Don’t Pop It! Natural Remedies For Acne That Work, According to a Dermatologist

Natural Remedies

Acne. Anyone who suffers from it knows that finding a truly effective acne treatment can have life-changing effects.  But what if you want to avoid the medications, and get rid of acne with natural remedies instead?

SuReceta brings you the expert guidance of Dr. Valerie Gershenhorn, a board-certified dermatologist practicing in Middletown, New York. For years, she’s practiced natural-based approaches to treating skin conditions.

Below you’ll find the natural remedies that she recommends to help you, or a loved one, be acne-free.

What’s the number one natural way to help get rid of acne?

If you are looking for a natural approach to treating acne, your first step must be cutting sugar from your diet.

Change your diet. It may not be the easiest to do, or the quickest solution, but Dr. Gershenhorn says, “Your diet is the biggest factor when it comes to acne.” And the two biggest culprits?  Sugar and dairy. Here’s why:

  • Sugar:Dr. Gershenhorn says sugar feeds the bacteria that causes breakouts.  Sugar also causes inflammation in the body.
  • Dairy:“Dairy is the devil when it comes to acne, in women especially. Studies have found that women who drank skim milk were the worst sufferers. They don’t exactly know why; it could be the hormones in the milk. But dairy is also an inflammatory food, and an acne trigger,” she warns.  A recent study done just this year found a surprising and direct correlation between skim milk and acne.
  • Avoid all (or most) processed foods:Dr. Gershenhorn says this includes anything that comes out of a box or package, such as granola bars and cereal, as well as processed flours. And it should be a no-brainer that she also recommends avoiding all junk foodsuch as soda, chocolate, and greasy foods.

Dr. Gershenhorn admits that going cold-turkey when it comes to processed foods isn’t realistic for everyone, and says that she is often met with resistance from patients.

So, as a compromise, she usually first advises,

“Add the good stuff into your diet first, and then try to remove the bad stuff slowly.  The good stuff should include a ton of veggies, fruits, foods rich in omega 3s such as avocados.”

And above all she says, “It’s really important to break the sugar habit. Try to cut out the sugar and dairy for 60 days, and you will most likely see improvements. You not only will see it in your skin, but in your overall health too.”

When it comes to natural acne treatments, it’s not only about what you do but also about what you avoid. Processed and fast food is a no-no for acne.


Natural Acne Face Washes



If you have acne, washing your face can be a complex issue.

“Most people with acne overwash their face because they think it’s a hygiene issue, but it’s not at all.  Overwashing is really bad because it strips the natural oils from your skin, and makes your skin irritated. It then starts to fight back by producing extra oil, so you break out more,” explains Dr. Gershenhorn.

Her recommendation? “Only wash your face at bedtime [with a cleanser]. In the morning, use only water.”

Wondering which natural cleansers are best for acne? Here are Dr. Gershenhorn’s top four picks:

Raw Manuka Honey

If the thought of rubbing your face with honey sounds a little strange, we get it.  However, honey, especially raw Manuka honey, has amazing healing properties.  Why does it work as a natural remedy for acne? “Honey has antibacterial properties, so it can kill the Propionibacterium acnes [the bacteria which causes acne],” she says.

Dilute it with a little bit of water in your hands, rub on your face, and then rinse off.  This can be done up to two times a day, if necessary. Just make sure the honey is raw Manuka honey, and not the processed kind.

African Black Soap

This bar soap can be found in most health food stores, online, and even in your local pharmacy.   It is traditionally made in West Africa from locally harvested trees and combined with different types of oils, such as coconut. It has been used for ages to treat a host of skin problems, including acne and even eczema.

Oil Cleansing

If you have oily skin or breakouts, don’t be turned off by the idea of putting more oil on your skin.  I know what you’re thinking: This will cause me to break out more!  But Dr. Gershenhorn, says nope, and this is why:  “All soaps have detergents that strip the skin. Oil attracts oil and dirt, and to really clean your face you need an oil cleanser,” she notes.

When choosing one to treat acne, she recommends looking for oil cleansers that contain one or more of the following oils: jojoba oil, tea tree oil, argan oil, hemp seed oil, or neem oil.  She points out that jojoba oil is great for oily skin, and tea tree oil is especially good for treating acne because of its antibacterial properties.

In fact, a study examining tea tree oil as a natural acne treatment found that it reduced breakouts in mild-to-moderate sufferers.  And a study of jojoba oil, confirmed that it also was an effective treatment for acne breakouts.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is another great home remedy for acne because it is antibacterial, antiseptic, and Dr. Gershenhorn’s go-to astringent/toner.

Dilute it with the ratio of 1 part apple cider vinegar to 2 parts water, and apply to face.

Acne treatment and the no-moisturizing myth

Ever think that when you have pimples or a breakout that you should skip the moisturizer?  Well, the doctor tells us that that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“A common myth among acne patients is that people with acne shouldn’t moisturize, and that’s simply not true. People confuse oil with moisture. I tell my patients, you have to moisturize!” she says.

Her suggestion for those with acne-prone skin?  Try those same oils she recommends using as cleansers–jojoba, tea tree oil, argan, hemp seed, neem, and even coconut oil.

“If you have acne, you can moisturize with oils as long as they are the types of oils that don’t clog your pores.”

She also says lotions that are labeled as “noncomedogenic” are also safe bets.  She just prefers that you stick to the ones with the fewest and most natural ingredients as possible.

Choosing the right makeup to prevent blemishes

When you are trying to cover up acne, makeup can be an essential part of your routine.

What’s the biggest ingredient to avoid when it comes to makeup and acne prevention, according to Gershenhorn? Talc.

“When it comes to makeup, my only rule is ‘no talc’ because it clogs the pores and promotes acne.”

Her other tips include:

  • Seek out organic, natural-based cosmetic products.  Search theEnvironmental Working Group’s Skin Deep databaseto find one that’s right for you.
  • Less is more when it comes to ingredients in the makeup — the fewer the ingredients, the better.
  • Avoid artificial dyes in products.
  • And always, always, always wash it off at night!

And that last tip is Dr. Gershenhorn’s biggest and most important one for great skin.  She says, “Never, ever go to bed without washing your face! Makeup or no makeup, you are carrying around your day’s environmental exposure and pollution with you on your face, seeping into your pores.”  That’s definitely something you don’t want to bring to bed with you!

“Everyone wants a quick fix when it comes to acne, but unfortunately, there’s no quick fix.

“Acne is not just simply a cosmetic issue; it’s a psychological and social one that deeply affects those who suffer from it,” Gershenhorn notes.

With time, patience, and some healthy lifestyle changes, we hope these natural acne treatments and tips will give you clear, glowing skin minus the side-effects of medications.

For more information, or find a board-certified dermatologist in your area, visit the American Academy of Dermatology.

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