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As someone who has suffered from acne for a long time, I have always been wary of sweating. For some unknown reason, I have always associated sweat with spots. Whether it's that spot that appeared after a particularly sweaty boxing class or the gleam of perspiration that seemed to spur on my blemishes on holiday. However, it seems that sweat might not be the problem.
According to Bustle, a 2013 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences stated that when you sweat, your body produces an antibiotic called dermcidin—an antibiotic that protects the skin from bacteria, killing it upon contact. The study also revealed that dermcidin can kill off fungi and is better than medicine because bacteria can't develop a resistance to it. Mind blown.
And there's more. As well as targeting the cause of spots, it also prevents them too. Dermatologist Neil Sadick, MD, told Women's Health that sweat can actually improve your complexion by acting "as a barrier" to outside bacteria. So it seems that sweat is not the cause of those post-workout or holiday breakouts—they could have been sunscreen- or skincare-related. That's not to say I'll be ditching the SPF on holiday, but I might forgo skincare before my next workout. I definitely won't be so quick to blame my sweat for my spots now.
Keep reading for the fast-acting, blemish-busting tricks we've gleaned from our Facebook beauty group The British Beauty Line.
Sometimes it feels as though your complexion has a direct line to your social calendar because sure enough, as soon as you have a big day planned (such as a wedding or party), it goes into complete meltdown and a spot rears its ugly head. So what do you do (apart from cry a little)? Firstly, don't panic. It is never as bad or as big as you think it is. Next, it's time to make some savvy skincare decisions, as well as decide whether or not to pop said pimple.
Considering they're some of the most clued-up beauty users we've ever come across, we went to our dedicated Facebook group, The British Beauty Line, for some answers. A hotbed of brilliant product recommendations, as well as tried-and-tested DIY skin hacks, the members of our group have the answers for any beauty dilemma you might face. And when it comes to the question of how to get rid of spots fast, they have some pretty useful answers, too.
We've called out the best spot treatments as advised by TBBLers, and below, we've even asked an expert how to get rid of spots quickly—so consider this ultra-comprehensive spot guide.
The one product everybody seemed to agree on was this drying lotion. This has become a cult product for its prowess in drying up spots quickly. It combines calamine and salicylic acid, and it's best used overnight to reduce and calm the skin.
Another firm favourite amongst TBBLers is this sulfur paste, which has a similar drying effect to Mario Badescu's. It also contains zinc oxide to prevent post-spot scarring and camphor to target impurities.
Votary's blemish oil also got an honourable mention in the group and is loved by deputy editor Shannon Peter. It offers an arguably gentler approach to spot-blitzing. Rather than drying them out, it uses salicylic acid to purge pores of the excess sebum and impurities that can cause spots in the first place, and it cossets the area in soothing plant oils to nurse the inflamed skin back to health.
Two of our members bonded over a shared love of these clever pimple patches from Cosrx. Like tiny, invisible plasters, the stickers come infused with salicylic acid to suck out any acne-causing bacteria from the pores. You can either wear them overnight or (as they are so thin), you can even hide them under your foundation. One user called them "amazing" whilst another said that they are "genuinely the best things I have ever used."
Ask an Expert
So now you've got The British Beauty Line's take on it, where does an expert stand? We asked Priti Patel, from the Riverbanks Wellness and Anti-Ageing Clinic for her best advice on how to get rid of spots fast.
How to Get Rid of a Spot Fast When You Have a Big Event
"The best course of action depends on how developed the spot is. If it's in its infancy and is just a red lump, leave it alone!" advises Patel. "Trying to pop it will only make it worse. If you can't get to a therapist, then an effective home treatment is to crush an aspirin and mix it with a little water to make a thick paste. Apply to the area and leave for 10 minutes, and then rinse off with warm water. This will help to reduce the redness and swelling, dissolve dead skin cell and unclog pores. This remedy has been around for a number of years, but do not do it if you have an allergy to aspirin. The other option available is to use colour-correcting makeup to take the redness out. If it has a white head, then you can leave it alone or pop it, but there is a specific way to do so."
The Correct Way to Pop a Spot
"The best time to pop a spot is after a shower when the skin is at its softest and more supple. Start by using a warm cotton pad, and gently press the spot to try and release the infection nearest the surface. You have to be extremely gentle here. Take a moment and leave it for 10 minutes, and then with another clean, warm pad, press gently again. The idea is to release just the infection.
"If you do this with little to medium pressure and nothing happens, leave it alone. Firstly, you don't want to create more of an immediate situation with a hole and oozing blood, but you also don't want to spread dead skin cells, sebum and bacteria, as this might scar and cause pitting on the skin in the long run. Immediately after successfully releasing the infection, use a spot relief/antiseptic treatment cream that has ingredients to calm the inflamed skin and treat the spot."
Can You Spot-Proof Your Skin?
"If you are acne-prone, it's a good idea to have regular skin treatments, as this will prevent your skin from flaring," says Patel. "Prevention rather than cure. And there are a few options out there, so I would advise you go and talk them through with a dermatologist to see which will suit you best.
"LED light treatments: These strengthen the skin's barrier and promote the skin to heal faster, so if you do have flare-ups, spots will heal much faster.
"HydraFacials: They involve exfoliation and a glysal peel, which will deeply cleanse the skin and remove excess oil and cell debris from the pores, giving your skin a healthy glow.
"Skin peels: These peels will absorb excess oil, are antibacterial and prevent outbreaks from occurring with little to no downtime.
"Retinol peels: The help with moderate to severe acne that has not improved with other treatments. When applied to the skin, retinoids can unclog pores allowing other medicated creams and gels to work better, as they penetrate much more effectively. They also reduce acne outbreaks by preventing dead cells from clogging the pores and also help with pigmentation. The only downside to this peel is you will have a couple of days where the skin is dry and flaky."
What About Cortisone Injections?
"Cortisone is a type of steroid, and I wouldn't recommend it as an acne treatment, mainly because there are so many more treatment options available to treat the spot in a better way," Patel advises. "An injection may burst the spot under the skin, which then can cause the infection to spread. There is also a larger risk of causing indentations, skin thinning and thread veins so I would advise you stay away."
Scroll on to shop Byrdie's favourite spot treatments.
A fantastic moisturiser you can use day and night that will have your skin looking clearer in four weeks. It's the product beauty editors reach for when their skin is being unpredictable.
Designed to be used as a daily moisturiser to keep breakouts at bay but also as a targeted spot treatment at night to reduce the size and intensity while you sleep.
Packed with salicylic acid (the spot-fighting ingredient) and red algae, which helps reduce redness. This may be a small bottle, but it packs a serious spot-busting punch.
Containing all the ingredients you need to zap zits (salicylic acid, zinc, liquorice root and meadowsweet extract), this lightweight serum will help control oil production, keep shiny skin away and reduce spots.
Do you have some beauty wisdom to share, or are you looking for the answers to your own skincare query? Come join The British Beauty Line now.