Drew Barrymore Revealed the One Trick That Helps Her "Make Peace" with Maskne

Plus, what derms think about Barrymore's pimple-popping strategy.

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If you find yourself dealing with dreaded "maskne" lately — aka pimples, redness, or irritation along your nose, cheeks, mouth, and jawline caused by wearing face masks — you're far from alone. Even Drew Barrymore understands the struggle.

In one of the latest installments of her signature #BEAUTYJUNKIEWEEK series, Barrymore can be seen in her bathroom analyzing a zit just above her lip, lamenting the all-too-relatable woes of maskne.

"Can you see that?" Barrymore says in the video, inching closer to the camera to give viewers a glimpse of her whitehead (or "undergrounder," as she calls it). "This [type of pimple] is all I have been getting. Ugh, maskne!"

Her trick to dealing with a maskne-induced pimple? Microlet Colored Lancets (Buy It, $22, amazon.com).

"If you have to pop something, use these little Microlets," Barrymore continues in her video. Then she demonstrates how she uses the Microlet — which has a small, sterile, super-thin needle at the tip — to gently poke her zits and "pop" them. (Don't worry, Barrymore's video is safe for even the most squeamish; the camera cuts right before she goes in on her zit with the Microlet.)

FYI: Microlets are actually a single-use tool designed to safely pierce the skin when testing glucose levels. But Barrymore said she likes to use them as a cleaner, gentler alternative to using your fingers to poke, prod, or pick at a pimple.

Her strategy seems relatively harmless, but is this actually a safe way to handle a zit that won't quit?

Microlet or no Microlet, it's crucial to wait until your zit is "ready" before popping it, says Robyn Gmyrek, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Park View Laser Dermatology. You'll know yours is ready when it "develops a 'whitehead' at the surface and can be easily punctured with a sterile needle," she explains. "You should not have to struggle to open the pimple and you should not have to squeeze with any force to get out the white material, which is dead skin cells and sometimes pus (clinically known as purulent drainage)." It's also not a bad idea to use a warm washcloth on the area once or twice a day, which will help bring that white material to the surface, adds Dr. Gmyrek.

So, once your zit's ready to pop, should you lance that sucker with a Microlet Barrymore-style? Dr. Gmyreck says the actor's method is technically safe, but "only if you do exactly what she did: lance it and leave it."

That said, Jeannette Graf, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, says she wouldn't recommend taking matters into your own hands (or lancet). While it's generally safe to pop whiteheads on your own, Dr. Graf doesn't suggest piercing your own skin at home with a needle, due to the possible risk of inflammation, infection, and scarring.

If you insist on popping a zit, you'll want to follow these tips. First, always begin with freshly washed hands. (Reminder: Here's how to correctly wash your hands, because you're doing it wrong.)

The next tip: "Do not lance a blackhead," advises Dr. Gmyrek. "They are more difficult to extract, and you can cut or even scar your skin by lancing the skin — and still not get the blackhead out." Instead, she recommends using topical retinoid creams or pore strips for blackheads, which will safely dissolve the blackheads over time. (More here: Everything You Need to Know About Getting Rid of Blackheads)

If, on the other hand, you're working with a whitehead, Dr. Graf recommends starting by swabbing the surface with alcohol. "Take two Q-tip swabs and apply pressure on either side of the pustule until the material comes out," she explains. "Apply pressure with a clean gauze until any bleeding stops, then swab again with alcohol" before applying "benzoyl peroxide and covering with a small bandage."

So, what kinds of risks come with popping a zit incorrectly?

"If a pimple is not 'ready' and you keep pushing to try and extract its contents, you can actually push the dead skin cells and sebum deeper into the pore," notes Dr. Gmyrek. Continued pressure on the area can also lead to an abscess (aka a painful pocket of pus, typically caused by bacterial infection) or even a "serious skin infection," which could require antibiotics to treat, she adds. Incorrect use of pimple-popping tools — lancets, your nails, even comedone/pimple extractors — can definitely scar your skin too, says Dr. Gmyrek. (Here's what top skin docs do when they get a pimple.)

"I recommend having a dermatologist treat pimples and inflamed cysts, as well as extract blackheads and whiteheads, in order to have it done safely without scarring," adds Dr. Graf.

If you simply cannot resist lancing, Dr. Gmyrek says you can follow Barrymore's method exactly: lance it and leave it. Meaning, no picking or squeezing when you're done. "The deeper you go, the more risk of scarring and of introducing infection," explains Dr. Gmyrek. "Also, she used a disposable needle which decreases the risk of infection. Please do not use a random needle you find in your sewing kit or an old safety pin you find in your drawer."

Here are some other ways to treat maskne (and help prevent it from happening in the first place).

Dr. Gmyrek suggests being frugal with your daily moisturizer since face masks retain moisture and heat (especially when it's hot and humid outside). "You will likely not need the same level of topically applied moisturizer as you did before you started wearing a mask regularly," she explains. Her recommendation: Opt for a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer such as La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer (Buy It, $18, amazon.com) to keep pores as clear as possible. The moisturizer is light, yet ultra-hydrating thanks to ingredients like ceramides, niacinamide, and glycerin.

"Cleanse with a product that has ingredients like salicylic acid, which will help to gently exfoliate the dead skin cells [and] prevent them from clogging pores," adds Dr. Gmyrek. Try Bliss Clear Genius Cleanser Clarifying Gel Cleanser (Buy It, $13, blissworld.com) or Huron Face Wash (Buy It, $14, usehuron.com) for two gentle, non-comedogenic (aka non-pore-clogging) options, she says.

"Products containing retinoids (vitamin A), benzoyl peroxide, and salicylic acid are wonderful at dissolving the dead skin cells above the top of the pimple, helping to open it up," explains Dr. Gmyrek. "But do not be overzealous and use more than is recommended on the instructions. You can dry out your skin and irritate and even chemically burn the skin with overuse." Drying skin out actually has the opposite effect, "stimulating it to produce even more oil," she notes. "In addition, you can cause irritation from overusing products which can lead to dermatitis or eczema." (Related: What's Going On with Your Skin During Quarantine?)

Last, but certainly not least: "Make sure that your mask is cleaned gently and regularly," says Dr. Graf.

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