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4 Zit-Fighting Treatments-for-Grown-Ups We Can Get Behind

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One of the biggest lies that's ever been perpetrated throughout Western society is this: That acne is just a phase you go through as a teenager. It must be some sort of throwaway consolation that adults use to salve teen angst—sure, you may be awkward, you may feel disconnected from your peers, going to school sucks, your parents don't understand anything you're going through, and you have uncontrollable red spots on your face, but it's all just a phase, they say, this too shall pass.

Well, adulthood arrived a long time ago and, along with age comes wisdom and the knowledge that, contrary to everything we'd been told, high school lasts forever—especially the zit part.

Come summer, with its SPF and sweat and sticky goopy air and melting makeup, skin can get messy. But, besides submitting to a three-step ritual that leads down the pathway of derma-chemical dependency forever and ever, what out there works on the occasional lo-fi acne flare-up? Here are four of our favorite products for zit-zapping and soothing spotty irritation.

La Roche Possay Effaclar K Acne Treatment Fluid, $15.92 at SkinDirect: Know how sometimes, the day before you get a zit, you know it's coming? Call it subcutaneous inflammation or something—this is when you turn to your girlfriends and say, "Oh my god, I'm getting a zit," and they reply, "What? I can't see anything." We find that generously applying La Roche Possay's Effaclar K Acne Treatment to the afflicted area overnight and the spot will very likely not materialize—at least not in the form of the raging red volcanic eruption it could have been. Our general timeframe for complete zit elimination with this product: two nights.

Nature's Gate Extra-Strength Spot Corrector, $6.98 at Amazon.com: Wake up in the morning with a new growth (zit) on your face, but don't feel like Oxy-ing and drying out your skin? Sensitive complexions might like Nature's Gate Spot Corrector, a less-drying, very effective treatment for already-visible spots. Works well under makeup, gentle, and doesn't smell. General timeframe for complete zit elimination with this product: three days.

Mario Badescu Drying Cream, $12 at Mario Badescu: Strictly for the big ugly monsters that you know have, uh, something inside just waiting to spew. Apply this drying treatment to the affected area overnight and in the morning the inner goop will likely have surfaced and be ready for elimination. (That was the most delicate we could phrase: the redness will have calmed down and the white gunk will have formed an easily removable/poppable/squeezable—don't pretend you don't pop yours—pimple up top. General timeframe for complete zit elimination with this product: one day to reduce, two days to heal the biggest zits.

Peter Thomas Roth Mega Rich Anti-Aging Cellular Moisture Mask, $60 at Peter Thomas Roth: Sometimes acne isn't acne; sometimes skin gets red and bumpy because it's dry and irritated. If it's a rough path or very mild irritation that's not an allergic reaction or a more serious skin disorder, we strongly recommend Peter Thomas Roth's Mega-Rich Anti-Aging Cellular Moisture Mask, a creamy leave-on-rinse-off hydrating, softening, pore-shrinking, mattifying magic salve that'll calm eruptions stemming from irritation. Visible results on the surface are practically immediate, and it helps control the oil in our T-zone as well.
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