The Acne Survival Guide: How to Get Rid of a Zit in 24 Hrs or Less!

School, weather changes, and added stress can all lead to one thing no one has time for: breakouts.

Stress has a nasty way of manifesting in the form of a large, angry zit, generally somewhere highly visible, like the tip of the nose. The morning of some big presentation, exam, or date, and one or two of these horrific spots just magically appear…like clockwork.

Of course, following a diligent, proper skincare routine while simultaneously finding ways of dealing with stress and deadlines will be your best bet in achieving flawless skin. However, no one is perfect and immune to the occasional disaster-zit…or a full-fledged pimple attack.

Here is how I, the self-proclaimed acne-queen, combat everything from those giant, “submarine spots” that never actually surface to full-scale, this-means-war massive breakouts.

Dealing with a Large-Scale Breakout:

When you wake up only to find a war-zone on your face, follow this four-step plan:

  1. Cleanse your face with a low pH cleanser.
  2. Tone using a moisturizing toner or “skin booster” toner. Gently pat it in until it fully absorbs.
  3. Sheet mask. Stick it in the fridge (even if it is freezing outside) to help reduce morning puffiness in the face, and constrict blood vessels, bringing down the swelling. This is what often causes breakouts to look much, much worse at first sight than they actually are.
  4. Finish off with a soothing, anti-inflammatory, moisturizing ingredient like snail secretion filtrate, aloe, honey, or hyaluronic acid. Pat it in until fully absorbed.

This will get your face into a much more manageable state by both jump starting the healing process, and also minimizing the appearance of the breakout. Of course, your milage may vary, but for me, one use shows a significant improvement, and if used consecutively every morning (or evening) will generally clear the breakout completely before the week’s end (around 3-5 days instead of the typical 8 day healing time).

A Note on Sheet Masks:

Sheet masks are my secret weapon when it comes to sudden breakouts, especially when it involves more than 1-2 spots. While any sheet mask will supply your skin with the extra boost of moisture it needs help start the soothing and healing process, why not tackle the redness and swelling at the same time?

Masks with soothing ingredients like snail, lotus, or hyaluronic acid will help with the redness and jump start the healing process. Brightening ingredients are also a good bet as they make the face look healthy, awake, and help even the tone of the skin.

These are the masks I always have on hand for such acne-emergencies:

Pony Soothing Mask Pack– seriously smooths and soothes while also reducing redness. One of the best masks for breakouts that I’ve tried!

Innisfree Its Real Bija Mask-a tried and true favorite. It helps prevent breakouts, but also soothes skin should one arise. I always have 5 or so on hand for days when I wake up to a less-than-awesome face.

Leader’s Pore Scaling Black Aqua Mask-this mask is super creepy looking-its completely black-but I like to use it anyway. I typically use it for preventative measures (when my skin feels congested and ripe for a breakout), but also for (warning: super gross) small, “wet” breakouts…aka lots of whiteheads, blackheads, and/or pustules. It will literally suck the pus out, and when you take off the mask you can see what was previously in your skin. Gross, but effective. I also have a few of these on hand at all times.

Leader’s Coconut Mask with Orange -this mask is my special occasion prep mask because its brightening claims are dead serious. My face looks not just glowy, but downright luminous, after using one of these. Some days, your face needs that boost. Having the good sections of your skin looking amazing (and possibly blinding people with the light radiating from your pores) will distract them from the not-so-wonderful breakout zone(s).

After the sheet mask, add something like the CosRX Snail 96 Power Essence to help calm the skin and moisturize it further. Snail is soothing, calming, and redness-reducing. Gently pat it in to absorb, letting all the product sink in before moving onto makeup.

Dealing with Cysts and Nodules:

You know those spots that never actually surface, but just lurk big and red, underneath the skin without ever coming to a head? I call these types of monstrosities “submarine spots” for that very reason. Since they take forever to resolve on their own, on the rare occasion that I have to deal with one of these, I have a game plan to send them on their way in under 48 hours. Luckily, with a little ice and eye redness remover drops, the pimple is easy enough to conceal while you contend with it behind the scenes when you have the time.

If you have a day off to deal with this sort of zit, great, if not, attack it in the evening. Basically, my tried-and-true plan of attack involves two phases of two alternating steps.The pimple will do one of two things: either dissipate under the skin without ever coming to a head, or slowly shrink into a smaller and smaller head until it vanishes.

Phase One:

Alternate hot and cold compresses for 15-30 minutes at a time until the pimple responds (starts dissipating under the skin, or coming to a head).

I find that an ice pack, bag of peas, or an ice cube in a thinly wrapped towel serve as easy cold compresses.

If you don’t have a hot water bottle or heating pad, a comfortably warm mug of water or soaked washcloth can work just as well for the heating component.

This step will take some time (generally 1-2 hours) so cozy up with a good book or have some quality Netflix time while you do this.

Phase Two:

Now that the pimple is either much smaller underneath the skin (the nodule/cyst has shrunk) or has started coming to a head, the next phase begins.

The first step is to use a drawing/purifying agent to bring the infection up to the surface of the skin so it can be better targeted and treated. To do this, use a drawing salve (like Prid’s) or a product with a high concentration of charcoal, sulfur, or clay. I personally like to use things like Scinic’s All Day Fine Clay Pore Mask as spot treatments for these sorts of spots. Apply according to directions, and give the product a few hours to work (if not overnight). You can alternately use a hydrocolloid bandage. I love these from CosRX.

The next step is to apply medication; I like 10% benzoyl peroxide as it works the quickest on me, but feel free to use whatever heavy-duty treatment you probably remember from your teen years. Apply and allow a few hours to work.

Continue alternating the purifying agent to draw up and dry out the infection, then layering a spot medication afterwards to further treat the infection. Be sure to only treat the immediate zit surface as to not dry out the surrounding skin.

Also, do not pick at these! It will cause MAJOR scarring. Don’t squeeze it; don’t try to “drain” it with a sterilized needle. Just leave it alone and keep at it with phase two!

Properly Concealing a Pimple

99% of the time, a pimple shows up when you have absolutely no time to deal with it. The easiest way to flawless skin? Faking it.

  1. Use a primer to keep everything in place. You don’t want all of your hard work to slide off your face after a few hours.
  2. Foundation goes first. Apply with a beauty blender/makeup sponge in stippling motions to avoid the micro exfoliation caused by fingers and brushes that will cause additional redness and irritation. Don’t sweep, rub, or pull too much, especially in the affected area(s). By applying foundation first, it is easier to gauge how much concealing will need to actually be done. You also don’t need a very thick layer or high coverage formula depending on your skin. If its only one or two spots, or even just one area (like the jawline), don’t hide the rest of your perfectly good skin. A cake face will only point to what is being hidden.
  3. Pin point conceal with a small eyeliner brush. Thick, waxy formulations generally work better than thin, watery ones when the pimple is very red and inflamed. Apply a light layer over the pimple and use a makeup sponge to gently dab it outwards. Avoid creating a circle around the zit with a concealer; blend, blend, blend the harsh edges for the most natural look. Layer it up until satisfactory coverage is achieved.
  4. This may be the most essential step in concealing a pimple: securing the concealer. Be sure to lightly dab some powder on top of the area to set it. Don’t rub, even if you are using a brush. If you want to lock the concealer firmly into place, go ahead and bake it on with some translucent powder. If you would step-by-step instructions on how to do this, you can visit my in-depth tutorial here.

The biggest part of concealing a pimple is more about drawing attention to the nicer areas of skin on your face, rather than masking the problem areas under a cakey layer of makeup. By using heavy layers on pin-pointed areas, the rest of the face can look very natural and help fake the look of all-over nice skin (a phenomenon that does NOT occur with pancake foundation or concealer).

And at the end of the day, a zit or two is just that, a zit or two. The world does not end, or even stop for the slightest second, at a sudden cyst or breakout. Most people are too busy with their own lives and troubles (or too busy looking at their phones) to even notice the “giant” zit on your cheek that you think looks like a jaw-breaker in size, but honestly, its more like a pea.

As I said earlier, having a diligent, regular, and effective skin care regimen in combination with having a diligent, regular, and effective stress management routine, will be the most important and effective things you can do to prevent pimples. Eating a healthy diet, regular exercise, and getting enough sleep (life goals right?) are not only great for preventing acne, but also in managing stress…which helps manage acne. Daily choices are more important than we sometimes might think.

But good daily choices aside, these tips and tricks will get you through even the roughest breakouts when they do happen, and get your skin back to normal in no time ūüôā

Reminder/Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and YMMV. Use my tips with caution, I am not liable for anything at all, and what works for me does not guarantee it will work for you.


July Favorites

This month flew by! I can’t believe its almost¬†August can you? Anyway, today I thought I would share my favorite products from this month.


Innisfree Bija Sheet Mask-this was my go-to mask this month because it was so moisturizing and soothing without any filminess. It really helped calm my skin and tame the last skin purging stragglers.Super gentle. A true basic, classic mask.

Elizavecca Milky Piggy Hell-Pore Clean-Up Mask-For the price of a box of Biore pore strips, you can have the same power in liquid form to put all over your face. So great at keeping pores clear and blackheads at bay (not to mention taming that wild peach fuzz). Its not exactly gentle, but just avoid sensitive areas like around the eyes and any wanted hair (like your eyebrows).


Skinfood’s Salmon Dark Circle Concealer Cream-this stuff works wonders on my (super) dark undereye area and also on redness and zits. Its so¬†versatile¬†and its wonderful thick, waxy texture helps it stay¬†put all day long. One layer of this and I’m done. Easy to blend out, covers effortlessly. One of the best concealers I’ve ever tried (and I’ve tried A LOT).

Too Faced Born This Way Liquid Foundation in Snow-With all my recent redness and adventures in Purge-atory, I was forced to ditch my super sheer foundation habits and invest in something with heavier coverage. I had been needing a paler shade anyway (thanks niacinamide and regular sunscreen use!) so I hauled my weeping, screaming wallet into ULTA and was totally¬†that girl who had to swatch¬†everything. After swiping on any foundation-like product baring “pale as f***” in its color name, I came across the (adorable) Too Faced section. I went all the way to the start of the row of foundations and picked up the shade”Snow” only to have a perfect match (yaaassss!). So yes, I am pale as snow. I swear, a twenty year old corpse has more color than me. End of story.


Lador Hair Care- this brand is an absolute miracle in a bottle and I am seriously not kidding right now. I have ridiculously fine hair so finding conditioners that will allow it to survive a couple blow drying sessions per week and not plaster it to my scalp with weight is an impossible challenge. Between the serum, tea tree conditioner, and the 10 min treatment, my hair looks and feels healthier than it has ever been-this is with me bleaching and coloring my hair for the first time as well! If they ever discontinue their products I may honestly off myself. Life will never be the same without them!

These are the products that I can’t seem to stop using this month. I highly recommend them all ūüôā What have you been digging this month? Anything in particular you just can’t live without?

Sheet Mask Showdown/7 Day Sheet Mask Challenge

Unless you are totally new to this blog (which if you are-welcome!), its completely obvious that I may have a slight sheet mask addiction. I’m that girl who wears them around the house like they are some sort of face-shirt or something: while I watch TV, while I’m at the computer, while I’m washing dishes, cleaning, studying…I’m more used to seeing a mask on my face when I look in the mirror than my own bare face. It doesn’t help the fact that I’ve now got retinoid-face from my Curology prescription…so I am completely #enabled.

So before my friends and family hold an intervention and I get hauled off to a sheet mask addiction clinic, here is a quick round up of the masks I’ve tried this past week. One per day keeps the skin woes away!

Pony Effect Luminous Boosting Mask Pack Express Soothing Face Mask

This mask was so awesome that it deserves a post of its own. In short: its one of the more amazing masks I’ve tried…and that is really saying something coming from mask queen over here.

Botanic Farm Cherry Blossom Mask & Botanic Farm Kiwi Mask

While these masks are not as great as my beloved Etude House I Need You ones, they are still a decent everyday mask. They fit pretty well, don’t have any sort of overpowering/obnoxious smell, don’t break the bank, and provide an extra boost of moisture to give you that classic, dewy sheet mask glow. I tend to alternate these sorts of “1$” masks with fancier, pricier ones so that my skin can leave me in peace without making my wallet fall to its knees.

P.D.F  A.C Dressing Ampoule Mask

Going along with its name (I guess), this sheet mask felt like a bandage in texture. As I was removing it from its packet, I was afraid it would be a bit rough, but once on my face, it wasn’t any different than any other fiber-based mask. This one did a good job of staying saturated for a long time (no weird crusty dry bits) and really helped with my dryness. It had a soothing effect as well which was a perk.

Innisfree Its Real Squeeze Mask Bija

I really liked this mask and am so glad I ordered a bajillion of them when they were on sale back from my Memebox haul. Its very effective at hydrating my skin without any residue/film, and always leaves my skin soothed. I’ve used this mask a few times now and have fallen in love with how fresh-faced I always look after wearing it. Its a miracle worker on angry spots; this mask is excellent at taking down the redness factor several notches. Highly recommend.

Bonvivant Aloe Botanical Mask Pack

Aloe is a classic skincare ingredient, known for its soothing properties. This mask¬†lists¬†aloe extract instead of water as the bulk filler and is made of ¬†plant fiber. Mainly, this mask just moisturized my skin-my face was hydrated, but my spots were still doing their normal angry-red thing. The only stand-out thing about this mask was how freakishly soft it was; I kind of didn’t want to take it off…ever. But the results were sub-par to even the Botanic Farm cheapies.

Botanic Farm Polar Energy Camel Milk (Anti-Aging) Hydrogel Mask Pack

I have to say, while this mask did really help brighten my face, it was so, so, so uncomfortable. For starters, hydrogel is just sort of…icky to me. It makes me a little squeamish; its texture is like putting raw meat on my face (you are welcome). So while my wallet rejoices, jello-textured masks are a rarity in my routine and I always forget how face-conforming they are. Sometimes, this is a good thing (like whoa! I forgot how well they fit-I can do all sorts of things while wearing this! Why don’t I buy these more often?) or, as in this case, how hard it can be to get a good fit. I could not wait to take this mask off because it just CUT into my face. Anywhere the mask ended, it got sharper and sharper as it began to dry. The eye area was the worst. It covers a good amount of under-eye area (usually a perk), but I had to keep looking up the entire time I wore this mask to prevent a razor sharp edge from attacking my poor eyebags. The results were by no means wimpy-everywhere was bright and dewy-but not worth the cost or the experience.

Well, there is your peek into the life of someone living on the cusp of needing sheet mask rehab. I hope you found these quick, mini-reviews helpful. If there are any masks (besides the super-jaw-droppingly-awesome PONY mask) that you would like a more in-depth, ingredient-analysis type review of, just let me know! It doesn’t even need to be a mask listed here, just one you are curious about. I’m always looking for new things to try!