What won't we try to get a clear complexion, right? And while it's always best to see your doctor or dermatologist first for a professional recommendation, there are some drug-free, straight-from-the-Earth options out there, too. Natural ingredients aren't necessarily always better than products created in a lab, but they can have many beneficial properties and fewer irritants so they're definitely worth checking out -- especially if nothing else seems to be working for you.
Plants and spices have been used in skin care for centuries, and many of them are ideal for calming inflammation, killing bacteria, unclogging pores -- all things acne-prone skin needs desperately. As an added bonus, you can find a lot of these in their purest forms in your local health-food store, which makes them more affordable than other top-shelf beauty products. To help get you started, we rounded up 10 of the most common natural acne-eradicators. They may not be miracle cures (we wish it were as easy as dipping our face into a sink full of tea-tree oil), but they can help make your journey to clear skin that much easier.
Whether you simply keep these ingredients in mind the next time you're on a Sephora shopping spree, or you decide to head to the local food co-op and get crafty with essential oils, these are the plants, waters, spices, and herbs to turn to when there are zits a-brewing.
Witch hazel is a natural astringent. It cleans gunk out of your pores and kills the bacteria that causes acne. Witch hazel is best for those who have extremely oily skin; if you have dry or normal skin, you may find it too dehydrating. It's easy to find at health-food stores, grocery stores, or online; just be sure to look for a formula that is alcohol-free, since alcohol will contribute to drying out your skin.
Thayers Witch Hazel Aloe Vera Formula Cucumber Alcohol-Free Toner, $9.49, available at Drugstore.com.
The antibacterial properties in tea-tree oil make it ideal for controlling acne. It can disinfect pores and moderate oil production. You can find tea-tree oil online or in health-food stores, but beware of using it undiluted on your face, especially if you have sensitive skin, as it could cause irritation. You might be better off buying a product that already has the ideal formulation of tea-tree oil in it. If you have your heart set on going the DIY route, you could dilute your TTO by combining it with another beneficial skin-care ingredient, such as jojoba oil or aloe vera.
The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil, $10, available at The Body Shop.
Turmeric can be helpful for soothing acne because of its anti-inflammatory properties. It can also help to control sebum production, in addition to calming redness. This cheapie cream is impressive at completely erasing redness caused by inflammation, rosacea, and irritation.
Vicco Turmeric Skin Cream, $5.74, available at Amazon.
Evening Primrose Oil
If you've noticed that you get a flare-up of hormonal acne before your period, try taking evening primrose oil capsules. It contains gamma-linolenic acid, which has anti-inflammatory properties that can help with acne. You can also benefit from putting this oil directly on your face, since it's hydrating and calming.
Now Solutions Evening Primrose Oil, $12.99, available at iHerb.
Vitamins C & E
If you're going to stock up on vitamins to fight acne, your best bets would be C and E. Not only does vitamin C have the ability to reduce redness in the skin, but it also regulates the body's production of collagen, which is necessary for controlling acne. Combine it with vitamin E, an antioxidant, for a powerful skin-clearing duo. Vitamin E can also be effective when absorbed topically, so be sure to look for it as an ingredient in your skin-care products.
Neal's Yard Remedies Vitamin C Boost With Wild Rosehip, $21.50, available at Neal's Yard Remedies.
Although many people drink apple-cider vinegar for various health reasons, you're better off putting it on your face if you want it to be effective for treating acne. It has strong antibacterial properties, making it ideal for fighting breakouts. Dilute it with water and then swipe it on your face, leaving it on like a toner for the best results.
Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, $5.49, available at The Vitamin Shoppe.
There's a reason clay masks are so popular: Clay is effective when it comes to tightening pores and drying out zits. You can find a clay mask like this cult favorite or even make your own by combining bentonite clay with honey, apple-cider vinegar, aloe vera, or jojoba oil.
Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Mask, $9.72, available at Amazon.
Green tea is rich in antioxidants and helps to reduce inflammation and redness as well as oil production. And using it can be as simple as making green tea at home and applying it to your face (after it's had a chance to cool down, of course). But there are also plenty of skin-care products that contain green-tea extract. This powder mask from indie brand Plant Brooklyn uses matcha green tea and chamomile for a double whammy of soothing redness relief.
Plant Apothecary Matcha Antioxidant Face Mask, $24, available at Plant Apothecary.
Okay, so sulfur isn't the most fragrant of natural ingredients. But if you can get past that nose-wrinkling rotten-egg smell, you'll be glad you did -- its antibacterial properties are legendary. You may be surprised at how many brands offer products that are rich in sulfur. This mask by Peter Thomas Roth has 10% sulfur, making it super-powerful (and smelly). Aloe and clay ingredients work to enhance those pore-clearing powers.
Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Masque, $47, available at Sephora.
Consider how soothing aloe vera is when used on fried-to-a-crisp sunburned skin. It's similarly calming when used on angry, red breakouts, as it helps to reduce inflammation. For the best results, be sure to look for pure, undiluted aloe vera extract -- you can find it online or in health-food stores and drugstores. Or pick up an aloe plant and just break off the leaves to get that clear, cooling substance fresh from the source.
Aubrey Organics Pure Aloe Vera, $7.57, available at iHerb.
By: Kelly Dougher