Is the secret to clearer skin hiding in your kitchen? Homemade acne treatments from foods such as honey, cucumbers, and grapes may help complement professional treatment from a dermatologist.
Acne can be stubborn and seem to pop up at the worst times. The good news is that over-the-counter and prescription medications can zap pimples and help stop new breakouts. The bad news is that some acne products can cause side effects like redness, discoloration, or dryness, notes the Mayo Clinic. For this reason, some people prefer treating acne at home with natural solutions.
Typically, the more mild the acne, the more easily it can be treated at home, says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. In more severe cases, though — especially if there are cysts or nodules — professional treatments often are necessary.
For mild acne, you might be surprised to learn that you already have several acne remedies in your own home — and in your kitchen of all places.
You can mix common foods and ingredients, such as cucumbers, oatmeal, grapes, and yeast, into a facial mask and create an acne treatment. A homemade facial may help prevent or clear acne, as well as keep your skin glowing, moisturized, and healthy.
1. Grape Cleanser
Grapes are a refreshing snack, whether eaten plain as a snack, halved as a salad topping, or frozen as a healthy dessert. But grapes likely don’t come to mind when you think of acne treatments.
Yet according to an article published in April 2016 in Advances in Dermatology and Allergology, resveratrol in the skin of red grapes may exhibit bactericidal activity against Cutibacterium acnes. formerly called Propionibacterium acnes, C. acnes is a bacteria in the sebaceous glands that contributes to acne.
So grab a few fresh grapes from your fridge, and you’ve got an easy facial cleanser. Cut two or three grapes in half and rub the flesh over your face and neck, says Fran E. Cook-Bolden, MD, a dermatologist and director of Skin Specialty Dermatology in New York City. Follow with a cool water rinse.
2. Cucumber Face Mask
If you’ve ever been to a spa, you’ve likely put cucumber slices on your eyes to reduce puffiness — and they may not be a sham treatment.
A past review suggests that cucumbers can have a soothing effect on the skin, reducing irritation, swelling, and pain. Hence, they can potentially relieve inflammation specifically associated with acne.
In the case of acne, “inflammation develops within the oil gland and follicle, leading to red, angry bumps in the skin,” explains Dr. Zeichner. When acne develops deep within the skin, “a cyst may develop and become filled with oil. If the cyst wall ruptures and the oil becomes exposed to the deeper skin layers, a robust inflammatory reaction often occurs,” he says.
How can cucumbers help?
“Cucumbers have skin soothing and hydrating benefits, so if your skin is inflamed from acne, cucumbers may offer a modest calming benefit,” notes Zeichner. But he warns that they’re not effective at treating the underlying pimples.
Here’s how to reap the benefits: “Make a paste by blending one small cucumber and 1 cup of oatmeal,” says Dr. Cook-Bolden. Mix 1 teaspoon [tsp] of this paste with 1 tsp of yogurt and apply it to your face. Leave it on for 30 minutes, and then rinse.
3. Cucumber Face Pack
If you don’t have oatmeal or yogurt in your kitchen, use this cucumber remedy instead. This cooling, soothing mask will help smooth your skin, which can feel rough from acne. “Mash one whole cucumber, strain the water, add 1 tablespoon of sugar, and mix well,” says Cook-Bolden. “Apply to your face and leave it on for 10 minutes; then wash with cold water.”
4. Simple Honey Mask
Honey has many healing properties. According to the Mayo Clinic, some people use it as a natural cough syrup and to relieve a sore throat.
According to an article published in August 2016 in the Central Asian Journal of Global Health, in vitro studies suggest that the antibacterial properties of honey may also promote healing of burns and wound infections, and inhibit the growth of C. acnes.
Before applying this mask, rinse your face with warm water, says Cook-Bolden. Then apply the honey and leave it on the skin for 30 minutes. Rinse the honey off with warm water.
5. Yeast and Yogurt Mask for Oily Skin
Although more research is needed, evidence published in April 2015 in the International Journal of Women’s Dermatology suggested that fermented dairy products like yogurt may promote skin health. Yogurt is also a probiotic, which has been shown to inhibit C. acnes.
To make the mask, combine 1 tsp of brewer’s yeast with a little plain yogurt to create a thin mixture. Cook-Bolden says, “Apply it thoroughly to all the oily areas and leave on for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse with warm water; then use cold water to close the pores.”
6. Oatmeal Facial
The anti-inflammatory properties of oatmeal are naturally soothing and may relieve irritation caused by dermatological conditions like rashes, erythema, burns, itch, and eczema, according to research published in January 2015 in the Journal of Drugs and Dermatology.
Oatmeal has skin protecting, hydrating, and anti-inflammatory benefits, says Zeichner. “It’s not specifically effective in treating acne, but it can help soothe dry, inflamed skin. I commonly recommend oat-based moisturizers for my patients who use potentially irritating acne treatments,” he further notes.
Mix together 2 tsp of oatmeal, 1 tsp of baking soda, and enough water to form a paste. Smooth the paste all over your face and gently rub it in. Rinse thoroughly afterward.
7. Turmeric Facial Mask
For beautiful skin, brides in India traditionally use a turmeric mask before their wedding, says Cook-Bolden. This is likely due to the spice’s anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties, and its ability to significantly improve the severity of skin conditions like acne, alopecia, atopic dermatitis, oral lichen planus, pruritus, and psoriasis, according to a review published in August 2016 in Phytotherapy Research.
Ingredients for this acne remedy are available at spice markets and ethnic food stores.
Mix 1/2 cup of chickpea flour and 2 tsp each turmeric powder, sandalwood powder, and ghee (clarified butter) or almond oil, and then combine them with enough water to make a paste. “Apply and leave on for 5 to 10 minutes,” says Cook-Bolden. “Rub with pressure with both palms and fingers to remove all the paste.” Rinse well with water.
A Final Word on Home Remedies for Acne
Homemade facial masks can rejuvenate your skin and help clear acne — and all of these recipes use common ingredients found in your pantry and refrigerator. Try one or more of these remedies to treat pimple-prone skin and see how your skin responds.
If at-home treatments don’t help after two to four weeks, touch base with a dermatologist for help, says Zeichner. “Unfortunately, delays in treatment increase the risk of developing stains in the skin, or in some cases, permanent scars,” he warns.