Look, we’ve all been there: a hormonal breakout, a pesky pimple that just won’t go away, a raging blackhead you simply cannot seem to get rid of. We’ve tried cleansers, lotions, serums, toners, acne treatments–the whole nine yards; and still, nothing seems to work. What’s a girl gotta do to get rid of a pimple or two? I mean, surely it can’t be that difficult to soothe and placate irritated skin?
A version of this article previously appeared on JacalynBeales.com.
Growing up, I was fortunate enough to experience the trials and tribulations of being a teen sans acne. Sure, I had the odd breakout or pimple, but for the most part, my skin was clean, clear, and under control. I knew people who had to use prescription medications and facial products to battle acneic complexions; had friends whose parents paid hundreds of dollars for expensive skin treatments, or pricey makeup products to conceal breakouts and zits. But I never went through any dramatic or complicated skin issues myself.
I attribute this to my mother’s almost overzealous conviction that my brother and I grow up knowing how to properly care for and maintain a healthy complexion. I can distinctly remember being twelve years old and accompanying my mother to the local spa/beauty boutique, where she sat me down with a skin specialist and told me to listen carefully to the “nice lady” who taught me how to use natural products to care for my skin. Since that fateful day, I’ve been fretfully careful about what I put on my skin and how I monitor its health.
But that doesn’t mean my skin is perfect or blemish free. Like almost every other human being on this beautiful planet, I get the odd pimple or breakout (especially around that time of the month, if you catch my drift) and at one point had exhausted almost every avenue of ensuring I never get another pimple ever again. When I realized that’s virtually impossible, I decided to do some research to find natural, green skincare items that would help nip zits in the bud without harming or otherwise affecting the health of my skin negatively. This meant spending a good chunk of my beauty budget (which goes to skincare and the odd natural concealer here and there) on spot treatments.
What is a “Spot Treatment” and Why Should I Use One?
Put simply, a spot treatment is an over-the-counter solution for pimples or breakouts used topically to heal and diminish both the appearance and severity of a zit. Unlike acne treatments, which are typically used in the form of cleansers, creams and/or serums, spot treatments are meant for specific breakouts or pimples only. In other words, they are not meant as an all-over facial or skin care product. As their name denotes, you would apply a spot treatment directly to a pimple. Spot treatments most commonly dry out pimples or breakouts to draw bacteria and excess sebum away from the irritated spot, shrinking it and often lessening the severity of its appearance. Some spot treatments can be used overnight, underneath makeup, or on their own as a concealer; for instance, many commercial spot treatments come tinted like concealers or foundations so you can fight pimples while concealing them.
You should use a spot treatment when you have a pimple here or a breakout there because they are effective at killing the bacteria and absorbing the excess sebum of small breakouts or pimples. However, spot treatments are not usually considered effective treatments for more severe skin conditions like cystic acne; it’s important that you consult a healthcare professional if you are experiencing more regular, severe breakouts or believe you may have an acneic condition. If you have mild breakouts every once and a while or get the occasional pimple, a spot treatment could just do the trick.
The great thing about spot treatments is how accessible they are. You can find a spot treatment at virtually any drugstore, supermarket, or beauty boutique, making it easy and convenient to purchase one. However, most over-the-counter spot treatments are brimming with artificial ingredients and chemicals, which can do more harm to your skin than good. When sourcing a natural spot treatment, it’s important to look for naturally healing ingredients that fight bacteria and excess sebum without the use of artificial preservatives, dyes, chemicals or fragrances. Some ingredients you may choose to look for are botanical extracts such as neem, rosemary, tea tree, chamomile, calendula, lavender, goldenseal, willow tree bark, aloe vera, etc. Some spot treatments will incorporate bacteria-fighting clays such as bentonite or
Some ingredients you may choose to look for are botanical extracts such as neem, rosemary, tea tree, chamomile, calendula, lavender, goldenseal, willow tree bark, aloe vera, etc. Some spot treatments will incorporate bacteria-fighting clays such as bentonite or rhassoul while others will use natural salicylic acid found in fruit extracts, such as blueberry, strawberry, or tomato. Spot treatments typically go on wet and subsequently dry on the skin to naturally draw out bacteria and other microbials in the pores that are causing pimples or breakouts. My general rule of thumb is to look for spot treatments that uses natural ingredients known for their antibacterial and antimicrobial properties while focusing on limited ingredient lists.
Here are my recommendations for effective, natural acne spot treatments:
1. Pimple Mud – Fat and the Moon – $17
Hands down the best spot treatment I’ve used to date, Fat and the Moon’s Pimple Mud is exactly that: a mud for pimples. Harnessing the natural power of tea tree oil and bentonite clay, the Pimple Mud draws bacteria out of clogged pores while goldenseal and witch hazel keep skin clear from bacteria and soothe irritation. This mud goes on “wet” and dries without flaking, making it the perfect overnight treatment. All you need is a small dab of this Mud on a pimple or breakout, keep it on overnight, then wash it off in the morning when you cleanse your face. The Pimple Mud typically clears away a pimple within 1-3 days. Miracle worker!
2. Acne Drying Lotion – OhSudz – $20
Drying lotions are quite popular as spot treatments, and they work as you’d likely expect them to. The Acne Drying Lotion from OhSudz uses tea tree oil, lavender, and willow tree bark extract to calm inflammation and kill bacteria. It also incorporates salicylic acid to keep pores free of bacteria. To use this Drying Lotion, simply dip a cotton pad or swab into the lotion, apply directly on the pimple, and let it dry; you don’t have to rub it in. Wash it off in the morning after leaving it on as a night treatment, and you’ll wake up with a less-angry breakout!
3. Acne Clearing Treatment – Hebes Apothecary – $15
If you’re looking for a multi-purpose spot treatment and clearing product, the Acne Clearing Treatment lotion from Hebes Apothecary might just be the item you’ve been searching for. The lotion is made using tea tree oil and Vitamin A to help fight bacteria in breakouts or pimples while the addition of rosehip oil, aloe vera, frankincense, and Vitamin C work to reduce the appearance and presence of scarring left from breakouts or acne. You can use the lotion as an all-over treatment, or dab it onto a pimple or breakout as a spot treatment to soothe irritation and kill pimple-causing bacteria. Either way, having this Treatment in your skincare arsenal certainly comes in handy.
4. Blemish Drying Lotion – Zabana Essentials – $15
Similar to the other spot treatments mentioned throughout, Zabana Essentials’ Blemish Drying Lotion uses clays and botanical extracts to kill acne-causing bacteria and refresh the skin. Ingredients like tea tree, grapefruit, and lavender rid the pores of bacteria and act as antimicrobial agents at the same time that the addition of French green clay helps to tone and soothe the skin. Like the OhSudz drying lotion, Zabana Essentials’ is simple to use: just dab a small amount of the lotion onto the pimple or breakout, leave to dry overnight, and wash off in the morning.
Do you swear by natural acne spot treatments?
Also by Jacalyn: Why Almond Milk Isn’t Actually Good For You (We’re Sad, Too)
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