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If you've ever experienced cystic acne before, you know that it can be one of the most grueling and, in a way, suffocating, skin conditions. Unlike pustules, papules, blackheads or whiteheads, cystic zits start from deep within the skin, and are usually painful to the touch. They're swollen red bumps that can't be popped, leave scars, and can take a serious toll on your confidence—if not for the red bump, for the fact that your face might actually hurt. It's not uncommon to take a visit to the dermatologist for a cortisone shot, but the risk of collagen loss and the expense (pending your insurance) is less than ideal. Alas, a hero product that ACTUALLY WORKS:

The Anti-Cyst Treatment by Renée Rouleau ($45.50) is a staple that I will not live without. I don't wake up with cysts anymore, but for awhile it would be a miracle if I didn't have a new one any given morning. There were times that I would wake up in the middle of the night with my face literally pulsing... it was terrible. I'm not attributing my newly clear skin to this product, it has a lot to do with hormones, diet and using the right products for my skin. But anytime I do see a random bump in the very beginning stages of formation, I apply this baby right away—twice a day—and it flattens in a few days.

First, what is cystic acne? According to Renée Rouleau, "When the skin's oil glands become hypersensitive to a cascade of hormones, and react by overproducing sebum—the oil gland itself becomes engorged, swollen, and hardened with the excess. Unable to push the extra oil into the lining of the hair follicle, the gland bursts underneath the skin." [more here]

The trick is to apply this right when you notice something forming. If you're used to acne-prone skin, regular skin checks are probably a part of your routine, anyway. What makes this treatment so amazing? For one, it doesn't dry out the skin. Drying spot treatments are great for whiteheads, but cysts cannot be dried out. This product uses a purified form of lactic acid to get into the cyst to dissolve and digest the infection, and encourage a quick recovery.

This is a clear gel-like formula that's best used after your full skin routine, lightly patting the infected area clean with a q-tip and applying the treatment (for best penetration). Another tip is to ICE, ICE, ICE. After you wash, apply an ice cube dressed in paper towels to the spot for 20 seconds or so, until it feels frozen. Also... NEVER pick the skin. Ever, ever.

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