Everyone who has acne dreams of a fast and cheap cure or remedy. Rumour has it that some of these things in your kitchen cupboards might just do the trick. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if any of them worked?
Ask around – just about everyone has an acne cure that is cheap and effective up their sleeve. But do they really work, or are they just myths?
Acne mostly occurs on parts of the body that have oil-producing glands, such as the face, the shoulders and the chest. When these pores become blocked and/or inflamed, acne can be the result. These blockages can occur when the oil production increases, (sometimes as a result of hormonal fluctuations), or dirt and/or bacteria get trapped inside the pores.
The result can be anything from blackheads, whiteheads, pimples or even pustules and cysts.
Anything that doesn’t irritate the skin any further, and either does a proper cleansing job, helps to reduce or limit oil production by drying out the skin somewhat, kills bacteria, reduces inflammation, or helps to release trapped dirt in the pores could probably make a difference.
It is always a good idea to try a new remedy on a small patch of skin, such as on your elbow, to see whether you might have an intolerance for it. True allergic reactions are relatively rare, and you would probably know if you were allergic to any of the things mentioned below. Also just mention your plans to your doctor or pharmacist and follow their advice. If your skin becomes red, swollen, excessively dry, or itchy, stop using the remedy in question immediately.
You may have to wait a week or two after starting to use and of the remedies below before you see any effect, so don’t be impatient. All these are to be used as topical treatments or as a face mask, in other words applied directly to the skin, unless specified otherwise.
Unflavoured yoghurt can be used as a basis for a face mask to which you can add one of the substances below, (except ice and toothpaste). Leave on for 10 – 15 minutes, until it has dried out, and wash off gently with warm water.
Grapeseed oil. This oil contains vitamin E, linoleic acid and beta-carotene, which gives it antioxidant properties which help to regenerate the skin and replace ageing or damaged cells. The fatty acids in grapeseed oil are also linked to wound healing. When used as a topical treatment, it may also reduce redness and blemishes and help fight off bacteria that cause acne.
Cucumber face mask. Cucumbers are mildly astringent – in other words they dry out the skin, so they might help to clean the skin, and tighten the pores. They are also great for reducing the swelling and puffiness of the skin in general.
Honey. Honey has slight antibacterial properties, which could help to fight acne-causing bacteria. It may also promote wound healing. Raw honey helps to remove dry skin cells, to reveal new skin cells underneath.
Yoghurt. Use plain, unflavoured yoghurt for a face mask. Yoghurt contain probiotics, live bacteria (the good type), which could help your body’s immune system to function at its best. As a face mask, though, the lactic acid in yoghurt helps to remove dead skin cells and to soften the skin. Yoghurt also has natural antibacterial properties, which can help to fight acne.
Oatmeal. When hydrated, oats forms a jelly-like gel, which can be soothing for a troubled skin. Whole oats can reduce bacteria on the skin, thereby helping to reduce the severity of acne and fighting inflammation. It also absorbs dirt and oil, helping to clean your skin thoroughly.
Turmeric. This ingredient from your spice rack has several properties that help to combat skin conditions. It is anti-inflammatory, it fights bacteria, and helps new skin cells to generate. It also helps to reduce oil production in your skin. Its yellow colour is because of curcumin, which is the active ingredient in turmeric.
Green tea. Research is still ongoing about the possible benefits of green tea in the battle against acne. It can either be taken as a beverage, or applied directly to the skin. Its main benefit is thought to be that it helps reduce oil production in the skin. Green tea also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Apple cider vinegar. The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar is an astringent and it also has antibacterial properties. It can remove excess oil from the skin, tighten the pores, and help to fight the bacteria which cause acne. It can also help to exfoliate the skin.
Ice. An ice cube applied directly to a pimple for a few minutes can reduce the pain and decrease inflammation in the skin by constricting the blood vessels. This can reduce both redness and swelling caused by acne. This is also why ice is often applied to injured parts of the body to try and decrease the inflammation.
Lemon juice. Lemons contain citric acid, which is an astringent. Do a patch test first on your elbow to see if your skin possibly reacts badly to this remedy, as lemon juice is quite strong. It is thought to remove excess oil from the skin, and is thought to fight bacteria, which cause acne.
Tooth paste. This is the one thing that you will always have with you, even if you are on a hiking trip in the middle of nowhere. But think twice before you grab that tube of toothpaste as a remedy for a nasty pimple – it may dry up your pimple quickly (as a result of the alcohol or the baking soda it contains), but it can leave your skin red and irritated, which is the last thing you want.
Egg white. This contains a high level of protein, which can help absorb excess oil from the skin. It also tightens the skin. Egg white dries quite quickly, and must be washed off gently using warm water. There is not much evidence that it helps to fight acne.
National Institutes of Health
National Institutes of Health