- Home remedies for acne are used to treat mild to moderate acne.
- Most of them can be incorporated into your skin care routine
- Until there’s evidence that suggests otherwise, most home remedies are not as effective as over the counter acne medications.
Acne is one of the most common medical conditions, affecting an estimated 650 million people globally. There are numerous treatments available for it—some more effective than others.
People who use over the counter (OTC) products like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide have varying levels of success with it. And those who find that OTC products are not effective may turn to home remedies for acne. Home remedies usually involve applying herbal, natural, and, most times, unprocessed substances to the areas affected by acne. Some of these remedies have long been used as natural treatments for skin disorders, while others are more recent discoveries.
Do Home Remedies for Acne Work?
Scientifically valid and reliable evidence of the effectiveness of home remedies for acne is scant. Investigations and studies of many of them only recently began. The gradually growing literature of evidence, however, suggests that some home remedies for acne actually work.
Most home remedies have not been shown to be as effective as OTC products for treating acne.
Home Remedies for Different Types of Acne
Remedies that possess a combination of antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, exfoliating / or sebum reducing properties may be useful for treating and preventing both inflammatory acne(like pimples and pustules) and non-inflammatory acne (like whiteheads and blackheads).
Depending on how exactly they work, they tend to have varying levels of effectiveness for the different types of acne. For instance, home remedies for acne that are primarily antimicrobial can typically fight propionibacterium acnes (p.acnes bacteria)— the primary cause of inflammatory acne. Others, if they perform only exfoliant activity, may be useful at getting rid of just non-inflammatory acne.
Overall, the available evidence only supports the effectiveness of home remedies for mild to moderate acne. They have not been found to be effective for cystic or severe acne, or acne that’s triggered by hormones or stress. They can only soothe the symptoms and inflammation associated with these types of acne.
Home remedies for acne scars and scabs
Home remedies for acne, through different mechanisms, treat and help prevent breakouts. In contrast, home remedies for acne scars and scabs are used to get rid of scarring left behind by acne breakouts.
Some home remedies for acne, like aloe vera and green tea, may double as treatments for hyperpigmentation scars left by acne. Others like soy milk (used topically), help to fade acne scars but don’t help with acne itself. Soy milk does this by hindering the transfer of melanin (skin pigment) to the skin’s surface.
Home remedies are not effective at treating rolling or ice pick acne scars.
Best Home Remedies for Acne
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is an essential oil that is popularly used to skin conditions. Multiple studies have found it to be effective at treating acne. Tea tree oil is effective for both inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne and is even just as effective as benzoyl peroxide for non-inflammatory blemishes.
Tea tree oil has antimicrobial compounds that inhibit P. acnes—the bacteria that play a significant role in acne development.
How to use tea tree oil for acne
- Cleanse your face and rinse off thoroughly,
- Apply your acne medication (if any)
- Using a cotton ball or bud, apply tea tree oil to your face or to just the areas affected by acne
- Tea tree oil may be harsh to use directly sometimes, so you can dilute it with water or aloe vera gel
- Finish up your skin care routine
This can be done twice daily.
Tea tree oil is safe and generally well tolerated. You may, however, experience side effects like mild itchiness, burning, stinging, redness, and dryness.
Green tea is prepared from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. It contains compounds known as polyphenols that have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Its antimicrobial properties fight the activity and spread of P.acnes. Although it is not firmly established yet, these polyphenols may be effective at treating acne and reducing the amount of sebum the sebaceous glands produce. Sebum reduction is important because excess sebum trapped in pores along with dead skin cells that start the acne development process. Consequently, green tea’s sebum reduction abilities may be able to prevent acne breakouts.
How to use green tea for acne
You can use green tea orally or topically. If you choose the oral route, simply drink a cup or two of green tea daily. For topical use, you may want to prepare a green tea mask.
- Remove the leaves from green tea bags
- Mix the leaves with water and/or aloe vera gel
- Spread a layer of the mixture on your face
- Leave on for about 10 minutes,
- Rinse off thoroughly
Green tea is safe, and its use as an acne treatment has not been associated with any significant side effects. However, because of its high caffeine content, you may experience side effects like abdominal pain, headaches, and difficulty sleeping, if you drink ten or more cups (equivalent to 300mg of caffeine) daily.
Honey is an age-old remedy for skin disorders and many medical conditions. To treat acne, honey has antimicrobial properties that inhibit the growth of P. acnes.
Not all honey is made equal, though, some types of honey are more effective for acne than others. There’s some evidence that suggests that Manuka honey, in particular, may be effective at treating inflammatory acne.
Although honey is a very popular treatment for acne, the number of studies conducted on its efficacy is limited. There’s also no evidence that taking honey orally has any effect on acne.
How to use honey for acne
You can use honey as a face mask.
- Cleanse your skin
- Gently pat dry
- Apply a layer of raw honey
- Leave for 10-20 minutes
- Wash off thoroughly
If you prefer a thicker paste, you can mix honey with fresh oats.
You can also use it as a spot treatment and apply small amounts of it to your breakouts and pimples and leave for some minutes. No rule says you have to rinse the honey off your skin— you can actually leave it on for hours. But honey is sticky, and so the longer it remains on your skin, the more likely it is to attract and keep dirt on your skin’s surface.
Honey is a safe home remedy for acne and is generally suitable for all skin types.
Witch hazel is a natural plant extract that’s typically used as a skin toner. It is used to reduce oiliness on the skin’s surface—a contributing factor to the development of acne.
While it does not reduce the skin’s actual sebum production, witch hazel as astringent properties that help it mop up excess sebum and dry out blemishes. However, witch hazel effectiveness at treating acne itself has not been proven by studies.
Finally, it’s anti-inflammatory and helps to soothe inflammatory acne symptoms like swelling and redness.
How to use witch hazel for acne
- Cleanse your face
- Douse a cotton pad or ball in witch hazel.’
- Rub the saturated cotton pad all over your skin
- Complete your skin care routine
Witch hazel toners can be found in grocery and convenience stores. Be sure to check the ingredient list, because many witch hazel toners contain other ingredients like alcohol that may aggravate your acne. If possible, go for a formulation with minimal additional ingredients and perform a patch test first.
Witch hazel is safe and can be used daily, although it can be drying and mildly irritating. So If you have sensitive or dry skin, you may want to avoid using witch hazel frequently.
Aloe vera is a plant with many medicinal properties. It is anti-inflammatory in nature, helping to soothe and reduce redness and swelling in inflammatory blemishes. Further, while there’s currently no conclusive clinical evidence yet, Its gel and leaves’ antimicrobial properties may decrease the amount of P.acnes on the skin.
How to use Aloe vera for acne
It is best to use raw aloe vera, fresh from the leaves. However, if that is not accessible, you may purchase aloe vera gel from stores. Be sure to check the ingredients list to confirm that aloe vera is actually the main ingredient in the formulation.
Aloe vera can be used as a moisturizer.
- Cleanse your face and gently pat dry
- Using clean fingertips, apply a layer of aloe vera all over your face, or apply small amounts to your spots and pimples
- Follow up with your moisturizer
- Complete your skin care routine
Aloe vera is safe and suitable for all skin types.
Zinc is a mineral that is essential to many of the body’s functions. Though studies on it are limited, the available evidence suggests that zinc is effective at treating acne. Zinc is known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and immune-response regulating properties. However, the exact mechanisms through which zinc treats acne are not yet adequately understood.
How to use zinc for acne
Oral usage of zinc for acne appears to be more effective than topical use. You can buy zinc supplements in stores and pharmacies. Use according to the dosage instructions on the package.
If you plan to use zinc topically, products in gel, cream, or ointment forms are available. Follow the usage instructions found on the packaging.
Oral zinc can cause many side effects, including stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting.
Consult with your doctor before starting on any zinc supplements to prevent the possibility of negative interactions with medication you may currently be taking.
With topical zinc use, You may experience side effects like skin rashes, itchiness, burning, and hives, if any at all.
If you experience any side effects from using zinc orally or topically, it’s advisable to discontinue use and consult with your doctor.
African Black soap
As a home remedy for acne, African black soap is effective in many ways. It has exfoliating properties that promote the shedding of dead skin cells. Its antimicrobial activity helps to reduce acne-causing bacteria like staphylococcus epidermidis on the skin’s surface. African black soap also helps to remove excess oil from the skin—preventing acne breakouts.
It is made from cocoa pods, coconut oil, shea butter, plantain ash, and lemon. African black soap blends vary in terms of the number and quantities of ingredients in them. So you may find that some African black soaps are better suited to your skin than others.
How to use African black soap for acne
African black soap can replace your facial cleanser. If you have sensitive or very dry skin, you may want to limit your use of African black soap to a few times a week.
African black soap can be drying, so ensure that you moisturize your skin afterward.
It is safe and well-tolerated by most skin types. Some of its minor side effects include dryness, burning, itchiness, irritation, and flaking.
Home Remedies to Avoid
Toothpaste is often recommended as an effective spot treatment for acne. The ingredients (like fluoride, hydrogen peroxide, and alcohol) many kinds of toothpaste contain can theoretically help dry out blemishes and get rid of them quickly. In reality, though, toothpaste often contains many other ingredients that can irritate and inflame the skin and worsen your acne. It should be avoided as a home remedy for acne.
Baking soda is widely promoted as an effective acne home remedy. Baking soda does have antimicrobial and exfoliating properties that may help clear up breakouts. However, the effectiveness of these properties for acne has not yet been investigated or proven. Further, because of the risks and side effects associated with it, baking soda should be avoided. It’s extremely rough texture can cause irritation and inflammation, and consent exacerbates your acne. Baking soda can also excessively strip your skin of oils.
Home remedies may be effectively used to treat or manage mild to moderate cases of acne, and most skin types tolerate them well. These home remedies can also be combined with OTC acne medications like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acids to get better results.
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