If you’re struggling with acne and seeking natural ways to get rid of it and slowly kill that bacteria, you’re in the right spot. You’re probably familiar with conventional acne treatments — salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, niacinamide, azelaic acid. Hence, you already know how their side effects, such as irritating, drying, or redness, can affect your skin. You’re not alone; it’s a common popular belief to treat acne with traditional remedies. Plant extracts are an excellent alternative remedy for acne because they’ve got many active ingredients that can kill acne-causing bacteria, reduce sebum and lessen scars. Even if many natural remedies lack scientific backing and more research is still needed, some elements are widely used to manage acne at home without the risk of getting irritated. Here we aim for the best of them!
Do natural remedies work for acne?
As acne it’s a medical concern rather than a cosmetic issue, it’s difficult to believe it can be cured with natural remedies. And it’s kinda true! However, they can reduce inflammation and have antibacterial effects on the skins’ surface. Natural remedies aren’t used to treat the root cause of acne but to deliver antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties, which, in turn, may reduce acne apparition.
Best natural & DIY remedies for acne and breakouts
Whether you’re the facials-addicted type or a natural remedy freak, we have beauty solutions to offer for one and all. For the times you want to embrace Mother Natures’ goodies, aka natural remedies, here, best easy at-home tips to fight breakouts.
1. Tea tree oil
Maybe the most popular compound widely used in products that address acne-prone skin is tea tree oil, known for its ability to fight acne-causing bacteria and reduce skin inflammation. Plus, tea tree oil has antioxidant activity and accelerates the wound healing process. It may even help reduce acne scars, leaving you with smooth skin. One pilot study on 14 participants with mild to moderate acne found that using tea tree oil gel twice daily for 12 weeks improved acne, being well tolerated by the skin. Another small study compared the effects of tea tree oil with benzoyl peroxide for acne, concluding that people using a tea tree oil ointment for acne experienced less dry skin and irritation. Thus, if your skin can’t tolerate benzoyl peroxide, tea tree oil might be beneficial to you.
Important: Tea tree oil is pretty strong, so diluting it before applying it to your skin is necessary.
How to use it:
Whenever you spoil your face with a home-made clay mask, you can add 2-3 drops of tea tree oil to it. Or, you can mix a few drops of tea tree oil into your toner, moisturizer, or sunscreen and apply twice daily. For local application, mix 1 part of tea tree oil with 9 parts water, dip a cotton swab into the mixture and apply to the affected areas. P.S: Don’t forget to moisture well after.
2. Green tea
Because it contains polyphenols, green tea has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotic properties while also attacking free radicals.
It’s been shown that green tea has antimicrobial compounds and antioxidants that can help fight acne and control sebum production. In a 2009 study, ten men applied topical 3% green tea on their cheeks for eight weeks. By the end of the study, the results showed that the green tea application led to a significant reduction in sebum production without any side effects. The same research published an experiment that verified 2% of green tea lotion’s effectiveness in reducing acne. For 6 weeks, 20 people applied the lotion twice daily, concluding that green tea lotion is useful in acne treatment.
Green tea is also rich in epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a type of polyphenol known to improve acne and oily skin. EGCG not only has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties, but it’s anti-androgenic, making it effective at reducing excess sebum. Androgens are hormones that your body produces naturally. When their level is high in the body, it stimulates the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum, clog pores and cause hormonal acne. Well, EGCG helps break this cycle.
How to use:
After you removed the leaves from two tea bags and moistened them with warm water, mix them with honey (or aloe vera gel). Spread the mixture on acne-prone areas on your face and let it act for 20 minutes.
A facial spritz with green tea might be beneficial as well. Prepare a green tea and let it cool completely, then fill a spritz bottle with it. Every day, spray it gently on a clean complexion and let it dry for 20 minutes before you rinse your face — repeat twice weekly. You can also use cotton pads to dab the green tea mixture onto your face if you prefer it.
Drinking green tea may also help acne (and your overall health) so drink a cup of EGCG-packed iced green tea a day.
3. Honey and Cinnamon
Honey, as much as cinnamon can fight bacteria and reduce inflammation. Honey contains several natural substances that contribute to its antimicrobial activity, including a naturally low pH and hydrogen peroxide, a known antiseptic. On the other hand, cinnamon has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant activities — as studies point out. Thus, both can combat bacteria and reduce inflammation, two factors related to acne. A 2017 study suggested that a combination of honey and cinnamon bark extract has great potential against acne-causing bacteria and can be utilized as topical anti-acne remedies.
Pro tip: Use Manuka honey to get the most effective results!
How to use:
Mix two tablespoons of honey and one cinnamon tablespoon to obtain a paste-like consistency. With your face cleansed, apply the mask and leave it on for 15 minutes — as simple as that!
Due to the presence of specific plant compounds, flavonoids, phenols, and carotenoids, known antioxidants, confer anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, and immune-stimulating traits to mint leaves.
We all know how good salicylic acid is for acne-prone skin. Vitamin A as well — known to fight acne by helping normalize oil excess. Well, mint leaves contain both of these compounds. Plus, the strong antibacterial and anti-fungal properties of mint leaves help prevent inflammation and improve acne. Moreover, this study indicates that spearmint tea has anti-androgenic properties, so drinking mint tea may help too!
Since mint can help remove oil that clogs pores, protect your skin before acne starts to break out. 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 is traditionally used to speed up wound healing and prevent colds and flu, but its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties can also help with acne. Echinacea is both an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory compound, making a fantastic remedy for acne. A study evaluated if echinacea extract can inactivate acne-causing bacteria and inhibit the inflammatory effects — two major factors that perpetuate acne, besides hormonal and nutritional factors. The authors concluded that echinacea extract showed potent antibacterial activity against acne, reducing it.
How to use:
Use echinacea tea as a daily facial wash or dunk a cotton ball and apply it to your blemishes.
Chamomile has been used as an herbal medication since ancient times, is still popular today, and probably will continue to be used in the future due to its content of various bioactive phytochemicals that could provide therapeutic effects. Known to have anti-inflammatory and calming effects, chamomile is often used to treat skin irritations, sunburns, rashes, and sometimes acne. Even if it wasn’t yet proved with evidence-based research, the chamomile effect in treating these issues is viral.
Chamomile also has wound-healing effects, a factor that has been evaluated in a double-blind trial on 14 people who underwent tattoos dermabrasion. By the end of the experiment, topical use of chamomile proved to be effective in wound drying and speeding epithelialization (essential for successful wound closure). Thus, chamomile may help reduce acne by decreasing inflammations, breakouts, and redness.
How to use:
Blend the content of a chamomile tea bag with a few drops of water until you obtain a paste and apply it locally to blemishes. Another alternative would be to soak two teabags in a cup of boiled water for 10 minutes, let it cool down, and use a cotton ball to apply to all over your face after having it cleansed, obviously.
7. Aloe vera
First upfront, aloe vera gel contains salicylic acid and sulfur, which have inhibitory actions on fungi and bacteria. Also, aloe’s antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant qualities are other reasons that make it practical for topical use. Known for its burn relief properties, it can promote healing, fight infection and even reduce scarring.
How to use it:
Scrape the gel from an aloe plant with a spoon and apply it to the face to boost blood flow and kill off harmful bacteria. Additionally, you can spot-treat your breakouts by leaving the aloe vera gel overnight and washing it off in the morning.
8. Apple cider vinegar
It might not be a lot of research about using apple cider vinegar for acne, yet it’s widely used for this concern. Maybe because apple cider vinegar contains malic, citric, succinic, and lactic acids, which are known exfoliators and have been shown to kill P. acnes bacteria.
In one study, 22 people applied lactic acid lotion to their faces twice a day for one year. Most of them experienced a significant reduction in acne, while only two people experienced less than 50% improvement. Apple cider vinegar contains malic and lactic acid that can exfoliate, reduce red marks, and treat acne.
To use, mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and water. Apply it to the skin with a cotton ball, and rinse after 10 minutes. In order to prevent skin damage, apple cider vinegar should be used in small amounts and diluted with water. You should also avoid using apple cider vinegar on sensitive skin and open wounds, as it’s more likely to cause pain or skin damage in those cases. If you apply apple cider vinegar to your skin and feel a burning sensation, try diluting it with more water. If it still burns, you may want to stop using it or try to apply some tea tree oil to your acne. Tea tree oil does wonder for healing the skin.
Other ways to combat acne
In addition to the natural ways, there are other treatments to get rid of acne, as explained below:
Sunbathing, not only locally but all over the body, so that the sun’s stimulus reaches all the skin and the need for sebum is distributed in a more balanced way.
Sweating through physical exercise
Practicing physical activity increases the body’s temperature and causes sweating so that the regulatory mechanisms of the skin are set in motion. Also, relaxation and breathing exercises improve the state of mind, relieving stress, thus diminishing the risk of blemishes’ appearance.
This study evaluated cryotherapy’s safety and efficacity as a potential remedy for acne, concluding that it can be considered a non-invasive alternative treatment for this concern. Allure explains what it’s all about here.
Tips that help reduce acne
Every two days, apply a compress of bran, chamomile, and oats — next, a clay and brewer’s yeast mask. Wash thoroughly with chamomile tea and dry gently. Also, expose the affected area to the sun every day. Avoid the central hours and gradually increase the time (the first day, only 10 minutes), up to a max of 1 hour. The next thing you can do is dilute a few drops of tea tree essential oil with high antiseptic power with a carrier oil and apply it to the skin. If you feel the scent is too strong, use it at night before going to bed.
Nevertheless, don’t forget about your diet. Your diet should preferably be based on vegetables, no sugars or refined flours, and no alcohol or carbonated drinks. Foods rich in zinc, such as sunflower seeds, ginger, parsley, and carrot, are right. And rich in the minerals chromium and selenium: potatoes, peppers, apples, chard, turnips. Also, B vitamins, obtained from brewer’s yeast and the juice of cabbage, spinach, and green pepper. Don’t forget about omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundant in nuts and flax, chia, or hemp seeds.
You might also want to read:
- 13 Clean Foundations for Acne-Prone Skin
- 8 Amazing LED Light Therapy Masks for Acne
- Does LED Light Therapy Really Treat Acne? What Studies Say
- How To Get Rid Of Acne Fast At Home: The Easy & Smart Way