I've been lucky enough to enjoy an adulthood mostly free of acne and breakouts. I'll still get the occasional pimple, or a few bad skin days here and there when hormones or stress levels fluctuate, but generally speaking, my skin has been easy. A couple of weeks ago, I got a rash-like breakout across my forehead, unlike anything I'd experienced since my teenage days. I hadn't switched up any of the products I was using on my face and my eating habits had actually taken a turn for the better. After almost a week of implementing my usual pimple-fighting strategies—spot treatments, acne-fighting serums, and extra T.L.C.—and seeing no improvement, I knew it was time to reach out to an expert.
Since fortuitously meeting at a baby shower earlier this year, I've been DM-ing with L.A.-based clinical skincare technician Jacky Banayan, regularly asking for tips and advice about the goings-on with my skin. When I sent her an unflattering selfie of my forehead breakout, she noted the breakout looked like it was from an external, not internal, factor. She asked a series of questions about different products that could have caused the reaction (I hadn't used any of the usual suspects—dry shampoo, gels, or hair oils—recently).
Meet the Expert
Jacky Banayan is an L.A.-based clinical skincare technician who specializes in the treatment of acne.
After discussing my recent skincare habits and lifestyle choices, Banayan narrowed it down, suggesting the reaction was likely from pore-clogging buildup. She recommended doing a manual exfoliation (not an acid), followed by a yogurt mask at least two days in a row.
"The reason I say to use yogurt on any irritation, any scab, any breakout is because it is so nutrient-dense—it has everything and anything you need to heal," explains Banayan. "Yogurt is filled with good bacteria—so probiotics, lactic acid, hyaluronic acid, as well as vitamins A, C, and E. It's also filled with calcium and colostrum (a fatty acid that helps hydrate the skin)." According to Banayan, yogurt calms irritation and helps with redness because it is cool, it nourishes cells with vitamins, and mildly exfoliates because of the lactic acid, but is still gently enough that you can apply it over sunburns. "Think of it as Mother Nature's Neosporin for the skin," says Banayan.
Cleanse your skin and then leave the yogurt on for 10 to 15 minutes in a very thick layer.
"Typically I have my clients do a yogurt mask two to three days post-treatment to increase the healing production," notes Banayan, whose treatments include peels and microdermabrasion. When applying the mask at home, she says you don't necessarily need to exfoliate beforehand because, as she said, yogurt does already have lactic acid in it. She recommends using a zero-percent fat yogurt if you're post-treatment or have oily skin, and full fat if you have dry skin (the higher fat content will help hydrate the skin). "Cleanse your skin and then leave the yogurt on for 10 to 15 minutes in a very thick layer," she instructs.
I've done this approach a few times now and have noticed immediate improvements to my rash. While the breakout hasn't completely cleared up, every time I do the mask it becomes less red and irritated, my skin is calmed, and the bumps seem to become less raised and noticeable. Even though the results are gradual, the experience of masking with the yogurt is definitely worth the 15 minutes, and it's as easy as opening the fridge.
FYI: Here are four more DIY face masks you can whip up in your kitchen.