Nothing destroys my resolve to live a natural, chemical-free life like a giant angry pimple. When I have clear skin, it’s all flowers and rainbows, paraben-free this, phthalate-free that. But when acne strikes, I’ve been known to go totally nuclear. Kill it with fire! Get the acid! The longer the ingredient list, the better! If it burns when you put it on, that means it’s working!
Thankfully, over the past few years, I’ve happened across some natural acne remedies that avoid acids, don’t sport worrisome-sounding ingredient lists, and actually work. I promise.
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This simple sweetener seems like it’d be totally unmatched against that profile-altering pimple that’s cropped up right between your eyebrows. But I’ve found humble honey to be the perfect antidote to a bout of acne. Make sure you use raw honey — I prefer raw, wild, and pure from the farmers market. Its probiotic and antibacterial properties can help reduce redness and swelling and kill acne-causing bacteria without irritating the surrounding skin. Just dab a bit of raw honey on clean skin as necessary. Allow it to sit for about 10 minutes, then rinse it off with lukewarm water.
Tea Tree Oil
Skip the gimmicky scrubs and lotions with tea tree oil as an ingredient, and get a bottle of tea tree essential oil. This natural antimicrobial oil is derived from the Australian paperbark tree and is remarkably effective for treating acne. I find that it can be a bit drying if you overuse it, so I prefer to use tea tree oil as a spot treatment as needed, rather than as an all-over preventive measure.
Ditching the Face Wash
I know, this sounds incredibly counterintuitive, but hear me out. We associate acne with dirt, germs, and bacteria, so it’s no wonder that our first approach is to wage war with antibacterial face washes, rinses, and scrubs. The problem with this approach is that doing so dries out the skin, forcing it to produce more oil to compensate. My occasional breakouts improved considerably when I ditched my face washes and instead used a soft washcloth and warm water to wipe away dirt and impurities. If your face feels tight after washing it, you’re stripping your skin. No good! Try plain water for a week or two and see how it feels.
Who knew reaching for the big guns could actually end up causing more problems than it would solve? Stick to a gentle approach to acne and let your skin take care of itself naturally.
Want more natural beauty tips? Check out 4 DIY Facial Masks for Natural Skin Benefits.
Originally published on March 16, 2017, this article was updated in September 2022.