How Do I Get Rid of a Pimple, Fast? - The Skincare Edit

How Do I Get Rid of a Pimple, Fast?

"I have a friend's wedding on Sat! HELP!"
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It's been a while since we did a Twestion! That's Twitter question if you just got back from 1998. (And next time, you can ask me yours here.) This particular issue, however, is so universal that it spans generations—it was a problem in 1998, and in 2008, and I'm sure will persist into 2018 and beyond. I'm talking about the moments in life when you simply MUST have clear skin and then, lo and behold, are cursed with a gigantic red blemish in the most conspicuous location possible. Oh, the humanity!

Here's Simone's Twestion: HELP! I have a massive blemish on my cheek and I have a friend's wedding on Sat! How do I get rid of it FAST!

Now the beauty of Twitter is not just in the 140-character limit (a forced brevity that I, for one, appreciate since I tend to spend my days labouring over 1,200-word magazine articles). It's also a fantastic way to crowd-source, so that your Twestion isn't just answered by moi but also the entire Twitterverse (and Facebook-verse, because I posted the question there too). Options, people! That's what it's all about.

So here's a round-up of what they—and I—swear by for instant zit destruction. If you have a favourite remedy, let us know in the comments!


Not one but two Tweeples recommended this (which you can buy in Canada at Sears). It contains sage essential oil.

@EpicMakeup: for Zits I love SAMPAR's Prodigal Pen - use it on all my celebrity clients! Get one!

@FournierComm: @SamparParis Prodigal Pen is the best to get rid fast of unwanted pimples and it smells great

Then there is this old favourite—apparently studies show that tea tree oil is as effective as benzoyl peroxide but with less irritation. (Some derms refute that, however, so it may be a matter of trial and error to see what works for you.)

@Gimped: The Body Shop's Tea Tree Oil. Usually clears mine within 2-4 days.

I'm not sure what the active ingredients are here, but this is a toner that would be great for all-over zit-drying power:

@kjourdanduff: Mary Kay Blemish Control Toner among other items.

And this glycolic and salicylic acid-based spot treatment sounds very promising:

@krystalmaietta: Marcelle's AC-SOLUTION Imperfection corrector. Even my worst blemishes didn't last more then 2 days.

The next few recos come via Facebook. The active in this natural one is salicylic acid:

Courtenay says: Aveda Outer Peace Acne Spot Relief. Amazing and not full of crazy chemicals

Another salicylic acid option:

Marisa says: Clinique Spot Treatment, or any other salicylic acid 10% treatment. Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid, so it penetrates deep into the pore to kill the goop inside.

And here's a third salicylic acid option:

Mary says: Oh man! I just started using "No Zit Sherlock" by Bliss and I like it so far...but it's only been a day. I'll keep you posted!

Of course, this list would not be complete without a benzoyl peroxide shout-out. I just wrapped up an acne story and in terms of over-the-counter stuff, it's most derms' go-to ingredient (although it CAN be drying/irritating if you're not that oily).

Thomas says: Clearasil Ultra Rapid Action Treatment Cream, been using it for years and it's great for reducing the redness as well as the size!

I've never heard of this next one, so I imagine it's only available in the U.S., but This one is apparently available at Walmart, Costo and Rexall and it works using benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid AND benzalkonium chloride (an antibacterial).

Michelle says: Acne Free System. You can get it at drugstores and it works better than proactive! Been using it for years.


Two Tweeps suggested a trip to the derm (among other things—I like @beautywoome's suggestion of applying [fake] tan):

@beautywoome: Sulfur lotion and a sun tan! Seriously. And if it's cystic get to the derm to inject that s**t with cortisone!
@vivp: enough time for a visit to the derm for cortisone shot? extreme measure but then again it is a wedding

And this is excellent advice (which you may recall I followed myself for this event)! Most major cities will have an acne clinic that accommodates emergency, often same-day appointments. (In Toronto, try the Toronto Acne Clinic. I think they'll charge you something like $10.) What they'll do is inject the pimple with cortisone, which will dramatically bring down inflammation and speed up healing. Usually, it will start going down within a matter of hours, and within 24, will be flat as a pancake and totally cover-up-able.

Just don't go for this remedy too often, because repeated injections of the same site can make the skin there look sunken in (because the tissue can atrophy). I believe most places won't do more than three injections of the same spot—and really, if you're having those kinds of issues then you need a more long-term remedy. Y'all know I suggest this one. (Although Nora, via Facebook, says: Blu-u! It's the only thing that worked for me! It's a little pricey but it's worth it!)


Still reading? Good, because this is what I do in those rare premenstrual times when I haven't taken my cod liver oil and my skin decides I should be punished.

1. Now, I know everyone says to never try to extract a pimple yourself—and that is good advice!—but sometimes, you just have to in order to speed healing. If the pimple is "ripe," i.e. not one of those hard, under-the-skin kind, what you want to do is take a sterilized needle (PLEASE make sure it's sterilized—about 30 seconds in hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol will do) and then gently pierce the epicentre of the (also sterilized) pimple.

2. Then, also gently, press down on either side of the pimple with your fingers. I wrap mine in Kleenex so that they're also sterile. It's very important that you press down and NOT squeeze, because you don't want to damage or bruise your skin.

3. If any "stuff" comes out, great! But if not, don't try to make it happen because you'll only make the situation worse. Instead, sterilize the area again and move on to...

4. Bentonite clay!

I'm telling you, this shiz is better than any over-the-counter acne product I've tried. Shake a bit of the powder on to your palm (you won't need a lot), and then mix it with some water until it forms a paste. Apply it to the pimple overnight, and I SWEAR it will dry it up like magic. Bentonite is simply incredible at drawing out impurities—like nothing else I've ever used.

UPDATE: Order the Bentonite Powder from—no minimum order and FREE shipping in Canada!

Other than that, some other things that have worked for me are: a) icing the pimple to bring down inflammation; b) popping an Advil (also takes down inflammation); c) zapping it with the Zeno Hot Spot; and d) doubling up on an anti-inflammatory diet, eg. wild salmon, green tea, fresh fruits and vegetables, lots of water, and of course, double doses of cod liver oil.

Has a mega zit ever ruined a special event for you?

Have you tried any of these products, treatments or remedies?

What zit-killers do YOU swear by?

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