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.
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).
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
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.
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).
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.
By Victoria Masterson
Using one of the world's problems to solve another is the philosophy behind a Norwegian start-up's mission to develop affordable housing from 100% recycled plastic.
Sustainable Homes<p>UN-Habitat says an <a href="https://unhabitat.org/un-habitat-aims-to-use-plastic-waste-to-support-housing-for-all" target="_blank">estimated 60% of people living in urban areas of Africa are in informal settlements</a>. At the same time, between 1990 and 2017, African countries imported around 230 metric tonnes of plastic, "which mostly ended up in dump sites creating a massive environmental challenge," the agency adds.</p><p>UN-Habitat deputy executive director, Victor Kisob, said the aim of the partnership with Othalo was to "promote adequate, sustainable and affordable housing for all."</p>
Artist's impression of an Othalo community, imagined by architect Julien De Smedt. Othalo<p>Othalo's process involves shredding plastic waste and mixing it with other elements, including non-flammable materials. Components are used to build up to four floors, with a home of 60 square metres using eight tons of recycled plastic. A factory with one production line can produce 2,800 housing units annually.</p><p>Following successful laboratory tests, Othalo's factory in Estonia has started producing components to build three demonstration homes for Kenya's capital, Nairobi; Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon and Dakar, the capital of Senegal.</p><p>Othalo founder Frank Cato Lahti has been developing and testing the technology since 2016 in partnership with <a href="https://www.sintef.no/en/" target="_blank">SINTEF</a>, a 70-year-old independent research organization in Trondheim, Norway, and experts at Norway's <a href="https://en.uit.no/startsida" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">University of Tromsø</a>.</p>
Othalo founder Frank Cato Lahti. Othalo<p>Almost <a href="https://www.un.org/development/desa/publications/2018-revision-of-world-urbanization-prospects.html" target="_blank">seven out of every 10 people in the world are expected to live in urban areas by 2050</a>. More than 90% of this growth will take place in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.</p><p>"In the absence of effective urban planning, the consequences of this rapid urbanization will be dramatic," UN-Habitat warns.</p><p>Lack of proper housing and growth of slums, inadequate and outdated infrastructure, escalating poverty and unemployment, and pollution and health issues, are just some of the effects.</p><p>Mindsets, policies, and approaches towards urbanization need to change for the growth of cities and urban areas to be turned into opportunities that will leave nobody behind, UN-Habitat says.</p>
Pioneers of Change<p>Reimagining cities and communities for greater resilience and sustainability was a key topic at the<a href="https://www.weforum.org/events/pioneers-of-change-summit-2020" target="_blank"> World Economic Forum's Pioneers of Change Summit 2020</a>.</p><p>The digital event brought together innovators and stakeholders from around the world to explore solutions to the challenges facing enterprises, governments and society.</p><p>Opening the summit, <a href="https://www.weforum.org/events/pioneers-of-change-summit-2020/sessions/opening-plenary-8f731cbc65" target="_blank">Stephan Mergenthaler, the Forum's Head of Strategic Intelligence and a member of the Executive Committee</a>, said: "We need to change the way we produce, the way we live and interact in our cities to make this transition to net-zero emissions a reality…</p><p>"And as this year has illustrated so dramatically, we need to make every effort that we keep populations healthy, if we want to avoid jeopardizing all this progress."</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/11/un-africa-recycled-plastic-housing/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649069252#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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By Dolf Gielen and Morgan Bazilian
John Kerry helped bring the world into the Paris climate agreement and expanded America's reputation as a climate leader. That reputation is now in tatters, and President-elect Joe Biden is asking Kerry to rebuild it again – this time as U.S. climate envoy.
Energy Is at the Center of the Climate Challenge<p>The <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/1/" target="_blank">effects of climate change</a> are already evident across the globe, from <a href="https://theconversation.com/100-degrees-in-siberia-5-ways-the-extreme-arctic-heat-wave-follows-a-disturbing-pattern-141442" target="_blank">extreme heat waves</a> to <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/12/" target="_blank">sea level rise</a>. But while the challenge is daunting, there is hope. Solar and wind power have become the <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2020/Jun/Renewable-Power-Costs-in-2019" target="_blank">cheapest forms of power generation globally</a>, and technology progress and innovation continue apace to support a transition to clean energy.</p><p>In the U.S. under a Biden administration, long-term national climate legislation will depend on who controls the Senate, and that won't be clear until after two run-off elections in Georgia in January.</p><p>But there is no shortage of <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-biden-climate-change-advice/" target="_blank">ideas for ways Biden</a> could still take action even if his proposals are blocked in Congress. For example, he could use executive orders and direct government agencies to tighten regulations on greenhouse gas emissions; increase research and development in clean energy technologies; and empower states to exceed national standards, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-emissions-california/defying-trump-california-locks-in-vehicle-emission-deals-with-major-automakers-idUSKCN25D2CH" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">as California did in the past with auto emission standards</a>. A focus on a just and equitable transition for communities and people affected by the decline of fossil fuels will also be key to creating a sustainable transition.</p><p>The U.S. position as the world's largest oil and gas producer and consumer creates political challenges for any administration. U.S. forays into European energy security are often treated with suspicion. Recently, France blocked <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/frances-engie-backs-out-of-u-s-lng-deal-11604435609" target="_blank">a multi-billion dollar contract</a> to buy U.S. liquefied natural gas because of concerns about limited emissions regulations in Texas.</p><p>Strengthening cooperation and partnerships with like-minded countries will be critical to bring about a transition to cleaner energy as well as sustainability in agriculture, forestry, water and other sectors of the global economy.</p>
Creating a Global Sustainable Transition<p>How the world recovers from COVID-19's economic damage could help drive a lasting shift in the global energy mix.</p><p>Nearly one-third of Europe's US$2 trillion economic relief package <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-21/eu-approves-biggest-green-stimulus-in-history-with-572-billion-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">involves investments that are also good for the climate</a>. The European Union is also strengthening its 2030 climate targets, though each country's energy and climate plans will be critical for successfully implementing them. The <a href="https://joebiden.com/clean-energy/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Biden plan</a> – including a $2 trillion commitment to developing sustainable energy and infrastructure – is aligned with a global energy transition, but its implementation is also uncertain.</p><p>Once Biden takes office, Kerry will be joining ongoing <a href="https://www.un.org/en/conferences/energy2021/about#:%7E:text=The%20overarching%20goal%20of%20the,2030%20Agenda%20for%20Sustainable%20Development.&text=Accelerate%20delivery%20of%20United%20Nations,related%20issues%20at%20all%20levels." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high-level discussions on the energy transition</a> at the U.N. General Assembly and other gatherings of international leaders. With the U.S. no longer obstructing work on climate issues, the G-7 and G-20 have more potential for progress on energy and climate.</p><p>Lots of technical details still need to be worked out, including international trade frameworks and standards that can help countries lower greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep global warming in check. <a href="https://www.carbonpricingleadership.org/what" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Carbon pricing</a> and <a href="https://www.csis.org/analysis/how-can-europe-get-carbon-border-adjustment-right" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">carbon border adjustment taxes</a>, which create incentive for companies to reduce emissions, may be part of it. A consistent and comprehensive set of national energy transition plans will also be needed.</p><p>The global shift to <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2019/Jan/A-New-World-The-Geopolitics-of-the-Energy-Transformation" target="_blank">clean energy will also have geopolitical implications for countries and regions</a>, and this will have a profound impact on wider international relations. Kerry, with his experience as secretary of state in the Obama administration, and Biden's plan to make the climate envoy position part of the National Security Council, may help mend these relations. In doing so, the U.S. may again join the wider community of countries willing to lead.</p>
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By Maria Caffrey
As we approach the holidays I, like most people, have been reflecting on everything 2020 has given us (or taken away) while starting to look ahead to 2021.