Yes, it’s true; occasionally I sleep in my makeup—on purpose. (Gasp! The horror!) But I only do it when I have a breakout. Which may sound counterintuitive (okay, it is counterintuitive), but hear me out. I’ve tried every zit-zapping gel, cream, and drying treatment out there, but nothing ever works for me. The only effective way I know how to get rid of a pimple is to extract it. Sleeping in my makeup helps draw the infection up to the surface, making extraction quick and easy. For whatever reason, a day’s worth of face makeup does the trick better than salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, tea-tree oil, the list goes on. There is one caveat: This won’t work on cystic pimples. So occasionally I wake up to the fun discovery that my quick fix failed.
Sure, this goes against a lot of the skincare commandments the experts have impressed upon us all. But when it comes to pimples, all bets are off, and I say do what works. However, I realize my methods are a bit unorthodox, so I turned to the pros to weigh on my sleeping-in-makeup-to-bust-blemishes approach.
Keep reading to find out what they had to say!
“For starters, sometimes when someone does something with their skin that is not in my general philosophy (in this case, sleeping in makeup), my feeling is if it’s giving you the results that you desire, then it’s not my place to tell anyone to stop doing what works,” celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau says. Anyone else sensing a “but” coming on here? “However, from a skin standpoint and my 27 years of knowing how the skin operates, when there is an infection within the blemish, the natural process is for the infection to come up to the surface as this is the body’s way of healing itself.” Which makes sense. My method just speeds the process along, no? Though Rouleau can’t seem to find any reason that would be the case, I appreciate her “whatever works” attitude. She did suggest I wash the rest of my face, apart from the pimple-infected zone, and apply my normal nightly skincare routine to protect the integrity of my pimple-free skin—a recommendation I will certainly take under advisement.
She also confirmed and explained why typical blemish treatments don’t work for me. “The reason most zit-zapping gels, creams, or drying treatments don’t work is because they interfere with the healing process, meaning the infection wants to come out. And if you dry it out on the surface, you’re creating dead cells, which keep the infection from coming out naturally—essentially trapping it under the skin when it desperately wants to get out. So it’s no surprise that leaving it alone (without messing with it with spot treatments) will yield a better result.” At least I got validation on that point.
The second part of my method is equally controversial: extraction. Or so I thought. Both experts I consulted gave me the green light to pop a pimple when necessary. “If you can pop the whitehead easily without squeezing hard or ripping off a piece of skin, it’s fine to do this occasionally,” Jessica Wu, MD, Los Angeles dermatologist and author of Feed Your Face, says. “However, be sure to wash your hands and skin before touching your face, and I’d suggest using a clean needle dipped in alcohol to pierce the whitehead. This will help ensure the pus comes out, rather than being squeezed deeper into the skin and making a bigger mess.”
Rouleau recommends turning to drying treatments post-extraction. Spot treatments, like her own Night Time Spot Lotion ($30), work their way into the skin to kill off any remnants from the zit after the infection has been removed. “If you apply a drying treatment before the whitehead is on the surface, it will simply dry out the surface of the skin keeping the infection trapped underneath for longer.”
So there you have it. The experts don’t necessarily condone my sleeping-in-makeup method of zit zapping, but they understand that when you find something that works for you, you don’t fight it.
Do you have any unusual blemish-busting techniques? Share what works for you in the comments below!