I love what Brits call pimples: Spots. It makes it sound so benign, almost cute.
“Oh, you’ve got a spot.”
“Really? Let me brush it off.”
If only it were that easy.
We Americans have slightly more aggressive terms for those little suckers: Zit, Acne, Eruption, Blemish, Bacteria-clogged Pustules. Ew.
From 21 to 41, we all suffer from those miserable little “spots.” And now that it’s back-to-school, back-to-work, or just plain back-to-life, you’ll want to put your best face forward. Thankfully, the editors, staff and interns at Audrey have tried our share of acne treatments. So here are some that actually work.
For sensitive skin:
Camelia says she’s allergic to everything. “I’m lucky enough to have both sensitive skin and a million allergies to basically everything under the sun,” she says, “so when I find beauty products that won’t irritate my skin or give me hives, I can’t help but jump for joy.” Camelia tried out Boscia’s Willow Bark Breakout Treatment and has declared it her “new best friend.”
“It comes out of the bottle as a light, clear gel so I don’t have to worry about my pores being clogged; definitely a plus when I’m out and about in the warm weather,” says Camelia, who is based in the high humidity city of Chicago.
The Willow Bark Treatment is preservative-free and contains Vitamins E and C that fight free radicals and prevent future breakouts. The willow herb also helps to calm inflammation and the soapberry peel (rich in saponin) purifies and heals the skin.
For stubborn spots:
Han has generally clear skin. But occasionally she’ll get that one stubborn spot. Here’s what she had to say about Murad Acne Spot Treatment.
“I had just gotten back from Chicago and New York for some vacay time, and thanks to all the yummy but heart-clogging food my friends had treated me, I was breaking out. Not like gross junior-high-I-just-hit-puberty breaking out, but my skin wasn’t as nice as it usually was.
“There was one particular blemish, though tiny, that was bugging me. It was the only blemish as my skin had only turned a little irregular in color, so I focused all my attention on getting rid of it. Soap, astringents, and easing off the junk food did nothing.
“I put a tiny dot of Murad Acne Spot Treatment Step 2: Treat/Repair on my finger and gingerly applied it after washing up. Crawling into bed, I hoped that something would happen.
“The next morning, it was gone! What had been a bump had disappeared. Pleased, I treated myself to a sundae.
“Sometimes, there are such things as miracles.”
Get it here.
For hormonal pimples:
It’s simply not fair to have to deal with wrinkles, discoloration and pimples. Not fair at all. (Fifty percent of adult women deal with acne.) And while I’m still shaking my fist at the complexion gods, at least they sent a salve called La Roche-Posay Effaclar AI Intensive Acne Spot Treatment. With 5 percent benzoyl peroxide (twice as much as most over-the-counter treatments) to zap zits, Effaclar AI also contains lipo-hydroxy acid, a pro-exfoliating molecule designed to micro-exfoliate the skin and stimulate cell renewal. What does that mean? Less residual dark spots and more even skin tone. What it means to me is my spot diminishes twice as fast and with less pain and torture.
It’s now available online at their official website.
For heavy duty zit whacking:
One of the benefits (or downsides — you decide) of being married to an editor is you get to be the guinea pig for all manner of beauty products. The husband of a certain editor (who shall remain nameless, but really, it’s not hard to figure out) still gets that occasional angry pimple. (He sleeps on his face, uses all sorts of waxes and sprays on his long-ish hair — no big surprise.) So we pulled out the big guns for him: Glytone Acne Treatment Gel with 10% benzoyl peroxide. Ten percent! Needless to say, it does the job, but to prevent overdrying, use it for your occasional, super-angry spot.
The whole shebang:
If you need or want more than just an occasional spot treatment, go with what one editor swears by. The packaging may not be oh-so pretty, but Clearogen does the job. A three-step acne treatment and prevention system addresses both the causes and symptoms of hormonal and stress-induced acne. Created by board certified dermatologist Dr. Alex Khadavi, Clearogen attacks DHT (dihydro-testosterone) which causes oil glands to become overactive. Clinical studies show a 95 percent success rates, with results seen in as little as 30 days. Our editor swears it’s the first system that’s ever prevented a PMS pimple. Now that’s progress.
Get the three-piece set (foaming cleanswer, clarifying toner and acne lotion) for $69 at Clearogen.com.
Summertime is one time when I do not feel like fussing and preening. When the weather’s this nice, I don’t even feel like shopping! Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m just going to let myself go. Thank goodness for these quick fixes that’ll make the hottest season just a little bit cooler.
Goody Pro Volumizing Comb and Simple Styles Spin Pin
Be forewarned: I’m not a hair person. That is to say, I’m a lazy hair person. I can’t straighten, pin curl, or do anything requiring bobby pins. I’ve never been a very good French braider. That’s why I love the messy ponytail seen on spring runways — I know no other kind.
On the other hand, a messy updo is a bit trickier and generally far too complicated for my unskilled paws. To get it just unkempt enough, but still chic, one needs a whole lotta bobby pins, more than a pair of hands and apparently eyes on the back of one’s head. To wit, Filipina-Irish-Native American Vanessa Hudgen’s wonderfully undone updo:
But I have to admit. Goody makes it pretty easy. Their Pro Get Volume comb features several rows of tines of variegated length, so all it takes is a couple of backcombing swipes for instant volume.
Then use their Spin Pin, which is fairly easy, even for me. Just twist your hair into a bun, then spin the pins in. The twisting action magically keeps your hair in place, but not so much so. Instant undone! It gives you that perfectly undone chignon we all covet on actresses on the red carpet. And best of all, no bobby pins.
Available in blonde and brunette shades. Get it at Walmart or Target, starting at $2.50, or at Goody.
We Love Colors shoelaces
One of my favorite things to do is tweaking my existing wardrobe with little DIY projects that instantly update for the new season.
Case in point: last year’s booties. The easiest update for last year’s lace-up booties is with bright neon laces. Whether in black, cognac or grey, a pop of neon color instantly gives your shoes a modern twist.
I like We Love Colors splash color laces in every color from pastels to neon. It’s a little bit surfer chic a la Proenza Schouler and Versace, a little futuristic a la Balenciaga.
We Love Colors laces, starting at $2.
La Roche-Posay Effaclar AI
I never believe those testimonials in beauty magazines anymore — “dab it on your blemish and it’s gone tomorrow!” Sure, that may work for the occasional teeny tiny red spot that models swear they get. But for those nasty, hormonal, once-a-month, deep-down painful, rock-hard bulbs, there is little one can do. You just have to wait for the angry mass to run its course. And use plenty of cover-up.
Now, I’m a big fan of La Roche-Posay. Nothing beats their sunscreens. But when I came across the brand’s Effaclar AI — an “intensive acne spot treatment” — I was skeptical. Like I said, I’ve tried quite a few products as an Audrey editor. But this one not only had a higher percentage of benzoyl peroxide (5.5%) than I’ve ever seen, it also claimed to treat the residual reddish brown spot that lingers long after the blemish itself has actually healed.
So I gave it a shot. The minute I felt that painful lump, I dabbed Effaclar AI on it. No, the lump did not magically disappear the next morning. But the pain was gone, a miracle in and of itself. And the lump did magically disappear in three days.
The ultimate proof? I dabbed it on my husband’s angry little blemish for a couple days, and then forgot about it. A week later, I asked him about it. He couldn’t remember where it was.
What’s your favorite quick fix style secret this summer?
No one’s an overnight success. Unless, of course, you’re one of these beauty wonders.
Branché Silk Charmeuse Pillow Case
I’m no beauty novice. I’ve been devouring beauty, skincare and makeup information since I was 13 when my mother first put the tentative strokes of blue liner on my upper lid. At 16, I was seeking advice about eye cream from the woman behind the Estée Lauder counter at Macy’s (who promptly smirked and told me to just use moisturizer). So it’s a given that I haven’t slept on my side or my stomach in years to prevent the dreaded nasolabial folds (the “parentheses” around your mouth).
Unfortunately, a strained muscle in my back (an accumulated result of vacuuming a bit too arduously; spending a day lifting my 20-month-old, 25-pound niece; and a shameful lack of exercise) has forced me to spend a few nights sleeping on my side, my face smushed into the pillow. (The horror!)
Thankfully, I was trying out Branché‘s silk charmeuse pillow case at the time. I’ve been hearing about silk pillow covers recently, how they extend the life of a blow-out and prevent facial wrinkles. But I became a believer when I awoke after a particularly tumultuous night (with pain like that, you don’t care about wrinkles for the moment), and one glance in the mirror revealed no folds. In fact, no marks, no redness, nothing to indicate I had just spent nine hours on my face.
Add to that the fact that Branché’s loft 22 momme weight silk contains 18 amino acids and a high copper content that diminishes frizz and reduces hair breakage, and has been used as a curative skin treatment in ancient China. This beauty devotee is sold.
AmorePacific Contour Lift Extreme Collection
For a while, I thought I’d be immune from wrinkles. After all, my 92-year-old grandfather’ cheeks, bespeckled as they may be with age spots, are smooth and completely line-free. But years spent as a Southern Cal teen during the ’80s (read: tanning with baby oil) has caught up with me and I’ve reached a point where wrinkles are another battle to add to my growing list of beauty woes.
I never thought I’d need a beauty product with “lift” and “extreme” in its name, but AmorePacific‘s Contour Lift Extreme Creme really does make a difference on my face and neck.
The Korea-based company is known for their use of indigenous botanicals like 6-year-old Korean red ginseng, matsutake mushrooms, bamboo sap, and green tea harvested from Korea’s Jeju Island for a luxury skincare experience.
As for me, I can literally feel the “lift” when I apply it, especially on my neck. And while I may be too young to worry about the dreaded turkey neck anytime soon, my philosophy is, you can never start too young when it comes to warding off wrinkles.
La Roche-Posay Effaclar AI Intensive Acne Spot Treatment
Yes, I am one of the 50 percent of adult women who suffer from adult acne. It’s actually more hormonally-charged pimples that crop up like clockwork once a month. And trust me, I’ve tried almost everything out there. It’s not fair to have to double up on every skincare product — one for wrinkles and one for acne. It’s straight out cruel.
One of my favorite suncare brands, La Roche-Posay, just introduced a new adult acne treatment that has been shown to reduce stubborn acne in just three days. Effaclar AI Intensive Acne Spot Treatment has 5.5 percent Benzoyl Peroxide (twice as much as usual), but in a micronized form, which means it penetrates deeper and minimizes skin irritation. That, combined with Lipo-Hydroxy Acid to micro-exfolate the skin and stimulate cell renewal (read: minimal residual skin discoloration).
For a beauty fanatic like me, that’s exciting. For everyone else, just know this: I dabbed it on one particularly painful, angry lump the other day and woke up to a no longer painful, smaller lump the next day. Two days later, it was totally gone — no eruption, no squeezing, nothing. Now, for me, that is a miracle.
Get it at CVS, Duane Reade and Longs, or online here.