Why is it that whenever I have a party to go to I wake up with a face full of acne? I’ve tried most of the old wives’ tales but is there actually any proven way of getting rid of them in a few hours?

Mark, via contact form

If talking about the Swedish label best known for turning out understated, modern classics, I’m all for waking up covered in the stuff, but unfortunately ‘acne’ here refers to red, angry-looking zits.

There are two parts to Mark’s question. The first asked why, when we go to bed praying for clear skin, we wake up with the devil trying to escape from our pores. The answer to that is sod’s law. The second part, wisely, goes after a fast fix.

A zit is essentially a swollen follicle, clogged with a nasty cocktail of sebum, dirt, dead skin cells and bacteria. The bad news is we men are more susceptible to these breakouts than women, on account having of thicker, oilier skin. The good news is there are ways to minimise their appearance and regain a clear complexion.

The first step in getting shot of any spot is to assess what stage it is at and determine the best treatment.

“If the spot is red and inflamed with no signs of infection (i.e. pus), the main aim is to reduce inflammation and swelling,” explains skincare expert Andy Millward.

In this case, Millward suggests applying a “topical anti-inflammatory”. These products typically contain ingredients such as willowherb, totarol, bisabolol or chamomile and will help reduce the redness and make the spot less noticeable.

Millward also suggests applying ice to the area for a few seconds then repeating every few minutes. “This constricts blood flow to the area, therefore reducing the inflammation and swelling.”

If, on the other hand, pus is visible, it’s time to turn up the heat. “Increasing blood flow to the area supports the healing process. Using a warm compress or gentle steam to open the pore helps draw the infection out quicker,” he adds.

In either case, avoid reaching for any harsh cleansing products that could irritate your face and create further redness. And whatever you do. Do. Not. Squeeze. As satisfying as it may seem to decorate your bathroom mirror with the spot’s contents, this will, at best, push even more bacteria into the skin and potentially cause it to break and scab over.

“If we put pressure on this already delicate follicle it may break under the surface of the skin and leak into the surrounding sterile environment,” explains Sally Penford from the International Dermal Institute.

“When this happens your body’s immune system kicks in and provides white blood cells to clear up the mess. In doing so however it may also destroy protein structures within the deeper layers that lead to scarring.”

As with most things, the best defence is a good offence. So if your skin is particularly breakout-prone, build a grooming arsenal well stocked with everyday blemish-fighting products that exfoliate skin, unclog pores and relieve redness.

As you head out the door to the party, don’t be afraid to camouflage what’s left of the blemish with a concealer stick (we won’t tell anyone). These can also be used to hide dark circles under the eyes. No doubt that will be tomorrow’s battle.

Luke Todd, News Editor

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