Acne is an extremely common skin condition, but it is nonetheless difficult to treat. There are lots of skincare products that help treat acne and minimize blemishes, but most work in the medium to long term. But what if there was a product capable of correcting blemishes and pimples in the blink of an eye? That is exactly what acne drying lotions promise to do. Let’s get to know these products a little better, and help you decide whether they’re right for you!
Acne Drying Lotion 101
What is an acne drying lotion?
An acne drying lotion is a skincare spot treatment that promises to speed up the life cycle of blemishes and pimples. Formula-wise, acne drying lotions usually contain two “layers” of product: a liquid layer on top and a powder layer at the bottom. The liquid layer contains exfoliating acids, such as salicylic acid, but it may also contain soothing ingredients. The bottom layer is usually made up of zinc oxide and calamine (which gives it a characteristic pinkish color).
How do you use an acne care drying lotion?
To use your acne drying lotion, start by setting the jar down on a flat surface. This will ensure that the layers that make up the product are fully separated, with the powder at the bottom and the liquid at the top. You should never shake this type of product!
Are you sure that the product layers are separate? Then here’s what you have to do, in simple steps:
- Dip the clean end of a Q-tip into the jar. Make sure to reach the bottom, so the tip can be enveloped in the powder;
- Using the Q-tip, apply the product directly to the pimples you want to dry out. The lotion should look opaque on your skin, not clear;
- Do not rinse! You want to let the product dry out and work its magic;
- Leave on overnight;
- In the morning, remove the product using your favorite cleanser, or a damp cotton pad.
Now, before you ask: can an acne drying lotion eliminate a pimple overnight? It’s not very likely. Most people find that their blemishes look a lot less angry the morning after using the lotion. That’s a good, realistic result. Erasing a whitehead from your face in under 8 hours of sleep? That is, sadly, not as realistic.
When should you use your acne drying lotion?
Apply your acne drying lotion in the evening and leave it on overnight. We are not against applying it during the day if you’re hanging around the house, but we don’t recommend wearing it out. After all, this type of product looks opaque on the skin, which might make you look a little funny.
Should you put drying lotion on a popped pimple?
Acne drying lotions are designed to be used on active blemishes (like whiteheads), but not on pimples you have previously popped.
If you’ve popped a pimple (and you know you should avoid that as much as possible, right?), don’t rush to cover the area in skincare products. Wash the area with a mild cleanser and moisturize with a gentle cream. Do your best to keep your hands away from your face, and leave your acne drying lotion out of this!
Drying lotions vs Pimple patches
Drying lotions are liquid (ish) products you apply to a pimple using a Q-tip; conversely, acne patches are hydrocolloid stickers you use to cover pimples. Both products promise to speed up the life cycle of your pimples so you can get rid of them quickly. At first glance, it might seem like drying lotions and acne aches do the exact same thing, but there are some subtle differences in the way they work.
Drying lotions work by, well, drying out the pimples. They achieve this through the use of salicylic acid, along with a combination of powdered ingredients. Pimple patches do not necessarily dry out pimples; it depends on the kind of patch you choose. While some pimple patches will feature exfoliating salicylic acid, others will refrain from including exfoliating ingredients. Instead, they’ll focus on absorbing oils (and whatever gunk comes with), and reducing inflammation around the pimple (so it doesn’t look quite so angry).
Because of these differences, pimple patches tend to be less “aggressive” than drying lotions, so they may be the better option for sensitive skin. Try both options, and see what your skin likes best!
4 Acne Drying Lotions That Are Worth a Try
We’ve been talking about acne drying lotions in general, but now we’re going to show you some specific examples. Although they all start from the same basic concept, these drying lotions have some subtle differences. It’s worth looking into each one to pick the one that best suits your needs:
Mario Badescu Drying Lotion is one of the most popular acne drying lotions. Designed to take care of blemishes while you sleep, this lotion features salicylic acid (a gold standard blemish buster), zinc oxide, and calamine. The product is naturally split into two layers: a pink sediment at the bottom, and a clear liquid at the top.
The Revolution Skincare Blemish Overnight Drying Lotion is pretty similar in appearance. Inside you will find a clear liquid layer, and a layer of pinkish powder settled at the bottom.
Acne drying lotions may not sound very French pharmacy-ish, but Parisian brand Lierac has had one on offer for a really long time! The key ingredients are easy enough to guess: salicylic acid, zinc oxide, and calamine. Compared to other lotions, this one also adds azelaic acid, a multipurpose active with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-dark spot action.
We have one last option from a Korean brand, Mizon A.C Care Solution Acence Blemish Out Pink Spot. This drying lotion is also divided into two layers. The powder layer is similar to previous options we’ve looked at: it contains zinc oxide and calamine. The liquid layer is a little different: it contains a mix of glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and Coptis japonica root extract (a plant known for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties).
4 Types of Pimple Patches to Keep Around
If you are not completely convinced that an acne drying lotion is right for you, then we recommend trying acne patches. We have selected a few that our Care to Beauty community loves:
These YOUTH LAB Blemish Dots are completely transparent and available in 2 sizes. You can use them not only to reduce pimples (through the action of salicylic acid), but also to soothe the skin (though the action of tea tree leaf water, and botanical extracts from Scutellaria baicalensis root and Phellodendron amurense bark).
The COSRX Master Patch Original Fit are super popular. They are hydrocolloid patches, available in 3 sizes, that absorb oil and residues associated with the pimple. At the same time, they keep the skin hydrated. Unlike the previous option, these patches do not contain any exfoliating ingredients.
Holika Holika, a well-known Korean brand, offers an even more complete approach, with two types of patches that can be applied at different times, depending on the life cycle of the pimple. Red Spot Patches should be used at the beginning of the pimple’s development, when it is red, inflamed, or even painful to the touch; Yellow Spot Patches should be used at a later time, when the pimple is already a real whitehead.
After this deep dive into the way acne drying lotions work, you should already have a better idea of whether they work for you and your needs. If you feel that a drying lotion might be too aggressive, you can always try a pimple patch instead. If you prefer to play the long game, then no problem: we have plenty of more traditional acne treatments available in the shop.
Beauty Writer & Editor