No matter how you slice it, having acne-prone skin is frustrating, but luckily for us, natural remedies can be of great help against those stubborn pimples. While they might not be the holy grail for a permanent fix, they can go a long way in reducing bacteria and inflammation—the major enemies that worsen acne. And it’s super simple to do them at home, without expensive tools and hard-to-find ingredients.
Can home remedies treat acne?
Since acne is a medical concern rather than a cosmetic issue, it’s difficult to believe it can be cured with home remedies. However, some natural compounds can ease inflammation and have antibacterial benefits, which can help minimize breakouts. That said, natural remedies aren’t used to treat the root cause of acne but give a helping hand thanks to their antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and anti-swelling properties, which can heal pimples and balance the skin.
The most effective remedies for acne
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is a derm-favorite natural remedy for acne because it fights acne-causing bacteria and relieves swelling. Plus, it has antioxidant activity and accelerates the wound-healing process. For reference, one pilot study compared the effects of 5% tea tree oil with 5% benzoyl peroxide for treating acne, concluding that both were effective in reducing inflamed and non-inflamed pimples. Yet, the group who used tea tree oil gel experienced fewer side effects. Thus, this one might be the best alternative if your skin can’t tolerate benzoyl peroxide.
How to use: You can add a few drops of tea tree oil to your homemade acne mask (preferably a clay one, which acts as a magnet to draw impurities from the skin and clear pimples). Or, you can mix tree oil into your toner or moisturizer. For spot treatment, mix one part of tea tree oil with nine parts water, dip a cotton swab into the mixture, and dab the pimples. P.S: Don’t forget to moisturize well after to mitigate the chances of sensitivities.
Due to its high content of polyphenols, green tea possesses high antioxidant activity, meaning it scavenges free radicals, which are harmful molecules that can exacerbate acne. Also, one of the major polyphenols in green tea, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), has been found to destroy bacteria, reduce sebum, and soothe swelling. FYI, matcha is the best green tea because it contains about three times more antioxidants and more than double the amount of vitamin C than other green teas.
How to use: Take the content from two green tea bags, moisten them with warm water, and then add a drop of honey (or aloe vera gel). Spread the blend as a spot treatment on breakouts and let it act for 20 minutes. Or, for a quick pick-me-up that’s both beneficial and refreshing, do a facial spritz with green tea. Prepare a green tea and let it cool completely, then put it in a spritz bottle. Every day, spray it on cleansed complexion and let it dry for 20 minutes before you rinse your face. You can also use cotton pads to dab the green tea mixture onto your face if that’s more convenient.
Drinking green tea also improves acne (and overall health), so drinking a cup of green tea daily is definitely going to pay off in the long run.
Honey and cinnamon
Honey and cinnamon make a great team against acne since both fight bacteria and reduce swelling. First, honey has high antimicrobial activity and acts like a humectant, meaning it pulls water into the skin and regulates sebum. On the other hand, cinnamon has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant activities. Thus, they work in tandem to combat bacteria and reduce inflammation. In fact, one research revealed that a combination of honey and cinnamon bark extract has excellent potential against acne-causing bacteria and can be used as a topical anti-acne remedy. P.S.: Use manuka honey to get the best outcomes.
How to use: Mix three tablespoons of honey and one of cinnamon until you get a paste-like consistency. Layer a mask with the mixture over cleansed face, avoiding the eye area, and leave it on for 15 minutes.
Mint has anti-swelling traits, plus it acts like an antioxidant due to the presence of flavonoids, phenols, and carotenoids. What’s more, mint leaves’ strong antibacterial and antifungal properties help with acne, too.
How to use: Mix two tablespoons of finely chopped fresh mint, two tablespoons of plain yogurt, and ground oatmeal. Leave the mixture on your face for 10 minutes, then rinse with water.
This plant is both an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory compound, making it a fantastic natural treatment for acne. It has been shown to kill P.acnes bacteria, which is the main cause of acne.
How to use: Use echinacea tea as a daily facial wash or dunk a cotton ball and apply it to your blemishes.
First upfront, aloe vera gel contains salicylic acid and sulfur, which have inhibitory activity on fungi and bacteria that can cause acne. Also, aloe’s antibacterial, anti-swelling, and antioxidant qualities are other reasons that make it practical for improving acne.
How to use: Scrape the gel from an aloe vera plant with a spoon, apply over the face and leave for 15 minutes. You can mix the gel of aloe vera with honey and two drops of tea tree oil. Or, you can spot-treat your breakouts by leaving the aloe vera gel overnight and washing it off in the morning.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar for acne has plenty of research to back up its efficacy. First, apple cider vinegar is rich in alpha-hydroxy acids (acetic, malic, and lactic acids), which gives it acne-fighting benefits: acetic acid has antibacterial and exfoliant effects and malic acid is a potent antibacterial known to fight acne-causing bacteria.
How to use: It’s important to dilute apple cider vinegar with water before applying it to the skin. Add one part apple cider vinegar to four parts water, apply it with a cotton ball over the blemishes and rinse with lukewarm water after ten minutes. Or, you can use it as a toner. Add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to one glass of water and use a cotton pad to remove dead skin and give your complexion a gentle exfoliation.
In addition to natural remedies, here’s what else you can try to clear up your acne and get rid of blemishes.
Have a diligent skincare routine
Having a skincare routine tailored to your needs is non-negotiable. This means it should include products packed with acne-fighting ingredients. These are the best skincare actives that will help banish acne:
- Salicylic acid: unclogs pores and reduces sebum
- Lipohydroxy acid: a gentler derivative of salicylic acid
- Niacinamide: protects, hydrates, and reduces sebum
- Zinc: eases swellness and redness
- Hyaluronic acid: hydrates and regulates oil
- Retinol: encourages cell turnover and unclogs pores
- Azelaic acid: eliminates bacteria and reduces blemishes
- Succinic acid: reduces the activity of acne-causing bacteria
- Sulfur: reduces blackheads and whiteheads due to its antibacterial properties
- Vitamin C: provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits
Use a LED mask
Sweating through physical exercise
Exercising increases the body’s temperature and causes sweating, eliminating toxins and pushing clogged pores, forcing them to decongest. Also, practicing mindfulness and breathing exercises improve the state of mind, relieving stress — which has been found to worsen acne.
Mind your diet
Changing your diet to include more nutrient-dense foods can have a positive impact on your acne-prone skin. For instance, by swapping out refined and sugary foods for vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats, you can decrease inflammation and stabilize blood sugar levels, which can reduce the severity and frequency of breakouts. Foods rich in antioxidants, such as citrus fruits, can also help to fight free radicals that can damage skin cells and contribute to inflammation.
Women’s Concepts uses reliable sources, including dermatologists’ insights, clinical trials, and scientific journals, to find accurate information and support all the facts shared in our articles. All statements and claims have clear and legit references. Read our editorial policy to learn more about our sources of information, our process of researching and fact-checking the content, and how our team strives to keep all articles updated, completed, and trustworthy.
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