Methods that really work to clear acne and an unwanted breakout, from prevention to correction

You’re probably asking yourself why you’re breaking out now. Perhaps you spend most of your time at home but you’re getting random pimples; or maybe you’re shuffling between home and office and putting on a mask daily, and that’s aggravating your skin. Or for us girls, it’s just that time of the month. Clearing an unwanted bout of acne always becomes our life priority once we see that first spot, and you’ve probably tried dozens of methods to do so. And if you’re reading this, those methods likely don’t work. These here are tried and tested ways to clear pimples fast and safely. There’s probably a tip below you haven’t tried or heard of, so read on; maybe you’ll find something that actually works for you.

First line of defence: 111SKIN 3 Phase Anti Blemish Booster

Since I discovered the brand 111SKIN, I’ve always felt that their skincare is underrated. They have some really potent products and the one I’m always going on about is this Anti Blemish Booster. It prevents breakouts and flare-ups by regulating sebum production, and it repairs broken skin, which is great for existing spots. I once recommended it to the model, Fiona Fussi before a CHANEL press trip because she had a few emerging spots, and it worked for her almost overnight. By the time it came to our NYLON photoshoot with her (around 2 days later), her skin was clear. No doubt this little bottle is on the pricey side, it’s worth it if you’ve tried everything under the sun to combat your breakout and still refuse to see a dermatologist.

111SKIN 3 Phase Anti Blemish Booster, priced at $175 (20ml). Currently sold out at TANGS, but on sale at Metro for $148.75! Nice surprise.

Maintenance and cure: mySKINBAR The Crux

Here’s another product that actually works on breakouts and that not many people know about. It’s from local skincare brand, mySKINBAR and called The Crux. It’s a spot treatment that kills acne-causing bacteria and Demodex mites that the brand says are living on our faces. That’s not something we really want to think about, but apparently they’re in our pores.

What’s particularly great about this product is that it dries clear so it can be worn under makeup, and it has a minty, cooling sensation so calms skin and any inflammation.

I’ve recommended this to a friend who was having a hormonal breakout and she said she’s grown quite fond of it and is using it on a daily basis now. I take that to mean that it’s working for her.

The Crux comes in two textures — a cream and a gel; both do the same thing, it’s just preference.

The Crux, from $18 for 5ml to $119 for 50ml, available from and Shopee.

For post-blemish pigmentation and dark spots: Sunday Riley Good Genes All-in-One Lactic Acid Treatment

This treatment cream is excellent for preventing and reducing pigmentation and dark spots. It’s formulated with a purified grade lactic acid that does instant exfoliation, and this results in instantly brighter, clearer and fresher-looking skin. Use this at night before your moisturiser — and when you wake up in the morning, you’ll see a difference to your face; your skin will look better and revived, almost like magic.

Sunday Riley Good Genes All-in-One Lactic Acid Treatment, $136 for 30ml, available from SEPHORA.SG.

For popped pimples: Welly Face Saver Hydrocolloid Clear Spot Bandages

These are transparent stickers that you place on a popped pimple or open blemish, to create a hygienic, sterile environment for it to heal. They are fairly transparent on the face, so you can wear them out and during the day, but I’d recommend wearing them overnight while you sleep for best results. These bandages “suck up” the pus in your wound, which will make the bump flatter. I always have a box of these on standby because they help pimples heal so much quicker.

Welly Face Saver Hydrocolloid Clear Spot Bandages, $27.08 for a pack of 72, from AMAZON.SG.

To heal broken skin: DrGL. Skin Repair

Some years back I visited Dr Georgia Lee for help with my skin. I just kept getting breakouts that particular year and the kind with broken skin. The doctor introduced me to this little bottle from her skincare brand, DrGL.; it’s an elixir with a healing and repairing formula that stimulates cellular regeneration. And it was a miracle… it made my skin heal so much faster — as fast as one to two days for some wounds. It’s no doubt pricey, but sometimes good skin and miracles come at a cost. I now stock up a bottle of this in my beauty cabinet for emergencies.

Dr.GL Skin Repair, $118 for 10ml. Available at DRGL.COM.

When it’s itchy, red or inflamed: Mopiko

We learned from Mom to associate this minty cream with mosquito bites and the relief of itch caused by these bites. But the packaging says it’s good for so much more: it is suitable for — “Relief of itch. Bites by mosquitoes, lice, bedbugs, bees or other insects. Irritation after shaving. Headaches. Pimples. Muscle fatigue due to exercise. Moisturise the skin. Minor burns or abrasion.”

Yes, the ubiquitous Mopiko is actually really, really good for pimples. The active ingredients include menthol (has a cooling and pain killing effect), camphor (calms skin, relieves pain, irritation and itching) and methyl salicylate (derived from salicylic acid). When applied on pimples, it relieves the itchiness (so you don’t keep touching or worse, scratching it), and calms the skin down so it’s not as angry and inflamed.

I use this often and on any zits that I feel are starting to make an appearance on my skin. It squashes them down within an hour and stops them from getting bigger and worse. Do note not to use this near the eye area because of the minty fumes — they’ll make the eyes water, and definitely avoid areas with wounds or broken skin, because it will sting!

Mopiko, priced at $3.70 for a 20g tube is available at any pharmacy or supermarket, including Guardian and Watsons.

The evergreen staple: The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a time-honoured remedy for blemishes; it naturally purifies skin, and balances oiliness in the skin, which results in less breakouts. The Body Shop’s version is the OG for this product and we love that theirs is sustainably sourced in Kenya. To use, just pat on or rub 1-2 drops into skin. It’ll kill those nasty germs causing that breakout.

The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil, $23 for 10ml, available from THEBODYSHOP.COM.

To conceal: clé de peau beauté Concealer

Sometimes as much as we try to prevent or combat blemishes, they still appear red and raw on our faces, and that’s where concealer comes in. This stick of concealer cream from clé de peau beauté is really the best you can get; it glides on smoothly and covers over any blemish like a second skin. It corrects redness (or any other shade that’s not your skin colour), reduces the appearance of pores so skin looks smoother and more even, and can be used to patch up larger areas (like pigmentation) or to concentrate on a spot (eg. pimples).

This makeup product has been part of my beauty wardrobe for more than a decade and I always say, if there’s one makeup item to splurge on, it is this life-changing concealer.

clé de peau beauté Concealer, $105 from SEPHORA.SG.