Superfluous Travel Item I Need (Kinda): DIY Aspirin Acne Mask

Posted on
Jan 21, 2013

“Um … you have something on your face.”

I have some shocking news for you.


Are you sitting down? Have you cleared all breakable objects from your immediate proximity? (Because you are going to wail and fling about when you hear what I have to say. Seriously). Also, if you have a beverage, I sincerely suggest that you swallow your current sip before reading my news, unless you wish to do a spit-take all over your monitor.

Okay, all good? Here goes:

I have terrible skin.

(I’m just going to sit back and let that news sink in.

… Okay, so I’ve just been alerted to the fact that this revelation isn’t shocking at all. Apparently, when you are comprised of 90% baked goods (10% other) your skin isn’t supposed to look good. Which means that the Pillsbury doughboy has led me astray. AGAIN. Giggling little clear-skinned bastard. Anywhoodle …)

The point is, my skin is not my best feature (nor is my sunny outlook or my impeccable manners. I’m not going to think about this any more, lest I end up crying on the couch eating – wait for it – BAKED GOODS. I see a pattern forming).

I deal with this problem the way any rational woman would: I complain and whine and occasionally – GOD FORGIVE ME – even pick. I know, I know. Oh, and I spend an obscene amount of time and money on various potions, lotions, creams, peels, treatments, masks, astringents, and gels that all claim to make my skin as smooth and unblemished as Scarlett Johansson’s.*

*I have nothing against Ms. Johansson, per se, but I recently saw The Avengers on a high-def TV – you know, the ones that show every single pore and freckle? – and she was still GORGEOUS. Her skin is like porcelain. Girlfriend deserves her fame, because she is a statistical anomaly.

When I travel, my skin decides to react in a multitude of ways:

  • It spontaneously breaks out into a plethora of red, painful zits
  • I lied. That’s pretty much it.

At home, I’m able to bombard treat these breakouts with substances that bleach the color of out of fabric – a characteristic which should probably alarm me more than it does. But since TSA regulations on liquids and creams mean that you can only bring an eye-dropper of fluid with you (give or take), I’ve found that I have to pick and choose which of my liquid acne-fighting arsenal I can pack.

That’s why I always have aspirin on me.


I’ve found that those little pills are amazing on acne. Aspirin is an anti-inflammatory, so it helps treat the redness and swelling that stubbornly takes up residence in my face.

If you want to try it at home, just grab an aspirin tablet, lick it, and stick it on your face.

Kidding. The actual process is a little more involved, so I created a step-by-step guide. If it doesn’t clear up your skin, it will at least convince the hotel cleaning staff that you might be a drug addict. So it’s basically a win-win.


Step 1: Assess your stupid, breaking-out, miserable, and irritated face.

Try to figure out what may have caused this current rash of acne (some culprits: stress; unhealthy eating; hormones; an ancient curse.) This exercise won’t do anything but annoy you, but as you inspect your pores, you might want to consider all the people out there who would love to have your skin. There are folks who are burned and scarred, disfigured or lopsided. To them, your mug probably looks like Scarlett Johansson’s.

My point? Be grateful for what you have. And remember that when it comes down to it, looks don’t really matter much, anyway.


Step 2: Grab a few aspirin (four or five should suffice) and place them on a clean, smooth surface.

I used the counter of the hotel bathroom, after giving it a good wipe down.

It really doesn’t matter what kind of aspirin you use, but the ones without coating are preferable.


Step 3: Mash the aspirin into a fine dust.

I used Rand’s shaving cream canister like a rolling pin. At this point, you might want to lock the door, because it would look really bad if someone barged in during the middle of this.

Reaaaaaaaaally bad.

Like, “this might get you deported” bad.

“Baby, what the HELL are you doing?” – Rand


Step 4: Grab a bit of lotion …

It just occurred to me that anyone who follows my Flickr stream would be horrified right now. Horrified.

Add the powdered aspirin, and make a paste.

You can even include a drop or two of water, but be sure to do so sparingly. It’s really, really easy to add too much and make a watery, chalky mess. I speak from waaaay too much experience.


Step 5: Gently apply the paste to your face, steering clear of your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Don’t rub the mask in or scrub your face with it – there will be some jagged edges in the paste, and you can really irritate your skin if you do so.


Step 6: Leave it on for about an hour or so.

The mask will eventually dry and harden slightly (now would be a great time to practice your poker face). During that time, you will inevitably forget that you have stuff all over your face, and are likely to freak out upon catching a glimpse of yourself in the mirror. It’s cool. We all do it.


Step 7: Gently wash the mask off with warm water, and reveal your slightly less-red, slightly less-irritated skin.


Step 8: Reward yourself with a treat. Maybe something baked?

Because, you know, the circle of life and all that.

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