The $26 whitehead buster our skin care editor uses to shrink blemishes overnight


As bh’s skin care editor, it’s literally my job to find products that keep my complexion under control – it’s a tricky title to throw around with a face full of blemishes. But when you’re trying as many different topicals and treatments as I do (I know you’re feeling super sorry for me, right?), blemishes are bound to pop up.

I definitely have a more minimalist routine that I turn back to when my skin needs re-balancing, but when I find myself in a less-than-ideal ‘I feel a whitehead that could double as a second head coming up and I have an important event tomorrow’ sitaution, there’s only one man I turn to time and time again: Mario Badescu.

I’m sure you’ve heard the hype and seen the little pink bottle splashed across your Insta feeds – celebs like Lili Reinhart, Vanessa Hudgens and Kylie Jenner are all fans – but as someone who has relied on the stuff in the blemish busting department for years, I wanted to sort the fact from the fiction once and for all. Your Mario masterclass is in session – let’s get going.

How does Mario Badescu Drying Lotion work?

The formula is pretty impressive – with salicylic acid to help shed pore-clogging dead skin cells, sulfur to purify pores and absorb oil and calamine to soothe as it works, it hits skin with an exfoliating-extracting-calming combo. Not bad for $26, eh?

Should you shake Mario Badescu Drying Lotion?

Ah, the very question that plagues the brand to this day. Long story short: no. Forget everything Taylor Swift told you – ‘shake, shake, shaking’ will only disrupt the formula. The label specifically warns against this, yes, but until you’ve had the bottle in your hands, you won’t understand just how hard you have to fight the urge to do it. You feel like you’re holding a flavoured milk where all the syrup has settled to the bottom, and you know a few flicks of the wrist would blend everything together nicely… but please, I beg of you, leave it be.

The brand knows how tempting it is – they even broke down the (very frequently asked) query on their blog. “There is just something about that separation of pink sediment at the bottom and clear liquid on top that makes a segment of our customers feel like they just have to shake. Think of it this way: the pink dot you make on your face works like a teeny overnight mask that gives targeted attention to your blemish. You want the product to be clay-like when it is applied so that it goes on opaque and pink, completely covering the bump. When you shake, the sediment becomes diluted.” There you have it – the only thing you need to shake is, well, the urge to shake.

How to use Mario Badescu Drying Lotion

Allow me to set the scene: your makeup is off, your cleansing routine went swimmingly, you’ve applied your moisturiser, and you’re ready to have at the sneaky little (or big) sucker. Dip a cotton swab into the pink sediment at the bottom of the bottle (that you did notshake, correct?), dab the solution onto the blemish, and leave to dry overnight (in the pimple shrivelling sense and the literal one).

What does the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion do?

Cut to the next morning – let’s talk results. Has the pimple disappeared from the face of the earth as if it were never there at all? Not usually (though there have been occurrences that could only be described as Mario-induced miracles). But in my experience it has always shrunk in size (like, significantly), and become a lot less angry-looking overall – I’d describe it as going to bed with a day one whitehead (large, beastly, unable to be covered, concealed or controlled) and waking up with a day four kind of one (still present, but far less offensive, and definitely able to be hidden with a strategic swipe of concealer).

Is Mario Badescu Drying Lotion bad for your skin?

Well, I imagine pimples aren’t particularly thrilled to see it coming, but all in all, it’s totally safe for delicate or sensitive skin – take it from someone whose redness-prone, rosacea-plagued complexion can be set off by a gust of wind – it doesn’t irritate my skin or cause bumps or more blemishes at all. I do try to be as precise as possible when applying, as it can sting a little when it hits a spot’s surrounding skin, but the sensation subsides after a minute or so and it’s very bearable (especially when clearer skin awaits you on the other side).

Can you put Mario Badescu Drying Lotion on popped pimples?

Look, I won’t lie to you, I’ve definitely done it in a desperate bid to fast-track the clearing process after popping (one bad idea after another), and it doesn’t feel good. There’s some heightened stinging involved for sure (safe for sensitive skin or not, any kind of acid applied to already aggravated skin is never going to feel pleasant). Big, juicy, obnoxious whiteheads (key word: head, you want them to have first become their most painful, pus-filled selves – nice, I know), are this product’s prey of choice, and the surface spot arena is where it shines.

Does Mario Badescu Drying Lotion work on blackheads?

Nope. It’s specifically formulated to work on surfaced blemishes like whiteheads. If you’re keen to nix blemishes beneath the surface ASAP, try these blackhead busters instead.

Keen to give it a go yourself? You can pick it up instore or online at MECCA.
Mario Badescu Drying Lotion ($26,

Main image credit: @mariobadescu

Have you tried the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion? Do you have any other blemish busting favourites?

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Comments 5

  1. This sounds pretty good, but I get great results with Clearasil. I don’t need to use it every week, just whenever I notice a zit forming. My skin is usually clear (or at least, VERY much reduced) by the next morning.

    I’m mildly OCD: holding that bottle & NOT shaking it would be torture, lol.

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