Review: Zeno Hot Spot Blemish Clearing Device

By Voxy  

What? A post on a skincare gadget that’s not listed in the Skeptic Files category? Say it ain’t so, Joe!

Indeed, Joe, it is so, because This. Gadget. Works.

I’ve been fortunate in that since I really started to pay attention to my skin cleansing routine, I’ve seen a big decrease in the number of acne blemishes I get. At this point I have maybe one or two a year. I still get whiteheads from clogged pores, but those are harmless and easily remedied. I’m talking here about the painful, red, swollen bumps caused by your bacterial friend and mine, P. acnes. On the one hand, this is great! On the other, it’s made it difficult for me to review this product, which I picked up several months ago on sale at CVS.

I think we’ve already had the “what causes acne?” discussion, but the Sparknotes version is this: oils and dead skin cells plug up a pore, and the sebum that collects behind the plug is like a big old Golden Corral buffet for P. acnes bacteria. They grow and multiply and secrete chemicals that stretch and damage the wall of the pore, all of which causes redness, inflammation, infection, and pain. Yay, Mother Nature. Thanks a lot for that one.

Getting rid of an acne blemish requires killing the bacteria that are happily noshing on your sebum. (Sorry, guys.) Benzoyl peroxide is the gold standard in terms of chemical weaponry, because it both kills the bacteria (by adding oxygen that disables the bacteria, which are anaerobic) and helps the surface layers of skin dry up and peel off, which makes it easier for the pore to open and stay open. Antibiotics can also be used, and recently there have been developments in using light in or near the ultraviolet spectrum to kill P. acnes.

Or, you can use this little gizmo and cook ’em.

The Zeno works by delivering concentrated heat to the pimple, thus killing the bacteria. Because the heat can penetrate only so far into the skin, it may not be able to kill all of the bacteria at once, so it may take multiple treatments (spaced several hours apart) to nuke the pimple completely. But if your experience is like mine, you will have immediate relief from pain and significant reduction in redness and swelling within the first hour after treatment.

In my particular case, the Zeno zapped my zit with one zot. (Sorry. Couldn’t help it.) One treatment was all it took. The blemish wasn’t large, and I caught it early, but one treatment did the job.

The Zeno Hot Spot is very simple to use — actually, a little too simple, because you can very easily accidentally turn it on without even realizing it. You turn it on by touching (or, apparently, waving your hand in the general vicinity of) the small flat rectangular plate on the front side. The four lights to the left of the plate blink to a) tell you it’s on, and 2) tell you how many charges your Zeno has remaining. It comes with 80, and then you have to buy a replacement pack. Press the metal tip lightly against your blemish (you’ll figure out the right amount of pressure to use), and you’ll feel it getting hot. It is totally silent other than a beep every 30 seconds, and a series of beeps at the end of the treatment cycle, which is 2 1/2 minutes.

Let me be very clear about something — it gets hot. HOT. I mean, you’re not going to burn your fingers on it or anything, but it’s uncomfortably warm. Plus, you’re holding it in one place on your face for 2 1/2 minutes, and that one place is already inflamed and painful. So yeah, not the most fun treatment ever. However, it works, so I’m willing to put up with the pain.

Plus, it kind of looks like one of the minions from Despicable Me, don’t you think? Cute.

(Minion photo from Universal Pictures/Illumination Entertainment.)


Zeno Hot Spot Blemish Clearing Device: $39.99 (but is often on sale; I got mine for 20% off at CVS)

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (gadgets: poor/fair/good/excellent): Good, if you get it on sale. Otherwise, fair.

Purchase again? Yes, I’ll refill/recharge when necessary. Hopefully that won’t be for a long time!

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Let us know in the comments!)

Be Sociable, Share!


  1. avatar chaosbydesign
    Posted July 19, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I like the look of this, and the science behind it is actually believable (for a change). It’s like a mini autoclave for your face.

    The only thing that concerns me, though, is the heat aspect. Exactly how hot is hot? Are you talking seriously uncomfortable or noticable but not enough to make you want to fling the thing across the room? I’m rather sensitive to pain when it comes to the facial area — I still have not managed to effectively pluck my eyebrows because it freaking hurts, so I wouldn’t want to buy a product I could not use.

    (BTW, the fact that you wrote the name of a bacteria in its correct scientific format in this post makes me love you just a little bit more. I hardly *ever* see it done correctly in a non-scientific setting. Just saying…)


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted July 19, 2010 at 7:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

      “BTW, the fact that you wrote the name of a bacteria in its correct scientific format in this post makes me love you just a little bit more.”

      Well, I do try. I don’t always succeed, but I do try! :)

      I would say “noticeable but not enough to make you want to fling the thing across the room.” It is not hot enough to burn you, obviously, even on delicate facial skin, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t hot. But I will say that the blemish itself stopped hurting immediately after I was done, and avoiding several days of painful swelling was worth the bargain to me.

      FWIW, I am OK with tweezing my eyebrows because this doesn’t hurt me anymore. However, I am a big chicken about waxing, so I understand the hesitation. It is much less painful than waxing. It also is not a sharp pain like waxing or tweezing can be.


    • avatar a biologist
      Posted July 19, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

      A mini autoclave! hee hee

      This is more effective version of how I deal with big pimples: soaking a washcloth in very hot water and holding it to the pimple, reheating as necessary. Then I apply antibacterial ointment.

      I have always hated benzoyl peroxide because I found the dry skin rings left just as unsightly as the zit itself.


      • avatar Relationalista
        Posted July 19, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Off-topic, but another reason to hate benzoyl peroxide that you might not already have known: it’s what is used to make white flour “bleached”. Ok, maybe this is a reason to hate agri-business more than benzoyl peroxide in itself, but it’s true. I was horrified to discover this when reading flour packages a few years ago. Acne stuff in my baking? No thanks.

        BTW, I know what you mean about brow-tweezing pain CBD. For ages, I went the waxing route because I couldn’t manage to pull out a single hair on my own for the searing (and wincing) pain. Then, after a bad wax job left me with very skinny eyebrows (not good at all), I tried again. I’d be lying if I said it was totally painless, but by that point the nerve endings in my eyebrows were sufficiently damaged that it was absolutely tolerable, and now I maintenance-pluck all the time.


        • avatar a biologist
          Posted July 19, 2010 at 11:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Relationista: Ewwwww. Another reason to skip out on processed foods as much as possible.

          I guess I don’t find brow-tweezing so bad. I always do it just after a hot shower, which helps a lot. Sugaring is, IMO, less painful than waxing too.

          I guess I just hot water/steam for many things–add whiskey and honey and you have an excellent treatment for sore throat!


Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *