Do you struggle with frequent breakouts? Do blemishes pop up uninvited on your skin despite your best efforts to keep them at bay? If so, then you’re most definitely not alone. In the United States, 60 million people suffer from some sort of active acne: 12 million adults and the majority between the ages of 12 and 24. Those who deal with acne search far and wide for a remedy and are no strangers to expensive treatments whose harsh chemicals wreak havoc on their already damaged skin. While they may get rid of blemishes, the side effects are often as bad as or worse than the original problem! The good news is that if professional treatments are too costly or simply don’t work for your acne-prone skin, a simple, affordable, and natural face mask may be the ticket to obtaining the clear, beautiful skin you desire.
Common Causes of Acne
Before delving into some natural remedies for acne, it’s important to get to the root of the problem. Acne can affect anyone, no matter their skin type, and could be caused by a number of biological or external factors.
Your hormones are constantly fluctuating, and this is one of the biggest causes of acne. Especially around a woman’s menstrual cycle, an increase in the production of oil and acne-causing bacteria results in painful cystic acne around the jawline or lower part of the face. Since men naturally produce more androgens (like testosterone), they are also prone to chronic acne when these levels increase.
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your sweet tooth may be responsible for the persistent acne on your face and body. Evidence suggests that when you eat more sugar and boost your insulin levels, it triggers an increase in androgens, which we know are the excess oil-producing hormones that cause nasty breakouts. Greasy foods, dairy, and iodine-rich foods like lobster, shrimp, and crab are also believed to contribute to acne and should be eaten sparingly or avoided if found to be the direct cause of blemishes. Here are some foods you should eat and avoid to reduce breakouts.
If you’ve struggled with acne and you ask your parents about their skin history, chances are one or both of them have had a similar experience. Genetics play a big role in the look and feel of our skin, and while some are lucky enough to have inherited skin that requires little help to look smooth and clear, others have to constantly fight to keep their acne under control. While the bad news is that you can’t control what genes you’ve been given, you can control how you take care of the skin you were born and will live with for life!
Tough week at work? Slammed with homework (or kids!) that keep you up all night long? Your skin might notice and break out accordingly. While stress may not be the direct cause of acne, it can certainly aggravate it and make it worse. And while a bad night’s sleep may not always result in a new pimple or two, not allowing your body to rest and your skin to rejuvenate can have an adverse effect over time. Your skin needs that time to rest and heal because everyday exposure to elements like air pollution, UV rays, and free radicals can also contribute to an increase in acne and skin conditions.
Our skin is covered in tiny pores, which are the perfect place for bacteria to set up camp and invite acne to come to the surface. Pimple-promoting bacteria can find its way onto your skin easily, whether it’s from touching your face with your hands, your cell phone, a dirty makeup brush, or from skipping your nightly cleansing routine. Once the build up of bacteria clogs your pores, it’s only a matter of time until it multiplies and results in yet another breakout.
6 Natural Face Masks for Acne and Why They Work
Whatever the cause, it’s important to realize that pricey creams and medications aren’t the only pathway to clear skin. You can take control of the health of your skin, at a fraction of the cost and using gentle, nourishing ingredients found in your own home. Here are six natural face masks for acne to help you reveal beautiful, healthy skin.
1. Baking Soda, Honey, & Coconut/Olive Oil
For this mask you’ll need equal parts baking soda, raw honey, and coconut or olive oil. Mix these ingredients together and apply the mask all over your face, avoiding your mouth, eyes, and brows. Gently rub the paste in for a couple of minutes and then let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Remove with warm water and pat dry.
Why it works: Baking soda works as a natural exfoliator, clearing your pores of excess dirt and oil. It also has a lightening effect on skin that will help reduce the look of scars and dark spots and give you a more even skin tone. Honey has anti-inflammatory and calming properties that help to reduce the redness and puffiness associated with acne. Finally, both coconut and olive oil will help naturally balance and moisturize the skin and prevent peeling and dryness. And as a bonus, coconut encourages cell regeneration and can help reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
2. Banana, Yogurt, & Honey
It sounds like a delicious smoothie recipe, but it also is great for treating acne! Combine one medium banana (mashed up) with ¼ cup plain yogurt and 2 tablespoons of raw honey to create a soothing (and yummy-smelling) mask. Gently apply it to your face and neck and leave on for 10-15 minutes before rinsing with warm water.
Why it works: Although dairy products, like yogurt, have been blamed for causing acne when ingested, as a topical treatment they can be quite beneficial to your skin. Yogurt is full of lactic acid, a gently exfoliating ingredient that removes dead skin cells and harmful bacteria, preventing potential breakouts from ever having a chance to appear on your skin. We all know bananas contain loads of potassium and vitamin E, which is great for your insides, but they also promote moisturized, glowing skin and are a great way to get your complexion looking its best.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar, Honey, & Baking Soda
Create this natural face mask using just three ingredients you probably have in your pantry right now. Mix 2 teaspoons raw honey with 1 teaspoon each of baking soda and organic apple cider vinegar. Let this mask sit on your skin for 15 minutes before rinsing with warm water. You can also remove it with a damp washcloth to add an extra bit of exfoliation.
Why it works: We’ve already talked about the cleansing and calming properties of honey and baking soda, but their effectiveness is taken to a new level when combined with apple cider vinegar. An extremely effective natural toner, this common vinegar works to rid pores of even the most stubborn bacteria, and then tightens them to prevent new buildup and create smoother, softer skin.
4. Oatmeal & Egg Whites
This may sound like a breakfast dish, but an oatmeal and egg white mask is easy to make and effective in treating acne, especially for those with oily skin. Simply combine 1 egg white with ½ cup cooked oatmeal and a teaspoon of olive oil. Apply onto skin and let sit for 30 minutes. Rinse well and pat dry.
Why it works: Oatmeal is a gentle exfoliator and contains powerful anti-oxidants to help revitalize and protect your skin. It also absorbs excess oils, so it’s especially beneficial to those whose acne is caused by oily skin. It can also work to dry up existing blemishes and promote faster healing. Egg whites work similarly, tightening skin and pulling out excess dirt and oil as they dry. They also are mildly astringent and can help to even out a rough complexion.
5. Avocado & Lemon
For another simple yet effective mask to deal with stubborn acne, mix half of an avocado with the juice from half of a lemon and gently apply to skin. Be sure to avoid the eyes and any open wounds (think lemon juice in a paper cut!) and let sit for 10 minutes. Rinse with water and pat dry. Repeat two to three times weekly for best results. Because citrus makes skin more sensitive to sunlight, be sure to wear sunscreen when going outdoors.
Why it works: This mask is especially beneficial to those with dry skin. Avocados contain monosaturated fats and vitamin E and are very nourishing to dry, damaged skin. They are anti-inflammatory and reduce redness, and the oil from the avocado forms a protective layer over the skin to prevent free radicals and bacteria from harming it. Lemons contain ascorbic acid and phytoncides that kill and prevent the growth of bacteria, not to mention they are packed full of vitamin C, which is best known for its ability to reduce redness and inflammation.
6. Aloe Vera & Tea Tree Oil
This easy mask is especially helpful to treat stubborn existing acne. Combine 1 or 2 drops of tee tree oil with about 1 teaspoon of pure aloe vera gel. Apply to clean skin and let rest for 10-15 minutes. Rinse well. You can also leave this mask on overnight for added effectiveness.
Why it works: Tea Tree oil (or melaleuca) is one of the most effective natural ways to treat acne. Its powerful antibacterial properties make it ideal not only for zapping zits, but also for treating fungus, dandruff, rashes, and even eczema. Aloe contains vitamins A, C and E and also has antioxidant properties that encourage the growth of healthy skin cells. It’s also anti-bacterial and anti-septic, which helps to prevent acne from appearing in the first place. And we all know that aloe can help heal a painful sunburn, so it’s great for soothing red, irritated, acne-prone skin.
More Tips for Naturally Clear Skin
Know Your Skin
No two skin types are exactly the same, and no two forms of acne are identical either. Before you can effectively treat your acne, you must try to determine the root cause. Do you tend to get acne at a certain time of the month or year? Do your breakouts occur after eating certain foods? Is your skin oily or dry? Both? Sensitive? Where on your face or body are blemishes most prevalent? After answering these questions, you’ll be able to pinpoint the cause of your acne and be better equipped to treat it in the most effective way.
Keep it Clean
Tempted to skip cleansing and go straight to bed? Don’t! No matter how busy you are, take the time to cleanse your skin of dirt and excess makeup, as sweat from your hectic day or morning workout mixed with these impurities clogs pores and creates a breeding ground for blemishes. And of course, it’s essential to begin and end your day by gently cleansing your face. If you’re a gym rat, that means that you’ll likely be washing your face several times each day. Look for skin care products with natural ingredients that hydrate and nourish your skin while they clean.
Healthy Lifestyle = Healthy Skin
You’ve heard the saying—you are what you eat! What you put in your body can have as much of an impact on the outside as it does on the inside. It’s a simple formula: if you want healthy skin, eat healthy foods! Replace greasy snacks with fresh fruits and vegetables—their nutrients will give your skin its best chance at looking and feeling fresh and healthy. Love soda? Try replacing it with water for a while and see what it does for your skin. Cut back on the alcohol, and if you smoke, now would be a great time to think about quitting! Chances are your skin will thank you for it.
Is Nature’s Way the Best Way?
If you feel frustrated in your battle against acne, don’t give up! With knowledge and consistency, your skin can look and feel the way you want it to. What works for one person may not work for another, and it may take time to discover the secret to success when dealing with your own stubborn blemishes. It may be time to take a more natural approach to overcoming acne; doing so might be the first step to healthier, more beautiful skin.