The internet is miraculous – I mean where else can you find on-tap cute puppy videos, book a leaving-tomorrow-sandy-beach get away and shop The Sale without ever having to shoulder rub with other hungry sales hunters? Can’t live without it.
The internet is also a Pandora’s box of home remedies, acne cheats and promised miracle cures. For these my friend, you need a fine tooth comb.
Want to get rid of pimples over night? Google will magic-box tell you to use a clean cotton swab soaked in fresh lemon juice, just before bedtime. Want to get rid of a pimple in 5 minutes? Google will tell you to power-fight it with a combination of lemon juice, honey and a crushed up aspirin tablet. Getting rid of acne in a day? The internet says simple, you have all you need at home – ice cubes, tea tree oil, aspirin and toothpaste.
p.s. please don’t attempt any of these home remedies for acne without reading all of this article first.
Because now is time for truths. You can get rid of acne, but its not going to happen in a day. Read a claim like this and emergency pull your mental alarmbell jingle-jangle.
A huge amount of home remedies for acne are like using a power-hose to spot treat a teeny-tiny pimple. Imagine that. Pimple gone, but so is your skin. Instead the best home remedies for acne harness the natural power of gentle kitchen-cupboard-found ingredients.
Come take my hand to find out which are a go and which are a no…
1. Most Popular Home Remedy for Acne: Lemon Juice
It’s the most often recommended home remedy for acne. Lemon Juice. And my friend… you should absolutely never use it. It’s like a 10 billion calorie chocolate cake slowly teasing you into eating it. It tastes good aka yes lemon juice could help clear a pimple fast but not without consequences. Imagine recruiting for a new job, finding the perfect CV but then realising Miss A Forest was a deer and not a human.
Lemon juice does have acne fighting properties, lemon juice can;
- Help reduce the amount of acne bacteria on your skin and in your pores. Acne bacteria grow really well at high/alkaline pH levels, encouraged by certain types of cleansers, lemon juice is acidic so it makes your skin’s pH a poor place for acne bacteria breeding.
- Stop dead skin collecting in your pores, one of the 3 things spots need to be born. Lemon juice helps because it contains certain types of acids called alpha-hydroxy acids – they help your skin exfoliate, stopping dead skin being tapped in your pores.
- Prevent your skin’s oils from going-off or becoming oxidized and blocking up your pores. Lemon juice has a helpful portion of vitamin C – a superstar antioxidant.
But my friend, lemon juice also has skin damaging properties;
- Lemon juice has a pH of 2 – 1 mark off battery acid. Your skin is pH healthiest when it’s somewhere between 4.2-5.5.
This is a pure power-hose remedy for acne. The pH of lemon juice is so low, not only will lemon juice kill off acne bacteria, it’ll also kill off your healthy skin bacteria. This stuff is also an extremely strong acid, so your skin will get red, sore and angry. Got lemon juice in a sore? Remember the sting?
2. Apple Cider Vinegar as a Home Remedy for Acne
Apple cider vinegar is yummy in salad dressings but a very potential pain in the face for acne. Apple cider vinegar could help fight your acne because;
- Apple cider vinegar has a low pH and acne bacteria hate low pH.
- There are acids in apple cider vinegar which help your skin exfoliate quickly.
But and I bet you’ve guessed this one already ‘eh. Apple cider vinegar is also extremely low in pH. Taking Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar as an example, it’s pH level is 2.85. We’re not in skin friendly haven here.
However there is a work-around to this home remedy for acne. You can use water to raise the pH of apple cider vinegar. To do this you’d need some pH testing strips like these.
And if that’s just too much home remedy fuss, you could grab a purse friendly pH balancing, exfoliating toner like this one.
3. Trendy Home Remedy for Acne: Oil Cleansing With Coconut Oil
Where can coconut oil not get? It’s in your coffee, frying pan, pancakes and now your skincare. Coconut oil is it ingredient of the decade. Here’s what it might do to help rid you of acne;
- Help kill off acne bacteria with natural anti-bacterial ingredient lauric acid – virgin coconut oil has about 50% lauric acid.
- Get to the depths of your oil filled pores (because like dissolves like aka oil dissolves oil) to help stop clogged pores causing you spots.
Coconut oil is widely recommended as an oil cleansing method for acne. But don’t use it! The science of lauric acid is a no-go for acne.
Lauric acid has huge potential to block your pores. There’s this thing called the comedogenicity scale. It rates on a scale of 0 to 5 how possible it is for a skincare ingredient to clog your pores. Lauric acid ranks a 4 – it’s highly comedogenic. It’s also not diluted by the rest of the ingredients in coconut oil which you can tell because when scientists test coconut oil, it also ranks a weighty comedogenic 4.
Bottom line: If you have acne, do not use coconut oil to cleanse your face.
— Cheryl Woodman (@HonestyForSkin) 23 January 2018
4. Using Honey as a Cleanser or Over Night Home Remedy for Acne
A morning’s gloriously golden dollop of fresh, raw honey may actually be much better spread onto your skin than on your toast. True story. Think of honey like the little spoon in your fight to be free of acne. It’s not got knife or fork like anti-acne home remedy skills, it doesn’t have the main part, but it can help… and bonus, as a home remedy for acne, honey won’t hurt your skin.
Here’s how honey helps acne;
- Honey has antibacterial benefits, so you got it, honey helps fight those pesky acne causing bacteria. Bonus fact: medical grades of honey like Revamil have already been developed and are showing great results.
- Honey helps stop inflammation and acne is a chronic inflammatory condition, if your skin stops inflaming, you wouldn’t see raised pimples and acne. Any kind of home remedy that can help stop inflammation, helps stop acne.
- The wondrous delight that is honey also contains known antioxidants which help stop your skin’s oils going off and becoming comdeogenic aka pore blocking.
Honey my friend, is one of your best home remedies for acne. It’s also an ingredient you’ll find giant sized skincare companies using because not only does honey have all the above benefits, it’s also a great skin moisturiser.
5. Should You Home Remedy Acne With Toothpaste?
Home remedies for acne don’t come more gossiped about than toothpaste. Myth has it if you spot treat all pimples nightly, the morning after you’ll wake up with spot free, clean and clear skin. But why? What the heck does toothpaste have which could live true to it’s cult home remedy status?
The activity of toothpaste is all down to its drying effect. Nestled in the teeny-tiny print of your toothpaste’s ingredients list are skin drying ingredients like sodium lauryl sulphate which you might recognise as SLS for short.
SLS is a cleansing ingredient, it mixes up watery and oily impurities to wash them away. You can find it in shower gel, face wash, washing powders… and toothpaste.
As a cleansing ingredient, SLS has an un-matched kind of bad reputation. It irritates the heck out of skin if left on too long. Dermatologists use it to make skin irritated so they can then test skin soothing skincare. This my fellow skin savvy, is exactly how well known the irritating potential of SLS is to your skin.
When your skin’s irritated it will dry out, which when you have acne, can temporarily make your skin look better.
Oily and combination skin types are intensely vulnerable to acne. With extra skin oils filling up your pores, dead skin is much more likely to be trapped and feed-up acne causing bacteria. It’s also much more likely to go-off and become comedgoenic.
Toothpaste can temporarily dry up spots… but your skin then becomes irritated and dry and then not too soon after, more acne springs. Viscous-cycle. My advice, leave it well alone.
What natural remedies for acne can you use instead? Studies show acne prone skin makes too much sticky sebum/oils and not enough of an essential kind called linoleic oil. Using natural oils high in linoleic acid like rosehip or grapeseed oil, can help reduce the size and severity of acne outbreaks.
6. Home Remedies for Acne: Tea Tree Oil
You’ll even find this one in pre-made skincare products, tea tree oil blemish sticks, face washes and more. But does it work? Yoghurt coated raisins can be found in health stores, but dear pal, it doesn’t mean they’re healthy for you. Strange ‘eh.
Tea tree oil is a skincare ingredient with a history book of heritage. Every Australian soldier at the beginning of world war 2, had a wee-bottle of this pale yellow liquid in their first aid arsenal. And it’s for the same reasons Australian soldiers used it, that you might love it as a home remedy for acne – although I don’t recommend you use it long term for these reasons.
Tea tree oil could help your acne because;
- It contains a natural antiseptic called Terpinen-4-ol, so it’s going to be fighting against those pesky acne causing bacterias.
- Tea tree essential oil has mild anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits which are both great skills to have in the war of your acne.
However, before using tea tree oil as a home remedy for acne, know these 2 things;
- Tea tree oil contains 4% of a fragrance allergen known as limonene – if you have sensitive skin, avoid it
- You should never, ever, ever, no matter what the internet might tell you, apply tea tree oil neat to your skin – always, always dilute it
- Tea tree oil is also going to kill off good skin bacteria – spoiler alert – your skin needs bacteria to be healthy
So if after knowing all of this, you still want to give tea tree oil a shot – how do you make a home remedy of tea tree oil for acne? First, you need to know the best way to dilute tea tree oil, which is easy-peasy when you have me as your friendly polly-pocket scientist. Because I can tell you this – most studies show a 5% concentration of tea tree oil is very effective – even as effective as traditional benzoyl peroxide. Buy a tea tree oil like this one, buy a linoleic high carrier oil like this one, mix 2.5 grams of tea tree oil with 47.5 grams of carrier oil – and boom, you’re sorted.
7. Aspirin Tablets as a Home Remedy for Acne
This home remedy for acne feels like you need a cauldron and broomstick. Or need to curtain twitch for signs of police people looking for dealers of illicit white powders. As a pain treatment for your body, can aspirin also help take the pain out of suffering acne?
Here’s why powdering up your acne with aspirin might help;
- Aspirin contains a pre-curser to acne battling salicylic acid, aka when you mix aspirin with water, it can make salicylic acid.
Salicylic acid is the perfect ingredient for helping fight your acne. It’s oil soluble, exfoliates away dead skin cells, can reach deep inside your pores, has anti-bacterial powers and is also helpful as an anti-inflammatory.
However, imagine making homemade bread, would you be able to tell me how much gluten was in there without special gluten measuring tools? It’s A-OK to say no, you my friend are extremely brainy, but you’d have to be a gluten measuring tool to know this. It’s the exact same challenge for this at home acne remedy. Without special tools, you have no idea how much salicylic acid you’re using.
The EU place a 2% limit on salicylic acid skincare – it’s an ingredient you need to be careful of.
Instead of winging the safety of your skin, try this Green Peoples acne fighting serum using an effective natural alternative to salicylic acid.
8. Home Remedies for Acne: Witch Hazel
Okay, okay – maybe this is the real remedy you get to channel witchy-ey cauldron bubbling to. Choose the right kind of witch hazel and yes, it could help get rid of your acne.
- Witch hazel contains skincare ingredients known as tannins, they act like astringents and can dry up the oil in your pores.
How clever ‘eh. A bottle of witch hazel like this one can definitely be a help in your fight against acne. However be careful of which you choose. It’s like playing a game of BeanBoozled jellybeans, some witch hazels come containing a very large dose of skin damaging alcohol. Use one of these and your skin will dry and flake like the desert.
9. Homemade Acne Clay Mud Mask
Not only do mud masks make your neighbours gasp. Who’s been there? They also have one very special property that absolutely can help your skin fight against acne. Hint – it’s very similar to why witch hazel works. A homemade acne mask has what the internet describes as detoxifying properties. Very posh ‘eh. It sounds a bit fancy and intimidating, but trust me it’s very simple. Homemade acne masks containing clay work like a straw – they suck out the contents of your pores.
A homemade acne mask is a helpful home remedy against acne because;
- Clay helps soak up oil from inside your pores and oils help harbour dead skin plugs – the things acne bacteria love to eat.
While you can get very fancy with at home acne masks, the important ingredient is powdered clay. Something you can also very quickly mix up with water and paste on. Simples.
10. Home Remedies for Acne: Tea bags
Specifically green tea and chamomile tea. Acne prone skin is picky. It’s like making bone broth for your face. Soak a teabag as if you were making tea, leave it to stew, dunk a fresh cotton pad in and with delicate circular motions, swipe on like toner. You could even make your own chamomile-green tea toner hybrid – but be sure not to keep around too long – water grows bacteria and that’s not good for your skin.
Here’s how green tea could be a helpful homemade remedy for acne;
- It contains those oil absorbing, astringent making tannins.
- Green tea extract has potent antioxidants.
- Green tea can work as an anti-inflammatory – take that raised, red pimples.
And here’s how chamomile tea can work as a homemade remedy for acne;
- Chamomile is a very well know soother, it helps calm you when you drink it and it anti-inflames when you put it on your skin.
- Chamomile also has mild anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial skills.
Go share the tea love with your skin my friend. This is an acne home remedy with legs, while it’s not going to magic away acne overnight, it will lend your skin a family of 3 helpful benefits.
Which home remedies for acne have you tried? Wondering about one not on this list? Drop me yours in the comments below and I’ll be sure to tell you if it’s a hit or a must-avoid-myth…
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She’s founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.