How to Use Acne Spot Treatments Correctly
We all know the dread that follows the sudden appearance of a new blemish. All we want to to do is get it to go away as fast as possible. As it turns out, you may be making your breakouts worse in an effort to get rid of them quickly. Acne spot treatments can be your best friend or your worst enemy depending on how you use them. Keep reading to find out the correct way to use the treatments and how to heal your skin effectively.
We love acne spot treatments because they provide powerful and targeted treatment for blemishes. We tend to judge these treatments based on how quickly they 'work.'
Acne spot treatments often contain drying ingredients which work to tighten the skin's surface. This is why you may notice that shortly after applying the spot treatment, the blemish appears smaller. Typically you will apply this treatment in the evening and wash it off in the morning to reveal a blemish that looks significantly smaller than it did the day before. This makes us feel that the treatment is 'working' to clear up our acne quickly.
These spot treatments also work to reduce the redness that often accompanies a new breakout. When the skin cells dry up and tighten, it creates a layer of dry skin over the blemish which tends to reduce the appearance of redness around the skin. This is another factor that makes these treatments appear to heal the skin more quickly.
All of these things sound great, right? Smaller blemishes and less redness is what we want. Not necessarily. When applied at the right time, spot treatments can help clear up the remaining breakout. Although when applied at the onset of a breakout, it creates a layer of dry skin on top of the blemish that traps the infection underneath the skin. While the skin's surface becomes tighter, making the blemish look smaller, the initial infection remains trapped underneath the dry layer of skin.
Most blemishes result from an infection within the pore. The natural healing process allows that infection to come through the skin. A breakout will not heal properly without undergoing this process. This means that the longer the infection remains in the pore, the longer the blemish will last. This also means more stress is being put on the the skin tissue, resulting in post-acne scarring.
If you suffer from blemishes that seem to last forever and intense acne scarring, this may be the reason.
How to Use Spot Treatments Correctly
Acne spot treatments can be very useful in clearing up a breakout when used at the right stage of healing. When used too early, these treatments can actually impede the healing process by keeping the infection from breaking through the skin's barrier. It's best to use these products after the infection (whitehead or blackhead) has broken free from the skin. When used at this stage, the spot treatment helps to promote the natural healing process by treating the skin and sealing the pore.
What to Look for in a Spot Treatment
Not all spot treatments work the same. It is common for spot treatments to contain drying ingredients meant to tighten and dry up the surface of the skin. Some of these ingredients include alcohol, sulfur, and benzoyl peroxide. While these ingredients are not bad in and of themsleves, they should be used at the correct stage of healing and not at the onset of a breakout.
Other ingredients to look for are salicylic acid, tea tree oil, charcoal, kaolin, bentonite, and zinc sulfate. These ingredients are less drying but work to detox and treat the skin.
It is likely that a spot treatment will use a combination of drying and non-drying ingredients. If this is the case, look at the order of ingredients on the back of the product. The ones closest to the top are the main ingredients that will likely have the largest effect on the skin. This is a good way to tell how a product may perform on your skin before trying it.
In all, you'll need to use your judgment when it comes to the types of spot treatments you use. If you find that your current one is too drying, then you'll want to look for non-drying ingredients higher up on the ingredients list. Remember, the best thing you can do during a breakout is to allow the skin to heal and the infection to break free while caring for your skin consistently each day and night. Save your spot treatments until your skin has had time to detox and heal.