We all know that awful feeling of glancing in the mirror and noticing a skin blemish beginning to form—or, even worse, fully formed and way too obvious for your liking. Acne is unfortunately a widespread issue, and although it’s most commonly associated with teens, it can (and does) affect adults too. There are a variety of reasons why your skin might look and feel less than perfect, like hormone changes, bacteria buildup, and negative reactions to cosmetic products. Luckily, there are also a variety of ways to deal with those icky outbreaks.
Step 1 before you start looking for a miracle cure: look for prevention! Give your current skin care routine a serious once-over and read the ingredients of your go-to products. They might include potential skin irritants like alcohol, fragrances, or abrasive micro bead scrubs (which may be too rough for sensitive skin). Or think about revamping the routine itself—do you cleanse your skin daily? If you tend to skip some days, oil and bacteria buildup can do some serious damage and cause comedos (acne that results from clogged pores) —especially if you’re not regularly removing your makeup. If you haven’t already, determine your skin type to make sure every product of your routine matches your needs. Then see our recommended skin care routine, which takes you through each daily (and nightly) step.
If you’ve found your ultimate routine, you’ve faithfully stuck to it, and you still struggle with acne, there’s hope! You can try topical remedies with natural ingredients, which have a few benefits (besides potentially treating and reducing acne): they’re less likely to irritate or dry out your skin, and they also produce very few side effects, unlike the medicated treatment systems you may see advertised on television. Here are a few of our favorites:
Tea tree oil.
Oil naturally derived from tea trees has antibacterial properties. The main component of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea trees native to Australia) is terpinen-4-ol, which inhibits the growth of bacteria. Because of this, applying tea tree oil directly onto your acne can destroy the harmful microbes that caused it, removing its source and reducing pimples in size and redness.
Green tea extracts.
Another powerful tea extract and one of the biggest “miracle products” currently on the market, green tea lives up to its hype when it comes to treating skin. Green tea, or camellia sinensis, is rich in antioxidants. Its nutrients and enzymes work to repair damaged skin tissue and neutralize free radicals (which kill skin cells and can even damage DNA). In plain English: they work from within to smooth out those problematic, bumpy areas.
With a reputation for soothing skin, it’s no surprise that aloe vera can work on acne too. The clear goo is naturally secreted from aloe plants and offers up amino acids, nutrients, and vitamins that improve your skin’s overall health. Aloe vera’s healing hormones also play a part in restoring your skin without leaving scars—gibberellins in particular stimulate natural cell growth, which then takes the place of clogged or dead cells.
If you’re feeling inspired to give your skin the clean, clear revamp it deserves, try our staff’s picks for products that thoroughly treat acne:
Lioele A.C. Control Spot Patch. This sticker patch has a concentrated formula and is placed directly on the pimple. It targets the spot with a combination of salicylic acid and tea tree oil. It can reduce the redness and size of a blemish overnight, and even prevent new blemishes from emerging through the skin.
Bioderma Sebium H2O (Combination or Oily). While this cleanser is not specifically for acne, its exceptional formula makes it ideal for oily skin that’s prone to acne. The micellar solution micro-emulsifies (dissolves and disperses) dirt and impurities. Regular use will help you balance your skin’s production of sebum, reducing the chance of pimples that form from oily spots.
Innisfree Jeju Bija Anti-Trouble Skin. What can we say? We’re obsessed with Jeju Island. This toner uses torreya seed oil extracted from the island, along with salicylic acid and antioxidants like green tea and citrus, to gently exfoliate your face of two breakout culprits: rough, dead skin cells and keratin buildup.