Ten Natural Ways To Make a Spot Go Away Faster

OK that was a trick. You can’t really make a spot do anything it doesn’t want to do, as anyone who’s ever had one knows. (And if you haven’t, you are missing out on one of life’s more humbling and exasperating experiences, which is why I chose a picture of a unicorn for this post—cheer up, everyone!) Since neither of us is a stranger to bad skin days (or like, years), and there are some things we have tried that seem to work, we wanted to share. Here, 10 road-tested ways to make acne cysts go away faster.

1. For the love of god, do NOT try to pop it. You know this, but you do it anyway. Please stop?

2. Don’t try to dry out a deep cyst. The problem is too deep for drying topicals. What you want to do instead is contain it (which means no popping), stop it from spreading (ditto), calm inflammation, and as it gets closer to the surface, THEN you want to dry (or draw) out the sucker. More on that below. If you are still using benzoyl peroxide you need to a) read our book; b) stop; and c) stop. It’s toxic, and it doesn’t work on cysts. If it did, none of us would get them or they’d be gone in a day. Since we know none of this is true, just trust us and ditch your BP. And yes, even your tea tree oil will likely fail you when you have an undergrounder, resulting in flakiness, which is hard to hide with makeup and produces a whole other problem that needs to be fixed.

3. Load up on omegas. Omegas are your best friend. They help with hormonal balance and beat out inflammation like nobody’s business. We know this because we’ve read the scientific studies proving it, and because we credit these fatty acids as being the single best thing we’ve ever done for our skin. If you are good about taking them every day, awesome. You still should double your dose during a breakout. If you do not take them every day, you should, and then you should also double your dose for a day or two. In a pinch, take some Advil, but omegas are the healthier choice.

4. Eat cooling foods. According to the Indian tradition ayurveda, which we talk a lot about in the book, red, inflamed spots are often caused by aggravated pitta. If you’re like me, you already have a lot of pitta (well, and vata), which is characterized by hating the heat, being of medium build, and being a bit of a firecracker. This sounds a little out-there, but consider this:

Would you throw gasoline on a fire to put it out? If you have inflammation and irritation in your skin, you don’t want to eat foods that cause you to flush and get really hot. Hot plus hot equals more hot. Instead, eat cooling foods, like the ones listed here.

5. Sleep with green tea clay on your spot(s). We’ve mentioned it before: we are devotees of Evan Healy’s green tea clay. It comes dry and powdery and a jar will last you many months if not a whole half-year. You can use this as an all-over mask, or put a small amount in your hand, add water to make a paste and put it on the sucker. The green tea is calming and cooling without drying out your skin, and the clay helps gently detoxify your pores.

I swear up and down that this stuff heals things MUCH faster than normal and that it has stopped cysts dead in their tracks. Not kidding!

6. Ice, ice, baby. This is a temporary solution because it only really works while you’re icing and right after, but it’s a good mood booster, which is important when you have a bad skin day: Apply ice; see zit shrink; leave house with the feeling that it’s gone! (Just don’t look in the mirror, because it’s probably still there.)

7. Use compresses. One time, Elique Organics made me a hydrosol for my skin and it was amazing. It had all kinds of anti-inflammatory goodness in it. Since I ran out, I use anything with chamomile or calendula—calming herbs, basically. Saturate a cotton ball or pad with the water essence, hold it with moderate pressure and calm the little guy into submission. Some people like witch hazel for this but I find that on its own, it’s too drying. Pro tip: You can also make a tea, chill the tea, and then use that as a toner/compress.

8. If a head develops (ew, ugh, ahhh), use a needle. Sterilized, naturally. Poke the center and not too deep. Drain with your fingers wrapped in tissues. Apply an antibacterial topical, and then leave it alone and never speak of it again.

9. Drink a lot of water. Always a good idea, but especially now. You want to keep your body working in tiptop shape. Remember that your skin is hydrated two ways: From the moisture drawn in from the air (and applied topically), and from the inside out. Keep your skin supple, happy, and avoid getting parched.

10. Lay off the hard stuff. Doesn’t mean you can’t drink, but keep it under control. Simple reason: Alcohol in excess dehydrates you and increases inflammation in the body, which can aggravate your skin—especially cysts. Also, drinking a lot tends to go with other things that are bad for your skin, such as eating poutine at 3 in the morning, not sleeping enough, sleeping with makeup on and, woops, sleeping with the wrong person.

There was no way I was going to post a picture of a zit, via

Comments
47 Responses to “Ten Natural Ways To Make a Spot Go Away Faster”
  1. Rose says:

    This is timely, as I was just considering going to the dark side and purchasing some good old-fashioned BP. Ever since spring came, and now since I’m trying to wear sunscreen more regularly, my pores have not been able to breathe. To be honest, I’ve been considering using a chemical sunscreen as I didn’t seem to have as much of a problem in the past. And my skin is not even really oily! But now I’ll calm down and try other options.

  2. Alyssa says:

    I adore you for this picture and the poutine reference. This made me want all that gravy curdy deliciousness.. and I am going to Montreal next weekend!

  3. Aileen says:

    I second the Evan Healy Green Tea Clay mask recommendation. It’s amazing. In my expereince, it speeds up the life cycle of pimples so that they go away in a few days versus a few weeks. It also feels amazing. I put it on my whole face every night (though I wash it off when it dries – I’ve never tried leaving it on all night) and my skin looks so much calmer in general.

    @Rose – try Eco Face Sunscreen. It hasn’t made me break out at all and it’s very light & not oily.

  4. Rebecca says:

    Eating well (lots of raw fruit/vegetables in various colors) is the best thing for my skin. I like clay too, and I just started trying Fullers Earth. It’s too drying for an all-over mask, perfect for spots.

  5. Angela P says:

    This is such a timely post for me! I am pregnant and my skin, which I have always struggled with, is going absolutely crazy with all of these hormones and this nasty, muggy DC heat. I always used 10% glycolic acid a few times per week before I went to bed and it helped my skin so much. Since I’ve been pregnant I’ve been afraid to use to but as a result I have five billion black heads and my entire face is bumpy. This is in addition to the cysts I keep getting around my chin and jaw line. I am going to order the green tea mask and I am hoping it helps. Aileen, how long does one jar last you, using it nightly? I’d love any other recommendations, if any readers have any to add. :-) Thanks!

  6. Naomi says:

    Since I read (on your site, of course!) about coconut oil having antibacterial properties I’ve been applying a dab of that to any spots. I keep it in the fridge so it’s lovely & cooling when I apply it, it seems to sort out any inflammation and speed the healing process (not as quickly as I’d like, but short of a magic wand I don’t know where I’ll find that) and keeps the skin from drying out and flaking, which everything else (including tea tree oil and safe stuff) still does to my skin.

  7. Aileen says:

    @ Angela – The jar lasts 2+ months with daily use. It took me a bit to get the amount and consistency down, but I use about a tablespoon of the mask mixed with water to make a medium paste for a thin layer (thicker in the problem areas). :)

  8. Rebecca says:

    Oh, and honey masks too…it has to be raw and unfiltered to have all the helpful stuff in it. My favorite brand is Wee Bee. It’s nice and thick.

  9. Lynne says:

    What wonderful advice! I’m definitely adding the Evan Healy mask to my list. I use Rescue Remedy drops to calm the few spots I get – one drop takes all the red out, then the bump usually disappears within a day or so. I’ve also found an anti-inflammatory diet does wonders. When I switched to an all-organic version of the Blood Type Diet (I’m an O), I stopped getting monthly cysts. Yay! Last, but not least, I also extended those diet recommendations to my face products. That is, if a product has an ingredient that I’m not supposed to eat, then I don’t use it on my skin. For me, avoiding products with wheat or coconut in them makes a big difference. I never obviously reacted to these products, but my skin is so much calmer without them.

  10. comagirl says:

    Perfect post for a Monday morning. I woke with some red spots this morning and (with the exception of white-out) was quite puzzled as to how to rid myself of them. In addition, the back of my neck has been breaking out slightly, near the hairline, due to the slurry combo of perspiration and sunscreen while working out. There is no mystery as to why I am breaking out: it is hot and humid here and I’m sure wiping my brow, neck and cheeks with the back of my hand it adding to the bacteria pool. I’ll be so glad when this heat is gone, gone, gone. Pitta anyone?

  11. Lindsay says:

    Haha… that last line made me laugh. Loved this post since I am still plagued with these horrific things week in and week out. Grr. Off to load up on the omega’s. :)

  12. Siobhan says:

    I feel the need to reiterate/share that coconut oil on cysts for me is like DEATH ON MY FACE. Awful awful awful. I know we all have different experiences with coconut oil but for me: bad news bears. I shudder just remembering what happened when I tried this, while writing the book.

    One other thing that made a huge difference for me (and I think would also work for any other women with hormonal irregularities/bad periods/missing periods etc): Folic acid. I started taking it a while ago and it’s helped my periods AND my skin tremendously.

  13. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you, Siobhan, for writing this up! I reached out to you and Evan Healy herself in a desperate moment…job interviews coming up and this ugly mountain was sprouting up right in my laugh line! I can definitely attest to ice. I know it has no long term effects, but the immediate though temporary change is enough to make me feel better. Per your advice, I did sleep with the green tea clay mask as a spot treatment for half of its existence, and then the other half followed Evan’s advice which was actually kind of sad for me: Do nothing but ice it. The cyst will retract on its own and masking it will only aggravate it.

    I also washed my face immediately upon getting home for the day so as to get makeup off it as soon as possible; used a clean towel every other day (which I should be doing anyway!), changed my pillowcase every other day, and washed my makeup brushes like crazy. Oh, and I second the water recommendation!

    So truthfully, I don’t know what worked. But I so appreciate the advice–and the team spirit over here! Evan did mention that if you have regular and persistent cysts, you need to work with someone who can take a look at your hormones, etc, because it is a sign of something deeper going on. Lovely, right?

  14. Samantha says:

    I always appreciate your posts on this issue–and everyone’s responses and suggestions!

    Mercifully, incredibly, since switching entirely to clean skin care/cosmetics my skin has gotten much better. But I do get little red bumps frequently, and what works for me is: organic essential oil of Lavender put directly on the pimples. I have very, very (very!) sensitive, reactive, dry skin, which usually cannot tolerate essential oils in skin care, so putting an essential oil on my skin directly sounded like a recipe for misery. But instead the lavender oil worked amazingly. I put it on a red bump at night and the bump fades by morning; if it’s still a little visible, I put more on in the morning. It’s fantastic. I’ve only had one major gigantic cystic frikkin monster recently, and I don’t know how much the lavender oil helped. Hard to tell. But I kept putting my usual evanhealhy blue serum/oil all over my face, including on the giant zit, plus the lavender oil, and The Beast went away more quickly than it would have with BP. Plus, the red mark left afterward went away pretty quickly. So…that’s something! ;)

    Anyway, for people with non-cystic pimples, I do recommend trying the lavender oil. I also totally credit my MUCH better skin to using evanhealy products (the blue line) every day. (I did eventually switch to the Kahina cleanser, but still use evanhealy lavender hydrosol and blue rosehip serum morning and night, and totally believe they are responsible for the much improved state of my skin.)

    Good luck to everyone in finding the solution that works. This is such a challenging issue. Thanks for all the great suggestions!

  15. Sydney says:

    So I’m 14 years old and obviously have been dealing with acne for many, many, many, years. But on my last trip to my family’s naturopathic doctor, he gave me this little pot of AMAZING-NESS!!!! So it’s called Bio-Cream from the company Bio-Energy. It’s ingredients are Toco Oil, Silica, Aloe Oil, Orange Oil, Lemon Oil, Distilled Water, and Stabilized Oxygen. I’ve been using it for about a month now and my skin has never been better! But the thing is that the cream is designed to draw out impurities so your skin WILL get worse before it gets much better. The Toco Oil healed my acne scars and the redness is almost completely gone. He also gave me Aubrey’s Organics Blue Green Algae Cleansing Lotion and these dissolvable tablets called ClearAc that I take everyday. I apply the Bio-Cream 2 times a day after washing my face. I recommend this for everyone.

  16. jess says:

    @Rebecca – I’ve been using Fullers Earth for a few months now, and at first it was way too drying to use all over, like you said. Then I read somewhere that you can mix the powdered stuff with an oil (like jojoba, argan, etc), a hydrosol, or milk instead of water if you have dry skin. I’ve used jojoba oil with it a few times and it’s much better for me as a mask that way. I still use just water for spot treatments, though.

    Other than that, water, omegas, and tea tree oil are my saviors!

  17. eva says:

    Raw, unfiltered honey! It is AMAZING. I simply dot on it on at night, put a tiny little bandage/band aid over (so I won’t rub it off on my pillow) and hey presto, my spots are reduced to a fifth or their life time. I had this horrible cyst recently that I messed with, which usually means a 3 week cycle of nastiness, but I used honey and it has healed in 5 days. Although, I don’t have many blemishes these days (Thank you, Hope Gillerman) I do like the Evan Healy mask – but when I use it all over, it does seem to perhaps draw out impurities rather than eliminate them, especially in this terrible New York weather. So I usually break out a bit more after I use the mask. Has anyone experienced this too? A spot of honey actually seems to heal and not dry out.

    For those of you struggling with a good natural sunscreen that won’t make you break out, Eco Logical that was featured in a Friday Deal a while back has remained my absolute favorite. It’s fantastic. 20 % zink, no white cast and no break outs. Amazing.

    Question: According to the Well and Good blog post you linked to recently about applying sunscreen, the active ingredient breaks down after a couple of hours – does this also go for a physical barrier such as zink?

  18. reese says:

    i use a bentonite clay mask by aztec secrets, mixed with apple cidar vinegar or water (i love the acv, though it can become more harmful than helpful if overused- it gives a beautiful softness). it is also in a powdered form, and i buy it locally @ food for thought (wichita, ks) for about 10 dollars for two whole pounds of powder!! i use it as a mask and spot treatment, and love it. Other than that, i use only baking soda and the occassional swipe of grape seed oil. so, besides irritation caused by my boyfriends beard, my nasty habit of resting my face on my hands, my diet, stress, and the hot weather in general, my skin has been much better than when i tried to over-care for it and used nasty chemical filled “cleanses”. however, when i get cysts, it’s like nothing can help. i plan to use many of these tips in the future!! thank you, very much, and thank you for the unicorn pic, i needed a silly smile.

  19. Teri says:

    What’s the best way to supplement one’s diet with omegas? I’m sure I need to boost my intake!

  20. reese says:

    please, PLEASE help me pick an omega-3/6 supplement!! I want fish oils for the 3’s, and I cannot decide on an ethical brand that doesn’t add, well, additives. I am on a restrictive diet in so many ways, so i am looking for simplicity. I dont want to down straight fish oil!

  21. Ruth says:

    Thankfully most of my spots have gone away.. but now have been replaced with bug bites (since I work outdoors). Would be great to know how to repel mosquitos and other biters without using DEET.

  22. Siobhan says:

    @Reese I take nordic naturals and swear by them. They were recommended to me by Dr. Weil, and I get the regular omega 3s (I have taken the 3 and 6 and found no difference, and have also splurged for the omega woman or whatever it’s called too, and was told by people I trust that I don’t need it). It has some citrus oils in there which cuts the fishiness and (TMI alert) doesn’t make me burp. I’ve tried a lot, and this is the one I swear by.

  23. Siobhan says:

    @Ruth Lucky you that youre outside all the time. You should do a search on this site! We totally found some things that arent DEET that work :)

  24. Rebecca says:

    @reese, I’m vegan and use ground flax seeds for omegas (Bob’s Red Mill brand, they have different varieties and organic too). I sprinkle a couple tablespoons in my morning smoothie. Delicious!

    @Ruth, lavender keeps all manner of bugs off me and I’m usually a magnet.

  25. Siobhan says:

    @Teri You can take a supplement, which is what I do–2-4 capsules per day of fish oil, or a vegan flax seed oil based supplement. If you want to incorporate flax seeds in your diet, know that you must grind them for proper absorption–splrinkling them on your cereal or yogurt, or taking flax in energy bars and stuff, as I have often seen recommended by “experts” does not work. Not to be gross, but the seeds go right through you. So grind them in a coffee grinder if you are vegan or go fish. Foods rich in omegas: there are lots of them, and most of them (in high amounts) are fish. Salmon, shrimp, halibut, cod liver. Flax has even more but you have to then eat more of it, which is challenging because theyre so small so you need to eat a lot of them. Walnuts also have a lot of omegas, but walnuts are high in fat and we can only really eat a handful at a time because, well, theyre dry and theyre walnuts. For me, because I think consistency is the most important thing in preventing breakouts and reducing them once they come, I take supplements. See above for the brand I trust most. Im sure there are other good ones too.

  26. reese says:

    unfortunately i cannot have citrus, but i will check out their line and see what is up…
    thank you so much!
    Please let me know if you know of any thing else that does not have citrus? i will probably just get the plain cod liver oil and suck it up…
    Thank you again for the speedy reply!!! :)

  27. Teri says:

    Thanks….I think I’ll go for supplement.

  28. Siobhan says:

    @reese I’d call them and see what’s up. I also have a flaxseed one I like on my desk at work that is citrus free. Will check it and report back. I have been trying that one out and like it! Or, you could also just do cod. Just look for something third party tested for purity and low to no mercury, if you’re going with fish.

  29. Lindsey says:

    I’m totally with everyone who has tried honey on their faces! My best luck came from the use of Manuka honey, because of it’s very high anti bacterial rating. When I don’t have acne, I find it too drying, but when I do, it’s wonderful! Kind of expensive for honey, but compared to other facial products I can justify it. It really works wonders!

  30. Jane says:

    I used to have terrible skin, and since I switched to natural skincare it has become so much better! My favourite product is Pai Rosehip oil, it works wonders on breakouts! If I feel one coming on, I apply the oil and it really calms it down and heals it pretty fast. It is competely non-irritating as well, as I used lavender oil before, and found it a bit strong. I would also recommend eating avocados!

  31. Rebecca says:

    So, I’ve tried lavender before (with some success) but based on the comments I thought I’d try mixing some drops of lavender in my Fullers Earth. Used that as a spot treatment overnight. The smallest spots that I caught early I don’t see anymore, and one that was not huge but started a couple days ago is smaller.

    I’m thinking, if there’s still something under the skin I’m going to keep up the lavender/Fullers Earth. The ones that have goaded me into squeezing and just need to heal get honey. I’ll keep up this program for a while and see how it goes. Of course, the key is to eat right and keep my hormones in check and there won’t be too much to worry about!

  32. Louise says:

    One of the miracles of nature is Clay. NZ has the worlds whitest finest clay that is used in Noritaki China, Limoge etc also it is used in Living Nature’s Deep Cleansing Clay Mask. When the clay is used on skin the hollow tube system draws excess sebum and toxins from from the skin I use it on my teenage sons for their breakouts and it settles calms and relieves the skin followed by Living Nature rescue gel, natures first aid. together these products create a breakthrough in the vicious cycle and finally a good daily regime of Manuka Honey based moisturizer for it’s antimicrobial and antibacterial properties helps manage skin that is busting to breakout at a moments notice. Hope this is helpful to other Mums of teenage boys – especially to keep them away from the tragedy of endorcrine disrupting antibacterial acne solutions

  33. reese says:

    thank you siobhan! i appreciate it. i’ll keep working on it!

  34. eva says:

    For omegas I really like the New Chapter brand – as far as I can see, they don’t add anything artificial, there’s no citrus either, and if you get the Wholemega, you will get Omega 3, 6,7,8 and 9 – yes, there are apparently that many!
    7 is especially good for the skin, I used to get it in Sea Buckthorn juice when i lived in Scandinavia – you can of course also just get that separately. The only problem with New Chapter is the price..but I think that’s an issue with high-quality fish oil products generally. I do love Nordic Naturals too. For the record, I have NOT had any fishburps at all with New Chapter – I just take it with food, and wash it down with some juice.
    Thanks for tip on folic acid, I’ll give that a whirl. Oh, and honey..I can’t stress enough how well it works. Am breaking out a bit from hormones and after a 40 min honey mask yesterday (I time it to a True Blood episode!) my skin looks so much better. I haven’t tried Manuka honey though, will do that when I’m done with my current jar of raw. Thanks!

    Can anyone recommend a good manuka honey based products? A moisturizer? A toner? A spot treatment? I can’t afford Tara Harper..

  35. Siobhan says:

    @eva I sure can. Living Nature has a manuke honey rescue gel. One tube will last a long long time.

    http://www.livingnature.com/catalog/main.cfm?t=p&r=vw&pid=681&cid=2510&ptid=1898

  36. Rachel says:

    @Reese- I’m a naturopathic student here in the UK but originally from the States. There’s a great brand called Minami Nutrition that have the most excellent Omega supplements I’ve found, (I previously took Nordic Naturals until I got hooked!) Most of their supplements are so high in omega-3 you only have to take one a day which is a win in my book! You should check them out http://www.minami-nutrition.com.

    Manuka honey- AMAZING!! I use it alone as a mask, straight from the jar. (It’s also GREAT for healing up blisters and cuts, I apply a bit to a band-aid and voila! Some companies, like Comvita, have a product for external/medicinal purposes which isn’t sticky, so easier to use on single spots throughout the day.

    I also use kaolin clay, which is a bit gentler than green clay (which I use as a body mask!) Also, I’ve found that steaming my face with essential oils like grapefruit and geranium works wonders!!

  37. Rachel says:

    @Reese- as far as I know none of their products contain anything like citrus oils to flavor!

  38. reese says:

    I know this is sort of a lazy Q; i know it’s around here somewhere: what is the website(s) that 3rd party test supplements (namely fish oils) for safety/toxins? I don’t have the link!
    thank you!

  39. Elizabeth says:

    I agree with all these fabulous methods EXCEPT using a needle. First, it takes more than blazing hot water to sterilize a needle…there are thousands of eensy bacteria that will be living on that thing, and it takes the proper chemical compounds to truly kill those bacteria. Second, it is so easy to damage the skin and create a scar, and you probably won’t be able to find the pore without a magnified lamp. Even an aesthetician is not allowed to use a needle to open a blemish, you must be a doctor to legally perform that procedure. I’m only mentioning all of this because I am currently in aesthetics school and I so often have clients with horrible acne scars developed from picking and poking and squeezing! Be gentle to your blemishes ladies and if it’s really bad, see your local pro.

  40. reese says:

    Also, I have been using apple cider vinegar on blemishes lately and it’s pretty great. I soak a q-tip in it, then apply a small dot right on the zit. For most irritation and bacterial small(er) zits, it does the trick.

  41. Deanna says:

    OK, just got the Evan Healy mask on Saturday and have been trying it for two night — I had a pre-existing horrible cyst on my nose. So far, no miracles, but I have noticed the mask has dried out some other problem areas quickly. I’m going to go back on the omega-3 supplements and see what happens. Thank you for the Evan Healy suggestion — I was impressed with how pure their stuff is. And you are right — it’s $24, but the jar is so big, it will last for months!

  42. Holly says:

    Can anyone recommend me a green tea clay mask available in the UK? Evan Healy sounds really great but I don’t think I can get it in London. Any tips v welcome!

  43. Charlotte says:

    That is not a unicorn.

    Uni = one, corn = horn. One horn.

    This is a Pegasus.

  44. samantha says:

    so im 17 and have never really broken out anywere on my face, but my boyfriend has some stubble on him face and when he rubs him face on mine its been causing me to break out bad , and i mean really bad all anlong the bottom of my neck and face. i have told him that this happens and hes been trying to keep his stubble down but its not working. is their anything i can try to make them go away? and its not because i dont wash my face because i do every morning and night.

  45. Davina ♥ says:

    Hiya I’m 14 and I just found 2 spots right in the crease of my nose! Actually, for as long as I can remember, I always had little pimples across the top of my nose – if u could help me with that, it’d be great! Any way, back on to the subject, I picked at them (I know, silly me!) and now they’re red! What should I do? I’ve just washed my face and am leaving them alone right now… :) Thanks xxx

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