Travel in 2022 has come with a host of complications ranging from flight delays to trip cancellations, lost luggage, and, in my experience, an uptick in the number of pimples that appear on my chin. As my airplane mileage increased this year, so did the amount of time I spent fixating on the spots that popped up after a grueling day spent getting from point A to point B.
No matter how many dermatologist TikToks I watched or acne-fighting products I tested, I couldn’t get the stubborn combination of under-the-skin pimples and clogged pores to quickly return to an unblemished state. Against the advice of basically every skincare expert on the planet, I would try to pop them—a decision that typically resulted in more inflamed and longer-lasting spots on my chin.
It wasn’t until after one particularly taxing 20-hour journey from London to Philadelphia (and an ensuing breakout) that I finally discovered the magic of Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Clarifying Spot Treatment. I’m not a patient person, as evidenced by the aforementioned pimple popping, so when I read customer reviews stating the product was effective “within a day” and that it “[clears] up pimples within 24 hours or two applications,” I knew this was the elixir I’d been searching for.
The transparent gel is made up of several skincare juggernauts—including jojoba oil, tea tree oil, zinc, and Vitamins E and B3—which, according to Dr. Sturm, a German aesthetic doctor, work to “reduce inflammation” while hydrating the skin and helping to “detoxify and diminish acne-triggering impurities.” The powerful combination is applied topically to whatever blemish is causing you concern.
After nearly three months of regular use, I’m a tried-and-true Clarifying Spot Treatment convert; I never leave for a trip without the 0.5-ounce tube securely packed in my toiletry bag. Whenever I notice even an inkling of a zit forming, I immediately treat it with the gel, usually in the morning and again before I go to bed. By the next day, there’s typically a reduction in redness as well as the size of the spot. Plus, if I get the product on a tiny blemish early enough, the zit ceases to form altogether. I personally prefer to use the untinted version, but the Clarifying Spot Treatment also comes in eight double-duty tinted versions that treat and cover up any breakouts or irritation.
“Travel presents unique skin inflammation triggers, with sleep deprivation, stress, changing climates, bacteria, and dry, cold air on the plane,” Dr. Sturm says. So while the Clarifying Spot Treatment is my favorite solution for travel-induced acne, I’ve also made a conscious effort to tackle the problem head-on, before the annoying spots have a chance to appear. I try to observe the skincare guru’s advice, which is simple, straightforward, and easy to follow: “I never drink alcohol on [a] flight, I drink a lot of water, and take a lot of rest,” she says. To address the “inflammation and dryness” caused by travel, Dr. Sturm suggests adding a hydrating face mist, hyaluronic serum, and moisturizer into your daily skincare routine.
After finding the miracle that is the Clarifying Spot Treatment, regular reappearances of my chin acne have been few and far between. And when I do get a spot after a red-eye or a long day wearing a face mask, I know exactly how to treat it effectively and quickly.