Ok, ok… *almost* as satisfying. But in the long run far better for your face. 

1. Seeing your food coming in a restaurant.

2. Your fave artist dropping a surprise new album.

3. Finding a fiver in your pocket.

4. Finding a tenner in your pocket.

5. Your cold clearing up for a solid 30 seconds so you can actually taste your food.

6. Waking up in a panic then realising it’s the weekend.

7. Stepping on really crunchy leaves.

8. Your phone dutifully staying on 1% battery until you get home.

9. Two chocolate bars falling out of the vending machine.

10. Finding free public WiFi.

11. Tweezing out an ingrown hair.

12. Your favourite TV series being renewed for another season.

13. The person you fancy texting back STRAIGHT AWAY?!

14. Having a really good poo.

15. Getting bettybox through the post! *ahem*

16. 7 Chicken McNuggets.

17. 7 Mini Jaffa Cakes.

18. Finishing your shower just as the hot water runs out.   

19. All your TV shows scheduling perfectly one after the other in the evening.

20. Everyone around the table saying ‘yes’ to seeing the dessert menu.

21. The dog trotting towards you so you don’t have to make the first ‘can I pet your dog please’ move.

22. Seeing a dog.

23. Dogs.

24. Snow day at school.

25. Finding a secluded spot and finally pulling your tights back up.

26. Getting the window seat on a train/plane.

27. Peeling off dried glue on your hands.

28. Bubble wrap. Obv.

@louisejonesetc

Picture the scene. You’ve woken up, looked in the mirror, and suddenly there’s a whole other head on your head. A power pimple. A zit that won’t quit.

In a perfect world, you would take a deep, calming breath and leave it alone to do its thing. “You be you, little spot!” you might say, then go off to keep those twitching fingers busy by doing something wholesome – your homework, maybe, or learning the clarinet. You would tell yourself what we all know: that squeezing a spot can just make it worse, and that you risk transferring bacteria from your fingers to your face every time you go in for a pop or a pick. In a perfect world, you would leave. It. Alone.

But this isn’t a perfect world, and in this world you’re obviously going to want to squeeze that spot silly.

So what are the rules? How can you tell if a pimple is ripe for the popping, or if you’re going to end up with a nasty old scar? When should you probably not squeeze and when should you definitely absolutely 100% not squeeze, for fear of going to school with a scab on your forehead so big that your teacher will stop in the middle of the register to ask if you’ve been in an accident*?

*True story.

Here are your golden rules.

Rule 1: colour

Look at the spot. Look harder. Can you see a light, yellowish head in the centre, or is the whole thing red and angry? If it’s the latter, fingers off. Red means inflammation, and inflammation means that your poor spot is grumpy enough without someone jabbing at it. Let it brew for a while longer – if it’s a seriously deep cyst, it might go away without ever becoming squeezable.

‘Whiteheads’, however, are the happiest poppers of the bunch, especially once the yellow or white patch is larger than the redness round the edge. They don’t make teeny tiny rulers to measure this though, so you’ll just have to judge it by eye. 

Rule 2: texture

If your spot looks stretched and shiny, like Bruce Willis’ head, then it probably isn’t ready for squeezing yet. Ideally you’re looking for a proper bulge, as though it might just burst of its own accord. And we know, we know – waiting for this stage takes the patience of a saint, not to mention walking round with a blossoming zit on your face. But as a wise person once said, good things come to those who wait. And squeezing that bad boy is going to be so good. 

Rule 3: equipment

You might think that fingers are the best (and only) tools for the job – after all, if we weren’t supposed to squeeze spots then why did we even evolve to have fingers? But your fingers have plenty of other jobs to keep them occupied and gather germs, whereas there are actually helpful implements designed just for pimple-popping, like this blackhead remover (£4) from The Body Shop. And if you’re sticking with the tools nature gave you, always wash your hands and/or wrap tissue round your fingers before going in. You’re not an animal.

Rule 4: method

Sure, you’re excited. And also you want to get it over with quick in case somebody walks into the loo, or the spot police leap out and arrest you. But before you and your eager digits leap right in there, stop to think about technique.

Be gentle and press down either side of the spot’s centre – down, not inwards – because this motion is best for forcing the pus up, up and away. Another reminder: be gentle. If it doesn’t swiftly erupt like a party popper then STEP AWAY. Occupy your hands. Go find a puppy to stroke. Play MarioKart. Knit a scarf.

Rule 5: aftercare

You might think your job is done and you and your newly hollow pore can skip off into the sunset, but nope – there’s homework. Firstly, stop squeezing as soon as all the white is out. DO NOT be tempted to keep digging for gold. Like that time you ruined your Dad’s prize begonias looking for pirate treasure as a kid, you won’t strike gold but you will end up with a big ol’ mess.

Secondly, once your session has finished, dab a little toner or antibacterial gel on the area (it might sting, brace yourself) and then smooth a bit of Vaseline, Sudocrem or another soothing balm or cream over it to help the healing process. Then, and only then, can you sit back and relive the memories of that glorious squeeze. Mmm.

Mmm.

If spots or acne are making life hard, get the full lowdown from the NHS here.

Confused about acne? Let us join the dots.

Alright, there’s no need to panic. Whether it’s a few lone ranger spots or a whole party of pimples, acne is pretty much bound to make an appearance at some point in everyone’s teenage years.

Rihanna? She’s had it. Miley Cyrus? Yup.

Chris Hemsworth? Uh-huh.

Liam Hemsworth? Him too.

Michelle Obama? Yep, acne.

While knowing that the rest of the world has, or at least had acne, might be slightly reassuring, we thought you might like some practical advice as well.

Why, skin, why?

Acne is a super common skin condition that affects almost all teenagers at some point or other. Generally, it causes spots, lumps and oily skin, but some people find that it also makes their skin hot or painful to touch.

Most people develop acne on their face, but a lot people might find that they notice acne on their chest or back. Keep calm, this is totally natural! Acne can be made up of blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, cysts or a lovely pick ‘n’ mix of all four.

WHY ME?

This isn’t because you ate an entire bag of Buttons yesterday, or because you haven’t been washing your face enough or because you are a disgusting human. Spots are generally just your hormones saying ‘Hello!’

TL;DR? Here's the important stuff:
  • Keep your face clean using a mild cleanser and lukewarm water before bed, so that your skin can breathe overnight.
  • Try not to squeeze. We know. Just do your best.
  • If you’re going to use skincare products, have a good idea to have a chat with a pharmacist for advice on the best product to use for your skin type.
  • If your acne is severe or you notice that it’s sprouting on your chest and back, it might be a good idea to head to the GP.

Acne often comes on during puberty as your hormone levels change. If your parents had acne, it’s more likely that you will too.

BUT the good news is that for most people acne goes away towards the end of their teen years.

Why is this happening?

Those teeny tiny little holes in your skin (look closer… closer… there they are!) are your pores, and they contain glands that make an oil called sebum. Sebum is actually really useful – it’s the thing that lubricates your hair and skin and makes it healthy and shiny, like the beautiful land mermaid you are.

But during puberty your hormones (oestrogen and progesterone, we’re lookin’ at you) can confuse your glands and cause them to produce too much sebum, which can clog your pores. Which can lead to acne.

You’re not alone

Acne is super common among teenagers and young adults – about 80% of people aged 11-30 are affected by acne. EIGHTY. Sometimes, there really is safety in numbers.

That being said, the word ‘acne’ is a bit like the word ‘fine.’ In the same way ‘fine’ can mean, ‘I’m good,’ or ‘I’ve had the worst day of my life but don’t want to talk about it.’ ‘Acne’ can mean, ‘I have one or two spots and everything’s ok,’ or it could mean ‘my entire face appears to be made of pus.’

What can I do?

Annoyingly, the most common cure for acne is time (arggh). But don’t worry – there are plenty of things you can do to ease the symptoms.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

There are loads of different ways to cleanse your face. You can use wipes or balms or foams or face washes; but the most important thing is to find a product that works for you. You might want to look for products that contain salicylic acid, which is an anti-irritant that can reduce redness and work as an anti-inflammatory to calm breakouts, or over-the-counter products featuring benzoyl peroxide, which kills the bacteria on your skin (use sparingly and always follow instructions).

If you can, try and wash your face once or twice a day, but avoid doing it more often as frequent washing can irritate the skin and make symptoms worse. Fussy, we know.

It might help to avoid using a lot of make-up, as it can clog your pores even more. If that’s a deal breaker, have a look for ‘noncomedogenic’ or ‘nonacnegenic’ make-ups, as they can be a bit kinder to your skin. If you’re wearing make-up, it’s an even better idea to wash your face before bed so that your skin can breathe overnight.

Ex-squeeze me?

Step away from the mirror! You’re not meant to squeeze spots because it can spread bacteria, make them worse and lead to scarring. But look, we know that’s easier said than done. If you’re one of those magical people that can ignore the temptation to squeeze that zit into oblivion, you are our hero. We salute you.

But if you do it, at least do it right – and that means clean fingers, be reeeally gentle and don’t go digging until it’s definitely, definitely ready. Here’s a handy guide.

Run like the wind.

We know we say it a lot, but exercise can help your skin look better. And while it might not always improve your acne situation, it can boost your mood and improve your self-esteem – which is far more important than your pores, really.

Anything else?

There are loads of lotions and potions available to help get acne under control. In order to avoid staring at an entire aisle of products in Boots, it’s probably have a good idea to have a chat with a pharmacist for advice on the best product to use for your skin type.

If your acne is severe, affecting your confidence or you notice that it’s also sprouting on your chest and back, it might be a good idea to head to your GP. They can prescribe you stronger treatments that can get your skin back in tip-top shape.

Acne is kinda an inevitable part of life. Like locking yourself out of your house. Or members of your favourite boyband eventually leaving to try and launch solo careers (ily Zayn).

But the good thing is, loads of people are fighting the same battle. Acne won’t trouble you forever. And spots or no spots, your skin does a pretty great job of keeping your organs in – let’s not forget that. So take off your paper bag and remember, beauty is way more than skin deep.

Image: Getty