There are a slew of suspected causes of acne – bacteria, clogged pores, excess oil build-up, hygiene and hormones – and a gazillion products marketed to cure it. That said, you don’t necessarily need to shell out hard-earned cash to fight the zits. First, take a trip to your own pantry and medicine cabinet—these simple at-home ingredients can treat your blemishes effectively (and economically).
The sap of aloe vera leaves, a cactus-like succulent plant, contains gibberellins and polysaccharides, which have antibacterial properties to kill the bacteria that instigates acne, anti-inflammatory properties to soothe aggravated skin, and astringent properties to heal harmed skin. Aloe also helps heal scars, balances moisture in skin and stimulates new skin growth.
How To Use It: Cleanse and dry your face. If using gel or juice, use a cotton ball to apply over your entire face. If using a fresh leaf, peel away the green skin (especially the prickly edges!) and apply directly to skin. Let it dry completely before rinsing with tepid water. Use daily or several times per week.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar balances pH levels of skin and hosts natural antibacterial and antiseptic properties to nip acne-causing bacteria in the bud. It also contains malic acid and lactic acid that gently exfoliate and soften skin.
How To Use It: Mix 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar with 3 teaspoons water. Cleanse and dry your face. Moisten a cotton ball and swipe over entire face, avoiding eye area. Leave on for 10 minutes and rinse with tepid water. Use up to 3 times a day.
Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, balances pH levels of skin thanks to its amphoteric properties (meaning it can act both as an acid or alkaline depending on what it interacts with). It works to remedy imbalanced pH levels that contribute to and aggravate acne. Baking soda’s mild antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties also calm skin and cool out exacerbation of inflamed acne. Plus, the grain of baking soda powder is round, so it works as a gentle exfoliate that won’t harm skin.
How To Use It: Mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 1 teaspoon of water or lemon juice to form a paste. Cleanse your face and use baking soda to gently exfoliate damp skin with your fingertips. Rinse with tepid water to remove completely. Use 2 to 3 times per week.
Hydrogen peroxide, H2O2, is an antiseptic that kills bacteria that can lead to acne and also oxygenates pores to potentially prevent future breakouts.
How To Use It: Use a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution (yep, the same stuff you use to clean and disinfect cuts). Cleanse and dry your face. Moisten a cotton ball with it and apply to problem areas. No need to rinse. Use daily when breakouts occur.
Lemon juice contains L-asorbic acid, which works as a natural astringent to reduce excess oil and as a mild exfoliant to slough off dead skin cells and prevent clogged pores. Plus, lemon contains natural antibacterial compounds that disinfect bacteria that can lead to acne.
How To Use It: Use freshly squeezed lemon juice (not bottled) for maximum efficacy. Moisten a cotton ball with the juice and use it to swipe over affected areas. For sensitive skin, dilute with water. Leave on for 30 minutes and as long as overnight before rinsing with tepid water. Use every 1 to 3 days.
Tea Tree Oil
Distilled from the leaves an Australian shrub, tea tree oil contains powerful antibacterial, antimicrobial and antifungal compound called terpenoids that kill bacteria that can lead to breakouts. Studies show that they daily use of tea tree is as effective as benzoyl peroxide (found in most over the counter acne creams and gels) to reduce inflammation of mild to moderate acne. While tea tree’s effects work more slowly than benzoyl peroxide, it’s a lot less drying and irritating to skin.
How To Use It: It’s potent stuff and should be diluted before applying to skin. Mix 1/2 teaspoon tea tree oil with 2 tablespoons of water or aloe vera juice or gel. Moisten a cotton ball with the solution and use to spot-treat problem areas. Use daily or 2 times a day.
Witch hazel, a solution distilled from the leaves and bark of a North American shrub, contains tannins, which have astringent effects on skin to effectively soothe inflammation and reduce excess oil. Plus, its anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antimicrobial properties help curb bacterial colonization.
How To Use It: Use alcohol-free witch hazel without artificial fragrances or ingredients. Cleanse and dry skin. Moisten a cotton ball with it and apply to problem areas. No need to rinse. Use up to 3 times per day.
Categories: Health/Beauty Tips