TIPS: How To Pop, Banish and Cover Your Blemishes

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By August 24, 2011 11 Comments

TIPS: How To Pop, Banish and Cover Your Blemishes

As the weather changes, so too does your skin. We’ll get into how to transform your summer to fall skin routine in a different post, but for today we’re dedicating it all to our least favorite skin situation: the pimple!

The facts: Everyone breaks out at some point in their life. While skincare products are of utmost importance (healthy, organic, oil-free, etc), sometimes weather changes, pollutants, monthly cycle and hormones cause a blemish that not even Mario Badescu Drying Lotion can cure.

If you’ve ever had a pimple problem, then this post is for you. Skincare expert and and international best-selling author of Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me, Paula Begoun, dishes on the 3 steps necessary for controlling your next breakout.

So, here they are – Paula’s 3 lesson’s for popping, banishing and covering your blemishes:

Lesson 1: To Pop or Not to Pop
You’ve heard people say “never pop a pimple,” offering only vague reasons why you shouldn’t. They’re wrong. In reality, popping a pimple reduces inflammation, scarring, healing time, and gets rid of the ugly white bump, but only if you do it right. What you absolutely should not do is over-squeeze, pick, puncture, or do anything else that causes serious scabs.

Learning when and how to remove a blemish properly is essential, because leaving a whitehead (or blackhead) sitting there on your face is just not realistic, at least not for most of us. You’ll know the blemish is ready when you see a white head. So as long as you can see an obvious head, and you’re certain you’re not dealing with cystic acne (deep, red swollen bumps far below the skin surface), you can follow the steps listed below to remove the contents.


  1. Buy a comedone extractor (available at drugstores & Sephora).
  2. Cleanse your face with a gentle water-soluble cleanser, but do NOT use very cold or very hot water. Both will make the blemish redder—don’t make a pimple angrier than it is!—and hurt the skin’s ability to heal.
  3. Lightly massage the cleanser on your skin with a soft, wet washcloth to remove dead skin cells. This makes extracting the pimple easier, but don’t overscrub.
  4. Dry your skin gently. Do not use the comedone extractor or squeeze when your skin is wet because it’s more vulnerable to tearing, which can cause scarring.
  5. Center the opening of the comedone extractor over the pimple. Then gently (and we mean really gently) and with very little pressure (and we mean very little pressure), push the comedone extractor down on the whitehead and move it across the pimple. That should release the contents.
  6. You may need to repeat this process a couple more times, but that’s it.
  7. If you overdo it, you will create a scab and risk scarring (a reminder of your acne you don’t want to carry with you for the rest of your life). Remember: Be gentle; the goal is to remove the whitehead without creating a scab or damaging the surrounding skin. After all, scabs are not any better to look at than a pimple.
Lesson 2: Banish the Blemish
After your gentle extraction, you must follow up with a 2.5% or 5% benzoyl peroxide product (Paula’s Choice CLEAR has excellent options, but you can also check Beautypedia for other recommendations) and/or a 1% or 2% salicylic acid (BHA) product. Don’t expect these products to immediately reduce inflammation because that’s not their purpose; they are intended to disinfect, which they do, and they definitely will help prevent further breakouts.
For more information about skin care for acne, read our comprehensive article Acne & Acne Treatments.
Lesson 3: Take Cover
After you’ve removed the contents of the pimple and treated the area with well-formulated anti-acne products, it’s time for the magic of makeup to make your blemish almost unnoticeable.
  1. After cleansing the skin, use a mattifying moisturizer to help moisten your skin, because if your skin is dry, concealer won’t go on smoothly over the area.
  2. Select a matte concealer that matches your skin tone exactly—no peach, pink, green, or ashen colors. It also should have enough slip to make blending easy. Recommendations: L’Oreal True Match Concealer ($8.95); Origins Quick, Hide! Long-Wearing Concealer ($15); Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer ($30).
  3. After applying your regular foundation (if you wear any), use a concealer brush (synthetic hair with a flat, rounded point) or your finger and gently dab a small amount of concealer onto the center of the blemish, then begin blending softly outward, creating even coverage that sheers out to the unaffected skin around the blemish. If you need more coverage, let the first layer of concealer set for about a minute before adding more, starting at the center and using the same technique.
  4. It helps to set the concealer with a gentle dusting of powder. A small, soft eyeshadow brush is perfect for applying a layer of powder over a concealed blemish. Applying powder over a blemish with a large or scratchy brush can lead to your makeup looking cakey, or cause your makeup to break down.
  5. It helps to wear foundation so that the concealer isn’t obvious on your face, but if you’re not wearing foundation you have to be extra careful how you apply the concealer. Check your application in daylight to make sure it doesn’t look like there is a clump of makeup color over a blemish. You want it to look natural, not obvious.
Have an anti-acne tip?
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