5. Do tone down on toner.
When you have a, shall we say, disturbance in the force, any astringents can “disrupt the skin barrier and cause inflammation and irritation,” says Dr. Zeichner. Unless you have very oily skin, skip the zit itself when you’re doing this step in your skin care routine. (And in that case, a gentle toner like Avene’s Eau Thermale, $20, is your best bet.)
6. Do use makeup with salicylic acid.
Slathering makeup over a breakout seems like a necessary evil: You want to hide the offender in question, obviously, but it can feel like you’re also suffocating it. However, certain formulas can actually address pimples while providing coverage. “Salicylic acid is a common acne ingredient that is useful in preventing or treating pimples and can be found in several makeup brands,” says Rachel Nazarian, M.D., a dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology. Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup ($29) is a classic for a reason, though E.l.f. Cosmetics Acne-Fighting Foundation ($6) makes for a great budget pick. For touch-ups, try a concealer with it too, like It Cosmetics Bye Bye Breakout Full-Coverage Concealer ($28).
7. Don’t wear makeup with pore-clogging ingredients.
For all the salicylic acid out there, there are certain ingredients to steer clear of. “People who suffer from acne should avoid makeup that contains mineral oil or lanolin,” Dr. Nazarian says. “These ingredients are comedogenic, meaning they have a high likelihood of clogging pores and triggering acne.” Check the labels to make sure your complexion products don’t contain either.
8. Do layer your beauty products properly.
No surprise if your instinct is to simply cover your pimple with as much concealer as you can get your hands on. But to zap a zit, it’s better if you follow a few steps first. “Starting with a clean face, apply a thin layer of oil-free moisturizer [try Neutrogena Oil-Free Daily Moisturizer, $8], and then a small amount of acne medication to your entire face,” says Dr. Nazarian. She’s a fan of gels with adapalene, since they regulate skin cells to prevent clogging of pores. Her favorite is ProactivMD Adapalene Gel 0.1% ($36), which, she notes, “can be applied very nicely under makeup.”