Don't Pick the Poison: Emergency Zit Control


If you’re looking for sound and measured beauty advice, you’d be wise to ask anyone but me. I’ve had one facial in my life, and when asked to share my “model insider secrets” as to how to keep your skin looking good, my only advice amounts to “Err, I don’t know, drink lots of water?” In terms of maintenance, I use a cheap, makeup- artist-recommended cleanser (Cetaphil), middle-of-the-road exfoliant (Lancôme), and pricier, hyper-hydrating goop every morning and night (NARS). Never complicated, rarely interesting, but, admittedly, occasionally problematic.

Given that I do not pay anyone to pick at my face, I—all too often—opt to pick at my own for free. That means hovering over my sink, Q-tips in hand, pruning myself like a veritable ape. I’m pretty sure every beauty article I’ve ever read includes “DO NOT PICK YOUR FACE” in bold, angry letters, but when someone has a bold, angry zit staring at them from the mirror, what am I supposed to do? Sit back and let nature take its course? I don’t think so!

Last Saturday morning I woke up with a frighteningly unattractive bump on my chin. I did my damnedest to get rid of that thing, fighting so vigorously against it that I broke the skin, bruised it in such a way that it smarted every time I brushed against it with my hand (given its size, I can assure you this was often). I had committed the ultimate beauty sin, and committed it badly. This zit—made infinitely worse from my efforts—was to be my punishment.

After having accurately assessed that my friends could see this thing from over ten feet away (not kidding), I researched the fastest remedies for people with craters on their faces such as these. Preparation H came up a lot, but in addition to the fact I didn’t feel like smearing hemorrhoid cream on my face (especially after reading about how one applies it for its intended use), there were enough alarming accounts of the purported dangers of doing this that I decided to pass. (In a nutshell, one of Prep H’s main ingredients, Phenylephrine, makes blood vessels constrict, which is good for short term solutions, but in the long term can mess with your beta receptors, among other things like skin thinning and enlarged blood vessels. No, thanks.)

And so it was here that I found my miracle—two little words that would save my week practically overnight: Isopropyl alcohol. Soaking a tissue, I pressed it against the zit for ten minutes at a time every two hours. By the next morning, it was still visible from space, but the angry red accents had disappeared, making it less noticeable. Two days in, it had dried enough to (if you wanted to, though I never recommend concealer) you could attempt to cover it up. On the morning of Day 3, it was on its way out. By that night, it was gone. Voila. Like it had never happened.

While nearly four days seems like a long time to wait until you can take that paper bag off your head, I can assure you this thing could have easily stuck around for twice that. If you’re having a similar problem with an out-of-control zit try it out. Or, you know, just DON’T PICK YOUR FACE.


+ Leave a Reply