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I Destroy All Zits in My Path With Mario Badescu Drying Lotion

When zits try to post up on my face, that’s where my holy grail comes in—Mario Badescu’s cult-fave Drying Lotion.
I Tried Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, and It Really Does Zap Zits
Composite by Vice Staff

I wish it was socially acceptable to call in sick when waking up to a big, red boulder on your face. It truly ruins my day, not to mention my poor skin. Zits, IMO, can truly take a hike. Nearly everyone we know has experienced at least mild acne at some point in their lives. (If you haven’t, good lord you are so lucky. May I have your genes?) 


My acne saga began at the ripe age of 13, a.k.a. puberty-induced hell. Hormones, while necessary for bodily functions and stuff, are also capable of inflaming our pores and clogging them with sebum. I used to dabble with Proactiv back in the day when I had no idea what I was doing—big mistake. (Why didn’t my parents warn me?) It made my skin super dry and inflamed, and since then, I’ve learned that I have very sensitive skin. Benzoyl peroxide as a three-step face system is an absolute NO from me, dog. As a woman in her mid-20s, I’m incredibly grateful for getting through those nightmarish skin years, but obviously, I’m not immune to a good ol’ zit once in a while. That’s where my holy grail of acne-fighting products comes in: Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion

$16.15 at Amazon
$17 at Sephora
$16.15 at Amazon
$17 at Sephora

I’m not the only one who turns to this stuff when I’ve got a pus-churning volcano popping up. Its website “Hall of Fame” lists celebrities who love it—everyone from Martha Stewart to Victoria’s Secret supermodel Adriana Lima purportedly smear it on their faces when they feel a zit coming on. Beauty publications such as Allure also rave about it, and it’s continuously featured as an editor favorite. On Amazon, it’s garnered a 4.6 out of five star rating from more than 21,000 reviews. 


The Mario Badescu line was founded in 1967 by the eponymous Badescu, who was “a cosmetic chemist and aesthetician” who started a salon in Manhattan “known for its signature facials and custom product line that became a trusted resource to a loyal clientele of actors, models, and New York City locals,” as a Badescu spokesperson told Elle. Badescu passed away in 1983, but the Drying Lotion is now the company’s best-selling product out of a wide variety of skincare picks, and after trying it, that comes as absolutely no surprise. The brand claims it’s ideal for all skin types, and I’d have to agree given how sensitive my skin is. With a 4.4 star rating on the Mario Badescu website, it can have a huge payoff via zit obliteration, for the cost of less than a martini at a hotel bar. One customer wrote a review saying that they’d been using this product (or some version of it) since the brand’s inception in 1967—which is mind blowing.. “Have used this product for approximately 50 years or less and I will continue to use it for at least 80 years,” the longtime fan wrote. I admire the skin dedication, and definitely stand by this quote. 


What is Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion?

This lava-lamp-like concoction tackles trouble spots with a cocktail of salicylic acid, sulfur, and zinc oxide, all with a simple dab, and comes in the form of a pink potion in a small bottle with residue at the bottom that resembles clay; that’s the magic in a bottle. It sort of looks like non-edible Baby Bottle Pop, which gives me the feels. The salicylic acid reduces redness, the sulfur unclogs pores, and the zinc oxide absorbs excess oil. (Mario, sir, you were a wizard and we thank you for your skin service.) 

Initial thoughts

When I first saw this on the shelf at Sephora, I thought looked a bit old-school and stoic, unlike the many super ~*~aesthetic~*~ products that now dominate skincare aisles. (What can I say, I’m a sucker for face masks that smell like fruit and have kawaii packaging). There are so many products on retailers’ shelves that it’s nearly impossible to decide on one, especially when the branding doesn’t scream “I’m worth your money!.” 

Instead of giving into my aesthetic addictions, I trusted the internet and gave it a whirl. Boy, I’m glad I did. Just dip a cotton swab into the solution and plop it on the unsolicited friend on your face before bed, and in the morning you’ll awaken to find your zit zapped. You can also wear it while working from home (like me).
I dabbed it on some burgeoning blemishes, and within just one day of use, it reduced the swelling and dried those suckers right up after they quickly reached a head. With underground cystic pimples, I noticed that it took a few days to see a noticeable reduction in size, since they’re under the skin, but it still cut down on healing time considerably. (Curse you, cystic acne.) Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion paired with my regime of Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, The Ordinary Niacinamide Serum and Azelaic Suspension, Origins Ginzing Brightening Eye Cream, and Kitao Matcha Face Cream is a true match made in heaven for my sensitive, blemish-prone skin. I’ve blessed you with my nighttime skincare secrets, no gatekeeping allowed!


Why you should add this to your skincare routine

Living up to its reputation as a zit-destroyer in the skincare game, the drying lotion is a speed demon that gets the job done ASAP. Be prepared to go to bed with bumps, and wake up to them half the size, their powers rescinded. Got a big event? No sweat—drying lotion will clear up your face and the anxiety of a throbbing blemish.

I’m typing this sentence right now wearing this godsend, kill-’em-all clay mask for zits. A disgraceful sucker popped up on my jaw this morning, but do I sound worried? Nah, not really, because I know Mario Badescu is looking out for my unsolicited blemishes. I’ve saved myself potential dermatologist visits and additional tears when looking in the mirror, and all it requires is swirling a Q-tip around in some pink goop. Do yourself (and face) a favor and keep this stuff in your medicine cabinet at all times. 

​​Mario Badescu Drying Lotion is available for purchase at Sephora and Amazon.

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