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GEMs Of Beauty: Zit-Zappers 2015

beautiful model applying a skin serum treatment

GEMs Of Beauty:
Zit-Zappers 2015


“It’s too bad your skin is so white,” said the world’s worst dermatologist to me, back when I was miserably suffering from a surfeit of zits, “because it takes so long for the pimples to heal.” What I should have said to him was, “It’s too bad your bedside manner was learned at the hands of Attila the Hun, you worthless quack,” but I was too intimidated to speak up about the red blotches (aka post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation) that lingered for weeks and made me even more embarrassed about my pale-faced skin. Had he been a better doctor he might have offered good advice, but no. And so I suffered in humiliated silence for years.

As our children hit adolescence, fears of acne grow along with the rest of them, and anyone with a bad case needs to see a competent dermatologist, pronto. There are extremely effective options now that didn’t exist back in the Middle Ages when I was a teen. But for mild cases—and for all moms who still have to deal with the very common situation of waking up to zits that seemingly bloomed overnight (yeah, thanks, hormones—how generous!)—there are also some terrific over-the-counter products that will zap the zits without shredding your skin. Here are some of the best for teens and their moms:


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1. Proactiv Repairing Concealer


I couldn’t write an acne column without mentioning the staple of zit-zapping—namely, Proactiv. (Full disclosure, I wrote Unblemished, the acne bible, with Rodan & Fields.) Proactiv was the first acne system to combine a kinder version of the harsh benzoyl peroxide/salicylic acid products into a two-step program that got results. One of their newest products is this treatment concealer that has four blendable shades. It gives you great, customized coverage—and you only need to use it sparingly as it contains salicylic acid and can be drying if you apply too much (and also use other products containing that ingredient).

Buy it for $34 at


 2. Dr. Lin 2-Step Acne
Clarifying System


I have a teenaged son whose skin is in remarkably good shape in comparison to my own at his age, and he swears by this two-step system from dermatologist Dr. Lin. There’s a gentle salicylic acid cleanser to be used twice a day, followed by a benzoyl peroxide lotion; a stronger spot corrector come with. It’s gentle yet effective—my son says the cleanser is a life-saver. He’s right. His skin looks amazing.

Buy it for $19.99 at

3. MD COMPLETE Non-Irritating Pro Peel


Another MD-created line is this one from dermatologist Dr. Brain Zelickson. He has a great sunscreen for acne-prone skin and a delicious-smelling cleanser, but his knockout product is this peel, done once a month for five days. With salicylic and other acids, it unclogs pores, brightens your skin tone, and doesn’t leave you feeling dry and flaky.

Buy it for $19.99 at

4. ACURE Brightening Facial Scrub


One of the biggest mistakes acne sufferers make is to try to scrub away the pimples. That’s because the more you scrub, the more you irritate your face and dry up the natural oils you need. So your skin responds by pumping out more oil that leads to more clogged pores and blemishes. Gentle is the only way to go, and ACURE has a winner with this scrub, containing sea kelp, French green clay and lemon peel to exfoliate and remove impurities without leaving your skin raw.

Buy it for $9.99 at

5. Indie Lee Blemish Lotion


This lotion reminds of the calamine stuff we’d slather on mosquito bites when we were kids—it comes in a little bottle, and you allow the sediment (primarily colloidal sulfur, clay, zinc oxide, and salicylic acid) to settle, dip in a cotton swap, and then apply it to any blemishes and let it dry for a few hours or overnight. Talk about a fun way to zit-zap!

Buy it for $26 at

6. Alba Botanica Fast Fix for a Pimple Tinted Zit Zapper


Another sulfur-based zit-zapper is this one, which is tinted so you can use it as a concealer while its ingredients get to work. Note: The tint will work for those with light to medium complexions; I hope they come out with one for darker skin soon, too!

Buy it for $5.99 from

7. SkinCeuticals Physical Matte UV Defense SPF 50


This new, all-mineral SPF is ideal for anyone who has oily skin yet wants state-of-the-art sun protection. Many women avoid sunscreen when their skin is blemished for fear of it causing more breakouts, especially in hot or humid weather—but this formula smoothes, protects, and mattifies even in tropical conditions. With a weightless mousse texture, it can absorb up to 15 times its weight in oil…so now you have no excuse to avoid the SPF anymore! (And you know how much I nag about that!) It really works.

Buy it for $34 at

8. Laura Geller Spackle Mattifying Oil
Control Under Make-up Primer


Another product women with oily skin worry about using is foundation, for fear of clogging pores or looking shiny. Fear not, as this primer is not only a brilliant pore-minimizer but a seriously good mattifier. It will prep your skin for foundation or can be used alone to smooth your skin.

Buy it for $30 at

9. Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Invisible Dots


If you want to zit-zap a specific zit, these brilliant little dots will make the job a lot easier. Simply apply one, leave it on for at least eight hours, and let the salicylic acid, tea tree oil, and hyaluronic acid work their magic. They come in a tin of 72 dots, with 12 in each packet, so you can just throw them in your purse and not have to worry about those pesky spots that always seem to arise before an important meeting!

Buy it for $30 at

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Remember — just repeat what I said above — acne is a medical condition and anyone with any concerns whatsoever should get advice from a board-certified dermatologist with expertise in treating it. Never, ever use harsh scrubs, and never, ever pick at zits. It’s very easy to irritate tender skin — overzealous scrubbing and cleansing really do make things worse!

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