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The Unexpected Hack That Can Make A Pimple Less Red In 60 Seconds

Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Editor By Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Editor
Jamie Schneider is the Associate Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and health. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
The Unexpected Hack That Can Make A Pimple Less Red In 60 Seconds
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We know all acne stems from some sort of inflammation, but a specific set of pimples are classified as inflamed. You know the ones—they're angry, tender, and they (oftentimes) manage to poke through a veil of concealer. When these gnarly zits rear their puffy heads, mind the golden rule: Hands off. Poking and prodding at the mound will only lead to more inflammation and might even leave a scar. 

That's not to say the throbbing zit claims victory. If you're dealing with an angry, red pimple, yet another clever TikTok hack has changed our worldview: To help calm down the redness, you may want to break out the eye drops. 

Can eye drops really make a pimple less red?

It turns out, this TikTok hack has legs (or, um, eyes). According to board-certified internal medicine physician and skin care expert Zion Ko Lamm, M.D., eye drops are an effective way to calm down angry zits—so long as you use drops for "redness relief," she explains in a duet video

That's because the active ingredients in OTC anti-redness formulas (typically tetrahydrozoline, naphazoline, or brimonidine) are all vasoconstrictors—meaning, they can constrict blood vessels, which helps keep your eyes clear. When applied to your skin, those vasoconstrictors can also help decrease redness and swelling (it has a similar soothing effect to green tea, for example, another known vasoconstrictor). 

Although, it's more of a quick fix. "It does not treat your acne, but it is a temporary hack!" says Lamm. You'll want to use other spot treatment methods to actually clear the breakout (salicylic acid, clay, etc.), as taming the redness doesn't exactly target the root of the problem (clogged pores). Still, eye drops can work in a pinch—say, the morning of an important event. 

"[It] may even help with vascular-type dark circles," Lamm notes, since these types of shadows are exacerbated when blood vessels expand. Again, it's not a long-term treatment (you'll want to tend to dark circles with these targeted treatments), but it does work for some temporary brightness. 

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How to use eye drops on angry zits. 

It's worth a try, no? Follow the below:

  1. Soak a cotton swab with your redness relief eye drops (like these from Clear Eyes).
  2. Place the cotton swab on the pimple and hold it there for up to 1 minute.  
  3. Let the solution air-dry (patting or rubbing may only make the zit more irritated) before applying any other products—like concealer or an acne patch.

The takeaway. 

If you're looking to calm an inflamed, red pimple as soon as humanly possible, redness relief eye drops can soothe the swelling in a pinch. But don't fret if you don't have any eye drops on hand: The ticket here is constricting the blood vessels, so you can use other vasoconstrictors, too, like green tea or ice. 

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