Monday, September 16, 2013

Treating Acne Naturally - Is it possible?

If you have oily, blemish-prone skin like mine, preventing pimples is a big part of your skincare process.  One myth that I hear a lot is that you can't treat acne with natural products.  What's my take on the subject?  I think that you can't treat severe acne (the type that requires prescription ointments or pills) holistically.  But mild to moderate acne, which you would typically battle with your classic over-the-counter Oxy, Stridex, Clearasil, etc., can definitely be treated with natural products.  In fact, if typical drugstore products aren't working for you, you should try using natural products before you see a dermatologist about prescription options.  

Why?  The problem with many over-the-counter mass acne products is that they can be very aggressive.  In fact, many of them use sulfates or alcohol as agents to dry oil and clean pores, but they are often so harsh that they can strip your skin of even good, natural oils.  As a result, your skin can become irritated and inflamed, stimulating the formation of pimples.  Overdrying your skin by using these products can also lead your skin to overproduce oil.  All of these factors may prevent typical drugstore products from clearing up blemishes and may actually cause acne to get even worse.

Natural products are often more gentle on the skin that is prone to acne.  Many of them utilize natural forms of the synthetically derived acne-fighting ingredients found in Stridex or Oxy products minus the harsh cleaning and drying agents and minus the fragrance and other irritants.   

Understanding some of the main natural-acne fighting ingredients can help you choose the right products for yourself.  

Let's start with the basics:
Breakouts = Oil + Bacteria + Inflammation + Clogged Pores treat breakouts, target each of these "risk factors" for acne.

Fight cleaning
There are many natural ingredients including aloe, turmeric, tea tree oil, juniper oil, and honey, which have natural antiseptic properties.  In other words, they help naturally prevent bacteria-causing acne from mingling on the skin.  A popular, natural, over-the-counter product is the Burt's Bees Herbal Blemish Stick ($7.99 in drugstores), which contains both tea tree and juniper oil.  These powerful plant-derived oils will help clean up what your cleanser may have missed.  Then, treat your skin to the cooling Jason Pure Natural Moisturizing Creme with 84% aloe vera ($6.42 in drugstores) to keep your face extra clean.

Fight purifying
Some of us, usually younger women, have oily skin.  It's nothing to fret about because oil is a naturally produced substance in the skin that keeps it supple and elastic (in fact oilier skin types tend to age better).  However, in order to keep those pores clean and free of impurities and excess oil, look for detoxifying ingredients like ginger, apple, and baking soda.  One of my favorite purifying moisturizers is the JUARA Skincare Sweet Black Tea & Ginger Mattefying Moisturizer ($49 on  I also happen to love the Suki Bio-Active Purifying Face Serum ($82.95 at Whole Body).  The apple is great for clarifying pores, and I especially love the slight fruity smell and the weight-less, soft feel.

Prevent clogged exfoliating
In addition to impurities, dead skin cells can clog your pores.  Exfoliating is essentially ridding your skin of dead skin cells and other debris. Hydroxy acids, primarily salicylic acid and retinol help your skin turnover cells more efficiently and shed the dead ones. Plants such as willowbark are natural sources of salicylic acid.  So, try the Neutrogena Naturals Purifying Face Cleanser ($7.99 at drugstores) with willowbark.  You can also try following it up with the MyChelle Clear Skin Serum ($33 at Whole Body), which features retinol as a debri-removing ingredient.

Prevent calming
In order to prevent pores from becoming inflamed, opt for products that will minimize irritation with natural calming/anti-inflammatory qualities, despite dirt and oil build-ups on the skin.  For example, ingredients like rose, teas, and rice bran will soothe your skin and reduce any signs of skin conditions.  The Melvita Damask Rose Floral Water ($25 at Whole Body) can be used as a hydrating toner to tighten pores and refresh your skin. Or try the JUARA Skincare Tamarind Tea Hydrating Toner ($29 on  With rice bran, anti-oxidant packed teas, AND hylauronic acid, (which naturally helps skin retain moisture), this toner will help improve almost any skin condition and most definitely keep your skin clear and soft.

Ideally, a multi-pronged attack to fight acne in multiple ways would be your best bet against
pimples.  In other words, having a skincare routine that incorporates ingredients that specifically target each causal factor (oil, bacteria, clogged pores, inflammation) is often an effective strategy.  My favorite natural acne-fighter has to be the JUARA Skincare Rose & Willowbark Blemish-Free Mask ($35 on  I use it not only as a mask to prevent breakouts, but also as a spot treatment (just dab a little on your skin before bedtime and your zit will be zapped by the morning).  This product combines a key calming ingredient with an exfoliating ingredient, which has made it a really effective acne fighter for me, personally.  And, I often find that acne-fighting products can be strong and drying.  However, the JUARA mask is really gentle and non-drying. 

So don't be fooled!  There are a lot of really great natural products that are efficacious in battling acne.  What are your favorites?

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