How to Make a Pimple Look Smaller

October 21, 2022
Lindy Segal
By: Lindy Segal | by L'Oréal
Person applying spot treatment to their skin
Pimples have a way of showing up at the least convenient moments, whether you have acne-prone skin or not. The good news is there are effective products and treatments to help improve the appearance of acne at any age, from pimple patches to spot treatments. To help you out in this time of need, we called on consulting dermatologist Dr. Robert Finney, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist at Entière Dermatology in New York City, to share his tips.  

Start With a Cleanser (and Maybe a Toner)

Before we get into Dr. Finney’s tips, let’s start with the basics. The first step in any skincare routine (and for caring for skin with a breakout!) is cleansing it of any impurities. The best way to do that is by using a face wash designed to gently yet effectively cleanse your skin of impurities and excess oils. 

You might even consider following your usual cleanser with a toner, like the L'Oréal Paris Revitalift 5% Pure Glycolic Acid Peeling Toner. The glycolic acid promotes skin cell turnover, removing any debris and prepping skin for more targeted acne treatments. 

Try a Spot Treatment

If you can’t get to the doctor (or the situation isn’t quite that dire), a targeted skincare product can help. “You can try over-the-counter options with benzoyl peroxide, sulfur alpha or beta-hydroxy-acids,” suggests Dr. Finney, who recommends the Tula Skincare Go Away Acne Spot Treatment. We love the Vichy Normaderm S.O.S Acne Rescue Spot Corrector, too.
Vichy Normaderm S.O.S Acne Rescue Spot Corrector

Stick on a Blemish Patch

The TikTok-viral hydrocolloid stickers have Dr. Finney’s seal of approval. “If a pimple looks like it is ready to pop, pimple patches like ZitSticka can really help,” he says. “They have salicylic acid to help coax the pimple to the surface and the hydrocolloid dressing absorbs the contents of the pimple.”

Temporarily Reduce Swelling With Ice

A treatment that's free and already in the freezer? We’re listening! “Ice causes blood vessels to constrict and inflammation to calm down,” says Dr. Finney. “This can help reduce the size and redness of a pimple." But before you get too excited, he also warns that the “effects are not usually long lasting.”

Bonus: Avoid Picking

We know you know, but we still have to say it. “Although it is tempting to go to war with a juicy, painful zit, trying to pop it or pick at it will only likely make things worse acutely and increase the risk that it leaves a dark mark or scar,” explains Dr. Finney. The good news, according to the derm, is there’s a solution. “For my patients that are pickers, I have had a lot of success recommending the pimple patches to remind them to keep their hands away.”
Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn

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