Acne is a widespread skin condition that impacts around 85% of individuals at some stage in their lives.
It manifests as stubborn pimples which can be challenging to eliminate.
While traditional treatments can tackle these blemishes, they might come with side effects like dryness and skin irritation.
Because of this, many are exploring natural methods to quickly clear up pimples. But, it’s worth noting that among the myriad of natural acne solutions, only a few are backed by science.
Here are four natural techniques to tackle pimples quickly, even though the scientific evidence for their use might be limited.
1. Try tea tree oil for spot treatment
Tea tree oil comes from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia tree, native to Australia.
This oil is renowned for its antibacterial properties and its ability to reduce skin inflammation. In particular, it combats P. acnes and S. epidermidis, two bacteria responsible for causing pimples.
A study highlighted that a gel with 5% tea tree oil was significantly more effective in reducing acne lesions and the severity of acne than a placebo. Another study showed that this same concentration of tea tree oil was as effective in diminishing pimples as a lotion containing 5% benzoyl peroxide, a typical acne treatment.
Moreover, using tea tree oil resulted in fewer side effects like dryness and irritation.
However, remember that tea tree oil is strong and might cause skin irritation. Always dilute it with another oil before application. While some research supports its benefits for acne, it’s essential to approach its use with caution. It’s always a good idea to do a patch test first to see how your skin reacts.
How to apply tea tree oil for acne
- Mix 1 drop of tea tree oil with 1 teaspoon of a carrier oil.
- Use a cotton swab to dab the blend on pimples.
- You can apply a moisturizer afterward if you like.
- Do this 1–2 times daily as required.
Summary: Tea tree oil is known to reduce inflammation and target acne-causing bacteria. Some studies suggest it can help diminish pimples when applied topically.
2. Consider other essential oils for spot treatment
Apart from tea tree oil, several essential oils with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial qualities can help diminish pimples.
Research indicates that essential oils from cinnamon, rose, lavender, and clove can combat the bacteria S. epidermidis and P. acnes responsible for acne. Additionally, rosemary and lemongrass have shown potential against P. acnes.
A study pitted clove-basil oil against 10% benzoyl peroxide and a placebo. Both the 2% and 5% clove-basil oils proved more efficient and quicker in pimple reduction than benzoyl peroxide.
Another study revealed that a gel made from acetic acid, orange, and sweet basil essential oils improved pimple healing by 75%.
Like tea tree oil, these oils are potent. Always dilute them before applying to the skin to prevent irritation. Test a small patch first and stop using them if any irritation occurs.
How to apply essential oils for acne
- Mix 10 drops of your chosen essential oil with 1 ounce (30 mL) of a carrier oil.
- Use a cotton swab to dab the blend on pimples.
- If needed, moisturize afterward.
- Do this 1–2 times daily as required.
Summary: Essential oils like cinnamon, rose, lavender, and clove can combat acne-causing bacteria. Using them might help decrease the occurrence of pimples.
3. Use green tea on your skin
Many enjoy green tea for its health benefits, but it’s also beneficial when applied topically.
Green tea is packed with flavonoids and tannins, which combat inflammation and the bacteria triggering pimples. Additionally, it’s rich in the antioxidant epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) which helps reduce inflammation, curbs sebum production, and counters P. acnes, a bacteria contributing to acne.
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Several studies indicate that a 2–3% green tea extract applied on the skin can lead to a significant reduction in sebum production and acne. While there are products containing green tea, you can easily and affordably prepare a green tea solution at home.
How to utilize green tea for acne
- Let green tea steep in boiling water for about 3–4 minutes.
- Once it cools, apply to your face using a cotton ball or even spray it on with a spray bottle.
- Keep it on for about 10 minutes or overnight, then wash it off.
- Use it 1–2 times daily. If made in a batch, it can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Summary: Green tea, packed with antioxidants, can reduce inflammation and combat acne-causing bacteria. When applied topically, it has demonstrated a reduction in acne symptoms.
4. Moisturize with aloe vera
Aloe vera, a tropical plant, has leaves that yield a clear gel.
This gel, when applied topically, has demonstrated antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and wound-healing properties. Hence, it’s a favorite for various skin issues, including psoriasis, rashes, and minor cuts.
Though only a few studies focus on its efficacy against acne, the findings are positive. Aloe vera boasts of components like lupeol, salicylic acid, urea nitrogen, cinnamonic acid, phenols, and sulfur that can combat acne-causing bacteria.
One particular study blended aloe vera gel with clove-basil oil, and the resulting mixture exhibited better anti-acne capabilities as the aloe vera concentration increased.
Another study revealed that a 50% aloe vera gel combined with tretinoin cream was more effective in acne treatment than just the tretinoin cream. Tretinoin is an acne medication derived from vitamin A.
Though aloe vera may not be very effective on its own, it seems to boost the efficiency of other treatments.
How to use aloe vera gel for acne
- Extract the gel from the aloe leaves using a spoon.
- Apply this gel along with other acne solutions. You might consider blending it with your other treatments or layering it.
- Apply this 1–2 times daily or as you see fit.
Summary: Aloe vera, known for its skin benefits, can enhance the effects of other acne treatments. While it’s promising, more studies are needed to verify its standalone benefits against acne.
Longer-term acne remedies
For those seeking remedies that have a more sustained effect on acne, there are several natural treatments proven effective over prolonged usage. These remedies may not provide immediate relief, but with consistency, they can help in preventing and alleviating acne.
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Zinc supplement for acne
Zinc is pivotal for wound healing and also possesses anti-inflammatory properties.
Studies suggest individuals with acne often have lower zinc levels than those without. Introducing a zinc supplement can rectify this imbalance. In fact, consuming 30-45 mg of elemental zinc daily can drastically reduce acne occurrences.
For instance, a study involving 48 acne sufferers who consumed zinc thrice daily found that after 8 weeks, nearly 80% experienced a substantial decrease in acne.
However, one should be cautious about the zinc form they consume, ensuring the daily intake doesn’t exceed the recommended 40 mg upper limit. Excessive zinc can lead to issues like stomach discomfort and intestinal irritation.
Brewer’s yeast for acne
A specific brewer’s yeast variant, Saccharomyces cerevisiae Hansen CBS, when ingested, appears to curb acne. The yeast is enriched with B vitamins, chromium, copper, iron, and zinc. However, its anti-acne capabilities are likely derived from its antibacterial properties.
In one study contrasting brewer’s yeast’s efficacy to a placebo over 5 months, a significant improvement or total healing was observed in over 80% of the yeast group, while only 26% in the placebo group experienced any improvement.
Although generally side-effect-free, a small number of users have reported minor symptoms like gas, bloating, or headaches post consumption.
Fish oil supplement for acne
Fish oil is enriched with omega-3 fatty acids, notably eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA).
Research suggests that regular EPA intake can regulate oil production, aid in skin hydration, and prevent acne. Furthermore, high EPA and DHA levels can reduce inflammatory factors, potentially reducing acne risks.
In a study, all 45 participants witnessed a noticeable acne reduction after consuming omega-3 fatty acid supplements daily for 10 weeks.
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Apart from supplements, omega-3 fatty acids can also be sourced from foods like walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, salmon, sardines, and anchovies. Nevertheless, these plant-based sources primarily provide the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and have negligible EPA or DHA. Supplements, therefore, are a more potent source of EPA and DHA, offering enhanced acne prevention.
Summary: Long-term ingestion of brewer’s yeast, zinc, or fish oil can potentially prevent and reduce acne. While these supplements might not offer instantaneous results, their consistent use holds immense potential for acne reduction.
Other ways to help reduce pimples
While many have turned to natural solutions for acne over time, there’s still a lot we’re learning in this area.
The following remedies might be good for those with acne-prone skin, although there’s no concrete evidence for their pimple-treating capabilities:
- Witch hazel. Using witch hazel on your skin can combat bacteria and decrease swelling, potentially preventing acne breakouts.
- Apple cider vinegar. The natural acids in apple cider vinegar may be effective against bacteria that cause acne and can also reduce scar visibility.
- Cut back on dairy. There were findings from two significant studies suggesting that high milk consumption might lead to more acne, but we need further studies to confirm this.
- Consider a honey and cinnamon mask. With their antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-swelling qualities, honey and cinnamon can be beneficial when applied to acne-prone skin.
- Manage stress. Research has hinted at a connection between stress and increased acne breakouts. To help combat this, consider discussing stress-reducing methods with a health expert.
Summary: There are several natural methods that might help in combating acne, such as using apple cider vinegar on the skin, reducing dairy consumption, and managing stress. However, the evidence supporting these methods isn’t strong, and more research is required.
Acne is a widespread issue and can often be challenging to address.
While traditional treatments may lead to side effects like redness or dryness, many natural alternatives don’t always deliver results.
The natural solutions mentioned in this article have some research backing them as effective means to decrease acne.
However, topical applications of items like essential oils, green tea, and aloe vera seem to offer a faster solution to acne issues, whereas supplements might need more prolonged use based on limited research.
Not every remedy here will suit everyone, but they could be worth trying.
For those dealing with severe acne, seeking advice from a dermatologist might be the best course of action.