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unhappy man observes acne on his face

Natural Remedies for Acne and Rosacea

After trying every drugstore cleanser and cream (without the desired results), it can be pretty hard to believe in natural acne remedies. But guess what: chosen carefully, and used routinely, they really can work.

How common is acne?

It’s very common! In fact, research suggests that about 17 million Americans battle breakout on any given day.

Now add in the additional 16 million of us who deal with adult rosacea, and you’re looking at a whole lot of people suffering with the embarrassment and frustration of “bad skin.”

No wonder natural acne remedies are getting scientific attention and gaining public popularity.

What causes acne?

For starters, acne appears to be strongly genetic. A massive study of both identical and fraternal twins finds that genes account for 80% of who does (and doesn’t) get acne.

Another study concludes that you are 4 times more likely to get acne if you have a parent, sibling, or offspring who has suffered with it.

Still, genes can’t be the whole story. Consider this: scientists have found that acne is far less common in non-western countries. Yet when people from those countries migrate to the West they often develop breakout that’s just as bad as what the rest of us fight.

So why does acne develop?

Acne happens when hair follicles below the surface of your skin get plugged up with oil and dead skin cells.

These hair follicles connect to your body’s oil glands, which secrete an oily substance (called sebum). Normally, that oil provides a healthy amount of moisturize to your hair and skin. And the excess travels along the hair shaft, up onto the surface of your skin. You wash it off regularly and, voila, no problem.

But when your body produces too much sebum – as it does around puberty and throughout adolescence – the oil mixes with dead skin cells on the surface of your skin. It builds up inside the hair follicles and soft plugs form, creating an environment where bacteria can thrive. That’s acne.

What are the traditional medical treatments for acne?

If natural acne remedies don’t appeal to you, then rest assured virtually any reputable dermatologist is prepared to offer well-researched medication.

Most doctors prescribe antibiotics to clear skin bacteria and reduce inflammation. Some can be taken orally; others are applied directly onto the skin. Both can be help. Neither is perfect. Topical applications have trouble penetrating the skin so they aren’t very good at clearing deep acne. On the other hand, oral doses can cause side effects (i.e. yeast infection).

Retinoids are also a popular treatment. They’re vitamin A derivatives. Topical formulas are usually used for mild to moderate acne. For more severe cases, some doctors prescribe Accutane (isotretinoin). Although it’s very effective, this drug can cause very serious birth defects. So it should never be taken by women who are pregnant or not using contraception.


Wash with a mild facial cleanser. Harsh soaps dry the skin and make it look worse. Plus, they don’t address the real problem: blocked pores below the surface.

Use a toner and moisturizer. After washing, mist your face with a DIY toner made of sea salt water & magnesium (see the recipe below). Then apply a moisturizer to repair your skin and reduce inflammation. Research finds the best ones contain vitamins C, E, B3, zinc, rose hip, and/or green tea.

Take a daily zinc supplement. People with acne typically have low zinc levels. And zinc levels decline as acne severity goes up. Studies find that supplements can reduce acne by up to 40%, if you take a form with high “bioavailability.” So look for zinc picolinate or zinc methionine.

Try acupuncture. Several studies indicate that it can help mild to moderate acne. But acupuncture acne points vary from one person to the next, so choose a practitioner carefully.


Never scrub your face hard. Vigorous scrubbing will only spread bacteria from your active zits across more of your skin. Result: more breakout!

Don’t over-use sport treatments. Topical products like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are drying. They only make your skin appear more irritated, and push it into producing even more oil (which will make your acne worse).

Avoid harsh laundry detergents. Most detergents contain harsh chemicals. When you slip on your clothes or lie down on your pillow, your skin is likely to react to the residue that’s left on the fabric. Not good. So shop for a fragrance-free, dye-free formula that won’t expose your skin to ingredients that can provoke outbreaks.

And remember…

Natural acne remedies don’t exist to replace prescription drugs. Sometimes you can use both, and see fantastic results. It’s true, you might not be as certain of what exactly made the difference. But when you look in the mirror and see healthier, more attractive skin — will you even care?

Good luck!

Recipe for Sea Salt-Magnesium Facial Spray

Distilled or boiled water – 1 cup

Himalayan Salt (or Sea Salt) – 1 Tablespoon

Epsom Salt or Magnesium Flakes – Just a pinch

Optional: 1-2 drops of any essential oil

Add salt and Epsom salt/magnesium to warm water. Stir until they are completely dissolved. Add an essential oil if you’re using one and store in a glass jar or spray bottle. Spray on after every washing. (Note: In place of distilled water, you can use an herbal teal like calendula or chamomile.)

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