Natural Acne Treatments That Actually Work

Sometimes, nature is our best ally in the fight against acne.

November 13, 2021 10 minutes read

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If you're battling with acne, you probably know all too well how challenging it can get. However, we're hoping you can find some comfort in knowing that you're not alone in this war. Acne is the most common skin condition, which is not reserved only for puberty but affects almost 85% of adult men and women worldwide.

Although proven effective, conventional acne treatments, such as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, can often cause irritation and dryness – plus, these can get pretty expensive. For this reason, many of us are searching for alternative acne treatments and natural homemade remedies that can alleviate redness, pain, and discomfort that go hand in hand with acne.

To make this search more manageable for you, we'll share the ultimate natural acne remedies that actually work.

The Top 15 Home Remedies for Acne

You need to keep in mind that effective treatment of acne at home requires a multi-disciplinary approach. Your skin is a reflection of your overall health. That's why beautiful and radiant skin is often the result of proper skin care, hydration, and diet.

Therefore, you should only use home remedies for acne in combination with healthy habits and lifestyle. However, it's also vital to avoid some skincare mistakes that can irritate your skin and worsen its condition, such as:

Once you've sorted out the basics, you can go ahead and try some of these promising home remedies for acne:

#1: Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a succulent plant with thick and fleshy leaves. The gel extracted from its leaves is full of nutrients and antioxidants and is a common ingredient in skincare products.

Aloe vera gel is perfect for soothing skin redness and treating acne scars. It promotes wound healing and is often used for treating rashes, burns, and minor skin abrasions. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, combined with a high salicylic acid and sulfur content, aloe vera gel may improve acne as well, especially in combination with other acne treatments [source].

You can purchase aloe vera gel or make your own and have pure gel without any added ingredients. If you opt for the latter, you'll need a mature plant with ripe leaves. Simply extract the gel from the leaves with a wooden spoon and apply it to the skin as a moisturizer. You can use it several times a day or as needed.

#2: Witch Hazel

Witch hazel extract is derived from the leaves and bark of Hamamelis virginiana, or American witch hazel, a flowering shrub native to North and East America.

Rich in tannins and flavonoids, witch hazel extract has potent anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. For this reason, it's used to treat a myriad of skin conditions, such as eczema, dandruff, insect bites, cuts, burns, and acne. Studies show that witch hazel can calm down redness and inflammation and directly affect certain bacteria contributing to acne.

When shopping for a product containing witch hazel, target those that are alcohol-free, as alcohol can only exacerbate acne and other skin concerns you may have.

Be mindful when using it because it can cause irritation. So, we would recommend using it every other day to start with and see how your skin reacts. If your skin can tolerate it, you can gradually increase to daily use. Also, avoid applying it to your whole face. Instead, use a cotton bud and apply it only to the affected area – whiteheads and blackheads.

#3: Tea Tree Oil

Also known as melaleuca oil, tea tree oil is an essential oil with a strong aroma. It's obtained from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, the tea tree native to Australia. Tea tree oil has inherently strong anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial properties. It penetrates deeply into the skin, cleans pores, and eliminates bacteria-induced acne. It can also help alleviate itching and redness.

Studies show that applying tea tree oil topically can significantly improve acne-related issues in people with moderate and mild acne.

Before applying it to your face, you should dilute tea tree oil with another carrier oil, such as almond oil or olive oil, because it can be quite strong. After washing your face with a gentle cleanser and patting it dry, apply the diluted tea tree oil to your blemishes using a cotton bud. Let it absorb and dry, and then apply your regular moisturizer.

#4: Honey

With its potent antibacterial and soothing properties, honey is an old, tried and tested trick for treating acne and wound healing [source].

For best results, you can mix honey (one tablespoon) and cinnamon (one teaspoon) face mask. Cinnamon has potent antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, and it's a winning combination for battling acne [source].

#5: Jojoba Oil

Jojoba oil, also known as liquid wax, is extracted from the jojoba plant seeds, Simmondsia Chinensis, native to northern Mexico and southern California. Composed entirely of a wide range of fatty acids, such as Gadoleic Acid, Oleic Acid, and others, as well as vitamins B and C, jojoba oil has many skin benefits. It acts as a natural emollient and anti-inflammatory agent. It also balances out oil production in the skin.

Therefore, it's used for wound healing, reducing swelling and redness associated with acne, and repairing acne scars [source].

Put a small amount of jojoba oil in your palm. Rub your palms to warm up the oil, and then gently press it into your skin. Use a damp washcloth to remove any excess oil, and then apply your moisturizer. You can also use a cotton bud to spot treat any blemishes and pimples. And lastly, you could mix a couple of drops of jojoba oil with your face mask or cream.

#6: Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is an old and popular treatment of different skin issues. It's antibacterial and antifungal and contains organic acids, such as succinic acid and citric acid, both very effective in suppressing inflammation and killing Propionibacterium acnes, the most common bacteria causing acne [source]. Apple cider vinegar is also rich in lactic acid with exfoliating properties and may help reduce acne scars.

Even though apple cider vinegar contains many beneficial ingredients, it can be quite irritating to the skin. For this reason, you should always dilute it with water before applying it to your face. Mix apple cider vinegar with water at a 1:3 ratio, 1 part being apple cider vinegar, and 3 parts being water (use more water if you have sensitive skin). Apply the mixture to a cleansed face using a cotton pad and dabbing motions (avoid rubbing and tugging your skin too hard).

#7: Green Tea

Green tea is known for its beneficial effects on the body – it has a calming effect on the digestive system, and many use it for weight loss. But, green tea can also be an excellent natural remedy for acne.

It's rich in catechins, a group of polyphenol antioxidants. Antioxidants help the skin get rid of waste products from the pores, preventing the damage of healthy skin cells. Green tea regulates sebum production, reduces inflammation in the skin, and kills acne-causing bacteria [source].

Make strong green tea using fresh leaves or tea bags, and leave to cool. Then soak a cotton pad with it and apply it to your face. You can rinse it off after 30 minutes or leave it on overnight and only wash your face in the morning. You can also purchase a green tea extract for topical application. For best results, you can also drink a cup of green tea per day. This way, you'll be helping your skin fight acne inside and out.

#8: Zinc

Research shows that compared to people with clear skin, people with acne-prone skin have lower zinc levels in their blood. Zinc is a crucial mineral responsible for normal immune function, cell growth, metabolism, and hormonal balance. Taking zinc supplements can help reduce acne. A 2014 study found that taking zinc orally is highly effective in reducing inflammatory acne.

30 to 45 mg of elemental zinc is an optimal daily dosage for treating acne. Zinc is available in many different forms, the most common being zinc oxide containing up to 80% of elemental zinc.

It's important not to exceed the daily upper limit of zinc, which is 40 mg, because too much of it can cause some side effects, such as gut irritation and stomach pain. Therefore, it's best to consult with your doctor or dermatologist if you're willing to take this route in the fight against pimples.

#9: Yogurt

Fermented dairy products, such as yogurt, are rich in probiotics. Therefore, they are essential for a healthy gut flora that's partly responsible for normal skin function and health [source]. The use of yogurt, both orally and topically, may provide certain skin benefits, such as preventing water loss, promoting elasticity, and calming inflammation [source].

Mix one tablespoon of honey with one tablespoon of yogurt. Apply a thin layer to your face, pay special attention to the forehead, cheeks, and other parts of the face with acne. Relax and enjoy with this mask on for about 10 minutes, then gently wipe off with a damp washcloth.

#10: Cucumber

Thanks to their bioactive compounds, cucumbers are excellent in nourishing and soothing the skin, reducing inflammation, swelling, and irritation caused by acne. They are also effective in soothing sunburns and helping the skin to heal [source]. While there's not enough evidence that cucumber can cure acne, they are more than effective in decreasing uncomfortable symptoms associated with acne.

You can make a cucumber face lotion ideal for any skin type. Squeeze the juice from a few cucumbers and freeze it in a mold. Every morning, you can go over your whole face using these frozen cucumber cubes after cleansing and before moisturizing. You will feel instantly refreshed, and your acne sores will be less swollen and painful.

#11: Egg Whites

Eggs are rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals, especially magnesium, calcium, and folate. This nutritional superstar has been used in skincare for hundreds of years. Egg whites, in particular, are beneficial for any skin type and can help firm the skin, tighten its pores, and reduce sebum production [source]. For this reason, people with oily and acne-prone skin find egg whites face masks incredibly soothing.

Making a simple egg whites face mask is pretty easy and fast – you'll only need about 30 seconds. Simply whisk one or two egg whites, apply to your face, and wait for about 20 minutes. Then rinse off with lukewarm water, and apply your moisturizer.

If you feel especially creative, you can add other ingredients to your egg whites face mask, such as aloe vera gel, honey, chamomile, or green tea.

#12: Oatmeal

Thanks to its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as its high zinc content, oatmeal can alleviate irritation caused by different skin conditions, including eczema, burns, itchy and dry skin, and acne [source].

Oatmeal is highly effective in soothing dry and inflamed skin, with hydrating and protecting benefits. People with oily skin find it exceptionally useful, as it helps reduce sebum production and absorb all the excess oil from the skin.

Add half a cup of oatmeal in a cup of water, and put to boil. Once the oatmeal is nicely cooked, let it cool. Stir it well until you get a smooth paste. Apply to your face and leave it on for about 20 minutes. Rinse off with lukewarm water, and apply your moisturizer. You could also mix oatmeal with either honey, yogurt, or egg whites. However you mix it, you'll get a great DIY mask, ideal for any skin type.

#13: Ice

Believe it or not, ice may be one of the best instant ways to treat swollen and inflamed pimples. It improves blood circulation to the skin and reduces swelling and redness.

Simply wrap an ice cube in a clean thin cloth and hold it on the problem area for a few seconds.

#14: Turmeric

Turmeric, or Curcuma longa, is a popular spice used worldwide, in both the culinary and beauty world. Traditionally, brides-to-be in India use turmeric face masks the day before their wedding.

It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties, calming inflammation and aiding skin healing. Therefore, when used topically, it can alleviate skin irritation and help with acne, atopic dermatitis, alopecia, psoriasis, and other skin conditions [source].

Mix one teaspoon of turmeric powder with one tablespoon of aloe vera gel. Mix well until you get a fine paste. Apply to your face and leave it on for 20 minutes. Rinse off with lukewarm water. You can use this face mask several times a week.

#15: Green Clay

Green Clay is rich in minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and copper. All of these components are important for maintaining healthy skin cells.

Green Clay is ideal for oily, acne-prone, and combination skin. It balances the skin's PH level, reduces oil production, and soaks up all the excess oil from the skin, unclogging pores and preventing acne from forming [source].

Apply a thin layer to your face using your fingers or face mask brush. Let it do its magic for about 15 minutes. When the mask dries and starts feeling tight, rinse it well off with lukewarm water, and pat your face dry. Since it can be quite drying to the skin, you shouldn't use it more than once a week. If you have sensitive skin, reduce the frequency of application to once in two weeks.

Ingredients to Stay Away From

Indeed, nature offers a plethora of wonderful ingredients beneficial to the skin. However, there are also certain ingredients you should stay away from if you have skin prone to breaking out, such as:

Coconut Oil

While coconut oil has its benefits – acting as a natural emollient and keeping the skin hydrated and supple – it can be counterproductive for oily and acne-prone skin. Coconut oil tends to clog pores on facial skin and cause acne and breakouts to worsen.

Mineral Oil

Just like coconut oil, mineral oil can also be comedogenic. It acts as a strong occlusive, preventing transepidermal water loss, but it also clogs pores. As a result, your skin condition, acne to be more precise, can easily worsen.

Harsh Scrubs

Scrubbing your face with face scrubs that contain large and sharp granules, such as walnut shells and fruit pits, might feel good, but it can exacerbate your acne and breakouts. Abrasive scrubs disturb your skin's natural barrier, make it irritated and sensitive, leading to even more breakouts.

Other Habits That Can Help Combat Acne

As we already mentioned at the beginning of this article, fighting acne is a bit more complex than just whisking tasty face masks and spot treating. It will require a more holistic approach, meaning you'll probably have to change some of your skincare and lifestyle habits. Here are some habits that can help combat acne according to science:

De-stress

Stress is a major factor wreaking havoc in your whole body. It can cause hormonal imbalance, suppressed immune system, and chronic inflammations, from your gut to your skin. It also impairs wound healing, such as acne scars and lesions.

Several studies have shown the connection between too much stress and acne. So, find a way to relax and de-stress, like walking in nature, exercising, meditating, or whatever floats your boat.

Exfoliate

Exfoliation removes the dead cells from your skin surface that clog pores and eventually cause acne. By regular exfoliation, you'll allow your skin to heal more effectively, keep the pores clean, and stimulate collagen production [source].

However, it's important to note that you should steer clear of harsh mechanical exfoliants and face scrubs. Go for products with glycolic and salicylic acid instead.

Cut Out Dairy From Your Diet

Some studies have shown that people who were found to drink a significant amount of milk are more prone to acne. Researchers believe it's due to certain hormones, such as IGF-1, found in milk and dairy products.

However, this is not a norm, and other studies prove there's no connection between milk consumption and acne. So, this is yet to be researched and investigated. But, if you believe that your skin condition is related to your dairy-rich diet, you could cut back on dairy for several weeks and see how your skin behaves.

Steer Clear of Processed Food

Studies suggest there's a link between acne and foods with a high glycemic index (GI). This type of food causes your blood insulin levels to spike, which then increases sebum production, causing more acne in the long run.

So, steer clear of highly processes foods, such as sugar, white bread, soft drinks, candy, and sugar-rich breakfast cereals. Instead, base your diet on foods with a low GI, such as fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, and wholegrain bread.

Drink Enough Water

Did you know that our daily water intake can significantly impact acne and other skin-related issues? If you drink less than two liters a day and have acne problems, you might want to change that. Studies show that drinking water affects better blood circulation to the skin and the delivery of nutrients, reflecting on our skin health.

Therefore, dehydrated skin is more prone to acne. So, consider switching your midday coffee or a soft drink with a glass of water, and stay hydrated throughout the day.

Some Parting Words of Advice...

As you can see, the list of natural remedies for acne is pretty long. You likely already have some of these ingredients in your kitchen. With proper diet, lifestyle changes, and a little help from nature, we're confident you can immensely improve your overall health as well as the health of your skin.

These are definitely worth a try! However, if your acne problem is severe and you're frequently experiencing inflamed and painful breakouts, our advice would be to see a dermatologist!

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