I’m not gonna lie, I’ve spent *a lot* of time googling hacks to get rid of a hickey fast. (If you’re my mom reading this, I’ve never had a hickey in my life; I’m just a great friend, I promise!) Sure, hickeys are totally normal and—let’s face it—hot, but not exactly the accessory you want to be showing off before, say, meeting your partner’s parents or giving a presentation in front of your boss. Unfortunately, I’ve learned there’s no magical cure or product to get rid of a bruise overnight, meaning if you have a hickey, the only way to instantly cover it up is with concealer and full-coverage foundation.
Now the good news is that there are some legit tips and tricks (in, fact dermatologists even recommend them) to help get rid of a hickey more quickly than if you just left it alone. Here’s what three dermatologists—including Naana Boakye, MD, Doris Day, MD, and Mona Gohara, MD—have to say about getting rid of a hickey in just a few days.
What is a hickey?
A hickey is bruise on your skin that occurs when the pressure from someone’s lips damages your blood vessels which causes them to leak, says Dr. Boakye. This results in a purplish or red mark on the skin’s surface (à la a bruise). “Over time, your skin goes from a red/purple color to green/yellow and finally resolves back to your normal skin color,” says Dr Boakye.
How fast does a hickey go away?
Generally, a hickey will go away in about 7 to 12 days, says Dr. Gohara, but everyone’s healing time is different. Your hickey might start fading the next day, or it could even get darker or change colors throughout the healing process. But if you combine a few of the techniques above (drinking tons of water, applying cold and hot compresses, massaging in soothing creams, for example), you might be able to cut down your healing by a few days.
What makes hickies go away ASAP?
Unfortunately, no one thing will make your hickey go away ASAP. A hickey is a bruise, remember, and bruises take days, sometimes even weeks, to heal. But there are a few things you can do to help speed up the process a bit by reducing swelling and inflammation. Here’s what you should try:
1. Apply a cold compress or spoon to your hickey ASAP.
Alright, before you do anything, grab a clean spoon or ice roller and throw it in your freezer for about 10 minutes. Then, ideally while your hickey is still relatively fresh, firmly press the cold spoon on top of the affected area. Why? “The cold will help minimize the blood seeping out of the vessels into the skin,” says Dr. Day, adding that you’ll want to repeat this a few times throughout the day or night to keep swelling down.
2. Try an arnica cream on your hickey.
“Arnica is a flowering herb that’s been used for bruising for thousands of years,” says Dr. Gohara. The healing powers of arnica are chalked up to one of its main components, helenalin, which is an anti-inflammatory that helps calm your body’s natural swelling response, says Dr. Gohara. Try treating your hickey with a topical arnica cream once a day until the swelling and bruising subsides.
3. Try a warm compress once the bruise is noticeable.
Once your hickey is already red and splotchy, cold therapy won’t do too much (the blood vessels are already broken and blood’s already seeped out under your skin). Now, you’ll want to work with heat, which helps circulate blood to the area to help the bruise heal a little bit faster. You can try a running a washcloth under warm water, then firmly pressing it over your hickey for about five minutes two to three times a day. Or I personally love using the hot/cold attachments on the TheraFace because it both gently massages the bump with a bit of pressure while warming it up to help bring down inflammation.
4. Treat your hickey with Visine.
Yes, Visine, as in the classic eye drops. Dr. Gohara says dabbing the liquid on your bruise once or twice a day will help constrict your blood vessels and make your hickey less obvious. Just make sure you aren’t using it on any open wounds or cuts—only straight-up bruises—to avoid any possible irritation.
5. Conceal your hickey with makeup.
I know this isn’t what you really want to hear, but when in doubt, the easiest (and fastest) way to hide a hickey is with your favorite concealer or foundation. But if you really want to cover that bruise, you’ll want to first start with a color corrector to help disguise some of the red or purple tones. Try green if your hickey is red, or a peach-y yellow (for light to medium skin) or bright orange (for tan to deep skin) for purple hickies. Then, blend your go-to concealer formula on clean, dry skin with a brush and lock it all in with a quick dust of setting powder.
6. Skip the essential oils.
If your hickey is irritated and you have sensitive skin, it’s probably best to avoid essential oils (like peppermint) when it comes treating a hickey. Dr. Gohara says they aren’t really your best option for getting rid of hickeys either if you’ve been reading up on natural methods. “Essential oils are more likely to cause dermatitis,” she says. “They may increase blood flow, but who wants a hickey and a huge rash too?”
7. Get rid of a hickey by eating fresh pineapple.
Next up, run to the grocery store and grab some fresh pineapple. “Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain that really helps with bruising,” says Dr. Gohara. Don’t worry, you won’t need to slather a slice of pineapple on your hickey or anything like that. Simply eating or drinking it will help you get your enzyme fix. “Eating fresh pineapple, if possible, is most effective,” she adds.
8. Eat plenty of vitamin K–rich foods.
Hot tip: Vitamin K—which is found in foods like broccoli, kale, spinach, and brown rice—helps your body absorb clots of pooled blood, like your hickey. So down a salad or throw some kale in your smoothie to speed up the recovery of your hickey. You can also apply vitamin K topically, BTW, and these creams and serums are a great place to start:
9. Moisturize your hickey with aloe vera.
Fun fact: Aloe vera is way more than just a slimy plant that feels wonderful on sunburns. Thanks to its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, a thin layer of aloe vera cream or gel can keep your hickey from swelling up. Just keep in mind that applying aloe vera to your hickey twice a day isn’t going to make it magically disappear—it is a bruise, after all—but it’ll definitely help speed up the healing time (which can take anywhere from two days to two weeks, BTW).
10. Try a vitamin C cream on your hickey.
There’s a good chance vitamin C is already in your skincare routine. The ultra-effective ingredient helps boost your skin’s collagen production (aka what keeps your skin looking soft and healthy), which is kinda important when you’re trying to heal a hickey. Again, don’t expect any miracles, but applying a vitamin C cream to the affected area during the healing process is a smart move, especially if you’re prone to long-term bruising or scarring.
11. Massage your hickey with a banana peel.
Okay, this is going to sound a little bizarre, but banana peels are actually the unsung hero of the hickey-fighting game, since they’re loaded with skin-soothing antioxidants and vitamins. Remove the peel from a ripe banana and gently rub it all over that hickey of yours. Again, it’s not going to totally erase it, but it’ll help it heal way faster (and, like, less painfully).
12. Promote circulation with a toothbrush.
Would this really be a hickey survival guide if I didn’t at least mention the toothbrush method? Here’s the gist: Using a toothbrush with super-soft bristles (you don’t want anything to tear or peel your skin!), gently move the brush over your hickey to simulate blood circulation. You’ll want to move the bristles in different directions to make sure the clotted blood has room to spread, repeating the process for 5 to 10 minutes. It won’t feel great, and definitely don’t press too hard, but try repeating it every day, followed by a soothing serum with arnica, to slowly help your hickey fade.
Meet the experts:
- Naana Boakye, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Bergen Dermatology in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. She’s also the author of Inside Out Beauty, a book all about caring for your skin beyond skincare.
- Doris Day, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist based in New York, NY at her own practice. She’s especially well-known for aesthetic dermatology, including Botox, fillers, and cosmetic procedures.
- Mona Gohara, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist in Hamden, CT. Dr. Gohara is an associate clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine and vice president of the Women’s Dermatologic Society. Her areas of expertise include medical and surgical dermatology and skin of color.
Why trust Cosmopolitan?
Beth Gillette is the beauty editor at Cosmopolitan with five years of experience researching, writing, and editing skincare stories that range from how to get rid of stretch marks to butt acne. She’s an authority in all skincare categories, but is an expert when it comes to how to get rid of a hickey, thanks to years of personal experience trying to cover up love bites before a big presentation (sry boss).
Ruby Buddemeyer was the beauty editor at Cosmopolitan for nearly three years and has five years of experience writing about beauty, fashion, and celebrity news across print and digital, like cellulite creams and the top moisturizers for oily skin. She curated her cellulite cream picks through product testing, researching, and reading reviews.
Beth Gillette is the beauty editor at Cosmopolitan, where she covers skincare, makeup, hair, nails, and more across digital and print. She can generally be found in bright eyeshadow furiously typing her latest feature or hemming and hawing about a new product you “have to try.” Prior to Cosmopolitan, she wrote and edited beauty content as an Editor at The Everygirl for four years. Follow her on Instagram for makeup selfies and a new hair ‘do every few months.