You're Doing It Wrong: Sleeping in Acne Cream

How to combat a pimple overnight

By Diana Nguyen May 23, 2017 6:16 PMTags
ESC: Acne Treatment

Scenario: You have a big meeting or red-carpet-worthy event to attend tomorrow. Too bad there's a red pimple about to rear its ugly black head. It happens…to celebs, too. Unlike the stars, however, you probably don't have a celeb dermatologist on call to give that bugger a cortisone shot, which shrinks papules, nodules or cysts in 24 hours.

Instead, your over-the-counter acne cream has one night to work its magic. Don't get in its way—here's how to get the most out of your spot treatment while you sleep.

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"Acne treatments vary—from prescription to over-the-counter spot treatments—so the usage instructions will vary as well," said Dr. Howard Murad. "At night your skin switches into a time of repairing and recovery from all the daytime aggressors, so it's the optimum time for a treatment."

But how do add the product into your normal nighttime skin-care routine? Make sure to use the spot treatment after washing your face, instead of after your products, as to not dilute the formula. "To avoid a layer between the treatment and the affected area, we recommend applying the treatment directly to the blemish followed by a moisturizer," said the skin pro. "A night moisturizer is always recommended to keep skin hydrated and help repair the skin overnight."

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Sometimes, however, you may wake up with a dry, flaky patch of skin. And attempting to camouflage it with makeup is only going to make it worse. "Skin typically dries out and becomes flaky if the product being used has harsh ingredients, stripping the skin of hydration," noted Dr. Murad. "It is always important to make sure you are using the proper cleanser and moisturizer in your regimen that having calming and soothing ingredients. Licorice root, for example, soothes irritation and inflammation caused by acne."


Rapid Relief Acne Spot Treatment, $22

Tata Harper

Clarifying Spot Solution, $32

Alba Botanica

Fast Fix for A Pimple Tinted Zit Zapper, $4.99

La Roche-Posay Effaclar

Duo Dual Action Acne Treatment, $36.95

Paula's Choice

Clear Regular Strength Daily Skin Clearing Treatment With 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide, $18


On the Spot Acne Treatment, $7.99


Quick Fix Blemish Pen, $16.95

Renée Rouleau

Anti Cyst Treatment, $45.50


BetaGel Spot Treatment, $68

That zit might not be gone coming morning, but at least it'll be smaller. 

How do you combat pesky pimples?