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5 Home Remedies for Acne That Actually Work

Acne is one of the most commonly occurring skin condition today. It is a chronic, inflammatory condition of the skin that causes pimples and spots to appear on the shoulders, back, neck, face, shoulders, upper arms, and chest. Blackheads, pimples, cysts, whiteheads, and nodules are all different types of acne. Acne typically occurs during puberty, but it can also affect a person at any age. While acne is not a dangerous condition, it can leave behind skin scars, and many people feel embarrassed by the spots on their face. Treatment for acne depends on how severe and persistent it is. However, conventional treatment for acne can be expensive, and it can also result in undesirable side effects. Due to this, many people have turned to use home remedies that cure acne naturally at home. With so many suggestions available online about home remedies for acne, how do you decide which one actually works and which one does not? Read our list of home remedies for acne that actually work to decide for yourself.

What are the Causes of Acne?

In order to understand which home remedies work for acne, it is necessary first to learn the causes of acne.

Acne begins when the pores on the skin’s surface become clogged with dead skin cells and oil. Each of these pores is connected to a sebaceous gland. These sebaceous glands produce an oily substance known as sebum, and excessive sebum can clog up the pores. This leads to the growth of a bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes or P. acnes.

When your body’s white blood cells start attacking this bacteria, it causes skin inflammation and acne. Some people experience more severe cases of acne than others, but the most common symptoms of the condition include blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples.

There are many factors that can cause acne, including diet, genetics, hormonal changes or hormonal imbalance, infections, and even stress.

5 Home Remedies for Acne That Actually Work

5 Home Remedies for Acne That Actually Work

Here are some popular home remedies for acne that actually work.

Applying Apple Cider Vinegar to the Affected Area

Apple cider vinegar is produced from fermenting apple cider, or you can say that it is the unfiltered juice derived from pressed apples. Just like many other types of vinegar, apple cider vinegar is also known for its ability to fight off many types of bacteria and viruses.(1)

Attesting to the ability of apple cider vinegar as a useful home remedy in treating acne, a study carried out by the University of California found that there are many types of organic acids present in apple cider vinegar that kill the bacteria that causes acne, P. acnes.(2) Furthermore, a study in December 2016 done by the Seoul National University of Science and Technology also reiterated the same thing that apple cider vinegar is effective home remedy in killing the bacteria P. acnes.(3)

Amongst all the organic acids contained in apple cider vinegar, succinic acid, in particular, has proven to suppress inflammation that is typically caused by P. acnes. This is also believed to help in preventing scarring on the skin.(4)

The presence of lactic acid in apple cider vinegar also improves the appearance of acne scars, and at the same time, this vinegar helps dry up any excess oil present on your skin which is what causes acne in the first place.(5) Several studies have successfully shown that lactic acid present in apple cider vinegar, or just lactic acid in general, can help prevent scarring caused by acne.(6)

If you want to use apple cider vinegar for acne, then here’s how you use it:

  • Mix one part apple cider vinegar with three parts of water – if you have sensitive skin, then increase the water ratio.
  • After cleaning your face, gently apply this mixture to your skin with a cotton ball.
  • Let the vinegar sit for 15 to 20 seconds and then rinse it off with water. Pat dry your skin.
  • You can repeat this process at least two times daily or as required.

It is essential to be careful while applying apple cider vinegar to your skin because it can cause burns and irritation as well. This is why you should always use it only in small amounts and that too after diluting it with water.

Load Up On Zinc

Zinc is a vital nutrient for your body, as it is crucial for hormone production, cell growth, metabolism, and immune function. It also happens to be one of the most researched natural treatments for acne.

Studies have shown that people who have persistent acne tend to have a lower level of zinc in their bloodstream, as compared to people who have clear skin. A study carried out by the University of Afyon Kocatepe and published in July 2013 found that participants who consumed food rich in zinc and vitamin A experienced a dramatic decrease in acne and required less treatment for the condition. The study also confirmed that treating severe acne with zinc and vitamins leads to satisfactory results.(7)

Similarly, many studies have also shown that taking zinc orally also helps reduce acne.

In a study published in the Dermatologic Therapy journal in 2010, 48 acne patients were given zinc supplements orally three times each day. After a period of eight weeks, 38 of these participants experienced a drastic 80 to 100 percent reduction in their acne.(8)

While there is no clarification on what should be the optimal dosage of zinc for treating acne, but many studies have indicated that there is a significant reduction in the appearance of acne upon using 30 to 45 mg of elemental zinc every day.(9) (10) (11)

Elemental zinc is the amount of zinc that is present in the compound – zinc is available in many different forms, and each type contains a varying amount of elemental zinc. For example, zinc oxide contains the highest amount of elemental zinc – at 80 percent. The recommended limit of zinc that is considered to be safe is 40 mg per day, so do not exceed this amount unless your doctor recommends a different amount for you. Taking too much zinc also causes side effects such as gut irritation and stomach pain.
Many people wonder about the topical application of zinc. However, it is noteworthy that applying zinc topically to the skin has not been shown to be effective. This is perhaps due to the fact that zinc does not get absorbed properly through the skin.

Treat the Spots with Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is well known for its ability to treat many conditions. It is an essential oil that is derived from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, which is a small tree that is native to Australia.

Tea tree oil is famous for its anti-bacterial properties and its ability to reduce skin inflammation making it a useful home remedy for acne.

Recently, several studies have shown that applying 5% tea tree oil to the skin can help dramatically reduce the appearance of acne. One such study was carried out by the Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in Iran(12), and another was carried out by CSIR-Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CSIR-CIMAP) in India.(13) Both studies found substantial evidence to show that tea tree oil can be used as an effective treatment for mild to moderate acne vulgaris. At the same time, another study(14) found that when you compare 5% tea tree oil to 5% benzoyl peroxide, the tea tree oil did not act as quickly as the peroxide, but it dramatically improved acne after being used for three months. Tea tree oil had fewer side effects such as irritation to the skin, burning, and dryness that are commonly observed with benzoyl peroxide.
Keep in mind, however, that tea tree oil is extremely potent, so it is always recommended that you dilute it before applying to your skin.

To use tea tree oil as a home remedy for getting rid of acne, try the following:

  • Mix one part of the oil with nine parts of water.
  • Dip a cotton swab into this mixture and apply it to the affected skin.
  • You can rinse off if required after 15-20 minutes.
  • Repeat this process once or twice every day.

Try Using a Honey and Cinnamon Face Mask As Home Remedy for Acne

Honey and cinnamon are known for being excellent sources of antioxidants and help reduce inflammation as well.(15) (16)

Many studies have found that applying antioxidants such as honey and cinnamon to the skin increases the likelihood of having minor acne outbreaks. In fact, these antioxidants are said to be more effective at reducing acne than benzoyl peroxide and retinoids even.(17)

Honey and cinnamon are known to be good home remedy in the treatment of acne because they have strong antibacterial properties, and both the ingredients help reduce inflammation. Bacteria and inflammation are two of the most common factors that trigger an outbreak of acne, so dealing with the base causes with honey and cinnamon can dramatically reduce the occurrence of acne.

You can make a face mask with honey and cinnamon together in the following manner:

  • Mix two tablespoons of honey and one teaspoon of cinnamon powder to form a paste.
  • Clean your face and apply this mask to your face, leaving it on for at least 15 minutes.
  • Rinse off the mask and pat dry your face.

Use Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a popular solution for many skin and hair related problems. This tropical plant’s leaves produce a clear gel, which is known to have many benefits for the skin and hair. This gel usually gets added to creams, lotions, soaps, ointments, and even some medications. It is commonly used for treating rashes, burns, abrasions, and many other skin conditions including acne.

When the gel of aloe vera is applied to the skin, it can help in treating burns, healing wounds, and also fight inflammation. Aloe vera is also rich in sulfur and salicylic acid, both of which are used in medications that are prescribed for the treatment of acne.

A study by the Sterling Winthrop Consumer Health Group in April 2014, as well as many other studies, have shown that applying salicylic acid to the skin dramatically decreases acne.(18) Similarly, studies have also demonstrated that the application of sulfur is also an effective treatment for acne.(19)

In all the research done so far, ale vera has shown great promise as a home remedy and treatment for acne. However, the actual anti-acne benefits of aloe vera still need to be based on some more scientific evidence.

Here’s how you can use aloe vera for acne – it is best if you can source fresh aloe vera gel from the plant itself:

  • Scrape off the gel from the leaf of the aloe plant with a spoon.
  • Wash your face and apply this gel directly to the skin.
  • Repeat once or twice a day.

It is also possible to purchase aloe vera gel from the market, but you have to ensure that you only buy the one that has no added ingredients.


Acne is a common problem that affects thousands of people all over the world. There are a number of underlying causes of acne, and it is essential to take care of your skin if you want to avoid getting persistent acne outbreaks. While conventional acne treatment can lead to side effects such as redness, irritation, and dryness, these natural home remedies have been found to be highly effective, while, at the same time, they do not have any side effects. The home remedies discussed here are worth a try, but as everyone’s skin type is different, they might not work for everyone.

If you have severe acne, though, it is always better to first consult a dermatologist before trying out any home remedies.


  1. Vijayakumar, C. and Wolf-Hall, C.E., 2002. Minimum bacteriostatic and bactericidal concentrations of household sanitizers for Escherichia coli strains in tryptic soy broth. Food Microbiology, 19(4), pp.383-388.
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jopr.12207
  3. Wang, Y., Kuo, S., Shu, M., Yu, J., Huang, S., Dai, A., Two, A., Gallo, R.L. and Huang, C.M., 2014. Staphylococcus epidermidis in the human skin microbiome mediates fermentation to inhibit the growth of Propionibacterium acnes: implications of probiotics in acne vulgaris. Applied microbiology and biotechnology, 98(1), pp.411-424.
  4. Bae, J.Y. and Park, S.N., 2016. Evaluation of anti‐microbial activities of ZnO, citric acid and a mixture of both against Propionibacterium acnes. International journal of cosmetic science, 38(6), pp.550-557.
  5. Wang, Y., Kuo, S., Shu, M., Yu, J., Huang, S., Dai, A., Two, A., Gallo, R.L. and Huang, C.M., 2014. Staphylococcus epidermidis in the human skin microbiome mediates fermentation to inhibit the growth of Propionibacterium acnes: implications of probiotics in acne vulgaris. Applied microbiology and biotechnology, 98(1), pp.411-424.
  6. Kapuścińska, A. and Nowak, I., 2015. Use of organic acids in acne and skin discolorations therapy. Postepy higieny i medycyny doswiadczalnej (Online), 69, pp.374-383.
    Sachdeva, S., 2010. Lactic acid peeling in superficial acne scarring in Indian skin. Journal of cosmetic dermatology, 9(3), pp.246-248.
  7. Ozuguz, P., Dogruk Kacar, S., Ekiz, O., Takci, Z., Balta, I. and Kalkan, G., 2014. Evaluation of serum vitamins A and E and zinc levels according to the severity of acne vulgaris. Cutaneous and ocular toxicology, 33(2), pp.99-102.
  8. Sardana, K. and Garg, V.K., 2010. An observational study of methionine‐bound zinc with antioxidants for mild to moderate acne vulgaris. Dermatologic therapy, 23(4), pp.411-418.
  9. Dreno, B., Moyse, D., Alirezai, M., Amblard, P., Auffret, N., Beylot, C., Bodokh, I., Chivot, M., Daniel, F., Humbert, P. and Meynadier, J., 2001. Multicenter randomized comparative double-blind controlled clinical trial of the safety and efficacy of zinc gluconate versus minocycline hydrochloride in the treatment of inflammatory acne vulgaris. Dermatology, 203(2), pp.135-140.
  10. Michaëlsson, G., Juhlin, L. and Vahlquist, A., 1977. Effects of oral zinc and vitamin A in acne. Archives of dermatology, 113(1), pp.31-36.
  11. HILLSTROM, L., PETTERSSON, L., HELLBE, L., KJELLIN, A., LECZINSKY, C.G. and NORDWALL, C., 1977. Comparison of oral treatment with zinc sulphate and placebo in acne vulgaris. British Journal of Dermatology, 97(6), pp.679-684.
  12. Enshaieh, S., Jooya, A., Siadat, A.H. and Iraji, F., 2007. The efficacy of 5% topical tea tree oil gel in mild to moderate acne vulgaris: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study. Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology, 73(1), p.22.
  13. Sinha, P., Srivastava, S., Mishra, N. and Yadav, N.P., 2014. New perspectives on antiacne plant drugs: contribution to modern therapeutics. BioMed research international, 2014.
  14. Shenefelt, P.D., 2011. 18 Herbal Treatment for Dermatologic Disorders. Lester Packer, Ph. D., p.383.
  15. Schramm, D.D., Karim, M., Schrader, H.R., Holt, R.R., Cardetti, M. and Keen, C.L., 2003. Honey with high levels of antioxidants can provide protection to healthy human subjects. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 51(6), pp.1732-1735.
  16. Gheldof, N., Wang, X.H. and Engeseth, N.J., 2003. Buckwheat honey increases serum antioxidant capacity in humans. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 51(5), pp.1500-1505.
  17. Shalita, A.R., Smith, J.G., Parish, L.C., Sofman, M.S. and Chalker, D.K., 1995. Topical nicotinamide compared with clindamycin gel in the treatment of inelammatory acne vulgaris. International journal of dermatology, 34(6), pp.434-437.
  18. Zander, E. and Weisman, S., 1992. Treatment of acne vulgaris with salicylic acid pads. Clinical therapeutics, 14(2), pp.247-253.
  19. Gupta, A.K. and Nicol, K., 2004. The use of sulfur in dermatology. Journal of drugs in dermatology: JDD, 3(4), pp.427-431.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 29, 2020

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