We've all been there. You awake on the morning of that thing you've been preparing for and worrying about for what feels like forever - your wedding/an interview/ a first date/ some anxiety-inducing event where your photo will be taken. And you open your eyes to find that you have the bubonic plague on your face.
Alright, that may be a slight exaggeration. It's just a spot. But it's not just any spot. It is a red hot, angry, mountainous dome of a spot that has swollen the entire area it has dared to grow upon beyond recognition. You used to have a chin under there. You used to have a jawline. Now, you have a spot with some face on it...
The temptation to pick at it will be intense, but it will very probably make things worse. So here are some tips on what to do when you wake up with Mount Chinsuvius at the worst possible time.
You're not going to get rid of the spot today - so skip ahead from denial right to the acceptance stage of spot horror. Our business now is damage control!
Vicious blemishes that sprout like mushrooms overnight tend to come in two varieties - the huge, red swelling type that's very sore but shows no obvious sign of outward infection (i.e. it's red all over) or the big, horribly infected type that winks at you with its evil green eye of slime-filled loathing.
The first type of spot - a smooth, red angry swelling - tends to be hormonal, and is often Mother Nature's majestic gift to us while we are experiencing the beautiful agony of our womb lining falling out. Ah, to be a woman. If I ever met mother nature, I'd punch her in the face...
Nevertheless - once you have this type of spot, all you can do is deal with it.
- In order to be able to cover it, avoid picking at all costs (it never works on this sort of blemish; you'll just make it worse and damage the skin on the surface, making it harder to conceal).
- Don't apply astringents like alcohol or tea tree oil.
- Applying astringent 'spot solution' products will do literally nothing except dry out the skin on the surface of the blemish and prevent you from concealing it. So don't do it!
- To combat the swelling, an over-the-counter antihistamine tablet from a pharmacy will help.
- Next, you'll need to moisturise your spot! It sounds counter-intuitive, but applying oil or a rich oily moisturiser to a spot not only keeps the skin on the surface in good condition, but smothers the spot and encourages it to finish its life cycle of horror more quickly.
- If popping stage is what you're looking for, applying oil will help the spot to hurry up and get there. In the meantime, it will look as inoffensive as possible on your important day.
It's really an issue of common sense. The infection which causes a blemish like this is way down in the pore underneath the blemish. When a spot is really swollen, the source of the infection can be quite deep beneath the surface! It is also so swollen that on the first day the spot appears at least, nothing you apply will get into the offending pore. There is literally no such thing as 'drying out' a spot; only drying out your skin!
I'm using this term loosely for the more manageable kind of hideous blemish which is neither caused by hormones nor is full-on acne . These spots tend to sport a stomach-churning green head.
- In order to cover that monster, you'll need to remove the infected material.
- You can do this by very gently bursting the tip with a very thin, sterilised needle. No stabbing, gouging or tearing the skin! Just prick the tip gently.
- When you've done this, grab two clean tissues and wrap them around the index fingers of both hands.
- Use your tissue-covered index fingers to very gently press on the skin either side of the blemish to push out the nasty goo. Don't use pressure here, or push forcibly against the spot! this will cause the area to swell and worsen the infection.
- Pat the area dry with a clean tissue or cotton bud and apply a dab of disinfectant.
- Leave the blemish for a few minutes.
- Provided it's not weeping or oozing (I know, this just got REAL!) moisturise with oil to keep the skin in good condition and smother the spot.
Concealing blemishes is a tricky business. Makeup can cover issues of discolouration, but it simply cannot cover textural issues. So the bump of a large swelling might still be slightly visible. However, it would look much worse if makeup was sitting crustily atop the swelling because skin is broken or dry. So be sure to moisturise before concealing - it definitely will not make the spot worse.
- If the skin is discoloured and looks reddish or purple, you may need to colour correct the area before concealing.
- Make Up For Ever's Camouflage Cream in Green (€17.50) is a great green concealer to counteract red or purple hues. Dab a thin layer over the blemish to minimise redness.
- Next, apply the most hard working full coverage concealer in your arsenal. Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place Flawless Wear Concealer (€25.50) is excellent for providing full coverage. It will also set over a blemish that is hot without melting away or moving.
- The only thing left to do is get on with your business and resent the spot for the rest of the day!
Those are my recommendations for dealing with a spot in a crisis. Have you woken up with a monster blemish at the worst possible time? And is it too late for me to say that it's definitely not as big as you think it is?