You’ve tried it all—bought the “miracle” creams, submitted to treatments, scrubbed and buffed—and you’ve come to the conclusion that smooth, unblemished skin is a rare gift bestowed by the gods only on supermodels. We’re here to restore your faith! You can kick-start a gorgeous new complexion in a mere two weeks, all by introducing simple tweaks to your daily routine. We talked to derms and other skin-care geniuses to develop these gentle, effective plans tailored to your particular challenge. Get glowing!
You may find unexpected pimples popping up more and more as you get older. aging, hormones, stress, clogged pores and even genetics can make you break out. Grrreat!
Your Action Plan
Day 1 Don’t touch that bump! Picking delays healing. to cover spots, gently dab on a creamy concealer with your ring finger. Try RMS Beauty “Un” Cover-up ($36, rmsbeauty.com).
Day 2 Take a look at your diet and—don’t hate us—cut out unnecessary carbs and processed sugars, which can cause zit-triggering inflammation.
Day 3 Now that you’ve stopped poking at your face, wash at night with a cleanser containing antiseptic and anti-inflammatory sulfur or exfoliating salicylic acid, like Neutrogena Naturals Acne Cream Cleanser ($8, neutrogena.com). In the mornings, rather than suds up again, just rinse with water (pimple-fighting cleansers can aggravate skin if used too frequently) and dry with a paper towel—cloth towels can harbor bacteria.
Day 4 Add an oil-free lotion with calming chamomile, panthenol, niacinamide, green tea or aloe vera to your a.m. routine. the softeners counteract dryness from the acne-fighting ingredients in the rest of your regimen. We like Alba Botanica Natural Hawaiian Oil Free Moisturizer ($20, albabotanica.com).
Day 5 to 11 Every other night, apply a pea-size drop of a serum with vitamin A (aka retinol or retinyl palmitate) all over your face. This may irritate at first, but it unclogs pores and fights wrinkles. Try derma E Refining Vitamin A and Green Tea Moisturizer ($21, dermae.com). On alternating nights, spot-treat with tea tree oil, salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Try The Body Shop Tea Tree Blemish Gel ($11, thebodyshop-usa.com).
Day 12 Start using your vitamin A product nightly and skip the spot treatment.
Day 13 To keep skin clear, eat dark greens and take at least 150 milligrams of fish oil every day. Omegas stimulate your lymphatic system to ditch skin-congesting toxins. We like Nordic Naturals Kenai Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil ($22 for 90 softgels, nordicnaturals.com).
Day 14 Dry out any new zits that appear with a dab of a clay-based mask like Aubrey Organics Clarifying therapy Clay Mask ($13, aubrey-organics.com).
Your Shopping List
Cleanser with sulfur or salicylic acid
Serum with vitamin A
Spot treatment with tea tree oil, salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide
Fish oil capsules
To heal pimples stat, head to the doc’s office for a chemical peel (one with lactic, glycolic or trichloroacetic acids will prevent future breakouts too) or a cortisone shot. You should be pimple-free in two days—but your skin will flake (a lot!) after day four if you opt for the peel.