The Best Cures for Common Skin Emergencies
Even the best-laid plans for a flawless face can hit a rough patch. We asked three experts to share their top strategies for preventing and treating common skin-care crises, whether weeks or (eek!) a mere 24 hours or less before the big day.
Blemishes: A Few Weeks Before
Use a glycolic serum, like BeautyRx Essential 8% Exfoliating serum ($65, BeautyRX.com), every morning to help unclog pores, says Manhattan dermatologist Neal Schultz. At night, spot-treat pimples with a combination of salicylic acid (to exfoliate) and benzoyl peroxide (to kill bacteria). Try Philosophy Clear Days Ahead acne spot treatment ($19, Ulta.com) and Clean & Clear Persa-Gel 10 ($7, Ulta.com).
Blemishes: The Day Of
Woke up to an enormous pimple? If your dermatologist is reachable, ask for a cortisone shot; if not, dab on hydrocortisone cream to bring down redness, and then camouflage with concealer.
Rashes & Hives: A Few Weeks Before
See an allergist to suss out your triggers (food? medication?) and avoid future flare-ups. Prescription oral corticosteroids can reduce itching and swelling.
Rashes & Hives: The Day Of
Apply cool (but not icy) compresses to skin, and pop a nondrowsy, long-acting antihistamine, such as Allegra, Claritin, or Zyrtec. These typically take an hour or two to start working but will suppress hives for up to 24 hours.
Dullness: A Few Weeks Before
Do a series of weekly at-home peels, such as the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Ultra Gentle Daily peel ($88, DrDennisGross.com), to slough off dry, lackluster skin and reveal a radiant complexion underneath. Or, says Santa Monica dermatologist Christine Choi Kim, invest in a series of SilkPeel Diamond Dermalinfusion treatments (from $175, SilkPeel.com) for a clean, glowing complexion. This in-office microdermabrasion procedure vacuums out pores while delivering issue-specific serums deep within skin.
Dullness: The Day Of
Use a gentle 10-minute mask to brighten and hydrate, like the SK-II Facial Treatment mask ($135 for 10 sheets, Sk-II.com), which is infused with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
Under-Eye Puffiness: A Few Weeks Before
Start with lifestyle tweaks, says Kim. Lighten up on your salt intake, and sleep with an extra pillow under your head to prevent fluid from pooling under your eyes. (Speaking of sleep—get plenty!) A more high-tech solution is to see your dermatologist for a series of IPL (intense pulsed light) treatments, which can tighten skin and diminish the appearance of underlying capillaries.
Under-Eye Puffiness: The Day Of
Spend a few minutes with cold steeped tea bags on your eyes—the tannins in the tea act as an astringent to quell puffiness, says Schultz.
Dry Spots: A Few Weeks Before
Tone down your shower temp from hot to warm, and avoid using soap or fragrance-laden body washes—either will strip much-needed moisture from skin. Follow bathing with a moisturizer that's rich in soothing glycerin and hyaluronic acid, such as CeraVe moisturizing cream ($16, CeraVe.com). For red or scaly patches, ask your doctor about a prescription cortisone cream. "It delivers relief within a few days," says Kim.
Dry Spots: The Day Of
If you suddenly develop areas of dryness, pick up an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to soothe inflammation.
Redness & Flushing: A Few Weeks Before
To neutralize redness, apply La Roche-Posay Rosaliac AR Intense serum ($40, LaRoche-Posay.us) twice a day. It contains ambophenol, a plant extract that helps reduce visible redness. If the flush is the result of rosacea, have Mirvaso, a prescription topical gel, at the ready. It lessens the excessive blood flow that's behind the redness, taking effect in as little as 30 minutes and lasting up to 12 hours.