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4 Steps to Popping a Pimple (The Right Way!)
...if you must!
Inb4 people that know nothing about skin come for me with “but you’re never supposed to pop pimples!”
Yeah, in an ideal world, people would never pop their pimples.
Life happens, we’re human, and sometimes you need that one blemish gone before a big event.
I’d rather you have a way to do it safely than pop with wild abandon.
So here we are, four steps:
Popping the Pimple
Moisturize (if applicable)
Step 1: Hydrocolloid Patches
If you have 8+ hours before the event, hydrocolloid patches are a great move. These are the ones I use.
Essentially, hydrocolloid patches form a seal over a pimple and draw out pus, creating a healthy environment for the blemish to heal.
By avoiding stressing the skin with pressure, you cut down the risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation forming (ie. those persky dark marks).
Further, because the patches create a barrier over the irritated skin, you won’t be able to cause more damage by picking at it.
You’ll want to apply one of these as soon as possible on dry skin.
Then, maybe an hour before the event, head to step 3. If you don’t have any hydrocolloid patches, move on to step 2.
Go read this post for more information on hydrocolloid patches and how to apply them properly.
Step 2: Popping the Pimple
Okay, so you don’t have any hydrocolloid patches and you’re running short on time.
At least an hour before the event, we’ll have you pop the pimple. Here’s what I’d do:
Cleanse your face and hands
Apply gentle pressure from the outside pushing inwards
Remove as much of the pus as you can
Cleanse the area again
If you have a sterilized appliance intended for popping pimples, that would be your best option.
However, if your options are either using your fingers or a pair of tweezers, my preference would be to use fingers.
The greater surface area will allow you to gently distribute force against the pimple rather than the acute pressure we’d get by using tweezers.
Step 3: Azaleic Acid
This is my secret for mitigating damage when popping pimples!
A beloved ingredient among skincare enthusiasts, azaleic acid is gentle and anti-inflammatory.
This is the cheapest version I could find online, and it’s the one I use too.
Spot treat the popped pimple itself and the area around it with some of the acid and gentle rub in until absorbed.
My reasoning for using the acid is two-fold:
The anti-inflammatory nature of azaleic will reduce redness around the area and hopefully mitigate any post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
Azaleic fights acne-causing bacteria, so we'll minimize the formation of other pimples in the area by applying it
You could also consider spot treating the area with a BHA serum (like salicylic acid) which would be great for preventing the formation of a subsequent pimple in case you didn’t get all of the gunk out upon first pop.
However, I find salicylic acid to be a too harsh for this purpose; in my opinion, azaleic is the better move because it’ll fight the redness around the area.
Also, azaleic acid is a treatment option for people with rosacea!
However, you can only get concentrations up to 20% OTC in the United States as far as I’m aware.
For something stronger, you’ll need to visit a dermatologist.
Step 4: Moisturize
We’ll want to replenish our skin barrier with lipids since we just induced trauma to it through pressure.
This is the one I use.
However, some people may find that introducing a moisturizer to the open wound will result in another pimple.
If this is you, just cleanse and moisturize your face again after your event.
Aaaaand in summary, do not make this a habit.
Repeatedly traumatizing your skin through pressure will result in dark marks (hyperpigmentation) forming on your face!
Spend five minutes taking care of your skin everyday to minimize pimples, use hydrocolloid patches when you do get a pimple, and keep this method in your back pocket for emergencies only.
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