Sudden breakouts can happen for a whole bunch of reasons; things like shifting hormones, changes to your diet, stress, and lack of sleep often factor into the current clarity of your skin. Luckily, there are treatments that can reduce the appearance of pimples quickly. So, I asked a dermatologist, how do you dry out pimples overnight?
According to Dr. Marie Hayag, M.D., board-certified dermatologist at Fifth Avenue Aesthetics, “There are multiple topical acne treatments that have drying ingredients that work quickly. These include products with salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, and activated charcoal. To get the best results in drying out pimples I would recommend using a combination of agents.”
Dr. Hayag tells Bustle, “You can do a quick overnight treatment starting with a salicylic acid wash, apply Biologique Recherche toner, apply a charcoal mask (helpful for all forms of acne) or a sulfur mask (if you have more red pimples), then spot treat with a benzoyl peroxide gel or sulfur gel. I recommend this regimen for everyone.”
But between drying lotions, spot treatments, and acne patches, it can be tough to know where to start.
1. Use A Reliable Drying Lotion
Mario Badescu Drying Lotion
One of Dr. Hayag’s recommendations, this Mario Badescu’s drying lotion uses salicylic acid and calamine to shrink pimples down in a matter of hours. Just dab a few drops of the drying lotion on your pimples and let sit overnight. While you sleep, this cult-favorite lotion with clear out your acne and whiteheads and leave you with a less noticeable and less inflamed pore when you wash it off in the morning. Amazon reviewers say they’ve tried tons of creams and solutions before finally finding this one.
According to one reviewer: “This is my go to for skin care! I have heard great things about it and had to try it and have loved it ever since. I apply to a forming zit (those annoying red bumps that aren’t formed into whiteheads or blackheads and are not ready to pop), dab a little of the formula overnight with a q-Tip and in the morning they are gone. Love this product.”
2. Apply A Benzoyl Peroxide Spot Treatment
Clean & Clear Persa Gel 10 Acne Medication
For a concentrated area or single spot on your face, this 10% benzoyl peroxide treatment can reduce the bacteria in your pores while drying out your acne. This prescription-strength gel is definitely on the stronger side, so be wary if you have sensitive skin. To a freshly-cleansed face, apply a thin layer over your acne once a day and leave on overnight. While you can use this gel up to three times daily, the manufacturer recommends trying it first once a day as this is a powerful formula.
According to one reviewer: “Tried a lot of products and went to dermatologists! My cystic acne had never cured until I found this product. I absolutely love it! Shrinks your pimples overnight!”
3. Cover Your Whiteheads With An Acne Patch
Mighty Patch The Original Hydrocolloid Acne Patch
“If you have weepy pustular pimples and tend to pick at your acne, then an acne patch which has hydrocolloid is helpful to dry out lesions with pus,” advises Dr. Hayag. Her recommendation? This best-selling hydrocolloid bandage from Mighty Patch. Not only do these acne patches prevent you from touching your pimples (a big no-no for your skin’s health), but they also suck out oil, dirt, and pus from your pores, essentially shrinking your pimple overnight.
Editor’s note: I use these acne patches and they are fantastic for drying out whiteheads and pimples overnight. The adhesive is strong (so they don’t fall of my face when I toss and turn at night), and the results are incredible!
According to one reviewer: “I had a very bad cystic acne pimple that I couldn’t get rid of for weeks — and I’ve tried everything! Well, this patch took care of it OVERNIGHT, like it was never there; it just sucked it up; I was truly amazed when I peeled the patch off in the morning!”
4. Apply A Sulfur Treatment Mask To Clear Pores
Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask
For those with sensitivities to benzoyl peroxide, sulfur can be a gentler, yet still effective, ingredient. Dr. Hayag recommends this sulfur face mask to her patients, which is formulated with 10% maximum-strength sulfur, bentonite and kaolin clay to clarify skin, and soothing aloe for extra hydration. You can use this both as a mask and an overnight treatment. To use as a mask, simply apply onto a clean face and let it dry for 5 to 10 minutes before washing it off. As an overnight treatment, dab a bit on your pimple and leave it on as you sleep. When you wash it off the next day, reviewers swear you’ll see a noticeable reduction in the appearance of your acne.
According to one reviewer: “This is a great mask for acne it is also a great once a week mask to clean out your pores. It is also a great product for a spot treatment overnight for pimples.”
5. Clear Blackheads With Pore Cleansing Strips
Bioré Original Deep Cleansing Pore Strips
While many of the treatments on this list work on whiteheads and those ready-to-pop pimples, for stubborn blackheads or acne on your nose, pore cleansing strips, like this 14-pack from Bioré, are a great buy. Not only do they come recommended by Dr. Hayag, but thousands of reviewers have tried these strips and love how well they clear out the oil and dirt that cause pores on your nose to clog. Even better, these are oil-free and non-comedogenic — perfect for oily skin types.
According to one reviewer: “I have not been getting as many large acne spots on my nose since using this product either (that may have been due to the clogged pores I used to have). I highly recommend this if you are prone to clogged pores on your nose and have those particularly large pimples in this area now and then. I rarely get them anymore and I’m so happy!”
6. Wash Your Face With A Salicylic Acid Cleanser
Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Cream Facial Cleanser
For those struggling with acne, Dr. Hayag recommends washing your face with a salicylic acid cleanser like this oil-absorbing cream cleanser from Clean & Clear. Not only will this get deep into your pores to wash away dirt and any gunk, but the manufacturer even claims it can remove as much as 85% of built-up oil in just one wash. And, because this formula is oil-free and non-comedogenic, it’s safe for anyone with acne-prone or oily skin, as well as those with normal or combination skin.
According to one reviewer: “This cleanser provided me with the sufficient control of my oily skin without drying my face out which is exactly what I was searching for in a cleanser. Using it each morning, I have noticed the acne redness has reduced a lot and the pimples on my cheeks and forehead have begun going away. I definitely recommend this product to anyone that is also battling acne while having oily skin.”
7. Use A Charcoal Clay Mask To Unearth Dirt & Oil
L’Oreal Paris Skin Care Pure-Clay Face Mask
Charcoal masks like this best-selling charcoal and clay mask from L’Oreal Paris are a great skin care buy for anyone dealing with acne. This charcoal mask penetrates deep into your pores and absorbs oil from your skin, reducing the occurrence of breakouts. Apply this one all over your face (or to a targeted area as a spot treatment), and let it dry for 10 to 15 minutes. As it dries you’ll be able to see some of the oil come to the surface. Then, simply wash it off. Over 1,000 Amazon reviewers have tried this mask and give it rave reviews.
According to one reviewer: “I love this mask. I generally use it to spot treat zits. It’s amazing at reducing swelling and redness. I leave it on overnight as a spot treatment. Highly recommend.”