Sudden Spots


Disclaimer: This is a one-or-two spot busting, emergency solution kind of post. More ‘how to get rid of the occasional bastard quickly before my job interview’ deal, rather than any ongoing problem or proper difficulty. For now.

So to business.

I have great skin. (keep reading)

I eat really well. I don’t tend to drink a great deal. I’ve given up smoking, do lots of exercise, drink a shit ton of water. Not to mention I spend so much money in Space NK I’ve recently been awarded their equivalent of a black AmEx. So I have great skin (stay with me).

Or rather I had great skin. Until I got a couple of great jobs and wanted to celebrate with CHEESE. Until the weather was just too delightful to not get messed up on margaritas at 3pm every day. Until the hangovers rendered yoga, or indeed movement of any kind, a write off.

I’m lucky. I can almost certainly put my recent breakouts down to a change in lifestyle. I’m pretty in tune with what my face is doing so know exactly what’s to blame for each spot (‘that one’s from that whipped cream from the can, that one’s when I dunked my face in that pizza trying to be funny’ etc). I realise that for some it’s just impossible, it’s everywhere, it’s debilitating and it’s stuff only weapons grade prescription or science lasers can help with. I know this because, as a teenager, I was crippled with insecurity at the state of my skin and spent a lot of time around Y2K crying in the doctors office about it.

For the rest of us, the areas we get spots can generally be defined by the below. Bear in mind this is very vague, do not come for me. Obviously should you smear a Big Mac across your entire face, this won’t apply. Similarly if you live exclusively off Big Macs.

  • Forehead: spots here are thought to be connected to your digestive system. So that can either mean the food you’re eating or, your gut in general, where it’s thought a lot of stress is kept. Also if you’ve got a greasy fringe that doesn’t help either.

  • Cheeks: Dairy is a particular bugger if you’re acne prone. I’m afraid I would suggest cutting it out altogether if it’s a real problem. I did and it was a game changer. However, as many a friend, relative or date will attest I am - and I cannot stress this enough - ***SUCH*** a terrible vegan that I don’t so much as fall but splits leap off the wagon like one of the kids from ‘Fame’ on a semi regular basis and then it’s zits galore. I can’t even look at a milkshake without one turning up to drink it with me.

  • Chin & jawline: Hormones are the worst innit. Once a month this area is liable to be a total mess no matter how hard you try or how much you spend. It’s not prevention you need in this case, it’s cure. Hopefully the products at the bottom will lend a hand.

  • Neck: I got such terrible acne around my neck until I realised it was the leave in conditioner/oil I was applying to the ends of my hair just getting involved in places it shouldn’t. If you do apply oils etc, try and do it while your hair is still wet, then either tie it up to naturally dry or blow dry that section first.

I have to be on the telly soon, and bad skin would be a disaster for reasons relating to not just aesthetic but also confidence. I’ve been on a mission the last two weeks, utterly desperate to find anything and determined not to use a sunbed to just get rid. It’s tempting as hell but I think I may have cracked it.

The following all work great, so it’s just a case of which one is most convenient for you to get your hands on. The glaring thing that never differs in a good spot busting product is salicylic acid. If it doesn’t contain salicylic acid, do not buy it, it won’t work.

True to form, I couldn’t find anything super cheap. Sorry. However, I went knocking on Claire’s door and she came up with a couple of bonus numbers towards the end……


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This is great. Use overnight, apply with a cotton bud. It’s sticky and gel like. It’s also excellent for an emergency when - sorry, look away if you’re grossed out - you squeeze spots too soon and it all gets a bit liquidy and uneven around the area. Put this straight over the top, it will dry, you’ll find concealing much easier.

The only reason I strayed from this path was because I ran out and couldn’t find an Origins concession in any of the Boots I tried. Annoying. However, I just now discovered you can buy it from ASOS so that’s even more annoying.


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This claims to work for blackheads. It doesn’t, but it is quite good for chest spots I’ve found. I get the impression that you’re meant to use this as a kind of all over facial exfoliant, but I wouldn’t do this. It works perfectly well just targeted on to spotty areas and lasts longer. Also, it will dry out your face/body if used where it’s not needed. Buy it on Amazon, get it straight away for emergencies. They do stronger versions too but dear god be careful, you want to get rid of spots not decompose your own body like in Breaking Bad.


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Not much to say here other than I bought this yesterday when I couldn’t find my beloved Origins, used it last night and I can see an obvious difference and I feel lots better. So there we are.

They do a £49 one as well but I mean, this £22 one works perfectly well. For twice the price I’d expect it to not only clear it up, but to never have a spot again.


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A cult brand that I’m always quite wary of because they’re stocked in Urban Outfitters, with the mini cacti. But this is a great product that does exactly what it says on the bottle. I’ve used it before when the very IDEA of a spot seems to be formulating under my jawline and it never came to pass.

I just asked Claire for a few and she’s suggested:


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A favourite at Trowel Towers, Claire recommends any AHA tonic dabbed on with a cotton bud but likes this best of all. I’ve included the 100ml because mine has lasted literally forever. And you can get it at Boots now!


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In America’s Next Top Model, there is always one model in the pack who the audience (and, I suspect, Tyra) roots for because the best thing about them is they don’t know how pretty they are. It’s what makes them extra special.

I feel The Ordinary are this humble little model. And no one must ever tell them how pretty/good they are. Because the second they catch on to their worth, those prices will damn well skyrocket you mark my words.

Until then, stockpile their shit. Because pretty much everything they do is fantastic, let’s face it. This is another Claire suggestion for spots. AT UNDER SEVEN POUNDS. You can’t go wrong, realistically.

Oh, and while we’re here.

Do not buy this:

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I really like patchology, I’m a devotee of their under eye gels and I so wanted this little box to solve my problems. There’s basically lots of little round stickers like you’d get in school to put on your chart, and you apply one over your spot overnight. There are three kinds - for spots that haven’t yet surfaced, for ones that have, and for blackheads on your nose. When they come off the sticker will have gone a sort of pussy colour and you feel like it’s sucked the life out of whatever gross thing was happening on your face but. It hasn’t. Gutting. But with any luck my misguided purchase has saved someone eighteen quid.

Rebecca Humphries