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5 Dermatologist-approved spot treatments to get rid of a pimple fast

Leah Prinzivalli writes about pop culture, beauty and health and has interviewed some of your favorite reality stars. She has been published in VICE, Reductress, The Toast, The Frisky, and elsewhere. She lives in Brooklyn with her cat, l...

Derm-recommended emergency pimple treatments (and what you should not try)

Good news and bad: There's no secret ingredient to beating a breakout.

But as you'll notice, no one is showing up to the Golden Globes or the Grammys with blackheads. According to New York dermatologist Dr. Hadley King, between a regular smart skin care regimen and emergency spot-treatment, you can tame zits just in time for your version of an awards show.

1. For sensitive skin

Derm-recommended emergency pimple treatments (and what you should not try)
Image: Aczone
According to Dr. King, Aczone works on sensitive skin "because its unique ingredient dapsone is much less drying and irritating" than other topicals. (See a dermatologist for prescription).

2. For oily skin

Derm-recommended emergency pimple treatments (and what you should not try)
Image: ClarityMD
King recommends salicylic acid for oily skin. We love ClarityMD Clarifying Serum, formulated with one percent SA — gentle to use on your whole face but strong enough to fight acne. (myclaritymd.com, $50 with cleanser and sponge)

3. For cystic bumps

If you're looking to beat a hard, under the skin bump fast, your best bet is a cortisone shot. Dr. King suggests heading to your derm as soon as the zit appears for maximum effect. Keep in mind, these treatments cost at least $100 and may not be covered by insurance.

More: How to tell the difference between cystic acne and a pimple that will heal itself

4. Gentle exfoliation is key

Derm-recommended emergency pimple treatments (and what you should not try)
Image: Instrumental Beauty

Exfoliation should be part of your regular routine, but in winter especially there's no need to totally strip your face of oils. King loves the Sonic Facial Brush for an exfoliation that'll leave you feeling clean, not naked. (Instrumental Beauty, $80)

5. Try a gentle peel

Derm-recommended emergency pimple treatments (and what you should not try)
Image: Dr. Dennis Gross

If you know you'll need to glow in two weeks (brides, I'm looking at you) King recommends a gentle peel to ensure clean skin. It's best to do a dry run ahead of time to make sure you know how your skin responds — for newbies, we love the smooth + flawless starter pack from Dr. Dennis Gross. (Sephora, $48)

6. Skip the DIY

There's a time and a place for natural remedies, but a new breakout is not the time to test out your grandmother's famous homemade facemask. King warns to be cautious about trying DIY treatments like toothpaste or tea tree oil, which can be irritating to the skin.

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