10 Proven Home Remedies for Treating Stubborn Acne

Acne is one of the most common skin problems that affect people of all ages. Teenagers are more prone to acne due to increased hormone levels… Tayana - September 26, 2017

Acne is one of the most common skin problems that affect people of all ages. Teenagers are more prone to acne due to increased hormone levels in their teenage years, but it can also affect adults of any age for many reasons. Some of the other reasons for acne may be lifestyle-related due to poor diet, stress, and sleep deprivation, but it can also be hereditary.

Acne occurs when the skin follicles are blocked by dead skin cells or oil from the skin. Hormones cause the skin to produce more oil which is why acne is more common in teenage years, although some people can be prone to more outbreaks than others.

Acne generally appears as blackheads or pimples on the face, chest, back and scalp. There are many ways to help prevent and reduce the appearance of acne outbreaks, from medical creams and ointments, to cosmetic treatments and home remedies.

Some of the most effective ways to treat acne are the simplest and can be created from ingredients that most of us have in our cupboards. So let’s take a look at the 10 simplest and most effective ways to treat acne.

1. Baking Soda

The main reason that acne occurs is due to your pores becoming blocked causing a build up of dead skin. It is therefore essential to regularly wash and exfoliate your skin, to make sure that dead skin particles aren’t able to build up.

Baking soda, or bicarbonate of soda, which can be found in most of our cupboards, is a natural exfollient. Not only that, but it has mild anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties meaning that it can help regulate the pH balance of the skin. In short, it is an ideal home remedy for helping to prevent and clear acne.

This is the method you should use:

  1. Mix one or two tablespoons of baking soda in a bowl with some water until it becomes a paste.
  2. Apply all over your face and leave for several minutes
  3. After several minutes wash off the mixture, making sure that you exfoliate and scrub off any dead skin.
  4. Another method you could use for particularly stubborn acne, is to add to your baking powder solution – one teaspoon of cinnamon powder, the juice of half a lemon and five tablespoons of honey. Leave this for five minutes until scrubbing off in the same way.

The acidic properties in lemon juice mean that it is especially good at cleaning out the dirt that has accumulated in the pores, and hardening the sebum which protect the skin. Honey-cinnamon mix solution works like a charm. Honey is naturally antibacterial which means that it is ideal for treating acne, whilst cinnamon is helpful at drying the skin surface to bring blood and oxygen to the outer skin surface.

Using one of these solutions once or twice a week should drastically improve the appearance of your skin within a month.

2. Oatmeal

Once again, oatmeal is a natural exfoliator. It’s also gentle on your skin, cheap and readily available at most supermarkets.

Its benefit lies in the fact that it is highly absorbent and therefore can absorb any excess oil on the skin. Because it is gentle on the skin, it can help to cleanse the skin, and rid the pores of any dirt which may be clogging them and making the acne worse. Oatmeal contains 18 of the essential amino acids which can be absorbed through the skin and help to rebuild tissue and promote healing. This is particularly useful for break outs where skin can become inflamed, and can also be used to treat sunburn, rashes and allergic reactions.

Oatmeal also contains avenanthramides – antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that soothe itchy, dry and irritated skin.

For best results try this recipe:

  1. Cook oatmeal with boiling water. For extra sensitive skin, try putting the oatmeal into a food processor beforehand to give oatmeal powder.
  2. Mix one cup of cooked oatmeal with the juice from half a lemon, and one teaspoon of honey.
  3. Rub this mixture all over your face, paying particular attention to acne affected areas. Avoid the eye area.
  4. Leave the mask on for 30 minutes.
  5. After 30 minutes wash off with luke warm water, rubbing to exfoliate.
  6. For best results do this once or twice a week.

As well as a treatment for acne, this oatmeal mask can also be used on other parts of the body where skin is irritated or damaged.

3. Fuller’s Earth

Fuller’s earth, also known as Multani mitti, is a natural sedimentary clay which has the ability to absorb excess oil and grease. It got its name through its use in the past by textile workers called ‘fullers’ to absorb lanolin oils in the cloth finishing process. Nowadays it is regularly used as an inactive ingredient in cosmetics.

Due to its oil absorption abilities, it is ideal for greasy and acne-prone skin, as it helps to absorb oil without drying out the skin. It is also effective at unclogging pores and improving general overall complexion.

This is down to the fact that alongside possessing oil absorption abilities, it contains various minerals, including magnesium, quartz, silica, iron, calcium, calcite and dolomite. It contains natural antiseptic qualities making it perfect for the treatment of broken or damaged skin. It can also be used to reduce the appearance of scarring that can sometimes be caused by acne, or other skin damage. You can find it at Indian grocery stores or health food shops.

You can make up a mixture using the following steps:

  1. Mix equal proportions of Fuller’s earth (multani mitti), rose water, and sandalwood powder. To get more of a paste, just add more rose water.
  2. Apply this mixture all over the face as a mask.
  3. Wait for it to dry the skin. This may take 5 to 10 minutes before it is completely dry.
  4. When the mixture has dried onto your skin, wash off thoroughly, making sure to scrub and exfoliate as you go.
  5. Repeat this process once a week for optimum results.

4. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice can be a very effective ingredient when treating acne due to its high acidic properties.

Lemon helps to reduce oil secretions and pimple-causing bacteria. It, too, has the ability to remove excess oil from your skin, making it perfect to prevent and treat acne. The high acidity of the lemon cleans out dirt which has accumulated in the pores, as well as hardening the sebum. Lemon juice also contains vital vitamin C which helps reduce signs of aging and can be absorbed through the skin.

There are several methods that may be recommended for treatments using lemon juice, depending on the sensitivity of your skin and the severity of the acne.

Either you can:

1. Rub a slice of lemon directly on the skin of the affected area and leave for a couple of hours before rinsing with water.

Warning: Rubbing lemon directly on the skin does cause an adverse reaction in some people. So trying a patch test with a small area of the skin is advisable to begin with.

2. You can make a face wash mixture by mixing the juice of one lemon with an equal amount of rose water. Use the mixture to wash the entire face.

With both options, it is important to remember not to avoid bright sunlight immediately after putting lemon juice on your face, as it may cause adverse reactions. It is best to use fresh lemon juice, which has the highest concentration of vitamin C in it. For best results repeat this routine 2-3 times a week to avoid the skin drying out.

5. Toothpaste

Toothpaste contains benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid or sulfur, all of which can help reduce redness and speed healing. It has anti-bacterial and oil absorption properties, which makes it one of the easiest and cheapest home remedies for tackling the appearance of spots.

You can treat acne in this way using this method:

  1. Clean your skin with a gentle cleanser or water to remove all dirt/makeup etc.
  2. Apply a small blob of toothpaste directly on the spot. Try to be as precise as possible – you can do this using a cotton bud.
  3. Leave the toothpaste on the affected area for 20-30 minutes. If you notice irritation of the skin then wash off immediately
  4. After 30 minutes wash the toothpaste off.
  5. If your skin doesn’t react negatively to this and there is minimal irritation, you can then leave the toothpaste on overnight and wash off during your morning routine.
  6. Repeat this every day for several days in a row and you should begin to see an improvement.

Warning: Toothpaste should only be used as a topical treatment on affected areas and never on whole face. Using too much toothpaste on unaffected skin will cause the skin to dry out and may lead to the over-production of sebum, making your skin more oily.

Ideally, toothpaste should not be used as a permanent solution for acne treatment, as it can be too harsh on the skin and lead to further drying out. However, as a temporary measure to reduce irritation and improve the appearance of the skin, toothpaste is an effective home remedy.

6. Tea Tree Oil

You will probably be familiar with tea tree oil’s presence in facial cosmetics. It has long been used as a cleansing ingredient for the skin for its natural antiseptic and disinfectant properties.

It is derived from the Australian native plant Melaleuca alternifolia, and has been widely used over the past 100 years to kill many strains of bacteria, viruses and fungi. It is believed that Australian aboriginals have been using it for centuries to cure skin conditions.

It has disinfectant properties which makes it excellent at disinfecting the pores, and killing bacteria. It unblocks the sebaceous glands which are the main cause of acne.

Research shows that tea tree oil is very effective for the treatment of mild to moderate outbreaks of acne. One study showed that tea tree oil was 5 times more effective at improving acne severity than in patients that received a placebo treatment.

This is the recommended application:

1. One drop of tea tree oil to the affected area three times a day. Mix with a tablespoon of witch hazel for extra anti-bacterial properties.

Note: If you buy 100% tea tree oil, you do not need more than one drop for it to be effective. More than one drop could lead to drying out of the skin.

2. If the tea tree oil is too harsh on the skin and causes skin irritation, redness or over-drying, then you can dilute it with water and mix with aloe vera and then apply.

You can also use tea tree on other parts of your body which are affected by acne by applying the same method. If you are left with scarring from acne, tea tree oil can also be helpful as it can lighten those scars and restore the skin’s natural oil balance.

7. Orange Peel

Just as lemon juice is effective at treating acne due to its high acidity level, so is orange peel.

It has an even higher vitamin C content than lemon, meaning that it has fantastic anti-aging properties, and has been proven to be very helpful as a preventative measure for acne. Orange peel also contains calcium which is good for dry, flaky and itchy skin.

Made into a mask orange peel is perfect for curing blackheads, acne and getting rid of blemishes and dry skin. This is because it is a great exfoliator, ridding the skin of dead cells and unblocking the pores.

Although you can use the orange juice directly, the peel it thought to be more effective and gentler on the skin. This is the process that is used to make an orange peel face mask:

  1. Put orange peels in a sunny spot and leave them to dry out. This may take 3-5 days depending on where you leave them. If outside, put a thin cloth over them to protect against dirt and insects.
  2. When the peel is dried, use a food processor or blender to grind the dried peel into a powder.
  3. Add water and mix into a paste.
  4. After 20 minutes wash off the paste with warm water.

You can store the orange peel powder separately, and add other ingredients of your choice to make special face masks. Adding one teaspoon of honey and one teaspoon of yogurt is a good option to increase anti-bacterial properties, and kill germs and bacteria.

8. Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe vera is a bit of a wonder plant when it comes to treating skin conditions. It has been used for thousands of years, and was called the ‘plant of immortality by the Egyptians for its health properties. Aloe Vera is a cactus plant that comes from the Liliaceae family, its leaves secrete a gel that can be broken off from the rest of the plant and applied directly to the skin to heal wounds and soothe skin. It has been traditionally used to treat sunburn, but can also be used to treat flaky skin, hair and scalp problems, and acne.

It is so effective for acne because it contains two hormones: Auxin and Gibberellins. These provide wound healing and anti-inflammatory properties which help to reduce skin inflammation. Gibberellin is a growth hormone which helps to stimulate the growth of new cells – this means that the skin can heal quickly with minimal scarring. It is also beneficial to use on scars which have previously been caused by acne, as it can help reduce the appearance. It contains various antioxidants including, beta carotene, vitamin C and E that can help improve the skin’s condition.

Its main strength lies in reducing skin inflammation, and you will usually start to see a difference in your skin’s condition after just a few days of using aloe vera.

Aloe vera can be applied to the skin either from an aloe vera gel bought in the supermarket or by cutting the leaf off an aloe vera plant and squeezing the gel from the middle.

Whether in gel form or directly from the plant you should:

  1. Apply directly to the face
  2. Leave for 30 minutes until dry
  3. Wash off with warm water
  4. Repeat twice daily for best results.

9. Fenugreek

Fenugreek is a Mediterranean herb which has a long history of being used to relieve inflammation and promote healing. Otherwise known as birds foot, it possesses powerful antioxidants and has been used for centuries to treat skin conditions. It is also used as a food spice in Egypt, India and the Middle East.

The herb became popular for the treatment of acne due to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiseptic properties. Unlike other home remedies, it doesn’t necessarily have to be applied to the skin, but can be taken in tablet form with a similar outcome. Its diuretic properties can help to eliminate toxins through the digestive system, rather than the skin, which can stop further infection occurring on the skin. However, taking it internally can also cause unwanted side effects such as bloating, diarrhea and nausea, so most people still choose to apply directly to the skin.

Fenugreek has also been found to have anti-aging properties due to its ability to fight free radicals which contribute towards the aging of the skin.

This is the method:

  1. Grind fresh fenugreek leaves and or seeds into a powder using a food processor or blender.
  2. Blend with water to make a smooth paste.
  3. Apply the paste onto the face and leave it on for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Wash your face with warm water.
  5. Once your skin has gotten used to the mixture, you can leave it on overnight for increased effectiveness.
  6. Repeat the process for three to four days. After this, you should begin to see results.

Warning: Pregnant women should not consume or apply fenugreek due to its use as uterine stimulant. In some cases, the use of fenugreek has been known to induce labor!

10. Indian Lilac

Indian lilac, also known as neem, is a well-known herb used in Ayurveda for the treatment of various skin problems. It comes from the neem tree, which is known as a ‘one tree pharmacy’, for its powerful medicinal value.

Indian lilac helps to kill the bacteria that cause acne through its powerful antiseptic and antimicrobial properties. It is also a powerful anti-inflammatory that soothes the redness and inflammation of skin breakouts. It contains 140 different compounds, which contain antiviral and antibacterial properties. This makes it perfect, not only for the treatment of acne, but for its prevention. It contains high levels of antioxidants to reduce signs of aging and lessen environmental damage.

To apply follow these steps:

  1. Mix Indian lilac leaves or powder with water to create a paste
  2. Add turmeric powder – a natural anti-inflammatory
  3. Apply to the affected area and leave for 20 minutes
  4. After 20 minutes wash off the paste
  5. Repeat several times weekly for optimum results

You can also use neem oil alongside this routine several times a day until you see improvement.

All of these home remedies have been shown to be successful as part of an overall routine for preventing and treating acne. For best results, you must also ensure that you live a healthy lifestyle by adopting a balanced diet, and avoiding environmental damage where possible. Most of these remedies have been found to be effective for sufferers of mild to moderate acne, severe cases of acne may need additional medical treatment. In cases of persistent acne, you should consult a doctor.