5 Ways to Beat Breakouts, Naturally

Natural Acne Remedies

My complexion and I are officially frenemies.

I give it nothin’ but love: all-natural treatments and masks a-plenty, clean make-up and green juices. But my skin is rebellious. Ungrateful! It will break out with a vengeance, on occasion.

Lucky for me, the enlightened, glorious green beauty community came to my rescue recently when I turned to Twitter for help. Within just a few hours, I received a slew of helpful recommendations for warding off my breakout using natural remedies (thank you, guys!). I’ve been employing these tactics for two weeks with amazing results.

So, behold, five recommendations from the green beauty community to ward off acne…for real. (!)

1. Oil Cleansing

(via Lyonsleaf)

I wasn’t aware that oil cleansing was an effective way to prevent blemishes until Lyonsleaf, a UK-based skincare brand, tweeted at me: they even linked me to a helpful how-to page on their website.  I’ve dabbled with oil cleansing in the past, but I felt re-inspired to dust off that ol’ cleansing cloth and incorporate this back in to my daily routine.

This method replaces traditional cleansers or foaming face washes – and leaves my skin feeling so soft, moisturized, and clear. Woop! Oil cleansing restores the skin’s lipid layer, holding moisture in: it doesn’t dry skin out, which may cause excess sebum production and breakouts.

How to do it: massage the oil of your choice (I’ve been enjoying pure jojoba oil, but you can pick up any oil-based cleansing balm or liquid) into your skin, all over. Then, run a cleansing cloth (I use the One Love Organics shammy) under warm water and press into your skin, gently removing the oil and wiping excess away. Ta-da!

Herbivore Botanicals Facial Serum

2. Rosehip Oil

(via Lovely Cosmetics)

When Lovely Cosmetics chimed in and recommended I use rosehip oil to treat my problem skin, I reached for my Herbivore Botanicals Nourish Facial Serum ($36 for 1 oz.). I raved about this serum in a previous post: while it’s not pure rosehip oil, it’s a key ingredient in a blend that also contains organic argan oil, golden jojoba, and a few others (note that Herbivore Botanicals has a new formula now: I have the old version).

Rosehip oil is a well-loved beauty oil for myriad reasons: it’s antimicrobial and thereby equipped to battle blemishes, plus, it’s packed with vitamin C, vitamin A and essential fatty acids to nourish skin.

The combo of oils in the Herbivore Botanicals serum has kept my skin moisturized without feeling overly greasy over the past few weeks, with no flare-ups.

3. Honey Masks

(via Makeup by Mary B.)

Once upon a time, honey used to only make it onto my face a la sloppy eating. Occasionally, I’d swirl it into homemade masks, forcing it to become comrades with mashed avocado or Greek yogurt. But lately, inspired by Mary B.‘s recommendation (we are huge fans of her blog, Makeup by Mary B.) to use honey masks to attack acne, I’ve been slathering it all over my face twice a day…snacking on it all the while (don’t tell).

Honey has anti-bacterial properties (zappin’ zits) and is a natural humectant (hella hydratin’). Applying a pure honey mask and wearing it for 10-15 minutes is a gentle, nourishing way to treat acne when you’re having a bad break-out.

Of course, not all honey is created equal. To get as much natural goodness from those little bees delivered straight to your pores, reach for organic, raw, unfiltered honey. No More Dirty Looks wrote a great post on how/why to exercise care when selecting honey, for eating or for skincare. I grabbed the best possible honey I could find at my nearest grocery store: raw, but sadly, filtered. It still got the job done with pretty stellar results, but next time I’ll suck it up and make the trip to Whole Foods, where you can probably get bees to prance around on your face, if you want. Because it is the Promised Land.

If you’re not into putting food on your face – y’know, right out of the jar and all – well, you’re wrong. Joking. There are plenty of honey-based masks and products out there that may strike your fancy. One that I’m eyeing: La Bella Figura Bio Active Healing Mask (made with manuka honey!).

Ancient Clay Mask

4. Clay Masks

(via Makeup by Mary B)

Clay: here’s an ingredient that’s adored by the green beauty community (and beyond) that I’ve been wanting to try for many moons. Clay draws out and absorbs impurities from the skin. Also recommended by Mary B. and echoed by others, I figured that the time for clay to come to my rescue was NOW, in my time of dire need.

In completely serendipitous fashion, Zion Health/Adama Minerals reached out to me about testing out their new clay mask ($14.99 for 4 fl. oz.). Cue the angel choir: hallllll-e-lu-jah!

Just like honey, clays come in a variety of shades, qualities and uses: bentonite clay, french green clay…you’ll find montmorillonite clay in the Zion Health mask. This mask is 100% vegan – and while it isn’t 100% natural, it contains a lot of natural ingredients, in addition to the clay, that I love: calming witch hazel and anti-inflammatory cucumber. The only ingredients that spooked me a bit were the salicylic acid (an active ingredient) and glyceryl cocoate - both of which may irritate skin, but only rank as a “moderate hazard” on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database (a 4 and a 3 out of 10, respectively). 

I found this mask gentle enough to apply daily with no irritation or drying. It left my pores looking small and my face feeling extremely clean and purged of yuckiness. This is definitely a new favorite for me – and given its generous size, I’ll be using it for a long time to come.

AND: if you’re interested in trying this clay mask out yourself (or other Zion Health/Adama Minerals products…they have some awesome detox teas we were eyeing), they’re offering $10 off on $35 orders. Use code “getunsullied.”

Osmia Spot Treatment

5. Spot Treatments

(via Nephriticus)

Did I save the best for last? Maybe. All of the remedies in this post have been supremely helpful to me. But Osmia’s Spot Treatment is my favorite…because it provides virtually instant gratification for acne sufferers. This is lightning in a bottle, friends!

The knowledgable Jade from green beauty blog Nephriticus recommended a few natural spot treatments to me via Twitter, including the much-raved-about Osmia Organics Spot Treatment ($20 for 0.16 oz.). Man, it has been ages since I bought or used a spot treatment: probably high school. I never found one that worked without leaving my skin dry as Death Valley, so I quit trying. UNTIL: Osmia reached out to me after seeing my distressed tweets and offered to send me their spot treatment to test out. Miracles really do happen in the green beauty community.

I love the irony of it: this is the teensiest little rollerball with the most massive impact! Dab a bit of this baby on your blemishes and trouble spots (don’t apply this powerful serum all over, Osmia warns), as the last step in your skincare routine. I’ve been using it every morning and night, twice a day. I noticed visible improvements on my skin within 24 hours. Amazing! There is nothing like it.

So, what sets this spot treatment apart? Besides being completely all-natural (clearly we’re off to a great start…), it’s the only spot treatment I’ve used that doesn’t ravage my face. The ingredients are simple and effective: evening primrose oil soothes skin while a blend of essential oils and rosemary CO2 (that’s a new one for me!) tackle blemishes.  It’s not drying. It doesn’t sting. It’s a gentle serum that quietly kicks the crap out of your acne while you’re going about your day. It’s sort of like hiring a very discreet hit man for your zits. Also, unlike other overly potent and irritating spot treatments, it doesn’t smell medicinal or offensive. Instead, it offers a bright, fruity and delicious scent (think Fruit Loops, seriously!). I’ve even joked about applying it as a eau de parfum. (It does come in a rollerball, after all…)

I’m very grateful to all of the green beauties who helped this girl out on Twitter: Lyonsleaf, Lovely Cosmetics, Makeup by Mary B., Jade of Nephriticus, Ru-chan of Short, Small & Sweet and The Beauty Proof. Check ‘em out for more great green beauty content. And big thanks, also, to Osmia Organics and Zion Health for providing me with products that helped me win my battle against blemishes! Boo-yahhhhh.

Have more suggestions? Let me know in the comments!

Zion Health Adama Ancient Clay Acne Mask ingredients:
Active ingredient: Salicyclic acid (2.0%)
Inactive ingredient: Montmorillonite clay, kaolin, witch hazel distillate, glycerine, zinc oxide, glyceryl stearate, magnesium aluminum silicate, glyceryl cocoate. Extracts of: witch hazel, green tea, cucumber, chamomile, comfrey, allantoin, tocopherol, tetrasodium edta, panthenol, menthol, phenethyl alcohol; ethyl hexyl glycerin.

Osmia Organics Spot Treatment ingredients:
Organic evening primrose oil and essential oils of lavender*, cajeput*, lemon*, parsley, thyme, cypress*, and rosemary CO2* (*organic)

**Osmia Organics’ Spot Treatment and Zion Health’s Clay Mask were generously sent to me for review by the product manufacturers. Check out our policy on product reviews.

  • http://pemberleyjones.com Pemberley Jones

    This is the best post ever, I’m stalking it HARD. What can’t twitter + Green bloggers solve?!

    • Jennifer

      You are the greatest. Thank you for reading! And seriously. The green blogger brain trust is bananas. The volume of quality content/tweets/conversations happening everyday by this community is mind-blowing!

  • http://www.mademoisellenature.blogspot.com Mademoiselle Nature

    Nice post misses!
    Quick question: Osmia spot treatment looks like it is a bit greasy no? can’t use it during the day?

    • Jennifer

      Thank you! It absorbs very quickly and dries matte. I’m wearing it right now under my mineral foundation – you’d never be able to tell! Covert operation. :)

  • http://www.shortsmallsweet.net Ru

    Glad to be of help! These steps are what I do too when I have a zit going on. Like right now my chin decided to have TWO cystic spots party. :(

    • Jennifer

      Thanks again, Ru! And seriously, no matter what we do and how well we treat out skin, there will ALWAYS be acne and breakouts. Drives me absolutely nuts, I feel your frustration!

  • http://pleinvanity.com Kasey

    I love how the green beauty community comes together to share solutions! :) This is a great post! I LOVE using rosehip oil and am starting to try out honey masks as well. I use Pai’s rosehip oil daily and I swear, not only does it make my face super soft but most of my dark sun spots/acne scars have completely faded. And that Osmia Spot Treatment, don’t get me started on how wonderful it is…

    • Jennifer

      It’s so amazing. I don’t know how I functioned before I was connected to this community! I came across the Pai rosehip oil when I researching facial oils for this post – and based on your experience, I think I need that. Truly a miracle oil!

  • http://www.ambersbeautytalk.com Amber

    Great post! I love using honey as a cleanser and my evening facial oil has loads of rosehip oil in to zap away my spots. I have a spot treatment from Isa’s Restoratives that I picked up in New York that absolutely stinks but it does do a great job! To get rid of blackheads I like to mix up water & honey with bentonite clay to make a mask :)

    • Jennifer

      I love that DIY idea, Amber! That way I wouldn’t have to apply two separate masks – one with honey, one with clay. You should patent that :)

  • http://damederose.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/the-going-green-tag/ Ashley Rose

    Do you know if you can get the Osmia spot treatment in the U.K? It sounds great and I really want to try it! Ashley x

  • http://sugarpuffish.blogspot.co.uk Sarah (Sugarpuffish)

    I love cleansing with oil and rosehip is one of my favourite ingredients, it’s a miracle worker on most skin types :-)

    • Jennifer

      Agreed, you really can’t go wrong! The color/scent/texture all get gold stars from me. And it feels fairly luxurious without being too expensive. I haven’t tried cleansing with it yet, so will have to add that to the list, thanks!

  • http://www.organic-obsessions.com Nic

    Loved reading this post, perfect mix of VIM (very imp info!) and humor! Esp the part about bees dancing around your face going into Whole Foods (had a lovely mental pic of that!). Need to get hold of some honey that I can use on my face as well and start dabbling in a bit of DIY- any good honey you recommend a newbie? Keep up tha brill writing! Xx