treating scarring and hyperpigmentation

Emergency Breakout Control

Murphy’s Law states, among other things, that just when you need it least (before a big job interview, important date or social event) your skin will breakout in a bout of acne like you’re 15 again. I don’t know about you, but unfortunately this tendency didn’t end with my teens and can present a complex problem when simultaneously trying to waylay the signs of ageing.  Apparently when you hit the wrong side of 25, preventative eye creams and serums etc become a must – which can be a disaster if your skin refuses to acknowledge you’ve entered a new phase of your life.

So the giant spot is here already, casting its own shadow as it grows…what can you do?!
First up, hygiene.  Now I know most people are pretty good at this (I don’t smell any of you from here) but good skin hygiene can take a little bit more effort than you realise.  So:

  1. Change your pillowcase
  2. Wash your make up brushes/sponges
  3. Clean the surfaces of your smartphone
  4. And keep your hands AWAY from your face (also no harm in cutting your nails and giving yourself a mini-manicure to ensure they’re properly clean)

Next, damage control…
Benzoyl peroxide 2% has fought many a pimple battle for me.  Available from a regular pharmacy and easy on the pocket this stuff can work magic on an impending catastrophe.  However, you have to be careful.  This innocent looking white paste can bleach the hell out of your clothes, bedsheets, towels and basically anything it comes into contact with.  White face cloths and towels only please.  And only a very small amount on your face, as it is extremely drying and you want to avoid the dehydrated, flaking volcano.  I tend to apply it with a cotton bud, avoiding getting it on my hands and subsequently bleaching my hand towels; this also stops me going overboard with the amount.  Obviously if you’re popping it on at night time use a white pillow case and don’t wear your best pink pjs!

Reduce inflammation
What’s the difference between a blocked pore that innocently presents itself as a blackhead (annoying and all as those can be), and one that erupts into a date-and-interview-ruining red mountain?  Inflammation!  The best way to immediately target this is a topical steroid that your doctor may be able to prescribe for you.  I wouldn’t advise this as your go-to remedy, as it’s a prescription medication and does come with side effects – however if tomorrow is your wedding day or another once in a lifetime event, this may be the silver bullet you need.  If time is on your side the following will really help:

  • Reduce sugar and caffeine immediately
  • Replace the above with water, and a liquid chlorophyll supplement (you’ll get this in a health food shop)
  • Sleep!  Late nights not only reduce the ability of your skin to recover, but when you’re tired you are much more likely to pick at your skin.
  • Sweat.  Whether this is achieved by going to a spin class or a more indulgent trip to a steam room/sauna does not matter.  Sweating will help flush toxins out of your system and improve the circulation to your skin.  15 minutes is enough to have an impact – and do it every day in the run up to whatever event caused the breakout.  I find a 30 minute jog is enough to properly sweat for 15minutes and still a manageable time to fit into my day.
  • Relax, patronising and all as it sounds, stress is not going to help.  Yoga, a hot bath or a guilty episode of KUWTK, whatever it takes to chill out – do it.

And finally, camouflage
Hopefully at this stage the angry red blemish has reduced to something much more easily masked.  So do not reach straight for the full-coverage, double wear, 48-hour foundation.  Nope, step away from the bottle.  Instead go against your natural instinct and use a sheer foundation or tinted moisturiser.  Combine this with a decent concealer (I haven’t found anything better than M.A.C. Select Cover-Up, that will not clog your pores further.  Dermablend from Vichy and Makeup Forever’s concealer palette have slightly better coverage, but I find lead to more breakouts so I only use them in an emergency and if it doesn’t matter what my skin looks like the following week).  Lisa Eldridge does a spectacular tutorial on this – and was what really convinced me that “spot” use of concealer is really the way forward, not a mask-like sheet all over your face.

I hope this helps any of you freaking out about an upcoming date/interview/holiday and the obligatory breakout!  How do you deal with a mini- or major-skin crisis?

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