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9 Natural Remedies to Help Fight Acne

Apple cider vinegar? Green tea? Steam showers? These and other surprising holistic options may  help keep you free from embarrassing skin eruptions.

Acne—just hearing the word brings up bad memories from those teenage years when a breakout of pimples could send you in a panic. You’d almost do anything to avoid going to school with visible acne, where taunts from the mean kids (remember “pizza face”?) tended to stick.

Making the situation worse was that treatments for acne often involved harsh chemicals or expensive over-the-counter cleansers that didn’t seem to do a whole lot. And if you had a serious case of acne that required prescription medications like antibiotics, you had to suffer through a host of potential side effects.

Acne just seemed like another rite of passage, a familiar if difficult byproduct of puberty. Many of us thought that when we grew out of adolescence, we’d leave the scourge of acne behind.

No such luck. Acne is the most common skin condition in the U.S., according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), affecting as many as 50 million Americans every year. About 85% of people between the ages of 12 and 24 years old suffer at least minor cases of acne, but you can get it at any age. In fact, the AAD says that acne in adults is increasing, with most victims being women.

Even those lucky people who avoided acne in their teen years may find zits and pimples erupting on their skin in their 20s and 30s. And many of these outbreaks occur in areas other than the face, usually the back, chest, and shoulders. Some fear body acne more than facial outbreaks.

So why do you still get acne as an adult? Blame your parents. Acne (acne vulgaris) is caused mostly by hereditary factors, say scientists. According to the National Institutes of Health, acne is caused when oil glands make a substance called sebum that inflames and clogs your skin pores and hair follicles. When plugged, your pores swell and collect bacteria and dead skin cells. Acne grows as the plugged matter breaks down. The result can be “comedones, papules, pustules, nodules, and/or cysts,” according to the Merck Manual for dermatological disorders. Vulgaris, indeed.

Environmental factors can also clog pores, such as airborne pollutants and toxins that find their way onto your skin. That’s why regular cleansing is your first defense against preventing acne. Other causes of acne include medications, makeup, stress (hormones, again), and a buildup of bacteria on your skin from lack of regular washing. 

The amount of oil your body produces from its glands is difficult to control, and that’s where hereditary factors come in. Some people just have more oily skin than others, and that’s caused by your genetic lineage. Hormones are a prime cause of this oily discharge, which explains why puberty is so often associated with acne. Some people are just genetically predisposed to suffer acne.


Acne is usually just an annoyance, though more aggressive cases can cause scarring. But it’s hard to feel happy and healthy when the face staring back at you in the mirror is marred by pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads.    

If you find yourself suffering from acne outbreaks, it’s time to put together a wellness plan of attack. You have more acne-fighting weapons at your disposal than ever before, and many that may have never occurred to you, such as steam showers.

Your acne-fighting plan begins with these simple daily habits: Keep your face clean; don’t “pop” your pimples, which spreads pore-clogging bacteria to other parts of your skin; keep well-hydrated; and maintain a healthy diet, which provides nutrients that can support a healthy epidermal microbiome.

In addition, try these 9 acne-fighting natural tips to address the problem from a topical and internal basis. Let’s get to it.

1. apply vitamin a creams

This is a no-brainer. The popular skin treatment retinol is a form of vitamin A, and it has a successful track record. Authors of an extensive study on retinol stated: “The scientific rationale for the use of topical retinoids in acne is clear. Clinical data from many thousands of patients show these agents are highly efficacious on both non-inflammatory and inflammatory acne lesions.” While some research has shown it can help when taken orally, vitamin A as a topical is the way to go.

2. use green tea

This is one of those rare treatments that can be used both internally and externally. An extensive meta-study discovered that “tea polyphenols used orally and topically may be beneficial for skin health and more specifically, for reducing sebum production by the sebaceous glands and for the prevention and treatment of acne vulgaris.” This research looked at studies where green tea was used as a beverage and as a topical cream.

3. Try apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is gaining credence in the wellness community for its ability to help boost a number of health markers. How? Research has found that this form of vinegar can fight bacteria and kill pathogens. This is another acne treatment that can work both as a beverage and a topical. Apple cider vinegar contains a number of acidic nutrients that have been proven to kill one of the causes of acne, a bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes.

4. apply aloe vera

This plant-based skin treatment has been shown to have loads of nutrients and anti-microbial properties, according to research. It also helps keep skin hydrated while infusing pores with beneficial acids and vitamins. And, in the right formulations, aloe vera is quite soothing upon application.

5. use tea tree oil

You should definitely give this topical oil a try. Research found that tea tree oil was as effective as benzoyl peroxide, one of the most common acne treatments around. It’s suggested by experts that you should use a solution with 5% tea tree oil.

6. Use zinc and zinc oxide

This anti-inflammatory mineral is a hot topic among acne sufferers these days. While you’re familiar with it as a nutrient that helps fight colds and flu, zinc oxide creams have become a go-to topical treatment for many acne sufferers. While dermatologists are split on topical zinc oxide, research does prove that taken orally, zinc can help reduce multiple forms of acne and other skin conditions.

7. Try light therapy

This out-of-the-box treatment utilizes blue light and lasers to help eliminate forms of bacteria on the skin that cause acne. Dermatologists believe these treatments have great promise for acne sufferers. According to the American Academy of Dermatology: “Some patients with severe acne cysts have seen clearing for years when laser therapy was added to their treatment plan.” This has been backed up by research. Usually treatments are done in a dermatologist’s office, but self-administered light therapy can also be utilized, though it should be done under a doctor’s supervision.

8. Use Manuka honey

Another fast-rising wellness aid, nutrient-rich Manuka honey from New Zealand has shown promise as a topical anti-bacterial treatment when used as an emollient. The low pH of this unique honey can also speed up the healing of pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads.   

9. apply witch hazel

A more familiar OTC acne treatment than some listed above, witch hazel has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial abilities that can help fight acne, according to research

Steam, The Bonus Skin Care Secret Weapon

Like other possible remedies on our list, you may not have seen this one coming. The truth is, steam showers and baths can help your skin stay cleansed and possibly healthier in a number of ways. Below we list a few of them.


What’s behind steam’s potential effects on skin? There are multiple mechanisms, but let’s start with sweat. Sweating doesn’t just flush toxins and germs from your body, it does so with high efficiency. According to a study published in the journal Acta Dermato-Venereologica: “The high content of antimicrobial peptides in sweat serves as an excellent repellent of harmful germs. More concretely, the protein dermcidin, which is also found in sweat, counteracts the activity of acne-causing germs.” The scientists add that the more you sweat, the more acne protection you get.

What’s great about steam therapy is that you’re producing sweat in a hygienic, contained environment. Unlike when you sweat outside, when you use a steam bath, you aren’t exposed to the environmental toxins that are often the cause of acne in the first place.

It is recommended that you wash your skin after a visit in a steam room to remove any bacterial debris and dead skin cells that have been flushed out. Also, it’s a good idea to remove any makeup you have on before stepping into a steam shower.

Intermittent heat, or hyperthermia, can also provide surprising potential benefits in the fight for healthy skin. The heat from a steam room may help enhance the skin’s immune responce (remember, skin is an organ) by increasing circulation, according to research. The heat may also help balance skin pH, while regulating overactive sebum glands. 

Steam has also been shown to help hydrate your epidermis and reduce dead skin cells that clog pores. A study found that in some study participants steam helped nourish and hydrate cells, creating a protective layer by thickening the stratum corneum (SC), the outermost layer of your skin. 

These are just some of the more direct potential effects of steam. Regular sessions in a steam bath may also help indirectly by reducing the stress response that creates imbalances in your endocrine system. Hormonal havoc from an increase in cortisol can contribute to the conditions that lead to acne. Steam therapy can also help reduce stress by promoting deeper and more restful sleep.

The relaxing and soothing effects of regular visits to a steam room may help boost your health and wellness on multiple levels. If you suffer from adult acne, give steam therapy a try. If it’s not the most effective anti-acne treatment you do, it will undoubtedly be the most enjoyable.


Find out just how affordable a residential steam bath is by checking out MrSteam’s case studies. Or visit a dealer showroom and talk to a MrSteam representative who can guide you to the best steam solution for your situation.

Your skin will thank you. After all, there’s no reason you should suffer through those awkward teenage years ever again.

Topics: Benefits of Steam, Health & Wellness