One of two most asked questions I receive often is how to get rid of acne. The other being how to fade the spots they leave behind. Acne is a bitch to begin with. It’s most people’s biggest nemesis in terms of skin problem. I don’t think there’s anyone out there who wants to have any. It doesn’t matter whether a person only have one or the whole skin is covered with them. Dealing with acne is a tough work, even continuous to many.
It’s not just about skincare, because it can only do so much. It comes down greatly to our genes, lifestyle and environment. There are potent treatments like Roaccutane for severe cases and I have seen some gruesome side effects from it – this I would only recommend if you have problem that’s rooted internally. Otherwise, sticking to topical treatment and taking great care of our health are the best bet.
This post though, will cover the topical treatment that I have tried, specifically for spot treating.
Over the years, I’ve tried different products and accumulated a few tips and tricks in dealing with these demons. Along the way, I started to have a little bit of understanding of how things (sort of) work and eventually finding the most suitable solution according to the situation.
Let’s just dissect the products I used and what I think of them individually. Just a heads up, they don’t always 100% work on me. Again, the differing factors are at play here. But keep reading until the end.
Benzolac 5 and OXY 10 (with Benzoyl Peroxide 5% and 10% respectively).
There was a brief moment where I relied on these two. Benzolac 5 was the first Benzoyl Peroxide-based treatment I tried for healing acne. I was recommended by a follower and immediately went for a search. I found this in nearby pharmacy easily enough and it was cheap! Only IDR 25.000 (back in 2015, I think). I chose 5% instead of 2.5% because why not LOL. I have to say, this thing does work on me, for the most part. If I needed the acne to go away quickly, this pretty much will save the day.
However, soon enough I learned the major downside of Benzoyl Peroxide. Not only it dries up the acne, it also does the same thing on the skin surrounding it. I swear I saw the area cracked almost split open. The skin will peel and it’s unsightly. So, I had to learn to use it in moderation. Can’t force to keep using it while the skin is started to get irritated, can I?
I got OXY 10 after the success of Benzolac 5. Why downgrade when I can upgrade, right? Well, in this case I was wrong. I honestly didn’t like OXY 10 at all. Consistency-wise, it’s runnier and harder to control the amount that gets out. And it dries instantly, including the skin. It felt as if I applied nothing, so I ended up layering more and paid the price almost immediately. Potency-wise, I didn’t see much of a difference from Benzolac 5. The price is also much more expensive.
In a nutshell, these are great for quick fixes but even slightly longer term of use will wreck my skin. So I benched them. Well, I’m considering on repurchasing Benzolac 5, every now and then, maybe.
Bravura Salicylic Acid 2%
Do read the review. There’s not enough words to say how much I love this product. It’s fantastic both as an acid peel and spot treatment. It works so well because Salicylic Acid, being oil soluble, can penetrate deeper into the skin through our own natural oil. It’s perfect as a spot treatment. However, I have to be careful not to overdo it because Salicylic Acid dries the skin. The side effect isn’t as harsh as Benzoyl Peroxide though.
Odacité Bl + C
I don’t use it as a direct spot treatment, because I find that it’s too strong for my liking. I can however, mix it with a little bit with other face oil and dot it on the blemish. Also, incorporating this product into the routine (read my review to know how) helps to prevent unwanted blemishes to form up. This is sort of my secret weapon. It’s as easy as mixing 2 drops into a serum for a micro emulsion or face oil, apply to the skin and I feel safer already.
Osmia Organics Spot Treatment
My favorite of them all. Back then, I had gained a lot of interest for green beauty products and wanting to find a great spot treatment product. I had read quite a little bit of reviews prior buying this product and lots of people love it. This is 100% oil product. Of course, there’s that concern where oil might clog up the pores even more. But if I’ve learned anything, face oils are beautiful. Different oils have different characteristics, constituents and functions.
Ingredients: organic evening primrose oil and essential oils of lavender*, cajeput*, lemon*, parsley, thyme, cypress*, and rosemary CO2*. 96.5% certified organic ingredients
This product has great ingredients to begin with. Evening Primrose Oil as its carrier, sinks fast into the skin carrying all the essential oils easily. It’s high in essential fatty acids and helps to restore barrier functions. It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, which is useful in treating acne. The essential oils are also cleverly chosen with lots of anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-fungal. Quite a few of them are natural astringents too. It has a distinctive herbal scent, the cajeput scent is very strong (this ingredient is also present in Odacité Bl + C).
I didn’t have high expectations with it but I ended up loving this the most. It doesn’t cure acne in one night, that’s for sure. It takes a few days. But the process is what I appreciate a lot. It calms the acne, reduces the inflammation and swelling gradually. The best part? It doesn’t dry out the skin. No crusty bits. I can use it twice a day (or more) with no issues at all. This tiny bottle is handy to be carried around every where. I always slip in into my travel pouch because who knows when the demons might lurk.
Indie Lee Blemish Stick
This one is just alright. 50-50 for me. Definitely must not be used on broken/cut skin. It’s going to sting badly, thanks to the Isopropyl Alcohol. Having an alcohol will definitely disinfect and keep the area clean, making it more sterile. The rest of the ingredients look promising. Zinc Sulphate, Salicylic Acid, Camphor and Witch Hazel for the acne. Glycolic Acid for exfoliating the top layer. But they don’t quite do it for me. Rate of success is less than 50%. If any, the progress is really slow with this one.
Ingredients: Isopropyl Alcohol, Purified Water, Zinc Sulphate, Salicylic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Camphor, Hamamelis Virginiana Extract (Witch Hazel), Cellulose Gum, Menthol
I wish the alcohol isn’t the first ingredient though. The dryness it causes could aggravate the acne even more, instead of improving it. If it was somewhere along the bottom, it might’ve worked better. The cooling sensation more often than not translated as being a discomfort for me too.
Spot treating can come in the form of masks too! With these usual clarifying/detox masks, technically, we don’t have to apply it to the whole face if we don’t need it. Just strategically here and there, e.g, T-zone, cheeks and chin. Or simply any specific area that requires more attention. I like to do this in the middle of the day. Dot on the acne, leave it until it dries, wash it off then repeat the process as needed. Clay-based masks are usually the common product used here.
If for whatever reason, the acne pops, I like to apply the mask over and let it suck all the gunk inside. It might be a little bit painful at first because of the open lesion. However, the healing process seems to be faster with this trick.
May Lindstrom The Problem Solver
BANG BANG KAPOW! Still is my favorite purifying mask. The review is linked above.
Odacité SYNERGIE Beauty Masque*
A unique piece in the arsenal. We can mix different ingredients with the mask to emphasize one of the four main functions. The combination is endless. Read the review for more details.
THREE Purifying Clay Mask
This is a superb clay mask. The consistency is thick initially and is a little hard to be pushed out of the tube. But once it hits the skin, it sort of melts and spreads easily. Kind of like pottery clay. It’s cooling. Gets the purifying job efficiently. The only con-ish for me is it dries out fast so I don’t necessarily get that me-time, zen moment. As a spot treatment mask, works out quite lovely too, though I need to wash it off quicker and repeat the process in shorter time.
Argan Republic Green Goddess and Rose Clay Mask
Main ingredient for each of the masks is French Green Clay and Pink Clay (which is essentially White + Red Kaolin Clay). The green one is the stronger between the two. Sometimes I find it a little too robust for the whole face. The pink becomes the milder one thanks to the addition of White Kaolin Clay; otherwise Red Kaolin Clay is the mother of them all. Both are activated with water and dries sticking to my face pretty adamantly. The removal can be a little bit knotty. Best applied thinly. Because they have higher concentration of pure clay, they do feel a lot more drying. I also like to mix them together, or add other emollient ingredient(s) to improve on the consistency and comfort level.
If you’re interested in making your own clay mask concoctions, there’s one online shop serving the Indonesian locals called Organic Supply Co. selling the base clay ingredient. They also sell Activated Charcoal Powder too!
Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask
This is the only exception as it is not a clarifying mask. The mask itself is soothing and hydrating. The Manuka Honey acts as an anti-bacterial for the skin. This is probably the most used mask for spot treating because the fact that it doesn’t dry out the skin. I LOVE this, there’s nothing quite like it. It’s not the most efficient one but when the skin can’t handle it, it just can’t. I’ll take a longer road.
Not pictured here but “The Hulk” Menard Pack Aserie Clay Mask is also a good one to use without excessively drying out the skin. Damn, I miss that mask!
I used to get annoyed easily when an acne or blemish come up and I want to get rid of it immediately. Who doesn’t. Busting all the clarifying treatments all in one night, hoping to be rid of it by morning or ASAP. It used to worked, or that’s what I thought. Then it didn’t anymore. The skin always changes and I have to respect that.
These days, my skin can’t take too many clarifying ingredients at once. The ones I usually have nowadays is cystic acne and it can take a while before it resurfaces and form a pustule. Often, they don’t even come up to the surface. With the excessive clarifying treatments, the skin around the bump will be dry in no time, gets flaky and hurts even. The worst part? All those treatments often didn’t diminish the main problem *HA*. This is something I experience often and the wisest way is to just leave it be. Once I see the skin parched or starts to get thin, I stop everything and try not to think about it. In fact, the less I think about it, the quicker it seems to go away. Sure, I’ll use a spot treatment here and there, but in the end, I just want my skin happy. Happy skin heals problems fast(er).
Here comes a revelation — a less-aggressive approach. My main objective here is calming the inflammation, not sucking the life out of my skin. Maintaining the skin to keep hydrated and moisturized. By doing this, I’ve served my skin well and I’m able to avoid further inflammation/irritating the skin. So, whenever I see a blemish, I’d access the situation first, which starts from the overall skin condition. Then I make the decision based on it. If I feel the skin can take it, I might take the adventurous road. Otherwise, I’m sticking to the happy-clam route.
The general rule is I tried to balance between calming and clarifying ingredients. See how I place “calming” first. There are times when the bump clears out faster when I’m being kind to the skin, but sometimes it takes longer. That’s fine. I just want to alleviate the pain, inflammation, swelling and redness more than anything else (which is why I love Osmia Organics Spot Treatment and Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask). The bump eventually will subside and depending on the healing process, it will either flatten out on its own (exfoliation helps) or I have to extract it (just make sure it’s ready to pop out).
So, what’s the lesson here? Chill more. Stress will only worsen the acne. Easier said than done, I know. Don’t dwell too long on it. Keep that positivity as it will create good energy and eventually, attract good things. Work smart, strategize well, keep a healthy lifestyle and don’t forget to honor the skin’s integrity.
Note: if there are dry patches, I like to apply either TATCHA Soothing Triple Recovery Cream or NUDE Advanced Renewal Overnight Repair Mask on top of the area. These two products also help to relieve the irritation and redness.
* denotes PR sample.