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Tricks of the Trade

How to fight pimples and erase scars quickly

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We all know there are phases of adolescence that teens go through, and one of them is getting pimples. I’m 17 years old and pimples have taken over my face. I’ve had numerous breakouts for two years but I somehow survived by using a soap-free cleanser (with benzoyl peroxide), which I only started using six months ago. Can you recommend something I can use to fight breakouts and eliminate scars? Thanks.

—Bernadette Q.

Pimples may very well be a part of our teenage years, as our erratic, out-of-control hormones cause our skin to turn problematic and acne-prone. It isn’t exactly the end of the world, but I understand it can lead to some anxiety especially at this self-conscious time when a lot of changes are happening.

My days as a teenager revert back to a gawky, rail-thin girl who obsessed about every little and big spot that appeared on her face. It was troubling to wake up to pimples, especially when it decided to grow at the most obvious places, like the tip of your nose or as a constellation on your forehead.

Back then, I thought the only solution was to wash my face every chance I got and cover the blemish with a thick layer of concealer. Of course, I eventually found out that too much washing caused my skin to become too dry (which led to more pimples) and, apart from the fact that the shade of concealer was too white for my skin, the product also aggravated the existing blemish, causing it to become bigger.

Now, I’m glad you were able to control breakouts by using a soap-free cleanser. Soap-free usually means it doesn’t strip away all the oils on your skin, so it doesn’t leave it dry and flaky. And benzoyl peroxide may be the best solution for your skin, as the ingredient has been known to effectively kill bacteria that cause pimples to form.

I can recommend so many other products you can try, but I think it would be better for your skin (and your wallet) to stick to what works at the moment.

As for ways to eliminate pimple scars, treat existing ones and prevent more of them from forming, I’ve made a list of skincare tips you can try. Hopefully they work for you as they have for me. Just remember, if you notice that your skin has made a turn for the worse, it is best to consult a dermatologist.

Moisturize. Many of us think that if we have pimples or oily skin, we should skip wearing moisturizer. It does make sense—why would we want to add moisture to oily skin?

But that’s the big misconception. With all the acne-drying products we may be using, skin may feel tight and “squeaky clean.” This isn’t necessarily a good sign, as it means skin has been stripped off its protective oils and may cause it to produce more oil to compensate.

Applying an oil-free, non-comedogenic (means it doesn’t clog pores) moisturizer that’s especially suited for oily skin will keep skin from over-drying and will surely prevent more pimples from forming.

Try on-the-spot treatments. To dry out that pesky pimple and not the rest of your face, you may need to use an ointment or blemish stick. Any one of these anti-acne medications, like salicylic acid, retinoids (or Vitamin A) or tea tree oil, will effectively do the job. It is important to check the label though, as these may come in different strengths.

Erase pimple scars. When a pimple or blemish has begun to heal, skin produces melanin to help protect the distressed area. This causes dark spots or pimple marks, which usually takes a long time to disappear.

Speed up the process by looking for a spot-lightening cream that contains ingredients like niacinamide, licorice extract and azelaic acid. These work really well to stop melanin production and lighten dark spots in just a few weeks.

Use a yogurt mask. For a refreshing way to calm down oily skin: Apply plain, chilled yogurt on your face and leave on for about 10 minutes. Yogurt isn’t just good to eat; when put on skin, it absorbs excess oils and zaps bacteria. It even makes your pores appear smaller.

Change your hair conditioner. If you seem to be getting pimples on your forehead and along your hairline, it may be your conditioner or hair-styling product that’s to blame. Try not to get these on your skin by concentrating conditioner or any product on the ends of your hair (not the scalp). Or change them altogether. You can surely find an alternative that’s gentler on your skin.

Got a beauty question? E-mail the author at ask.kellymisa@gmail.com.


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