5 Pimple Remedies When Traveling

If you follow me on Snapchat, you saw the red pimple that was trying to wriggle it's way onto my face one day before my trip (and if you didn't, you are in luck because you can see them all on the AES Youtube Channel. I wasn't surprised, pimples have a way of coming right when you want them least. Lucky for me and you, there are a few steps you can take to calm those unwanted pimples so you can get on and enjoy your trip:

1. Ice: What do you do when you sprain your ankle and it gets all big and swollen?  You ice it to help bring the inflammation down.  Well the same inflammatory process is happening when you get those big inflamed pimples and applying direct ice for 2-5 minutes after cleansing morning and night will do the same.  I always bring my silicone popsicle molds with me because apparently, people aren't as obsessed with ice as we are in the U.S.  If you don't have one, you can find them for cheap on Amazon. As soon as I get to the hotel, I fill that thing up, put a towel bib under my chin, and put the ice part directly on my face if I even think I feel a pimple coming.

2. Spot treat: The BP Cream is usually a part of the evening regimen but when you have an inflamed zit, an extra application in the morning can help calm symptoms of inflammation like redness and swelling.  Apply a thin layer after your serum in the morning and let it sit for as long as possible before applying your moisturizer to avoid decreasing the effectiveness of the benzoyl peroxide. You can see the red bump that was forming on my upper lip in the first video snap the day before my trip.  It hadn't quite formed a pimple yet but I just knew it was coming (as us people with acne always do!) because it started feeling itchy and sore, classic signs of inflammation.  I iced it multiple times that day, did an extra application of BP Cream in the morning, and you can in the video on the way to the airport that the redness and swelling had already gone down by the next day.

3. Be consistent with your regimen: Sticking to your regimen after you've spent all day sightseeing or drinking or partying or whatever it is that you fancy doing when you travel is rough.  The cleansing, then the icing, then the Aqua Gel, then the drying before the BP Cream, I know I know. BUT just because you have taken a vacation doesn't mean your retention hyperkeratosis has and the serum keep those dead skin cells from accumulating in the follicle and causing future pimples.  So if you really really really can't deal with doing your entire regimen one night, at least slap on the serum before bed to keep those comedones from forming.  If it's too late and you can already feel something forming but still can't find the motivation to do your whole regimen, apply the serum to help move that seed up and the BP cream too to keep it from blowing up and becoming inflamed.

4. Don't touch it: If this post was called, "How to make a zit bigger and more noticeable", picking/touching/helping/whatever other terms you may use to excuse yourself would be at the top of the list.  Please believe me when I say that a few days of pimple is better than a few days of picked nastiness so leave it alone and let the products do their thing.  If you are a compulsive picker and your hands can't help but roam onto your face, follow the three foot rule (or the 1 meter rule if you are not American) and stay at least three feet away from the mirror at all times. Don't worry, it's still close enough that you will see if your lipstick is on your forehead.

5. Practice acceptance: After you have taken what steps you can to help the pimple heal, accept it, remind yourself that that nobody notices your acne as much as you do (literally, repeat it to yourself throughout the day like a mantra), and try to enjoy yourself.  Seriously, this is the most important step on this list and also the hardest but we can't heal the physical effects of acne without healing the psychological ones too.  And if it feels impossible to stop obsessing about your acne today, that is okay too. Focusing on the good things is a practice so don't beat yourself up if you can't help but well, beat yourself up. As I tell my clients, just do your best and be as kind to yourself as you would be to your favorite person :)

Those aren't blackheads on your nose

A common concern I hear from both acne and non-acne clients is that they want to get rid of the blackheads on their nose.  I recently wrote a blog post about blackheads and although those dark colored dots on your nose look similar, they are actually sebaceous filaments.

Those Aren't Blackheads On Your Nose | AES Blog

What are sebaceous filaments?

Unlike blackheads which are the result of plugged follicles, sebaceous filaments are just the exposed tip of a pore's natural sebum flow.  The size of the pore is determined by how much sebum is flowing so the more oil, the larger the pore appears.

How do I tell the difference between a blackhead and a sebaceous filament?

-Sebaceous filaments tend to have a lighter color than blackheads and usually appear gray or flesh-colored

-Blackheads usually appear as solitary lesions whereas sebaceous filaments tend to have an evenly distributed pattern on the oilier parts of the skin like the nose or chin

-Blackheads usually have a slightly raised border but sebaceous filaments are generally smooth and flush with the skin

How do I get rid of them?

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to get rid of sebaceous filaments and any skincare product that claims to do so is a LIE.  Everyone has pores that release sebum onto the surface of the skin and as much as we hate it, it plays a very important function in keeping our skin moisturized and protected.

What NOT to do with sebaceous filaments.

DO NOT attempt to squeeze them out with your fingers or any other dirty tool in your bathroom because you risk infecting it and turning it into a blackhead, whitehead, or even pimple.  Also, even if you squeeze it out, it will ALWAYS come back.  Have you ever used a biore strip and had those things stay away? Didn't think so.  Use the tips above or contact a professional who can design a skincare regimen that will diminish the appearance of blemishes like sebaceous filaments.

Skincare Lesson: Blackheads

Open comedones, aka blackheads, are actually a form of noninflamed acne.  There are many types of acne but they all develop when dead skin cells, oil, and comedogenic ingredients form a plug called a comedo.  Blackheads are formed when the pore is open and the comedo is exposed to air.

Why do none of my blackhead products work?

If you have ever bought a skincare product claiming to reach deep down into pores and wash blackheads away, chances are you have been disappointed.  Whether it was a scrub, a strip, or a machine, there are a few reasons why most blackhead products don’t work:

  • Blackheads are not caused by impurities or dirty skin.  No amount of soap will wash blackheads away because their dark color is the result of a chemical reaction called oxidation, not poor hygiene.
  • Blackheads extend relatively deep below the skin’s surface.  There are very few products that can penetrate the surface of the skin and those that do cannot physically push an entire comedo out of the pore.
  • Blackheads are the result of a continual process.  Getting rid of existing blackheads is usually not effective because dead skin cells are constantly shedding and oil is always being produced in the follicle. Getting blackheads under control requires maintenance, not a quick fix.

Tips to get rid of blackheads:

  1. The fastest way to get rid of blackheads is to manually and properly extract them. Find a skin professional that specializes in acne who can perform effective extractions without damaging or infecting your skin.  
  2. Do NOT pick!  Please do not use scary makeshift tools to perform surgery in your bathroom mirror.  Unless of course, you want your blackheads to become red angry zits.  
  3. Use a product with salicylic acid in it like the Clarifying Toner.  Salicylic acid is a naturally occurring beta hydroxy acid with anti-fungal properties and one of the few ingredients that has the ability to penetrate the skin’s surface.  Because it is oil-soluble, it has the ability to penetrate the oil blocking up the pore and loosen up blackheads.

10 All Natural Acne Fighting Tips

meditation can help decrease hormone levels

1. Relax-stress is one of the top acne triggers so get a massage, take a quiet walk, or meditate.  Even just 10 minutes a day can make a difference.  These are not luxuries, these are necessities!

2. Tea tree oil-apply a spot of tea tree oil with a q-tip to pimples.  Tea tree has natural antiseptic and drying properties without the comedogenic ingredients that come in other drying products like most toothpastes.

3. Probiotics-probiotics improve digestion and the elimination of toxins by restoring beneficial bacteria in the gut.  Take live probiotic supplements or eat fermented foods like kimchee and pickled cabbage to get your daily dose.  This is especially important for people who have taken antibiotics which tend to wipe out all of the good bacteria in our systems.

4. Candida cleanse-the candida cleanse consists of cutting out sugars, caffeine, and dairy.  The cleanse helps rids the body of toxins and sugar which is highly inflammatory.

5. Zinc supplements-zinc is an essential trace mineral that studies suggest improves inflamed acne.  Take a zinc supplement such as zinc monomethionine to reduce inflammatory pimples.

6. Sleep-not getting regular quality sleep increases stress levels and triggers hormone fluctuations.  Practice good sleep hygiene by turning off electronics and refraining from stimulating activities 1 hour before bedtime.

7.  Ice!-Applying an ice cube directly to your face is one of the easiest and cheapest acne-fighting tools out there.  Icing reduces inflammation and increases the penetration of your topical acne products.

8. Water-drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day helps skin cells function properly and aids in flushing the body of toxins and wastes.

9. Cut out dairy-dairy contains pore-irritating iodides and high levels of hormones from pregnant cows. Switch to almond/hemp/rice milk instead.

10. Get active-exercise decreases stress which is responsible for triggering the overproduction of sebum. Pick an activity that you love and make time to do it on a regular basis.  Gentle activities like yoga are especially good for fighting stress and promoting emotional well-being.