Bid Adieu to Acne: 7 Natural Remedies to Fight Pimples That Can Be Easily Done At Home

Get rid of acne naturally, holistically, and effortlessly.
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No matter how you slice it, having acne-prone skin is frustrating. But these natural remedies do the job by minimizing breakouts, killing bacteria, and clearing skin so you can wave goodbye to acne. And it’s super simple to do them at home, without any fancy tools and hard-to-find ingredients.

You’re probably familiar with conventional acne treatments — salicylic acidbenzoyl peroxideniacinamide, and retinol — yet, if you’re looking for a holistic approach and aim to address pimples naturally, here are the best home remedies to do just that. We scoured the entire internet and did extensive research to find those natural ingredients that have been scientifically proven to have acne-fighting benefits. Here we aim for the most effective ones, so read on.

Do natural remedies work for acne?

Since acne is a medical concern rather than a cosmetic issue, it’s difficult to believe it can be cured with natural 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, in turn, may reduce acne. 

Natural remedies to reduce 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.[1][2] 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.[3] 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.


Green tea

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.[4] Also, one of the major polyphenols in green tea, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), has been found to destroy bacteria, reduce sebum, and soothe swelling.[5][6] 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.[7]

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.[8]

Related: How Good is Green Tea at Treating Acne According to Studies


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.[9] 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.[10] 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

Mint has anti-swelling traits, plus it acts like an antioxidant due to the presence of flavonoids, phenols, and carotenoids.[11] 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.


Echinacea

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 bacteriawhich is the main cause of acne.[12]

How to use: Use echinacea tea as a daily facial wash or dunk a cotton ball and apply it to your blemishes.


Aloe vera

First upfront, aloe vera gel contains salicylic acid and sulfur, which have inhibitory activity on fungi and bacteria that can cause acne.[13] Also, aloe’s antibacterial, anti-swelling, and antioxidant qualities are other reasons that make it practical for improving acne.[14]

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.


What else

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

Blue light in LED masks has been shown to provide antibacterial benefits and kill bacteria that lead to breakouts.[15]

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

Consider swapping refined and highly sugary foods for vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats. You want to add to your diet foods rich in antioxidants (citrus fruits), zinc (sunflower seeds, carrots), minerals chromium, and selenium (potatoes, peppers, apples). Also, ensure you get B vitamins from brewer’s yeast, cabbage, spinach, and green pepper. Don’t forget omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundant in salmon, nuts and flax, chia, or hemp seeds.

Read next: 10 Best Acne Treatments for Sensitive Skin


Sources

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.

References
  1. Pazyar N, Yaghoobi R, Bagherani N, Kazerouni A. A review of applications of tea tree oil in dermatology. Int J Dermatol. 2013 Jul;52(7):784-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-4632.2012.05654.x. Epub 2012 Sep 24.
  2. Malhi HK, Tu J, Riley TV, Kumarasinghe SP, Hammer KA. Tea tree oil gel for mild to moderate acne; a 12 week uncontrolled, open-label phase II pilot study. Australas J Dermatol. 2017 Aug;58(3):205-210. doi: 10.1111/ajd.12465. Epub 2016 Mar 21. PMID: 27000386.
  3. Bassett IB, Pannowitz DL, Barnetson RS. A comparative study of tea-tree oil versus benzoylperoxide in the treatment of acne. Med J Aust. 1990 Oct 15;153(8):455-8. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.1990.tb126150.x.
  4. Mills OH, Criscito MC, Schlesinger TE, Verdicchio R, Szoke E. Addressing Free Radical Oxidation in Acne Vulgaris. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2016 Jan;9(1):25-30. PMID: 26962389; PMCID: PMC4756869.
  5. Yoon JY, Kwon HH, Min SU, Thiboutot DM, Suh DH. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate improves acne in humans by modulating intracellular molecular targets and inhibiting P. acnes. J Invest Dermatol. 2013 Feb;133(2):429-40. doi: 10.1038/jid.2012.292. Epub 2012 Oct 25. PMID: 23096708.
  6. Saric S, Notay M, Sivamani RK. Green Tea and Other Tea Polyphenols: Effects on Sebum Production and Acne Vulgaris. Antioxidants (Basel). 2016 Dec 29;6(1):2. doi: 10.3390/antiox6010002. PMID: 28036057; PMCID: PMC5384166.
  7. Kochman J, Jakubczyk K, Antoniewicz J, Mruk H, Janda K. Health Benefits and Chemical Composition of Matcha Green Tea: A Review. Molecules. 2020 Dec 27;26(1):85. doi: 10.3390/molecules26010085. PMID: 33375458; PMCID: PMC7796401.
  8. Di Sotto A, Gullì M, Percaccio E, Vitalone A, Mazzanti G, Di Giacomo S. Efficacy and Safety of Oral Green Tea Preparations in Skin Ailments: A Systematic Review of Clinical Studies. Nutrients. 2022 Jul 30;14(15):3149. doi: 10.3390/nu14153149. PMID: 35956325; PMCID: PMC9370301.
  9. Burlando B, Cornara L. Honey in dermatology and skin care: a review. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2013 Dec;12(4):306-13. doi: 10.1111/jocd.12058. PMID: 24305429.
  10. Julianti E, Rajah KK, Fidrianny I. Antibacterial Activity of Ethanolic Extract of Cinnamon Bark, Honey, and Their Combination Effects against Acne-Causing Bacteria. Sci Pharm. 2017 Apr 11;85(2):19. doi: 10.3390/scipharm85020019. PMID: 28398231; PMCID: PMC5489923.
  11. Park YJ, Baek SA, Choi Y, Kim JK, Park SU. Metabolic Profiling of Nine Mentha Species and Prediction of Their Antioxidant Properties Using Chemometrics. Molecules. 2019 Jan 11;24(2):258. doi: 10.3390/molecules24020258. PMID: 30641968; PMCID: PMC6359624.
  12. Nasri H, Bahmani M, Shahinfard N, Moradi Nafchi A, Saberianpour S, Rafieian Kopaei M. Medicinal Plants for the Treatment of Acne Vulgaris: A Review of Recent Evidences. Jundishapur J Microbiol. 2015 Nov 21;8(11):e25580. doi: 10.5812/jjm.25580. PMID: 26862380; PMCID: PMC4740760.
  13. Surjushe A, Vasani R, Saple DG. Aloe vera: a short review. Indian J Dermatol. 2008;53(4):163-6. doi: 10.4103/0019-5154.44785. PMID: 19882025; PMCID: PMC2763764.
  14. Rahmani AH, Aldebasi YH, Srikar S, Khan AA, Aly SM. Aloe vera: Potential candidate in health management via modulation of biological activities. Pharmacogn Rev. 2015 Jul-Dec;9(18):120-6. doi: 10.4103/0973-7847.162118. PMID: 26392709; PMCID: PMC4557234.
  15. Gold MH, Andriessen A, Biron J, Andriessen H. Clinical Efficacy of Self-applied Blue Light Therapy for Mild-to-Moderate Facial Acne. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2009 Mar;2(3):44-50. PMID: 20729943.
Who wrote this?
Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu
Ana is a sociologist and feminist with a shared passion for literature, psychology, and skincare, the combo that made her determined to start Women's Concepts. With over five years of experience in dermatological research, she has now become a certified skincare consultant keen to convince others of the importance of a diligent routine. Her close relationships with dermatologists around the globe, along with years of researching, analyzing studies, and hand-testing products on a daily basis, made Ana one of the best persons you can get advice from.
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