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Everyone gets a pimple now and then and by now we all know that we should NEVER pop them and pick them. So let’s fast forward the lecture on why you shouldn’t pop them: Infections! Scars! Hyper-pigmentation! Longer healing time! Scabs!
You know that once in a blue moon you are going to do it anyway so now that the lecture is out of the way, we can address what to do when you have ignored that advice, and have already angered a pimple by popping or picking it.
First a disclaimer: I am not a dermatologist, and I’m not trying to give advice on what is healthy for your skin. My specialty is makeup and covering the redness and swelling in a “Just this once because I made a mess and I need to look decent” type of scenario. So this is not advice on how to treat your acne, just how to make it look better once in a while when the damage is already done, and it’s ok to do this stuff just this once because you’re never going to pick your pimples ever again, right?
If you need actual acne advice I recommend checking out DermTVdotcom and getting answers from a real deal Doctor of Skin.
So first things first…
STOP PICKING IT
Once the deed is done, try to gather some self control and stop yourself from making it worse. Doing things like picking off a scab, trying to squeeze more out of it (which is so gross but hey… it’s what people do) or just generally poking at it and touching it are only going to make it worse. The best thing to do at this point is stop aggravating it.
ADDRESSING THE SWELLING
Popping your pimples causes inflammation, redness and swelling. while the redness can be covered with makeup, swelling is a lot harder to camouflage. Your best bet is to try to reduce the swelling as best you can.
For immediate relief of the swelling, say if you are trying to get ready to go out or something, it can be very helpful to ice the pimple. Just like any other injury ice will help to bring down the swelling. I like to take an ice cube wrapped in a damp face cloth and hold it on the area. You can also use an ice pack, or whatever you prefer but just make sure it is clean. You definitely don’t want to add any bacteria to the area.
If the swelling is persistent and it seems that you might even have a slight infection, wait until after you have taken your makeup off for the day and washed your face. Then dab a tiny amount of Neosporin (or any antibiotic ointment) onto the pimple. The ointment will help to take down some of the inflammation, and speed up healing by keeping bacteria at bay. Obviously this doesn’t help “in the moment” per say, but it will help it get better for the next day at least
It is NOT a good idea to use this on a regular basis as an acne treatment. You should only use it in an instance when you popped a pimple and turned it into an open wound. Hopefully you don’t do that TOO often so just this once isn’t such a big deal.
ADDRESSING THE REDNESS
While redness can be covered by makeup, getting rid of some of it makes it a much easier task. So before you start applying the concealer try this little behind the scenes trick. Take a tiny bit of Visine (Or any eye drop that reduces redness) and apply it to a cotton swab, then hold the cotton swab on the area for a minute or so. The eye drops will take some of the redness out of the area very quickly, making it much easier to cover.
CONCEALING THE PIMPLE
This can be very different depending on the condition of the pimple, so I’ll try to touch on both scenarios.
TYPE ONE – FRESHLY POPPED: A freshly popped pimple can be really tricky, because there is often an area of raw, open skin right in the center of it which refuses to let your concealer cling to it. For this scenario I recommend trying a powder foundation to cover the pimple instead of a concealer.
The powder will cling to the open area more easily than a concealer so it will actually cover that stubborn spot. BUT powder foundation can look super cakey if you over-do it, so I highly recommend using a small brush like a lipstick brush or even a thick eyeliner brush to apply it directly to the pimple, and not to the surrounding area. Then be very careful to gently blend out the edges.
If it does end up looking a little dry you can always use a setting spray to make it look more like skin againTYPE TWO – DRIED UP/FLAKING/CRUSTY: If you picked the pimple a while ago, and it is now all dried up and crunchy you may find that applying concealer over the top of it can look a mess. Crusty textured skin that is the right color is still crusty skin after all. The best way to deal with this is to moisturize the area.I like to take small amount of Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream and let it sit on the pimple for a few minutes before I start applying my makeup. Once the dry skin is softened it will behave more like normal skin, so when you cover it you won’t get as much of that lizard scale look. You know that one I’m talking about.Then right before it is time to apply concealer simply wipe the moisturizer off with a cotton swab. You want to make sure the area is cleaned off before applying your concealer because moisturizers (especially 8 hour cream) usually contain oils which will break down your makeup.
As far as concealer is concerned you can use whatever concealer works for you, but for obvious reasons you should choose something thick and long wearing rather than something that stays slick, or has a thin consistency and light coverage. You took the time to cover it up, so you want it to stay, ya know?
And just like with the powder foundation, try to conceal ONLY the actual pimple, and not the surrounding area, and of course blend the edges out. Well-blended spot concealing looks much more natural and will call less attention to the problem areas than slathering concealer all over.
So those are my tricks for covering a picked pimple, I hope they help. But seriously stop picking them, you will be MUCH better off that way!