Pimples suck, but hormonal breakouts before a period are even worse. So when I recently spotted a zit pop up near my left cheek before that “time of the month,” I already knew what it was. However, figuring out exactly how to tackle acne, as a woman of color who’s prone to dark spots, is never simple.
I typically swap out my gentle facial cleansers for those with acne-fighting ingredients, such as salicylic acid and alpha-hydroxy acids. Sunscreen is a must-have, but I do ramp up my vitamin C to help minimize post-acne scarring. I’m constantly living on a prayer for it all to actually work.
This period pimple picked a mighty fine time to make an appearance, as I was days from speaking on a Beyond Classically Beautiful panel about the representation of black women’s bodies in the media. I had very little hope that the inflammation would subside before the big event. But the beauty gods were really looking out for me, because a sample of Neutrogena’s new Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment conveniently landed on my desk.
Shaped like a chunky pencil, this FDA-approved and UV-free beauty gadget is a smaller version of the brand’s widely popular face mask. It employs the same blue and red light technology to kill bacteria, as well as reduce the redness and swelling associated with acne. The angled top where the light is emitted makes it easy to zero in on zits. Plus, it operates on just one AAA battery so there’s no need to wait for it charge, and you can toss it in your bag and treat your skin while on the go, if that’s your thing.
The directions say to use the Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment three times a day on cleansed skin. Each “session” lasts for two minutes, and the devices powers down once it’s done. To keep it real: Between commuting and working, I don’t have time to zap my pimples that often. So I used the tool in the morning and evening, coinciding with my normal face-washing routine.
After one full day, I noticed a dramatic difference when it came to inflammation. The pinkish-red tinge had diminished, so there was no need to pack on color-correcting makeup. By day three, the tiny bulge on my cheek was much smaller. On the day of the actual panel, my pimple was hardly noticeable in selfies and professional photos. A full week later … that pimple is virtually flat.
While I did still end up with a bit of hyperpigmentation, the darkening of my complexion this time around pales in comparison to what I’m normally left with when I don’t use any fancy beauty devices.
Bottom line: I’d say Neutrogena’s Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment is well worth the $20, especially for people like me who only experience breakouts occasionally. If you struggle with cystic acne, I strongly recommend you get an expert’s opinion before investing in this gadget because you may need more advanced treatment.
Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment ($20) will be available in July at food, drug, and mass retailers.
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