Could the days of dreading the consequences of an unexpected blemish be coming to a welcome end? I wondered as much as I stepped into Manhattan’s best kept skin secret: Dr. Arash Akhavan’s 57th street office, better known as The Dermatology & Laser Group. Akhavan has become a bit of a guru in New York City circles for his expertise in low-downtime procedures, not to mention his ability to expertly wield some of the most futuristic complexion-perfecting technology on the market.
Like a moth to the flame, I was interested in trying out a preventative approach with Dr. Akhavan. For those of us who are still suffering from hormonal breakouts deep into our 20s and 30s, what can be done about a surprise blemish that sneaks up before the most photographed event of one’s life? How exactly should a responsible adult deal with a week-of-the-wedding breakout?
Below, Dr. Akhavan shares five of the best in-office (and at-home) secrets for handling a breakout emergency without doing more harm than good:
Never Forget The Golden Rule
“It almost goes without saying but—do not pick at acne!” Akhavan warns of the oldest (and most breakable) rule in the book of perfect skin. “Although it may temporarily flatten a pimple, the trauma caused by picking can sometimes backfire and make acne worse or, at the very least, lead to a more prolonged scarring from the blemish.”
If you can’t get your mind off of the protrusion in the short term, try spritzing skin with a nourishing antibacterial hydrosol like Primally Pure’s Neroli Complexion Mist when you find yourself fighting the urge to pick. Organic aloe vera juice and witch hazel will hydrate and soothe while you outsmart your impulses—plus, the lingering scent serves as a reminder that help is on the way.
Know When A Needle Is Needed
For inflamed spots that seem as though the swelling may never reduce, it’s worth stepping out for a professional opinion. “If you can make it to a dermatologist’s office, cortisone injections into pimples are the absolute quickest way to flatten them out,” says Akhavan of the diluted steroid solution that can work magic at making blemishes disappear.
As with any steroid, this should be treated like an emergency solution rather than a routine fix. Additionally, the syringe should only be trusted to a true pro, since a novice who doesn’t know the perfect ratio of dilution and application could leave you with a slight depression at the point of impact.
Clear Pores With Hyper-Hydration
For a deep clean that targets clogged pores and blackheads, which seem to have taken up permanent residence, turn away from old-school strips that can damage skin and opt for a modern alternative. “HydraFacial MD is a great device that combines elements of microdermabrasion, a facial, and a very mild chemical peel,” notes Akhavan of the zero downtime treatment that he considers particularly useful for congestion. Brides-to-be can lay back and relax while a wand is passed over their skin which cleanses, extracts debris, and hydrates for a spa-like fix that ultimately results in a glowing, tightened complexion.
Approaching the big day, moisturizing with a nutrient-rich, anti-inflammatory tincture like NOTO’s Deep Serum can help take down redness naturally thanks to the potent powers of marula and healing wild carrot. Its clever inclusion of antiseptic grapefruit oil and healing sea buckthorn will undoubtedly do your skin more favors than the chemical-rich drugstore options we were duped into as teens.
PhotoFacials Are For Real
“Another option is light treatments that decrease the redness of pimples,” shares Akhavan, who recommends a session of IPL (intense pulsed light) as a “generally safe and effective way of shrinking dilated blood vessels in blemishes.” If phototherapy is new to you, imagine having your eyes covered with goggles (or even gauze and tape) while a handheld prism attachment is pressed to your skin, emitting the brightest paparazzi flash that you’ll never actually see.
With little to no downtime (I went directly to a party with just a touch of sensitive-skin-friendly Bare Minerals powder foundation after my first treatment) they’re a noninvasive strategy with the added benefit of reducing hyperpigmentation for a more even-toned complexion.
Try Your Hand At Home Treatments
If you’re too time-strapped to make it to the derm in the throes of last-minute planning, a bevy of options are changing the reputation of at-home treatments. Creating the first cosmeceutical line to marry science and nature, Akhavan teamed up with Alyssa DiBenedetto, The Dermatology and Laser Group’s Director of Aesthetic, to create Mod Skin NYC’s range of no-nonsense products. An all-star in acne therapeutics, the label’s Pore Perfection Go Green Mask offers a gentle approach to the disappearing act. Admittedly Akhavan’s favorite in the line for urgent breakout help, the treatment draws out impurities while simultaneously moisturizing with inflammation-taming jojoba oil. “This mask contains sulfur that takes the swelling out of blemishes, while also acting as a hydrating mask that leaves skin refreshed and not overly dry.”
For an overnight option (or all-day patch if you dare), Peace Out’s Acne Healing Dots have developed a loyal following for their peel-and-stick simplicity, delivering a low-key bandage infused with blemish-fighting ingredients. “Salicylic acid products such as Healing Dots are a great option if you are unable to see your local dermatologist,” notes Akhavan of the small wonders that can make bumps flatter in a matter of days. And in the meantime, dust on a layer of Juice Beauty’s Blemish Clearing Powder, take a little sip of champagne, and know that this pesky flaw is soon to be a distant memory washed away by a tidal wave of affection that can only arrive once the party begins.