For many women, what was once thought of as an adolescent right of passage—acne—has actually still remained a problem well into adulthood. Those of us who still have acne-ridden skin know that it is an ongoing battle to not only treat the blemishes already on our faces but to prevent them from ever coming back.
Sometimes the best thing to do when fighting acne is to go back to basics, to go natural. We spoke to UMA Oils founder Shrankhla Holecek, S.W. Basics founder Adina Grigore, and Joanna Vargas, celebrity facialist and founder of Joanna Vargas Salon, about the natural remedies for acne. We asked them what ingredients we should be looking for, what we can do with the natural ingredients we've found, and what about these ingredients make them ideal for treating acne.
Scroll down to see their picks.
"Technically baking soda and water soften blackheads and any clogged pores in the skin. It’s best for congested skin," says Vargas. She recommends a DIY baking soda mask.
Apple Cider Vinegar
"It's the best astringent in nature because it helps to balance the skin’s pH, making you both less oily and less dry," says Grigore. She warns that apple cider vinegar is very pungent and that you must always dilute it before using. "I recommend using a mixture of one part vinegar to four parts water. Apply to your face with cotton or a spritzer. No need to wash it off," she says.
According to Holecek, turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory agent. She recommends it in gentle, exfoliating bases like chickpea flour, oat powders, or kaolin clay.
Turmeric powder is made from the root of Curcuma zedoaria, a form of ginger native to Southeast Asia. Its active ingredient, curcumin, is what gives it that yellow-orange tinge; it's also what makes it such a potent anti-inflammatory. Turmeric is also found to lighten hyperpigmentation.
Holecek says honey is a soothing remedy for those pesky acne scars. For a DIY facial, she suggests mixing honey, aloe vera, one teaspoon of chickpea flour, and a pinch of turmeric to make a paste. Spread the paste on your face. Once you rinse off with cool water, use an ice cube on the skin for 30 seconds to treat a congested face.
Aloe vera is a naturally derived ingredient known for its soothing and moisturizing properties. The aloe plant's inner gel mucilage (the part that's used in skincare products) is made up of 99.5% water.
"Fine-grain salt cleans deeply, removes dead skin cells, balances moisture, and pulls toxins from pores, making it especially great for preventing acne or quick treatments during flare-ups on the face and body," Grigore says. "The simplest way to use sea salt is to wet your face or body, put some salt on your wet hand so it sticks, then pat it gently onto your skin. You can leave it for a few minutes or rinse immediately. Just make sure not to scrub too hard—it is too abrasive by itself."
Tea Tree Oil
According to Grigore, tea tree oil is known as a "miracle antiseptic."
"It's renowned for its antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-fungal properties, making it an easy and effective spot treatment," she says. She suggests diluting tea tree oil in a little bit of extra virgin olive oil or organic jojoba oil and applying it directly on a zit.
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Guo X, Mei N. Aloe vera: A review of toxicity and adverse clinical effects. J Environ Sci Health C Environ Carcinog Ecotoxicol Rev. 2016;34(2):77-96. doi:10.1080/10590501.2016.1166826