Natural Ways to Treat Acne

by Kate on May 10, 2012

in Acne, Health, Natural Beauty, Simple Living

Jojoba Oil for AcneAcne. I’ve suffered with it, on and off, since I was about 13 years old. I’ve been on just about every drug/topical treatment/anti-acne diet you can imagine–including scary scary Accutane–and the only thing that has consistently worked has been a combination of the birth control pill and topical benzoyl peroxide. But I’m so sick of smearing my skin and polluting my body with these chemicals. I worry about the cancer-causing free radicals that benzoyl peroxide releases. I worry about the connection between the birth control pill and breast cancer: I have a mother and two grandmothers who all have had it so the odds are stacked against me as it is. So I’m on a mission to get clear skin sans birth control/antibiotics/and even harsh chemically laden topicals.

These are the main natural methods I’ve been considering switching to. I’ll be starting one or a combination of these methods after my wedding this summer (never a good idea to take a risk before your wedding, right?).  If you plan to try any of these, my recommendation is pick one and give it at least 2 months of consistent use (use the product twice a day, 12 hours apart, every day) or you can’t really know if something will be effective for you. And never be surprised if in the first few weeks of trying something new you have an initial worse-than-usual breakout–it’s super common and usually a sign that the product is working.

Manuka Honey

All honey has excellent anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. In my experience it even has a bit of a brightening effect. Tracy, from the blog The Love Vitamin, introduced me to Manuka Honey, which is basically the heavyweight champion of honey’s as far as acne treatment is concerned. She’s been able to keep her skin clear using Manuka honey as a “cleanser”. She applies it morning and night as a 10-30 minute mask and then would wash it off and moisturize with Jojoba Oil.  I’ve been strongly considering this routine because I trust Tracy, but honey is pretty messy and sticky, so I’m worried I wouldn’t be able to stick with it (no pun intended!).

Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil is probably one of the most well-known natural acne remedies. I’ve found tea tree oil to be an excellent spot treatment over the past few years and regardless what regimen I use, I’ll continue to spot treat with TTO. But I’ve heard varying reports on it’s effectiveness in preventing acne.  Plus, have you ever smelled tea tree oil? Eek! My fiance can’t stand it, so slathering it across my face is probably not an option. As a spot treatment, I can and do apply pure TTO. But as an all-over treatment, you’d have to dilute it as TTO is quite strong. I’ve heard diluting it with Jojoba oil (about 5% TTO in Jojoba Oil) works nicely.

Oil Cleansing Method

I gave this a try in March and April of this year. Sadly, it just didn’t work for me. Rather than the classic oil cleansing method of Castor Oil and Olive Oil, I tried using just Jojoba oil (and occasionally experimented with adding a bit of TTO). I would apply the jojoba oil, lighting massage it in, rinse with water, and pat off any excess. After each “cleansing” you’ll notice you still have oil on your skin. It absorbs over the next 20 minutes or so. I think the problem with this method is you’re just too prone to rubbing in the oil. All that friction creates irritation which can actually cause acne. Plus, even though most people say jojoba oil isn’t at all comedogenic or pore clogging, I worried the oil might be attracting and trapping dirt on my face.  That said, I love jojoba oil. It gives my face a gorgeous glow that no other produce does. If I try this again, which I may, I’ll try mixing in 5% Tea Tree Oil with every application and see if that added anti-bacterial punch will help.

Caveman Method

This is what it sounds like. You’re supposed to wash your face like a caveman. Cavemen didn’t have acne (so the theory goes–but I doubt anyone can prove that?) and all they used was water. This is probably not something I’m not going to try. Why? Because I think the reason cavemen didn’t get acne is entirely diet related. Their diet had no additives, no extra hormones, no antibiotics, etc.  I can be fairly disciplined with my diet, but we’re just not cavemen. Unless you live on an organic farm or have a great deal of time, energy, and money to devote to eating like a caveman, I just wouldn’t recommend this. (That said, diet changes can absolutely help–more on that below.) The only real value I can see in trying the caveman method would be to see where you truly stand skin-wise: sometimes when you become reliant on topicals, you don’t realize that perhaps you’ve outgrown the problem or the problem has lessened in severity.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Despite my warnings against the cavemen method, I do recommend everyone with acne experiment with dietary changes. For some, a simple allergy may be causing breakouts and elimination of that food might clear your skin (and change your life!). I am sensitive to nuts and seeds–anytime I eat peanuts or sunflower seeds I breakout in cysts and get canker sores (also an inflammatory response like acne). If you’re not sure where to start, try eating an anti-inflammatory diet (just google it) for a couple months. But be forewarned, you may get an initial breakout when you do this as your body releases the toxin build-up.

For me personally, dietary control over acne just doesn’t work out long term.  I still try to eat mostly whole, good foods, but I find that when I get really strict about it, every time I cheat and eat something processed I breakout worse than I would have otherwise. It’s almost like my body forgets how to handle those processed foods and goes into shock over it or something. That’s my totally unprofessional opinion of course. :)

So anybody tried any of these methods? Or have others to suggest?

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*In the spirit of full disclosure, links to products in this post may be affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission if you decide to purchase any of the products I recommend. Know that I only recommend products that I have used and love myself.

*I am not a doctor, a nurse, or any kind of health practitioner. I’m just a gal with a pretty keen intuitive sense, great research abilities, and curiosity that is easily peaked. Please understand that my advice is really just another opinion and it’s for you (and your doctor) to decide the best course for your health and well-being.

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