How to get rid of blackheads, whiteheads and pimples because Easter.

Chocolate may not cause pimples (well, there was this small study), but damn if it doesn’t feel like it’s emanating from our pores post-Easter. Amiright?

Three double chocolate hot cross buns, 12 Easter eggs and zero exercise later; my face has erupted into 10 million pimples. I figured I might not be the only one in need of a quick skin fix, so here’s what to do about those pesky pimples and stubborn whiteheads that are camping out on your face.

While pimples, and more serious cystic acne, can occur due to hormone changes in the body and genetics (dammit!), one of the reasons your skin might be getting congested right now – aside from eating your body weight in chocolate- is from being lax with your skincare routine. I know it’s boring but regular exfoliation is the key to preventing whiteheads and blackheads from occurring in the first place.

1. Get acquainted with the Konjac sponge.

I love the Konjack sponge. I’ve been telling everyone I know about the Konjac sponge. As in “How’s your Easter going, Nic?” “KONJAC SPONGE.” Because that’s how much I love the Konjac sponge. Originally from Japan, the sponge is made from the vegetable fibre of the Konjac plant with added French clays or bamboo charcoal. It’s a super gentle exfoliator, it’s 100 per cent biodegradable (you can put it in the compost bin when you’re done) and it’s terrific for congested, oily and acne-prone skin – particularly the bamboo charcoal versions.

I’ve been using Appelles’ Bamboo Charcoal Konjac Sponge $15, which is intended for the body, on my face because that’s just how I roll in the shower – one product for all! – and my sensitive rosacea-prone skin is immediately smooth with zero irritation. You can use these in conjunction with a cleanser but it reduces the lifespan of the sponge, so I remove my makeup, cleanse, then exfoliate while I’m in the shower. It’s gentle enough to use everyday but I stick to three times a week or whenever I remember – whichever happens first. Flora Organica also stock Konjac sponges, which have currently sold out but the owner informs me they’ll be back in stock within a few days.

The Konjac sponge Nicky’s so fond of.

2. Whiteheads? Make friends with salicylic acid.

You don’t make friends with salad but if you suffer from congestion in the form of whiteheads, your face will thank you for making friends with salicylic acid.

Whiteheads are pesky little buggers that refuse to die form when dead skin cells, oil and bacteria are trapped within a pore. Since these clogged pores have no infection, you want to exfoliate these out rather than using harsh acne products as that will only make whiteheads worse. What you can do (along with fortnightly at-home steams) is use products with salicylic acid. Salicylic acid helps to prevent blemishes and penetrates the pores to clear out impurities – it’s also excellent blackhead zapper.


I know people who buy Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion (contains salicylic acid) in bulk, that’s how good it is. You dab this on at night (after cleansing, toning and moisturising) and it’s active ingredients will shrink whiteheads overnight. I’ve found it’s best to use this as soon as you spot a whitehead, as stubborn hard-to-shift whiteheads often need to be professionally extracted. Malin + Goetz’s Acne Treatment $32 and Medik8’s Betagel also work in much the same way.

3. Dig out your cleansing device.

Look sure, this point assumes you own a cleansing device like a Clarisonic, so if you do and it’s gathering dust on your bathroom shelves, put it to work. If not, KONJAC SPONGE (sorry, last time).

4. Skip the drying toners.

Not all alcohol in skincare is bad (it’s sometimes used as a preservative or to help active ingredients penetrate into the lower layers of the skin) but toners specifically made for congested skin tend to contain strong alcohols and detergents. Some may find them useful in the short term for clearing breakouts but these are not so great for those who only occasionally get pimples. The great beauty paradox is that using drying ingredients will dehydrate infected breakouts BUT they’ll also zap clear areas leading to clogged pores and new pimples – exactly what you’re trying to avoid.

If you only get pimples occasionally (lucky!), look for toners and lotions that are free from drying ingredients like alcohol and sulfates. Good ones include Kiehl’s Herbal Alcohol-Free Cucumber Toner and The Body Shop’s Skin Clearing Tea Tree Cleanser

5. Don’t pick your face.

I know, it seems completely obvious but we all do it and, just like Ron Burgundy after jumping into a pit of bears, immediately regret that decision. What won’t tempt you (maybe) is the knowledge that it’s much harder to conceal an oozing open wound with makeup than it is to cover a closed bump.

Those geniuses over at Dermalogica have developed Concealing Spot Treatment which erm, as the name suggests conceals as it treats.

6. Try mustard.

On your sandwich. Kidding! Mustard contains natural salicylic acid and you can whip up a quick spot treatment with two ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. Mix mustard powder (about 1/8 of a teaspoon) with raw honey (one teaspoon) to make a mask, apply it to spots or problem areas, leave it on for 15 minutes and then wash off.

 What pimple/whitehead/blackhead treatments work for your skin? And 12 (large) Easter eggs consumed, can you beat it?

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