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How to get rid of blemishes fast: Key steps and remedies

From the Experts | Jan 03, 2024
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What do you do when you wake up to a new blemish? We all suffer with them, but how we treat spots can mean the difference between a quick skin SOS or an all-out breakout. So, before you start attacking that pimple (or pimples), read our expert guide on how to remove blemishes fast. Here are the tips, tricks and routine updates your skin needs…

Understanding blemishes

You might be wondering where your blemish came from in the first place. There are many reasons spots can happen, and knowing how to treat them begins with understanding what causes them to crop up. But, what is a blemish? In short, it’s any spot or mark that appears on your skin – including dark spots – although the word is usually used to describe different types of acne breakouts.

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There are many myths surrounding the cause of blemishes, so let’s separate fact from fiction. These are some of the proven reasons a breakout might appear:

  • Pores are clogged by excess sebum
  • Your skin barrier is damaged
  • UV exposure has left pores imbalanced
  • You’re stressed or not getting enough sleep
  • Hormones are changing
  • You have a food intolerance or allergy
  • Makeup hasn’t been removed before bed
  • Your skincare routine is inconsistent and/or too harsh

Of course, spot-prone skin can also come down to, quite simply, genetics. What’s important is knowing how to remove blemishes as and when they do appear.

Identifying the different types of blemishes

Not all blemishes look or feel the same. Some, like whiteheads or blackheads, are mild and easily treated, while more inflamed papules, pustules or cysts may take a little longer to calm down. You’ll know you’re dealing with a whitehead if you see a small, pus-filled spot that has no redness surrounding it, but if it goes hand-in-hand with swelling and irritation (two signs of infection), it may be a more stubborn papule or pustule.

Blackheads, meanwhile, are the tiny, dark dots you sometimes spot around the nose, forehead or chin. They’re caused by a build-up of dirt and bacteria in the hair follicles. Then there are cysts and nodules; the largest blemishes that can often be painful. Hard and rounded, they carry the highest risk of scarring if you touch or squeeze them – so resist the urge.

How long these different types of blemishes take to heal depends on just how severe they are. But one thing is certain: without a consistent skincare regimen, their lifespan will be longer.

How to remove blemishes: the dos and don’ts


1. Keep your skincare routine consistent

We’re all guilty of being impatient when it comes to seeing results from a new skincare routine. You want that blemish gone – and you want it gone fast – so you’ll try anything to make it go away. However, even the most potent formulas need time to calm a stressed complexion. That’s why it’s important to keep consistent with new routines and allow at least 30 days for results to show up.

2. Calm swelling with ice

If pustules, papules or cysts are looking angry and feeling tender, try treating the area with ice to take down any swelling. You don’t want to put the ice directly on your skin; instead, wrap it up in a towel or face cloth, and press it onto the blemish for quick relief. This is a quick, soothing step you can take in the morning, after cleansing but before your moisturiser.

3. Wash hair, sheets and makeup brushes regularly

As well as keeping your skin clean, it’s important to wash anything that touches your face throughout the day. This includes your hair, your bedsheets and your makeup brushes. Take time to wipe down your phone too. You don’t need to clean everything daily, but making sure they’re regularly washed will keep any bacteria at bay. Gentle formulas are best if your skin is sensitive, so be mindful of the laundry detergent, soaps and shampoos you use.


1. Be tempted to touch blemishes

Squeezing spots, however tempting, is one of the biggest mistakes you can make with your skin. Not only does it make a pimple angrier, but it may push the infection deeper into your pores. Picking also puts your complexion at greater risk of scarring, as it disrupts the healing process and makes the underlying inflammation worse. So, unless you’re applying your skincare routine, keep hands away from blemishes to prevent the spread of bacteria.

2. Assume blemishes = oily skin

Because blemishes are often linked to a build-up of sebum, many who have them believe that it must mean their skin is oily. This isn’t always the case. In fact, if you have dry skin that becomes dehydrated, your sebaceous glands can overcompensate by pumping out excess oil. So, even though your skin is crying out for moisture, it may also be greasy due to all that extra sebum, which then starts clogging up your pores to cause blemishes. If you then start using products for oily skin, this can dry your complexion out further. Cue even more skin-clogging sebum and another breakout. That’s why it’s important to really look at and listen to your skin. If you see signs of dryness, it may be time to address that first – clearer skin will follow.

3. Over-cleanse or scrub breakouts

While it’s important to cleanse your skin morning and night, you don’t want to strip your pores of natural, essential oils. Over-cleansing and too-harsh scrubbing can aggravate blemishes further, leaving them red, swollen and at risk of scarring. So, stick to an AM and PM routine only. As long as you avoid touching breakouts and remove makeup properly before bed, you won’t need to keep washing your skin throughout the day.

Follow this skincare routine for blemished skin

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1. Cleanser

Bacteria and blemishes go hand in hand, so an effective cleanser is a must in your routine. Choose formulas that sweep away every last trace of makeup and grime, while still respecting your skin’s pH balance. Night-time calls for double cleansing : the first to remove makeup and surface dirt, and the second to work deeper into pores so every last impurity is gone.

2. Softener

Swap out harsh, astringent toners for a skin softener. Instead of stripping your already-irritated pores, these complexion-kind elixirs bestow skin with weightless hydration, while boosting the effects of any products you apply on top. So, whether you’re smoothing on a balancing serum or an oil-free moisturiser, your skin softener will help the formulas absorb deeper to give you more from your skincare routine.

3. Light moisturiser

Even if your skin feels oily, don’t skip moisturiser. This can lead to even more oil, as your sebaceous glands go into overdrive to try and care for dehydrated pores. If you’re worried about shine, simply use a light emulsion cream in place of rich formulas. This will give your complexion the hydration it needs to stay healthy, while feeling weightless from day to night.

4. Sunscreen

Did you know? If you’re dealing with a blemish, exposing it to UV rays can increase the risk of it scarring. That’s one of (many!) reasons a high protection sunscreen is a mainstay in every daytime skincare routine. Smooth it on in the morning, over the top of your softener and moisturiser, then reapply sunscreen throughout the day to ensure skin stays shielded from day to night.

5. Spot treatment

Target breakouts on the spot with a concentrated treatment. You need one that soothes inflammation directly where it happens, without drying out the rest of your skin (a common problem with too-harsh acne creams). Apply it after a night cream before you go to bed, so it can work its healing magic while you sleep. If you feel you need to, you can also put some on in the morning and top it up throughout the day.

The best products for treating blemishes

Now you know what steps you should be taking to get rid of blemishes, add these spot-soothing products to your daily skincare routine…

1. Deep Cleansing Foam

Find it in: Deep Cleansing Foam

Perfectly purifying yet gentle on even sensitive skin, the Deep Cleansing Foam blitzes through bacteria to leave blemish-prone complexions feeling fresh. The cleansing granules polish the skin’s surface, and peony root extract balances sebum production, while rice germ oil wraps the skin in moisture for soothed, smoothed skin.

2. Treatment Softener

Find it in: Treatment Softener

After cleansing (or double cleansing if it’s night-time), the Treatment Softener tops up moisture levels, while prepping your pores for any serums or moisturisers you apply on top. It’s a light liquid formula, so it sinks right in when you sweep it on with a cotton pad. Apply daily to support your skin’s natural exfoliation process, which will help blemishes heal and fade faster.

3. Benefiance Wrinkle Smoothing Day Emulsion

Find it in: Benefiance Wrinkle Smoothing Day Emulsion

The perfect day cream for blemished skin, Benefiance Wrinkle Smoothing Day Emulsion teams plumping hydration with a light texture to keep your complexion soothed, soft and supple. It’s never greasy; just wonderfully weightless and easy to apply. Massage it in every morning, then use a richer (yet still airy-light) cream like Essential Energy Hydrating Cream for overnight care.

4. Urban Environment Age Defense Oil-Free SPF 30

Find it in: Urban Environment Age Defense Oil-Free SPF 30

It’s important that your sunscreen doesn’t clog blemished pores or feel heavy on a shine-prone complexion, so choose an oil-free SPF, such as Urban Environment Age Defense Oil-Free SPF 30.You can barely feel this invisible shield on your skin, but it’s there, delivering broad-spectrum protection against UV rays, pollutants and the environment. It’s also packed with nourishing skincare ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, so it can fend off signs of ageing and dehydration.

5. Waso Koshirice Tinted Spot Treatment

Find it in: Waso Koshirice Tinted Spot Treatment

With pinpoint precision, blur blemishes away with the Waso Koshirice Tinted Spot Treatment; a skincare-makeup hybrid that whisks away spots with salicylic acid. It’s alcohol-free, so it’s never drying; just calming on even the angriest spots. Plus, the hint of a tint instantly reduces redness. Dab on and blend, then keep it in your bag for top-ups.

6. Revitalessence Skin Glow Foundation SPF 30 PA+++

Find it in: Waso Koshirice Tinted Spot Treatment

This is more than just a (beautifully radiant) foundation. Revitalessence Skin Glow Foundation SPF 30 is also a skincare heavyweight, which veils your complexion in buildable, natural-looking, pore-kind coverage. It works on the skin’s microbiome to help balance out the good and bad bacteria, in turn preventing blemishes. Plus, it visibly improves bare skin in just one week*, so you look glowy and fresh when makeup-free.

FAQs on treating blemishes

1. How long does it take to get rid of blemishes?

There’s no set time for how long it takes to remove blemishes. It comes down to three things: the type of spot, the condition of the rest of your skin, and how you treat it. For example, a whitehead may vanish in less than one week, while an angrier cyst could take four weeks to completely disappear. One thing skincare experts all agree is that consistency is key if you want to reduce the lifespan of a blemish. Maintain good skincare habits with daily cleansing, softening and moisturising, followed by sunscreen.

2. Are there natural remedies for blemish removal?

You can add to your Shiseido skincare routine with natural remedies, so you get the very best of science-meets-nature beauty. Some ingredients that may help to soothe a blemish include aloe vera, tea tree oil (diluted) and honey. Apply one as an on-the-spot overnight treatment after moisturiser, then cleanse in the morning with the Deep Cleansing Foam to remove residue.

3. What skincare products should I avoid for blemished skin?

If your skin is sensitive, certain ingredients may make your blemishes worse. Those to look out for include strong fragrances and high levels of alcohol, mineral oil and parabens. What’s really important is that your formulas are non-comedogenic, which means they won’t clog or block your pores, so they prevent blemishes.

4. Can diet affect blemishes?

While there’s no definitive evidence that your diet will cause acne, research suggests that certain foods may exacerbate blemish breakouts. These include carbohydrates, dairy and anything high in sugar. The best thing you can do is eat a balanced diet that’s rich in vitamins and minerals – especially vitamins A and E and zinc. This is good for your overall health, and may help to boost blemish prevention as a result.

5. Is it possible to remove blemishes overnight?

Unless the spot you are treating is very small, it’s rare for a blemish to vanish overnight. The skin needs time to repair itself, not just on the surface but deep inside the pore, where inflammation started. However, applying fast-acting, targeted formulas can help to speed up the process. Try the Waso Koshirice Tinted Spot Treatment, which soothes with salicylic acid, while disguising redness while the blemish heals.

Up next: Did you know that a strong skin barrier is key to a clearer, calmer complexion? Discover the best skin barrier repair products to keep pores perfectly protected

* Consumer tested on 109 women.

The information in this post is for educational purposes only, and does not substitute for professional medical advice. Readers are advised to consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment.