How to Pop a Pimple On the Face the Right Way

Few things can ruin your day like the sight of a red, swollen pimple with a whitehead in the center. Of course, a great skincare routine that includes a leave-on salicylic acid product along with a benzoyl peroxide product is fundamental to getting the problem under control. Even then, you might still end up with acne breakouts.

What you do with that pimple right now to diminish its appearance and speed up how fast it goes away is as important as using the right products. In other words, don’t pop that pimple on your face in haste!

We’ve included:

  • A straightforward step-by-step guide to popping a pimple the right way
  • Advice on how to keep more acne breakouts from showing up
  • A few suggestions for concealing pimples afterwards

Read on for more information!

Should You Pop a Pimple?

We’re sure you’ve read that you should never pop a pimple on your face, and we understand the concern—you really can hurt the skin if you don’t pop a pimple the right way…and if it’s not the right kind of pimple to pop. Over-squeezing and aggressive pushing, picking, or puncturing can cause serious damage that can last far longer than your zit would have—possibly permanently.

The basic starting point is all in the timing: You need to know when the offending blemish is ready for its contents to be released. How can you tell? You’ll know it’s ready when you see a noticeable whitehead showing up on the surface, and the zit begins to feel as well as look swollen.

If you don’t see a whitehead, abort the mission. Trying to pop a pimple that isn’t ready will do more harm than good; this is especially true for deep, large bumps, such as cystic acne. When the time is right, you have to be as gentle as humanly possible. 

Below are steps to follow for popping a pimple:

  1. Buy a comedone extractor. Beauty stores (such as Sephora and ULTA) carry them.
  2. Cleanse your face with a gentle, water-soluble cleanser. Do NOT use cold or hot water, which will aggravate the skin and make it redder.
  3. With the cleanser, lightly massage skin with a soft, wet washcloth to remove any dead surface flakes. This makes extracting the pimple easier. Take care not to over-scrub.
  4. Dry your skin gently. Do not use the comedone extractor or squeeze when your skin is wet because it's more vulnerable to tearing and creating a lingering sore.
  5. Centre the comedone extractor’s opening over the pimple. Then gently (and we mean gently), and with very little pressure (and we mean very little pressure), push the comedone extractor down on the whitehead and move it across the bump. That should release its “contents.” And yes, this part can be gross.
  6. You may have to repeat this one or two more times. Stop afterwards as going further can easily damage the skin and worsen the breakout.
  7. Remember to be gentle; the goal is to remove the whitehead without creating a scab or damaging the surrounding skin. Scabs are no better to look at than a pimple.

Post-Extraction Acne Care

After extraction, follow up with a 2% salicylic acid (BHA) pimple treatment, such as the CLEAR Extra Strength Exfoliating Solution 2% BHA and a 2.5% benzoyl peroxide treatment. Combined, the salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide help diminish current breakouts and prevent future occurrences by unclogging pores and lessening redness. Apply these products to areas where you popped pimples and surrounding areas.

If you find you have particularly stubborn breakouts, use a higher 5% benzoyl peroxide treatment such as the CLEAR Extra Strength Daily Skin Clearing Treatment 5% BP or speak to your health care provider about topical prescription options that can be used alongside over-the-counter acne products.

How to Cover a Pimple

Once you've extracted and treated your pimple with well-formulated pimple products, now it's time for the magic of makeup.

  1. Prep with a moisturizer suitable for acne-prone skin, such as the CLEAR Oil-Free Moisturizer. If the skin is dry or flaky, the concealer won't go on smoothly over the area, making the blemish look more obvious.
  2. Select a matte, neutral-toned liquid concealer that matches your skin tone exactly—avoid peach, pink, green, or ashy colours. A good option to consider is Smashbox’s 24 Hour CC Spot Concealer.
  3. After applying your foundation, use a concealer brush (synthetic hair with a flat, rounded point) or your fingertip to gently dab a small amount of concealer onto the centre of the blemish. Next, blend softly outward, sheering out to the unaffected skin around the blemish.
  4. Optional: If you need more coverage, let the first layer of concealer set for about a minute before adding more, using the same technique.
  5. Use a gentle dusting of loose or pressed powder to set the concealer. A small, soft eyeshadow brush is perfect for applying a layer of powder over a concealed blemish.

Reality check: The above steps can help hide the redness of a just-popped blemish, but the temporary raised bump that remains is something that can’t be hidden by makeup. Just do your best to conceal and try to forget about it.

Learn more about the causes and how to prevent acne breakouts.

Shop effective anti- acne treatment and get clear skin.

References for this information:

Cochrane Database of Systematic Skin Reviews, November 2014, issue 11
Journal of Dermatology, October 2012, issue 5, pages 433-438
Clinical Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, November 2010, issue 3, pages 135-142
Expert Opinion of Pharmacotherapy, October 2009, issue 15, pages 2555-2562
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, December 2012, issue 6, pages 357-364

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