Pimples are like your great Aunt Martha—she always, without fail, picks the absolute worst time to show up unannounced. Before a wedding or the morning of a job interview, it’s there bright red and here to hang. But thanks to fast-acting spot treatments filled with ingredients that reduce inflammation and redness in as little as a few hours, you zapping that one rogue zit is possible, and you can politely show it the door. Sorry, we can’t say the same about Aunt Martha. Keep scrolling to see a few that we’ve tried and tested and actually work.
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1. MURAD Rapid Relief Acne Spot Treatment
Murad’s Rapid Relief works rapidly, indeed. Receiving over 4,000 loves on Sephora.com, this formula is made with 2% salicylic acid to clear out the pores and exfoliate the pores, while witch hazel takes care of excess oil around the area. But perhaps the most impressive thing about this clear gel, which can be applied over and under makeup, is that it can show results in as little as four hours. That, friends, is actually legit.
Murad | $22
2. The Better Skin Co. Better Skin Zit No More
So you look in your compact while out and spot a big bump forming on your chin. Panic not, dear friend. Glide this salicylic acid- and tea tree oil-infused rollerball over the spot to begin the healing process. It’s a handbag essential.
3. MARIO BADESCU Drying Lotion
As far as spot treatments go, Mario Badescu’s little pink bottle is considered by many the GOAT. Because it’s millennial pink and milky by nature, it’s one you’ll want to reach for when you have a few hours at your apartment, so it’s ideal for overnight treatment. It’s made with anti-acne-famous ingredients like salicylic acid, sulfur, and zinc oxide to tackle redness and puffiness in no time. Use a cotton swab to apply it to the top of a pimple before you hit the hay, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised in the AM.
Mario Badescu | $17
4. M-61 powerspot blemish lotion
If you avoid spot treatment because they leave your skin peel-y and dry, this is the bottle for you. It’s balanced with soothing ingredients like aloe and cucumber to keep the skin hydrated and calm while drying out the zit you actually hate.
M-61 | $16
5. Indie Lee Blemish Lotion
Green beauty lovers, rejoice. This bottle from Indie Lee’s natural beauty line is a force to be reckoned with, thanks to its make-up of colloidal sulfur, pink clay, and salicylic acid.
Indie Lee | $26
6. PETER THOMAS ROTH Acne Spot and Area Treatment
Another favorite, Peter Thomas Roth’s blue tube banishes blemishes with exfoliating glycol acid and 5% colloidal sulfur.
Peter Thomas Roth | $19
7. Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment
Not a cream, a lotion, or even a gel, Neutrogena harnessed the power of red and blue light to gently kill bacteria and reduce inflammation, and packaged this technology in a trusty tool you can throw in your handbag when you feel a zit coming on.
Neutrogena | $20
8. Peach Slices Acne Spot Dots
Another out-of-the-box solution, these clear circular patches are meant to be applied over a zit to reduce the size and, honestly, to keep you from picking at it.
Peach Slices | $5