Beauty / Favourites

Here’s what to do when you have a breakout

Breakout treatment

I spent most of my teenage years with acne, and my adult life working in beauty, so I've come to learn a thing or two about skincare for breakouts. While my complexion is mostly managed now, I still get spots (generally due to hormonal fluctuations, or when I'm run down and not looking after myself).

In the event of the latter, I have a handful of products I call on to speed up the process – that is, prevention, treatment and then healing. Keep scrolling to read.

First up, how to prevent a breakout

When it comes to breakouts, prevention is better than treatment. This involves ensuring that there's no cellular build-up, controlled oil production and that you have a balanced microbiome. Here are some favourites to do just that.

Emma Lewisham Supernatural Blemish Face Serum

Emma Lewisham is doing great things in the world of skincare, but the Supernatural Blemish Serum has impressed me the most. It comes in a dual-chamber pump pack that dispenses a world-first patented live probiotic (Micrococcus luteus Q24) to crowd out the acne bacteria while supporting a healthy microbiome. It's an intelligent, gentle and effective way to prevent breakouts.

Biologique Recherche Lotion P50

While it's never good to over-exfoliate, a build-up of cells is one of the biggest risk factors when it comes to clogged pores. P50 is a liquid exfoliator – an iconic one, at that! – that dissolves the 'glue' holding these old cells together, allowing them to be swiftly removed. Yes it stinks like vinegar, but it works. Inside you'll find Alpha-Hydroxy Acids, Beta-Hydroxy Acids and plant extracts like onion (yes, really) to brighten, clarify and refine. It's not the stuff of legend for no reason.

iS Clinical Active Serum

This is another liquid exfoliating serum hailed as a silver bullet for breakout-prone skin. I personally love it; it has a cool, tingly feeling and definitely helps to prevent spots from forming. The heavy-lifter is White Willow Bark, which is a plant-derived form of Salicylic Acid. What it does is dissolve oil within a pore, meaning fewer breakouts and unified skin tone.

How to reduce breakout overnight

So despite your best efforts, you've broken out. While a very normal part of life, it's also fine to want to speed up the healing process. Here are my top picks to do so overnight.

Starface Hydro-Stars

Breakout treatment

Hydrocolloid dressings hail from the medical field, but have been adapted by beauty as a means to treat pimples. I love these ones from Starface as they grip the skin well and poke some fun at beauty standards. They work to both protect the 'wound' and absorb any excess fluid, as well.

Biba de Sousa The Zinc MaskBreakout treatment

Sulfur is one of my all-time favourite ingredients to reduce redness and swelling, especially where breakouts are concerned. Any mask will do, but I swear by this one from Biba de Sousa. Leave it on a spot for 10 minutes once per day and it will reduce in size/severity before your eyes.

Dermalogica Deep Breakout Liquid Patch
Breakout treatment

I mentioned this products earlier today on Instagram, and am including because I think it's genius. The formula works to create a shield of sorts on the skin, while infusing it with sulfur (again) and niacinamide to bring down redness and swelling.

Omnilux Contour LED MaskBreakout treatment

If you are a bonafide skincare junkie you might want to know about LED light. LED stands for light emitting diode, and is a proven clinical technology that improves on countless skin concerns like discolouration, lines and acne. Omnilux is a market leader and the at-home mask works really well. It utilises red light, which is known to reduce inflammation, boost collagen production and improve skin clarity.

How to deal with the aftermath

The dark  marks that appear after a breakout are often more complicated to treat than the breakout itself. This is because when the skin undergoes 'trauma', melanocyte production turns on, resulting in a red, brown or purple-ish scar. But with patience and the right topical, you can reduce their appearance significantly.

Allies of Skin Mandelic Pigmentation Corrector Night Serum

This contains mandelic and salicylic acids, as well as niacinamide, bakuchiol and other brighteners to reduce the look of dark spots with time. It's lightweight, hard working and surprisingly hydrating for such an active formula. I also find that Allies of Skin is a trusted brand; everything I've used (including this) has afforded a visible difference. Use it at night under a moisturiser.

Avène Cicalfate+ Restorative Protective Cream

This is a simple salve from French skincare brand Avène that soothes and protects fragile or broken skin. It contains antibacterial copper and zinc, plus thermal water to replenish and promote healing. It's perfect on redness, or any spot you've accidentally picked at that now requires TLSC.


Watch Emily's breakout tutorial, below


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