Let’s get this out of the way: Should you pop a pimple? Nope. Popping zits is bad. It forces more bacteria into the area, which adds fuel to the whole disgusting fire — but we all do it anyway. So we talked to experts and put together this guide to doing it right. At least this way you can cut down on the germs and get that sucker to heal faster, and less time spent hiding from hot women.
One warning: if your zit is a cyst (swollen bump as opposed to a white or black head) do not pop it. Cystic acne is like a balloon underneath your skin; you pop it and all that gunk stays under the surface and really messes things up for you and cause damage to the skin. That said, if you’ve got a nasty whitehead or blackhead, here’s how you can safely get rid of it:
How To Properly Pop a Pimple
Hop in the shower. The steam will help open your pores and make it easier to pop your zit. While you’re in there, wash your face with an antibacterial cleanser in the warm water, such as Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash ($13 for 3 bottles @ Amazon.com)
While you’re still in the shower, after cleansing, exfoliate your face. You can do this with a face scrub (like Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant ($38 @ Amazon.com) a chemical exfoliant (like hydroxy or salicylic acid), or even just rubbing your face with a washcloth. Whatever method you use, be very gentle. You want to remove dead skin cells from around your zit, not rip the top off it.
When you get out of the shower, wipe your face with a clean, never-been-used, freshly washed towel. Cover your fingers with a tissue. Even after showering, your hands and nails have bacteria that can infect your about-to-be-popped pimple. To do this, fold a tissue in half and wrap it around your index finger. Repeat with your other hand. Consider yourself prepped for zit surgery.
Annet King of the International Dermal Institute recommends the “stretch and squeeze” method. Using your tissue-covered fingers, stretch the skin around the zit, then move your fingers down and roll them up to gently squeeze the zit.
At this point, your pimple should be popped and all that nasty gunk should be out. (Pro tip: If the stretch-and-squeeze method didn’t work, then your zit may not be ready to be popped. Don’t force it. Just skip to the next step.)
Now that you’ve removed all the puss, dead skin cells and bacteria out of the zit, it’s time to clean the surface of the skin — skip this step and you’re likely to cause a new zit. So use an antibacterial face-wipe to clean the area, such as Wet
To help with inflammation and to keep any more zits from popping up, apply a clay mask to the area, or your whole face if you’re feeling ambitious. Follow the directions on the bottle. Usually you’ll leave it on for five to 10 minutes. Burt’s Bees Pore-Refining Masks with French Green Clay ($13-$50 @ Amazon.com), is a good one.
After you’ve washed off the mask, apply a benzoyl peroxide spot treatment to the area to keep the zit disinfected and dry it up. Oxy Spot Treatment Maximum ($17 for a 3 pack @ Amazon.com) works well.
Aaaand, that’s it. Now you should have a popped zit safely and properly, minus the redness and infection. Sweet. Give yourself a hand.