Acne has always been an issue for me and my super sensitive skin. It is a redhead thing. All doctor-prescribed and over-the-counter remedies made the problem worse. They just irritate skin and remove the delicate acid balance that prevents infection. Through this irritation and removal of the delicate skin barrier, the skin fights back by producing even more and sometimes thicker oils to combat them. Thus begins an endless cycle of irritation, acne, more chemicals, more irritation, and more acne. This is all a boon to the medical and cosmetic industries selling us their chemical concoctions, but not so much for skin.
1. Grow Aloe – Yes, simply grow an aloe plant or three in a warm sunny place in the house. One aloe leaf will last a week. Simply slice off a leaf and leave it in the bathroom. Then, slice off an inch every night and squeeze out the juice. Apply this as a nightly moisturizer. It will firm, tone, tighten, and reduce scars as well. The vitamin-C and other plant acids will also fight bacterial infections while the other natural ingredients will reduce pore size and sebum (oil) production. Plus, aloe is a natural anti-aging and sun-damage reversing remedy.
2. Whole Lemon Paste – I make lemon water daily, but not in the way you’d suspect, I toss half a whole raw lemon into the blender with 5 cups of water and puree until smooth, then I filter out the pulp and use it on my skin instead of soap. I save the pulp and use it as a face wash at least twice per day. As a bonus, lemon also contains nutrients and acids that reduce scars, fine lines, sun damage, and reverses aging.
3. Clay Mask – Now, we could buy a mint julep mask or other commercial preparations, and certainly these work in a pinch, but real bentonite clay or Moroccan red clay work better in their pure and natural state. Use a clay mask once per week to help draw out impurities, tighten pores, slough away dead pore-clogging skin, and create smoother and clearer skin. Pair this up with a bentonite tonic drink for a weekly routine sure to calm and reduce some toxin problems causing pimples.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar – Now I heard about this one in a book I have never been able to find again — called “Super Beauty” — and the premise is this: to keep skin clear and radiant we must address its needs. Skin needs both an acid mantel and moisture. If you do persist in cleansing with soap, follow up by rinsing it with a bowl of hot water and apple cider vinegar. Follow this up with massaging in a teeny bit of olive, coconut, or other skin healthy oils. For my already oily skin, I simply use apple cider vinegar on a cotton swab and follow with an organic oil-free moisturizer.
5. Rose Water or Oil – This is an ancient beauty secret. Women of royalty often bathed in water infused with rose petals or washed their skin with rose water. Even today many ethnic stores sell rose water just for this purpose. I have often used rose water or a few drops of rose oil in a spray bottle of water, as my skin moisturizer, with amazing results and glowing skin.
6. Neem – Okay, this isn’t a typical kitchen product unless you are into essential oils or herbalism. But there are many neem-based products on the market and they do clear up acne better than any commercial product I have seen. If you do go the soap or face wash route, try to get products with neem in them or add neem oil to your toner or moisturizer, or add neem powder to your weekly face mask.
7. Garlic – For the adventurous type, there is also raw garlic paste. I have known only one person who swears by it, and as a girl, I could never see walking around smelling like an Italian kitchen. Also, I found the crushed raw garlic to be irritating to my skin. To each their own, though. (I prefer a paste made with basil leaves or cucumber, used as a weekly skin mask.)
8. Essential oils – Essential oils like tea tree or lavender make great spot topical for quick relief of pimples. Simply use a cotton swab to dab a drop of oil right on the lesion and then go about your day. Both tea tree and lavender fight bacteria and draw impurities from the skin.
9. Nutmeg, Cloves, or Cinnamon – Mix any of these with the acne fighting properties of real, raw honey for a face mask or wash that will rebalance the skin and fight bad bacteria. As a bonus, raw honey is high in vitamin-E and other vital nutrients for moisturizing and nourishing the skin.
10. Internal health – Remember that it is not just what we put on our skin that affects our skin’s clarity, but also what we put in our skin. Eating a diet high in vitamins and with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables goes a long way toward skin health. In particular the skin needs vitamins B (all), E, A, and C for optimal health and this needs to be paired with real hydration in the form of filtered water, preferably with a little bit of raw lemon juice.
The trick is to preserve the delicate acid balance and good skin bacteria that prevents skin irritation and infections. The only way I have found to do this is to go the no-soap and no-chemical way. This means using herbs and simple kitchen-found products that are far gentler on skin and its delicate acid balance. As a bonus, most also preserve skin health, reduce age spots and wrinkles, and even out skin tone.
Photo Credits available upon request.