Here’s 15 of the best home remedies for acne and pimples you’ll ever come across. Use each of these stunning natural treatments to get rid of your acne fast AND prevent further outbreaks in the future. In fact, one natural cure in particular can even get rid of that nasty pimple in one day!...
Acne is an awful skin condition that affects people of all ages and skin types. Teenagers and young adults are the most susceptible to pimple outbreaks due to their hormones raging and bouncing all over the place (not a nice time in your life really). I remember suffering from severe acne back in my teen years. It was horrible. Mind you, I didn’t do anything to help my cause. Eating takeaway and junk food, particularly sugary foods, and smudging my face with Clearasil (is that stuff still even around?) definitely wasn’t the best option. Getting teased at school and called crater face was one of those experiences I’d rather forget.
To be honest, none of us really knew a whole lot about acne back then. We didn’t have the internet. All we really had was the advice given to us by our local pharmacist or drug store assistant, who would always recommend a potentially harmful pharmaceutical treatment (they didn’t stock vitamins and natural supplements back then either). Even when you visited your doctor for your acne, there was never any mention about the gut/acne connection (one of the major, if not THE major causes of pimples and acne that we’ll be discussing). All you got was a script for a drug or a topical pharmaceutical treatment that left your skin so dry and flaky, you were probably better off with the acne!
Thankfully today, you have plenty of natural options to choose from. And best of all, they actually work far better and much quicker than the pharmaceutical treatments.
There are quite a few initial triggers as well as long term complications that cause pimples and severe acne. The most well-known and talked about is of course those hormonal imbalances. This is why many women get acne breakouts during/leading up to that time of the month, or when pregnant, or when going through perimenopause. When hormone levels rise, particularly androgen levels, oil production rises and the skin can literally turn into a grease pot. This excess oil creates a perfect breeding ground for bacteria too. Oil gets trapped beneath the skin, particularly around the hair follicles, which then clogs the pores of the skin and causes inflammation and the formation of pimples, blackheads and whiteheads.
Along with hormone imbalances, there are other causes and triggers for acne and oily skin, some of which include…
· Poor diet:
· Blood sugar imbalance
· Poor gut health
· Lack of sleep
· Stress and/or hectic lifestyle
· Poor skin care; cleansing/moisturizing
· Depression and anxiety
· Certain medications
· Friction and rubbing of clothes on the skin 1
The signs and symptoms experienced from an acne or pimple outbreak will depend greatly on the severity and form of acne you have (non-inflammatory, inflammatory, cystic acne, singular infected pimple, etc). Here’s some of the most common symptoms and types of acne and pimples…
· Blackheads: These usually form around the nose, chin and forehead. They result when waste and gunk gets trapped inside the follicle.
· Whiteheads: These pus filled pimples form a white head and are caused by the follicles being filled with a mixture of sebum (the oily secretion from the sebaceous glands) and dead skin cells.
· Moderate pimples/acne: These pimples are usually small or medium in size and don’t always have a head. You'll usually have a group or cluster of these but they are not as severe or as painful as nodule or cystic acne.
· Nodular and cystic acne: These are the worst and most severe forms of acne. Nodular and cystic pimples affect the deeper layers of the skin rather than just the top layer like your typical run-of-the-mill pimple. Both produce inflamed and painful breakouts that are large and swollen (can be up to an inch or more in size). These horrible cysts and nodules cause most sufferers to become extremely self-conscious of the way they look. Nodular and cystic acne can also take longer to heal.
· Acne scars: An unfortunate side effect from long term severe or chronic acne. Over time, small dimples and holes are left in the skin and are made worse by constant squeezing and popping and picking of pimples. Thankfully, you can reduce, and in many cases, get rid of completely, severe acne scars (see our recent Q&A on this subject here for more information).
The absolute worst thing you can do for your skin is apply any type of chemical or abrasive to it. Unfortunately, this is what most of the pharmaceutical treatments and celebrity endorsed acne treatments (none of which I’m not going to name) contain. This one is very simple… if you can’t pronounce the ingredient names of any acne treatment you’re considering using then don’t use it. Technical long names for ingredients mean they’re either chemicals or have been chemically altered. But I’m guessing that because you’re here looking for natural alternatives and natural remedies for your acne, you’ve either already tried the pharmaceutical options (and didn’t like them or didn’t get results), or you’re already aware that using chemicals on your skin is a bad idea. In either case, you’ve definitely come to the right place to find the natural cures and treatments for your acne that you’re looking for.
So here we list 15 of the all-time best natural remedies and home treatments for acne and pimples. To get the most out of these remedies, we recommend you use them as directed in each paragraph and try to combine as many of them as you can for optimum results (holistic approach). But having said that, even if you just use a few of the recommendations listed below, you’ll still see some outstanding results.
One important point to remember also is to get rid of your acne and pimples fast (and for good), you need to use a combination of external AND internal remedies. The majority of websites and articles out there focus mainly on topical treatments. While these are certainly important, you must treat your acne as an internal problem (which it is) and give this as much attention, if not more attention, as the external part (i.e., your skin). That’s what we’ll be showing you and recommending to you in this article.
So enough of the chit-chat. Let’s get into it shall we…
Apple cider vinegar should definitely be your first “go to” remedy for not only clearing up your acne fast, but for keeping it away for good. ACV balances out your body’s pH level. It also helps to balance out your skins pH level, which is crucial for treating and healing skin infections and skin conditions such as acne. Apple cider vinegar also contains malic acid, a potent internal and external bacterial, viral and fungal destroyer. When taken internally, it returns the body to an alkaline state (positive pH), along with eradicating any unwanted pathogens including bacteria, viruses and fungi, that may be lurking inside of you. Used externally on the skin, ACV kills bacteria, removes excess dirt, oil and makeup, and dissolves dead skin cells. Apple cider vinegar normalizes sebum production too, which prevents your skin from becoming oily.
Many chronic acne sufferers have seen astonishing results from taking ACV internally and using it daily on their skin. To take internally, mix a tablespoon (30mls) of organic apple cider vinegar with the mother (like these) in a glass of warm filtered water. Add a teaspoon of natural or manuka honey for taste if need be and drink down. Consume this mix twice daily on an empty stomach for best results (first thing in the morning and last thing at night are optimal times). If you find you simply cannot handle the taste of the ACV liquid (some people actually gag on it) then substitute this for the ACV capsules. These work equally as well and are much easier to take if you have a sensitive stomach. Take between 1000-3000 mgs of the capsules daily for best results.
To make your apple cider vinegar facewash, find yourself a clean bowl and combine one part ACV to three parts water - enough to cleanse your face (or area where your acne is located). Wash your face first with lukewarm water, then dip a cotton ball in your ACV mix and apply this directly to your acne/pimples. Leave on for at least 30 minutes before rinsing off. Do this twice daily, preferably morning and night for best results. Be sure to test out the ratio of ACV for your skin beforehand as well. Some people can apply straight undiluted apple cider vinegar to their skin with no problems while others with more sensitive skin need a ratio of one part ACV to 5 parts water. Over time your skin will become more adaptable to the apple cider vinegar, but in the beginning, it pays to start off with a light mix. You don’t want your skin or acne to burn (you will experience some light tingling but this is normal). In addition, make sure you use a natural moisturizer afterwards to prevent your skin from becoming dry. Jojoba oil, coconut oil and castor oil are all excellent and come with the added benefit of helping treat and control acne as well.
Important Note: Make sure you ONLY ever use organic apple cider vinegar with the “mother”. This is crucial. Processed vinegar's of any kind should not be used on your skin or taken internally and will actually do you more harm than good.
Good gut bacteria are essential for healthy digestion and immune functioning. Emotional problems such as anxiety, depression and stress alter the body’s gut environment and contribute to systemic inflammation, which in turn causes inflammatory skin conditions such as acne. The gut/brain/skin connection is actually nothing new. Two scientists, John Stokes and Donald Pillsbury, confirmed this over 80 years ago. Only now are researchers actually starting to take notice of their findings. In the Dermatology Online Journal, a published study found probiotics to be an effective treatment for skin conditions ranging from atopic dermatitis to acne. 2
If you’re an emotional person or don’t handle stress very well (or you don’t eat very well) and you have acne, then you most definitely need to be supplementing with probiotics. The easiest way to do this is to start taking a good quality probiotic supplement (such as these). Popping a pill once or twice a day requires no real effort. All you have to do is remember to take it, that’s literally the hardest part. In addition to taking a probiotic supplement, look to start culturing and fermenting your own probiotic rich foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, pickles and yogurt. These are easy to make and taste great. If you don’t have the time or motivation to do this then you can always buy your cultured foods from your local supermarket as most now stock these foods in abundance.
Remember this important point… probiotics have a short lifespan so you need to replenish your supply every day. And you can never have too many of these healthy little critters either. In fact, the more you get into you the merrier!
Wheat grass is another powerhouse food you need for a healthy gut and healthy skin. Wheat grass is rich in chlorophyll (the green pigment in plants), which is a potent gut healer and deodorizer. Wheat grass also contains high amounts of skin healing nutrients including zinc (a recent study found that supplementing with zinc can reduce your acne by an astonishing 80-100%!4), along with magnesium, potassium, selenium, copper, biotin, lutein, vitamins A, C, E, and B group vitamins. Wheat grass is also an excellent prebiotic, which means when you have it together with your probiotics, the probiotics use it as a food source. This increases the absorption rate and growth of the probiotics in your gut a thousand fold!
To get your wheat grass, find a quality brand of dried wheat grass powder and take 2-3 teaspoons daily. Either mixing these in a smoothie or adding a teaspoon to a glass of filtered water or juice and drinking it down are the easiest ways. If you don’t like the taste of the wheat grass powder, you can always opt for the capsules instead.
Omega-3 fatty acids and MCT’s (medium chain triglycerides) contain strong anti-inflammatory properties. They help heal and reduce inflammation on top of AND underneath the skins surface to speed up the healing process and reduce the severity of acne breakouts. In one study, 45 participants with severe acne were given omega-3 fatty acid supplements. After 10 weeks their acne and symptoms decreased considerably. 4
Best sources of omega-3 are fish oil, cod liver oil and krill oil. Chia seeds and flax seeds are also excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. A tablespoon of chia and flaxseeds daily sprinkled over a salad or on your cereal, along with some fish oil, cod liver oil or krill oil (follow the directions on the container for amounts) will do wonders for your acne. For MCT’s, organic virgin coconut oil is what you need. Coconut oil is an exceptional anti-inflammatory and bacterial, fungal and viral killer that works on both your insides and your outsides. Consume a tablespoon of coconut oil daily and use every day as a topical skin moisturizer/anti-inflammatory/anti-bacterial agent to help control your acne as well.
Lemon juice is a superb fast-acting remedy for acne and pimples. It contains high amounts of vitamin C and citric acid, so it’s a great exfoliator. Lemon juice is also excellent for clearing dirt and debris from skin pores and hardening that unwanted sebum. In addition, lemon juice is a natural astringent, which means it helps to dry out pimples and acne, along with helping to reduce the swelling and redness. Lemon juice can dry your skin out though, particularly where your acne is located, so it’s best used every second day. Be sure to use a good natural moisturizer afterwards as well.
For this remedy all you need do is take a slice of lemon and rub this over the affected area. Leave on for a few hours then rinse off with lukewarm water. Or as a variation, mix equal parts of lemon juice and rose water and use this to wash and cleanse your face. In addition to this, add a couple of slices of lemon to your daily drinking water (filtered water only) for extra benefit. Like ACV, lemon juice also helps to keep your body alkaline (positive pH).
Sodium bicarbonate is terrific for unblocking skin pores, removing dead skin cells and drying up excess oil. It contains mild anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties and is a very good natural skin pH balancer. Mix equal parts baking soda and water to form a paste. Apply this to your face (or wherever your acne is located) and gently massage using slow circular motions for 2-3 minutes. Leave on for a good 30 minutes or so then rinse off with warm water. Pat your skin dry and moisturize afterwards.
Steam is great for opening up the pores of the skin and allowing it to breathe. It’s a particularly handy treatment to do before exfoliating as it basically gets the skin ready for the upcoming cleanse. Simply fill a pot or container with boiled water and place your face over the pot. Allow the steam to soak into your skin (apply a towel over your head if need be to trap the steam). Do this for 10-15 minutes if possible then pat dry with a fresh towel. Be sure to do this at least once a day for best results.
Tea tree oil contains powerful soothing properties that help reduce the inflammation and redness of acne and pimples. Its antibacterial and antiseptic properties also help destroy acne causing bacteria, along with opening up and unblocking the pores of the skin to easily remove blackheads and whiteheads.
Wash your face first with warm water then pat dry. Mix a solution of one part tea tree oil to nine parts water and apply this to the affected area using a cotton ball. Leave on for 30-40 minutes then rinse off. You can gradually increase the strength of the mixture each day too as your skin becomes more accustomed to the tee tree oil. As a variation, mix 3 to 4 drops of tea tree oil in a tablespoon of natural aloe vera gel and apply this to your acne problem areas. Leave on for 30-40 minutes before rinsing off.
This is one of the most popular natural skin remedy treatments. Aloe vera is regularly used to heal wounds, treat burns and fight inflammation. It’s anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and healing properties are exceptional, which is why it’s the number one recommended choice for skin conditions world-wide. Aloe vera contains high concentrations of salicylic acid and sulfur, both of which have been used extensively in the treatment of severe and chronic acne. Multiple studies have in fact been able to prove that applying both salicylic acid and sulfur to acne affected skin significantly reduces the inflammation, redness, and the lifespan of a pimple. Aloe vera also contains ingredients that help speed up the skin healing process to remove acne scars.
If you have access to fresh aloe vera, cut off a small piece and scrape out the gel using a spoon. Apply this directly to your acne after you’ve cleansed and exfoliated. Leave on for as long as possible before rinsing off with water (fresh aloe vera gel gets a bit sticky so just do the best you can when it comes to how long you leave it on for). If you don’t have access to fresh aloe vera then the next best option is a good quality aloe vera gel. You can purchase these online or from any good health food store or pharmacy. Just make sure you buy the pure aloe vera gel with no additives.
Yes, this one’s a bit unconventional, but it does work. The toothpaste method is also best done before bed. Simply apply some ice to your acne first to increase blood circulation and reduce some of the redness and inflammation. Then take a liberal amount of white toothpaste (not gel) and apply this to the affected area. Leave on overnight then wash your face with lukewarm water the next morning. You should find that your acne and pimples have improved quite noticeably. Continue to do this each night before bed until your acne breakout has either reduced significantly or is gone.
Honey is one of nature’s most powerful antibiotics. Its ability to promote rapid healing both internally and externally in and on the human body is extraordinary. For acne and pimples, honey really does work a treat. But only when it’s 100% pure unprocessed honey (local honey) or manuka honey though. If you use or consume honey (which you should), never use a processed honey of any kind. Find a local honey supplier or spend the extra money and purchase some manuka honey (the best).
Honey definitely needs to be used as both an internal and external treatment for acne. For internal use, add a teaspoon of local or manuka honey to your morning cereal, smoothie, ACV or lemon drink. For external benefit, simply use your honey to make a homemade healing mask. Here’s a few really good ones…
Honey, Cinnamon, Coconut Oil Mask: Mix/blend 2 tablespoons of manuka honey, a teaspoon of organic virgin coconut oil and ½ teaspoon of Ceylon cinnamon (not cassia) to form a paste. Apply to face or acne area, gently smearing until all areas are covered. Leave on for 15-20 minutes then remove with a damp cloth or face wash.
Honey, Baking Soda, Coconut Oil, Probiotics Cleansing/Healing Mask: Mix together a tablespoon of manuka honey, one teaspoon of coconut oil, one teaspoon of baking soda and two capsules of live probiotics (break open capsules and add). Apply this paste to your face or affected area using slow circular movements for 1-2 minutes. Leave on for 20-30 minutes then wipe off with a face cloth dipped in lukewarm water.
Honey, Yogurt, Baking Soda Mask: Combine one tablespoon of manuka honey, one tablespoon of natural yogurt and one teaspoon of baking soda. Apply to face or acne affected area(s). Leave on for 20-30 minutes then remove with warm water and a damp cloth or face towel.
Orange peel is rich in vitamin C, a nutrient that helps promote the growth of new skin cells. The astringent properties of orange peel also cause a contraction of skin cells, which in turn helps dry out pimples and blemishes. For this remedy, first take an orange and peel it. Eat the orange (no sense in wasting a perfectly good orange!). Leave the peel in the sun to dry out then grind into a powder. Add a small amount of water, just enough to make a paste, and apply this to your face and/or acne prone area. Leave on for 30 minutes then wash off with warm water. Gently pat your skin dry and apply a natural moisturizer.
Oatmeal is a terrific skin exfoliator and cleanser. It also helps to reduce the inflammation and painful appearance of severe acne. Cook up a cup of oatmeal and add a teaspoon of raw natural honey along with the juice of half a lemon. Make sure it’s cooled to room temperature first then apply and massage the mixture over the affected area(s). Leave on for 30-40 minutes, preferably until it sets dry, then rinse off with some lukewarm water. Gently pat your skin dry afterwards and apply a natural moisturizer such as coconut oil, castor oil or jojoba.
Two major causes of acne and pimples are out of balance hormone levels and blood sugar levels. Holy basil is exceptional at equalizing the body’s blood sugar and hormone levels. Along with eradicating refined (sugary) food and drinks from your diet (see next cure), drinking holy basil tea (tulsi) every day can help get those hormones and blood glucose levels back to where they should be. In a study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Sciences, both sweet basil and holy basil oils were effective at helping clear up acne in all study participants, though sweet basil oil was found to be the most effective. The article finished by saying… “These findings indicate the possibility to use Thai sweet and holy basil oil in suitable formulations for acne skin care”. 3
So adding a few drops of sweet basil essential oil to one of the face mask recipes above will also help a great deal with your acne. You can buy holy basil/tulsi tea online or from your local health food retailer (your supermarket may even stock it). Drink this tea twice daily, once in the morning and once at night. Sweet basil essential oil can be found at most good herbal retailers.
This is the one I struggled with the most when I was in my teens and had severe acne. Eating lots of high sugary foods, drinking sugary drinks such as colas, sodas and 100% “unnatural” fruit drinks (you know the ones), spike your blood sugar levels (which increases sebum production) and mess with your hormones something chronic. Processed foods, particularly fried foods and junk food, produce rampant inflammation throughout the body. If you have severe acne and your diet consists of these foods, you’re not doing yourself any favors. It may not be an easy process, but if you really want to be acne-free for good then making the change from these man-made/man-altered disaster foods to a more healthy eating regimen must be done.
Here’s some more “dos and don’ts” that are crucial for getting rid of acne and pimples in a hurry and for good…
· DO eat plenty of green leafy vegetables, fruits such as berries and papaya, along with seeds including chia, pumpkin and flaxseeds. Avocadoes are particularly rich in healthy fats so be sure to include these.
· DO eat lots of healthy herbs and spices. Garlic, turmeric, rosemary, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cayenne pepper, oregano and cilantro all contain potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory components so use these in your cooking as much as possible and add to smoothies, shakes, health beverages, etc.
· DO eat wild caught fish such as salmon and organic eggs. Both of these are rich in healthy fats, protein and essential nutrients.
· DO eat zinc rich foods. Numerous studies have been able to prove there’s a strong link between low zinc levels and acne. Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc, as is natural yogurt and kefir. Organic chicken is also a good source of zinc. 4
· DO drink lots of clean filtered water. Water flushes toxins and chemicals out of the body and hydrates the skin. Aim to drink at least 2 liters or half a gallon each day. Add a slice or two of fresh lemon to your bottle as well for extra benefit (and taste).
· DO drink green tea. Green tea is extremely high in antioxidants. If you can’t find holy basil tea then drink green tea instead (or drink both). Applying green tea directly to your acne also helps. Simply take your used tea bag(s) and place them on your pimples/acne for 10 or 15 minutes.
· DO consume lots of probiotic rich foods (as already mentioned).
· DO look into following a ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet is perfect for people with mild to severe acne and gives excellent results.
· DON’T consume dairy. Dairy products are one of the major instigators and contributors of acne according to numerous studies. Processed dairy (pasteurized and homogenized dairy) is toxic gunk that’s not fit for human consumption anyway.
· DON’T consume high sugar, high carbohydrate foods and grain foods as these feed the bad bacteria in the gut and destroy the good bacteria (probiotics).
· DON’T eat gluten and wheat containing foods. Gluten causes inflammation of the gut, which in turn affects the skin (gut/brain/skin connection).
· DON’T eat fried foods or fast food for the reasons already discussed.
· DON’T cook with or consume hydrogenated oils. All hydrogenated commercial oils (those ones sitting on the shelf of your supermarket in clear plastic bottles) are highly toxic and produce chronic inflammation in the body - particularly skin inflammation. Canola oil, soya bean oil, corn oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil and Crisco are just some these toxic oils. Most packaged and processed foods also contain hydrogenated oils, which is another good reason to avoid all processed foods.
· DON’T stress. Multiple studies have linked stress to an increase in the frequency and severity of acne. Try meditation or Yoga for stress relief (they do help).
· DO exercise regularly. Exercise plays a crucial role in hormone regulation and helps to reduce anxiety and stress levels. 45 minutes to an hour a day 4-5 times a week is perfect. And any form of exercise is beneficial - walking, hiking, jogging, swimming, cycling, weight training - it doesn’t matter. As long as you get “huffy and puffy” during your 45 minutes to an hour, that’s all that matters.
So there you have our top 15 home remedies for acne and pimples. We believe you have everything here to not only get rid of your current acne or pimple outbreak, but also cure this problem fully so you won’t have to worry about those horrible little red spots popping up again! Like I said at the beginning, try and incorporate as many of the remedies as possible for best results. All of the internal remedies should most definitely be applied and continued with indefinitely to stay acne-free. With the external treatments, try a few different ones to find what works best for you. What works for one person doesn’t always necessarily work for another.
So what are you waiting for? Get going and get rid of those nasty pimples once and for all. With your skin finally acne free and looking a million bucks, you won’t need to worry about trying to hide your blemishes with makeup anymore (or with clothing, hair over the forehead, hand over the chin, and all the other little self-conscious things we do to try and hide these rotten little buggers). You’ll finally be free and confident once again!
Good luck and all the best to you.