The newbie's guide to popping a pimple—the *right* way
THE HARSH REALITY
You’ve heard it a million times: Don’t pop your zits. But whyyyy? “It’s tempting, but taking matters into your own hands can make your acne worse, spread infections and leave hard-to-treat dark spots and scars,” explains dermatologist Dr. Tiffany Jow Libby. Fair point. And what’s worse than a blemish that seems to last forever? A scar that literally lasts forever.
POP OR PASS
While any skincare expert will tell you to avoid popping at all costs, they also get that sometimes you feel left with no choice. So it’s best to know when a pimple is actually poppable. “If it’s a deep cyst or nodule below the surface of your skin, leave it alone,” says Dr. Libby.
You’ll cause more damage trying to dig it out of your skin. Blackhead and whitehead extractions should also be left to pros (and their clean tools), she states. But if you have a pustule that has come to a head and looks ready to burst (you know the type), those are the ones that you can potentially pop without regret...if you do it carefully and correctly.
PREP YOUR PIMPLE
The best time to pop a pimple is right after a warm shower, says Joanna Vargas, celeb facialist and author of Glow from Within.
“The steam from your shower will help prepare your skin, similar to the steam used during a facial.” Make sure your face and hands are totally clean, so you don’t spread any bacteria.
FORGET YOUR FINGERNAILS
“Instead of using your fingertips or nails to push on either side of your blemish, use two clean Q-tips,” advises Vargas. The cot-ton is less likely to leave marks.
“If nothing comes out with gentle pressure, stop pushing,” says Dr. Libby. Walk away and let it be (and no, not just for three minutes. Wait at least a day).
CALM YOUR SKIN
Once you see the gunk come out of your pores, it’s time to cleanse your skin and kickstart the healing process.
“Apply a cold compress to soothe your skin right after,” says Vargas. Continue to be gentle with your skin as it repairs itself for the next few days (perf product picks to the right!).
YOUR POST-POP KIT
Success! You’ve banished your blemish. Now make sure it doesn’t come back.
Popping a pimple is always going to make your skin freak out a little. Help it chill with ingredients that’ll reduce redness and irritation. “I dab a little bit of plain yogurt on the area. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory,” says Vargas. She also likes products with chamomile, which helps to soothe (try Pai The Anthemis Chamomile & Rosehip Soothing Moisturizer, $59, paiskincare.us).
“Benzoyl peroxide is incredibly effective at killing acne-causing bacteria, unclogging pores and preventing and treating acne,” says Dr. Libby. Just be careful since it can be ultra-drying. She recommends PanOxyl Acne Creamy Wash Benzoyl Peroxide 4% ($10, amazon. com), which is gentle enough for sensitive skin.
“Hydrocolloid patches are a great option,” shares Dr. Libby. “They work to draw out moisture and pus from the pimple, speed up healing and prevent you from picking.” We love using Zitsticka Goo Getter Surface Zit Hydrocolloid Patches ($19, ulta.com) overnight—and waking up to clearer skin.
Hey, girl! Just wanted to let you know that this story originally ran in our February/March 2022 issue. Want more? Read the print mag for free *today* when you click HERE.