Originally published Jan 27, 2016. Updated March 1, 2018.
We’ve all been there. Zits, blackheads, ingrown hairs, clogged pores that we couldn’t help but attack with our mighty little fingers. Or perhaps you got a facial and the extractions left you with some serious red blotches and swelling. Either way, you’re going to want to counter the redness and swelling ASAP. Here’s how to calm facial redness and swelling before you turn into the second coming of Hell Boy.
Step 1: Heal, don’t kill.
First and foremost, never ever ever apply BHAs, AHAs or acid-based acne medications immediately after extracting. This will cause further irritation and redness. Your priority at this stage is to begin the healing counter redness/swelling process. Second, if you’re going to extract, only do it at night, so that your skin has time to rejuvenate and heal over night. Additionally, if you are extracting yourself, we HIGHLY recommend using sterilized extraction tools rather than your fingers to prevent further irritation and infection. Extraction kits are inexpensive and they will save you trouble with risking infection or making acne worse. Lastly, you should not apply makeup after extracting as your pores are extra vulnerable to irritation and clogging. If possible avoid makeup for at least 12 hours. If you’ve extracted yourself, clean your face with a gentle cleanser and several splashes of cold water.
Step 2: Immediately apply a calming mask and/or aloe gel
Make sure to apply a calming mask, such as our aloe-based Anti-Redness Calming Mask to prevent further redness and swelling. The sooner you stop the redness, the better. It’s also a good idea to always have pure aloe on hand and keep the bottle in the fridge so that it’s cold when you apply it. Mix the aloe with a mask of your choice and apply a very thick layer over your entire face. Be sure to steer clear from your eyes. Aloe will irritate your eyes if you apply too closely.
Step 3: Apply saran wrap
Cut holes for your eyes, nose and mouth and place saran wrap over the mask.
Step 4: Apply cold compress
Dampen a washcloth, then use an ice pack, bag of peas (our recommendation), or a bag of crushed ice and place over the washcloth, lie down and place over your face. Keep the mask and cold compress on for approximately 20 minutes.
Step 5: Remove saran wrap and cold compress
Remove saran wrap and cold compress. However, allow the mask to stay on your skin and soak in.
Step 6: Apply an anti-redness, healing treatment
To further heal skin, we recommend an anti-redness product, such as Nuobisong Switzerland Anti-Redness Anti-Scar Acne Treatment. This product is a total lifesaver! It uses a blend of anti-imflammatory and anti-bacterial ingredients to calm skin and clear up acne.
Step 7: Spot Treat with Pimple Patches
If you have a big monster of a zit, apply a thick layer of an anti-redness product and place a pimple patch over it. Pimple patches are ideal as they contain a special material that helps draw out impurities quickly. This will help reduce pimple size, redness, and swelling drastically over night.
And if you’re pressed for time…
While we recommend utilizing the entire regimen, if you’re pressed for time, you can skip the saran wrap and cold compress and just apply the mask with 100% chilled aloe. The mask and aloe gel alone will provide a tremendous amount of healing and prevent further redness and swelling.
Do’s and Don’ts
Do extract only at night so your skin has time to calm down by morning
Don’t apply acid-based products post-extraction
Do have 100% aloe on hand and keep in the fridge
Don’t apply makeup for at least 12 hours after extracting
Do sanitize hands and extracting tools beforehand
Do apply an anti redness ointment for additional healing
Do see a doctor if your skin condition is persistent, you may have an underlying cause that needs medical attention.
This guide is not a replacement for medical advice and we always recommend seeing a dermatologist to handle chronic skin conditions.