Problem Solvers

6 types of spot (and how to treat them)

Last Updated: 28/07/2022

You might think a {spot} is a spot is a spot, but in that you’d be wrong. From blackhead to blighter, knowing your nemesis is the first step towards wiping it from the face of your face, so here’s a glossary to what you’re dealing with (and our {skin care} advice for battling those unwelcome eruptions).

Mount Vesuvius

When a volcano erupts your instinct is no doubt to take cover. A lone ranger, these monstrous spots pick their moments to stake a strong claim to your chin, forehead, eyebrow… preferably somewhere conspicuous and agonising, in order to ruin your day/night/WEEK. Angry, ouchy and demanding of attention, these horror-shows are invariably the cause of hedonistic living – too much booze/sugar/fast food/partying/passing-out-in-your-make up, and you might as well make Mr. Zit your ‘plus one’ to the party.

You need chemical warfare to deal with this ogre – something fast-drying and clarifying to put you back in charge of your skin’s fate. Sunday Riley’s {Saturn Sulfur Spot Treatment Mask} is packed with a whopping 10% redness-reducing, gunk-eliminating sulphur, 4% niacinamide zinc PCA and volcanic ash-derived bentonite to set spots quaking… use as an on-the-spot treatment to zap zits overnight.

The Untimely Uprising

Spots have a habit of choosing their moments. Special event. CHECK. Passport photo. CHECK. These psychic zits can read your schedule like a book, and unfailingly choose the inopportune time to make their debut. When you need to make a pimple vanish STAT, reach for a featherweight (yet heavy-duty) camouflage – to disguise offending blemishes without exacerbating issues.

IT Cosmetics’s ‘intelligent’ {Bye Bye Breakout} is like your best ever concealer paired with a totally trustworthy spot treatment. Developed with plastic surgeons and perfect for oil and acne-prone skin, this colour-infused skin care innovation stars full-coverage pigments to effectively conceal whatever you wish to hide – be it blemishes, acne, redness or discolouration – all without creasing or cracking. Infused with age-defying peptides and hydrolysed collagen, oil-absorbing zinc oxide, kaolin clay, witch hazel, tea tree, sulphur and a gentle complex of alpha and beta hydroxy acids, this clever concoction works to minimise blemishes over time – as well as camouflaging immediately. It’s available in seven seamless, versatile shades so you can identify the best match possible for your complexion.

Hormonal Horror Shows

If you’ve a smattering of pimples on your chin/along your jawline it’s as good a sign as any that Aunt Flo is due to visit. Hormonal breakouts are tough to treat topically – but if you know when they’re expected you can do your best to stop spots in their tracks.

Make sure that you eat well/drink plenty of water throughout the week leading up to your period, and try switching your usual cleanser to something with an antibacterial/pore-purifying agent such as Tata Harper’s {Purifying Cleanser}.

It’s also worth taking pre-emptive skin care measures too. We suggest slathering skin with Allies of Skin’s {Promise Keeper Blemish Sleeping Facial} at night. It’s a nightly leave-on treatment mask which works double-time as a curative and preventative measure to keep skin clear. It’s formulated with a powerful blend of exfoliating acids, peptides, alongside replenishing and anti-bacterial ingredients to ease pesky breakouts, improve skin texture and lighten the look of marks left by spots of yesterweek!

The Regular

Not so monstrous that it feels like the main focal point of your face, yet not sufficiently insignificant for you to forget all about it, this breed of pimple is most often the result of ‘urban grime’ getting lodged in enlarged pores. The best way to keep these unwelcome face guests at arms length is by ensuring pores are kept clear and that your skin’s ‘scaffolding’ is fortified.

An acid peel – Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare’s {Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel} is perfect; not only will this work to dissolve the dulling (and pore-clogging) scurf but will stimulate cells to create collagen which in turn, strengthens pore walls and helps to prevent them expanding.

The One That Won’t Leave

Like that friend at the end of the party, this spot simply won’t take the hint. Stubborn, immoveable and wont to leave a lasting (far-from-favourable) impression, this type of deep, cystic spot is prone to scar or leave a pigmentation patch long after it’s left the building (much like the wine stain that’s ruined your carpet).

Thankfully, you don’t just have to grin-and-bear-it. Targeted treatments, such as Mario Badescu’s {Drying Lotion}, boast a cocktail of extracts to target the spot and diminish the aftermath. With a super-charged cocktail of salicylic acid, sulfur, and zinc oxide, this pretty pink potion is like the taxi that turns up to escort your drunk pal to their bed. Praise be!


Purely caused by impurities making their nests in your pores (everyday grime binds with sebum and turns black when oxidised), blackheads are easily remedied. Regular exfoliation is the key to keeping skin clear and ‘strawberry seed-free’ – opt for PAULA’s CHOICE’s {Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant}. This non-abrasive formula is laced with BHA salicylic acid to remove dead skin cells both on the skin’s surface and within the pore. Combined with its anti-inflammatory properties, this helps to reduce blemishes and blackheads for a more clarified complexion (hurrah!).

Peter Thomas Roth’s {Pumpkin Enzyme Mask} is incredible; waging multi-pronged attack on blackheads, this exfoliates chemically, enyzmatically and physically to polish your face to perfection. Or try Aesop’s {Parsley Seed Facial Cleansing Masque}, which acts like a magnet for dross – drawing out dirt to restore your skin’s clarity.


Verity Douglas

Verity Douglas

Content Editor

Verity is our Content Editor and a Cult Beauty veteran. Currently on maternity leave, raising Cult Beauty’s honorary ‘word nerd’, Tabitha, she speaks fluent ‘beauty’ and loves nothing more than the marriage of language and lip balm (and cleanser and candles… ad infinitum). Nothing can stop her from quoting Nancy Mitford, treating herself to yet another Bella Freud candle for her desk or buying that pilgrim-esque collared or heavily fringed outfit she’s been eyeing. You can trust her to debunk widespread beauty myths and dispense invaluable advice with ease…