DO: Use Full-Coverage Concealer
When acne strikes right before your wedding, presentation, or other big event, it's no time for wimpy concealer. Professional makeup artist Laura Bissessar recommends using a product with enough pigment to hide pimples with just a thin coat. For the best results, you want "maximum coverage with very little product."
DO: Blend Two Shades of Concealer
Using a concealer that's too light or too dark can make a pimple stand out more. Try mixing two shades of concealer to create a custom blend that's a precise match for your skin. Be careful to blend the edges of the concealed area to create a seamless line with the surrounding skin. Use the same custom blend for touch-ups throughout the day.
DO: Reduce Swelling With Ice
For swollen pimples, try gently applying ice for a minute or so, suggests dermatologist Jonette Keri, MD, PhD, of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. It doesn't work for everyone, but there's no harm in trying. Just don't keep the ice on so long that it irritates the skin. Keri also advises people with rosacea to avoid icing the face because it could trigger more redness.
DON'T: Squeeze Your Pimples
When a whitehead seems to beckon, "Squeeze me," it's best to resist. If you squeeze pimples, you can prolong their healing time. You also increase the risk of infection and scarring. And "squeezing the pimple will mess up the skin on top," says dermatologist Jonette Keri. A ruptured pimple is actually harder to cover with makeup because you're dealing with a ragged surface instead of a smooth one.
DON'T: Get a Facial for a Quick Fix
Although facials, light chemical peels, and other spa treatments can sometimes improve acne, the results are not immediate. In the short term, the skin often looks more irritated. A special occasion is not the time to try a new treatment, Keri tells WebMD. If you have a big event coming up, schedule your facial "two or even three weeks beforehand."
DO: Apply a Sulfur-Based Cream
Look for over-the-counter acne remedies with benzoyl peroxide or sulfur and resorcinol that can minimize your blemish. You may not get immediate or dramatic results, though. Acne treatments may dry or irritate the skin, especially if your skin is already dry or irritated. Check with your dermatologist before combining products or using more than the product label recommends.
DO: Try Corticosteroid Injections
For large acne cysts, corticosteroid injections may offer a quick fix. A dermatologist injects a diluted version of a corticosteroid directly into the pimple to reduce swelling and prevent scarring. After the injection, the cyst will shrink over the next few days. You should not attempt to pick at or treat a cyst yourself.
DON'T: Apply Toothpaste
Save the toothpaste for your teeth. Although some ingredients in toothpaste might help dry out pimples, Keri says toothpaste can actually trigger acne. To make matters worse, the fluoride and whitening components could cause an allergic reaction when applied to the skin.
DO: Try Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil, which comes from the Melalueca alternifolia tree, can kill bacteria. Some people use it to treat minor skin irritations, including acne. Although there is little research on its effectiveness, tea tree oil is considered safe to apply directly to the skin in a diluted form. Try it on a small area first to make sure you don't have an allergic reaction.
DON'T: Camouflage With Accessories
If your pimples are confined to the forehead, you might be tempted to hide them under a tight-fitting cap or headband. Although that's fine for a quick event, you may pay a price for long-term camouflage. The heat and friction could make your acne worse.
DON'T: Apply Crushed Aspirin
Search the Web for acne home remedies and you may come across the remedy of crushed aspirin paste. "The theory is not bad," Keri says. Aspirin is related to salicylic acid, a common ingredient in over-the-counter acne products. But salicylic acid products are specifically formulated for the skin. Applying a paste of pure aspirin could be more irritating.