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This Magic Potion Zaps Zits (Almost) on the Spot

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Welcome to Esther Tested, where surfer and Racked SF associate editor Esther Hahn shares her best tips for fitness and beauty in the Bay.

Photo: <a href="">Kissies</a>
Photo: Kissies

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Acne knows no age boundaries. And even with my teen years far behind me, my skin remains prone to the odd blemish or breakout. Those menacing bumps always seem to appear ahead of a big social event and often in a prominent position on my face. But in times of desperate need for absolutely clear skin, I turn to the Dermalogica Overnight Clearing Gel ($49) to work true beauty miracles.

To start the process, I wash my face with Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser ($9) then dab the smallest amount of gel onto and around the clean, dry blemish before moisturizing as usual. It's best to begin the routine at night, right before bed. Put on the product, and forget about it. In the morning, I wash again using the foaming cleanser then examine the culprit. Often, it looks smaller, but still visible. I add another small dab on and around the zit before the day's foundation and concealer.

The absolute disappearance of a blemish or breakout requires two nights of this routine, in my experience. It's not going to work for those suckers that show up the day of an event or photo shoot. But by keeping a close feel on skin, it's fairly predictable when and where a hotspot is brewing, days in advance of true visibility. In those cases, this gel will actually take care of the issue before the thing can even take root. That said, I have used this in major emergencies when I picked at a bump —major skincare no-no— then drowned the eruption in gel, which resulted in a slight bump a few hours later. I wouldn't recommend this approach since it will lead to scarring, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Since salicylic acid is the active ingredient, I try to reserve this gel for when it's really needed. (Also note that it's not recommended for women who are pregnant). But the other ingredients like tea tree oil and citrus peel oils pull their weight by soothing and aiding the healing process. I still own the same bottle I bought three years ago—making the price tag more palatable. Find your own magic bottle around town (in stock at Nordstrom and Skin on Market) and never again suffer through unsightly zits.