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13 Powerful Home Remedies for Acne

By Kayla McDonell

Acne is one of the most common skin conditions in the world, affecting an estimated 85 percent of people at some point in their lives.

Conventional acne treatments can be expensive and often have undesirable side effects like dryness, redness and irritation.

This has prompted many people to look into how to cure acne naturally at home. The internet is filled with suggestions, but do natural treatments actually work?

This article explores 13 home remedies for acne that are backed by science.

What Causes Acne?

Acne starts when the pores in your skin get clogged with oil and dead skin cells.

Each pore is connected to a sebaceous gland, which produces an oily substance called sebum. Extra sebum can plug up pores, causing the growth of a bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes, or P. acnes.

Your white blood cells attack P. acnes, leading to skin inflammation and acne. Some cases of acne are more severe than others, but common symptoms include whiteheads, blackheads and pimples.

Many factors contribute to the development of acne, including genetics, diet, stress, hormone changes and infections.

Below are 13 home remedies for acne that you might want to try.

1. Apply Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting apple cider or the unfiltered juice from pressed apples.

Like other vinegars, it is known for its ability to fight many types of bacteria and viruses (1, 2, 3).

Apple cider vinegar contains several organic acids that have been shown to kill P. acnes (4, 5).

In particular, succinic acid has been shown to suppress inflammation caused by P. acnes, which may prevent scarring (6).

Also, lactic acid has been shown to improve the appearance of acne scars (7, 8).

What's more, apple cider vinegar may help dry up the excess oil that causes acne in the first place.

How to Use It

1. Mix 1 part apple cider vinegar and 3 parts water (use more water for sensitive skin).

2. After cleansing, gently apply the mixture to the skin using a cotton ball.

3. Let sit for 5–20 seconds, rinse with water and pat dry.

4. Repeat this process 1–2 times per day, as needed.

It is important to note that applying apple cider vinegar to your skin can cause burns and irritation, so it should always be used in small amounts and diluted with water.

Summary: The organic acids in apple cider vinegar may help kill acne-causing bacteria and reduce the appearance of scars. Applying it to the skin may cause burns or irritation, so it should be used carefully.

2. Take a Zinc Supplement

Zinc is an essential nutrient that's important for cell growth, hormone production, metabolism and immune function.

It is also one of the most studied natural treatments for acne. Research shows that people with acne tend to have lower levels of zinc in their blood than those with clear skin (9).

Several studies have shown that taking zinc orally helps reduce acne.

In one study, 48 acne patients were given oral zinc supplements three times per day. After eight weeks, 38 patients experienced an 80–100 percent reduction in acne (10).

The optimal dosage of zinc for acne has not been established, but several studies have shown a significant reduction of acne using 30–45 mg of elemental zinc per day (11, 12, 13).

Elemental zinc refers to the amount of zinc that's present in the compound. Zinc is available in many forms and each one contains a different amount of elemental zinc.

Zinc oxide contains the highest amount of elemental zinc at 80 percent.

The recommended safe upper limit of zinc is 40 mg per day, so it is probably best to not exceed that amount unless under the supervision of a medical doctor. Taking too much zinc may cause adverse effects, including stomach pain and gut irritation.

It is also important to note that applying zinc to the skin has not been shown to be effective. This may be because zinc is not effectively absorbed through the skin.

Summary: Individuals with acne tend to have lower zinc levels than people with clear skin. Several studies show that taking zinc orally can significantly reduce acne.

3. Make a Honey and Cinnamon Mask

Both honey and cinnamon are excellent sources of antioxidants (14, 15, 16, 17, 18).

Studies have found applying antioxidants to the skin is more effective at reducing acne than benzoyl peroxide and retinoids (19, 20, 21, 22).

These are two common acne medications for the skin that have antibacterial properties.

The antioxidants studied were vitamin B3, linoleic (omega-6) fatty acid and sodium ascorbyl phosphate (SAP), which is a vitamin C derivative.

These specific antioxidants are not found in honey or cinnamon, but there is a possibility that other antioxidants may have a similar effect.

Honey and cinnamon also have the ability to fight bacteria and reduce inflammation, which are two factors that trigger acne (23, 24, 25).

While the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties of honey and cinnamon may benefit acne-prone skin, no studies exist on their ability to treat acne.

How to Make a Honey and Cinnamon Mask

1. Mix 2 tablespoons honey and 1 teaspoon cinnamon together to form a paste.

2. After cleansing, apply the mask to your face and leave it on for 10–15 minutes.

3. Rinse the mask off completely and pat your face dry.

Summary: Honey and cinnamon have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties. Because of this, they may be beneficial for acne-prone skin.

4. Spot Treat With Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is an essential oil that is extracted from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, a small tree native to Australia.

It is well known for its ability to fight bacteria and reduce skin inflammation (26).

What's more, several studies show that applying 5 percent tea tree oil to the skin effectively reduces acne (27, 28).

When compared to 5 percent benzoyl peroxide, 5 percent tea tree oil did not act as quickly, but it did significantly improve acne after three months of use (29).

It also resulted in fewer adverse effects like dryness, irritation and burning, compared to benzoyl peroxide.

Tea tree oil is very potent, so always dilute it before applying it to your skin.

How to Use It

1. Mix 1 part tea tree oil with 9 parts water.

2. Dip a cotton swab into the mixture and apply it to affected areas.

3. Apply moisturizer if desired.

4. Repeat this process 1–2 times per day, as needed.

Summary: Tea tree oil has strong anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Applying it to the skin has been shown to reduce acne.

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