Just about everyone gets a pimple at some point. While a proper skincare routine (we’re talking daily cleansing, treating and moisturizing) is the most effective way to keep your skin healthy, there are times when you need a quick fix — something that can target and attack a stubborn pimple that’s popped up overnight.
Enter spot treatments: extra-strength acne formulas designed to heal pimples, pronto. But how do you choose the right one for the job? Just ask our founder, Sandra Lee MD (aka Dr. Pimple Popper).
When should you use a spot treatment?
According to Dr. Lee, spot treatments are designed to treat a specific blemish or area of the skin — not your whole face. This is because they contain high concentrations of active ingredients, which could be irritating if used excessively.
Side note: if you’ve got a chronic case of acne, opt for something like Dr. Lee’s SLMD Acne System.
Here’s how to tell if you need an acne spot treatment:
- When you know that breakout is coming. If you experience hormonal breakouts or can feel a pimple forming under the skin, use a spot treatment to encourage the pimple to surface so it can heal faster.
- When your pimple is red and inflamed. Pimples come in all forms, but when it seems like there’s suddenly a bright red volcano on your face, a spot treatment can reduce swelling and redness.
- As a way to introduce your skin to new ingredients. Active ingredients in skincare (especially those used in acne products) are known to be irritating and can cause side effects, so using a spot treatment is a great way to try out a new product while minimizing any possible side effects.
- To combat scarring and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Depending on the active ingredients, many spot treatments can also help prevent post-acne scarring and improve the appearance of dark spots (aka hyperpigmentation).
What are the best spot treatment ingredients?
There are a handful of potent active ingredients that are available over the counter in effective concentrations. Here are Dr. Lee’s top picks:
- Salicylic acid: helps to clear out pores and acts as an anti-inflammatory and keratolytic, which means it helps to dissolve keratin and exfoliate the skin. Try: SLMD Salicylic Acid Spot Treatment, which dries clear and comes in a portable rollerball design. SLMD Spot Check Acne Patches are ultra-transparent, and help protect your pimples as they heal.
- Benzoyl peroxide: an antiseptic that destroys bacteria in pores, acts as an anti-inflammatory, and is an oxidizer that can help to inject air into the pores and loosen oils and bacteria trapped inside. SLMD BP Acne Spot Treatment effectively dries out pimples and zaps bacteria fast.
- Sulfur: a natural mineral that absorbs excess oil, reduces inflammation and inhibits acne-causing bacteria. Try: SLMD Sulfur Lotion or Clear Out Purifying Treatment Mask, which can also be left on as a spot treatment. Ideal for those who are sensitive to benzoyl peroxide.
Dr. Lee's Last Word
While we can’t eliminate acne overnight, spot treatments can help speed up the healing process by reducing bacteria and inflammation within a pimple. Finding the right ingredients for your acne and skin type will keep you prepared and ready to treat acne — no matter when it happens.