How To Get Rid of Pimples: The Myths and Truth | 9Lives
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No one likes breakouts; it makes your skin sensitive and we all know how they affect our self-esteem. This ultimately means that we want to get rid of them as fast as possible. Unfortunately, not everything on the internet is to believed. So, put down the toothpaste – yes, we know you think it works – and continue reading, because we’re breaking down the myths and the truths of getting rid of pimples.

Let’s start with the myths:


There are a number of reasons why you should not be putting toothpaste on your skin. Firstly, it can block the pores in your skin; secondly, it can be a severe irritant and may lead to rashes, and thirdly, the chemicals in toothpaste may cause bleaching or pigmentation. Let’s keep toothpaste on toothbrushes where they belong. It’s not worth the risk.

Lemon juice:

Putting something that acidic on one’s skin is bound to have a couple of consequences. Not only does the acidic properties of lemon juice strip your skin of essential oils, which could lead to dryness and flakiness, but it’s also strong enough to kill off the good bacteria that help protect your skin.

Due to the fact that lemon juice is water-soluble, it’s mostly ineffective at getting to the root of the problem: the pimple-causing bacteria that reside under the skin.


A new trend has broken out that has people putting raw garlic on their pimples in the hopes of healing them. Sure, garlic has a number of microbial properties, but here’s the problem: the compound may not be enough to rid you of the blemish. Not only that, but it’s also been found that raw garlic could cause blistering and plant dermatitis. Leave the garlic for your pizza and read below to find out what actually works.

Sorta, maybe works

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil has been found to be effective at spot treatment, since it’s anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. So, yeah, it reduces swelling and redness, and helps to kill off bacteria. That being said, in it’s pure form it’s also very strong and could cause a harm if not used correctly. It should only ever be dabbed on the skin, not rubbed in, and should not be used on your entire face, only as a spot treatment. Tread lightly with anything that could interfere with your skin’s natural pH, it could do more harm than good.

Now for the facts:


Ah, honey. Used in everything from burn care to lip balm, it turns out the honey could actually be great for treating pimples too. This is thanks to the natural antibacterial properties that fight acne- and pimple-causing bacteria, as well as being anti-inflammatory. The anti-inflammatory properties help to soothe skin, and reduce redness and swellin. It should be noted that raw honey is always the best option when trying this.

Topical creams:

Here’s the good news: topical treatments can work for getting rid of pimples. Look for products with Salicylic Acid, Benzoyl Peroxide, Sulfur and Alpha Hydroxy Acids.

  • Salicylic Acid is a beta-hydroxy acid that helps with exfoliation and keeps the pores from becoming clogged and infected, as well as having anti-inflammatory properties. It should be noted that some people who are sensitive to salicylic acid may experience stinging if the concentration is too high. A 2% Salicylic Acid formulation is considered good in the skincare industry.
  • Benzoyl peroxide kills pimple-and acne-forming bacteria, and acts as an exfoliant. Be sure to keep products with benzoyl peroxide off clothes and fabric, as it can be a bleaching agent.
  • Sulfur helps to remove excess oil, as well as reduce inflammation. The smell, however, might be a bit of a deterrent.
  • Alpha Hydroxy Acids like glycolic acid help to remove dead skin cells and reduce inflammation. It also helps to promote the renewal of skin cells, leaving you with soft and smooth skin.


Some of our favourites:

Gatineau Clear and Perfect Stick SOS

R345 for 10ml,

This anti-bacterial rollerball applicator is perfect for those pesky little spots that pop up at the most inopportune times. The formula includes plant extracts and salicylic acids that help to unblock pores and purify the skin, as well as soothe and calm redness. It’s perfect for carrying around in your purse and can be applied throughout the day.

Nivea 1 Minute Urban Detox Mask

R99,99 for 75ml,

This detox mask is really cool; it has a self-heating formula that helps to tighten skin and reduce the appearance of pores. It also helps to reduce skin toxicities thanks to the ingredient polyethelene glycol, and helps to soothe red and irritated skin thanks to its glycerin component. Major win.

Skin PhD Breakout Control Gel

R290 for 50ml,

This oil-free gel contains sebacic acid, among other components, that help to reduce visible spots and breakouts that come with oily skin types. The Breakout Control Gel is also formulated with oil-control technology which helps to reduce and stabilise the oil secretions in the skin, which means it’s perfect for sufferers of oily skin.

Garnier Pure Active 3-In-1 Wash, Scrub & Mask 

R119,95 for 150ml,

Okay, I honestly love this product. Apart from glycolic and salicylic acids, Garnier’s Pure Active 3-in-1 also has kaolin and charcoal powder which helps to absorb toxicities and purify the skin environment, as well as zinc gluconate which is anti-inflammatory, helps to reduce redness, and on top of that, removes acne-causing bacteria. This product is also absolutely amazing if you’re struggling with blackheads. I should mention, though, that this product is slightly abrasive and should be used with caution if you suffer from breakouts so that it doesn’t irritate the skin even more.

SKNLogic Multi Active Lotion

R295 for 50ml,

The salicylic, lactic and glycolytic citric acids in this lotion help to treat acne and reduce inflammation, as well as citric acid which helps to encourage cell-turnover and collagen production. The Panthenol (Vitamin B5) that is added to the formula is an anti-inflammatory and helps to reduce redness, while Vitamin C and E are anti-oxidants that helps to protect from free radicals. It also contains glycerin that is used as a cooling and soothing agent. Basically this product helps to increase cell renewal and reduce the stress on your skin. It needs to be worn with a sunscreen or something that contains a sun protection factor.

Bioderma Nude Touch SPF 50

R249,95 for 40ml,

While we’re on the topic of sunscreen, wearing a product with a sun protection factor is of the utmost importance, especially if you’re struggling with pimples or acne. The fact is that certain topical creams may cause skin sensitivity and will require you to wear a sunscreen, and I absolutely love Bioderma’s Nude Touch as a sun protectant. It’s very light and non-greasy and since it’s slightly tinted, also covers up any spots that you’d prefer not to see the light of day.

Proper skin care:

Sure, this is less of an “overnight” treatment, and more of a long-term thing. But, you know what they say, “prevention is better than cure.” Make sure to properly exfoliate and wash your face at night, use the right moisturiser and drink enough water to ensure that all the toxins in your body are flushed out.

For more on this topic, check out our article on treating acne correctly.

What do you think about our list? Is there anything that’s worked for you that we’ve left out? Let us know in the comments.


Just a girl, wishing she were a cat. You can find this peanut-butter enthusiast curled up in a sunny corner with a good book and a glass of wine.

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