t crack or crease.