Treating Acne with natural therapies
Updated: Jul 9, 2018
After diving into the colourful world of clean eating and nutrition, I wondered to myself what else I could attempt to cure with the power of plants. I decided to first off try and treat my own issues; starting with my acne.
I suffered with fairly bad skin since my teenage years, the problem growing worse after I started drinking. My skin was filled with small white bumps just under the surface which gave my skin a rocky road type texture. It was red and dry and itchy and I had regular breakouts of huge pussy face mountains. I wore thick makeup to hide my horrible face, which made matters so much worse. I even used to wait until late at night after my boyfriend had fallen asleep to take my makeup off so he wouldn't see how minging I was. I tried everything to clear up my skin; I drank more water, I washed my face morning and night, I did weekly face masks, I tried a gluten free diet, I tried a dairy free diet, I tried eating more fish, eating less meat, taking skin and hair supplements along with many other strange and gross practices I never wish to repeat to anyone. I also went through the full acne product range; from Superdrug brand spot treatments, to Clearasil, to Nutrogena, to Freederm, to Pro-Active, all of them soaring in price from expensive to unaffordable, all with varyingly little return. It was only when I was pulling out my debit card to fork out another £50 to buy this month's installment of the Pro-Active branded false promises and disappointment, that I breathed my last sigh of defeat and closed my account for good. This product was the best and most expensive on the acne treatment market, and all it was doing was drying my skin out and making it slightly less pussy. So without hesitation, I dove head first into the realms of natural therapies, and honestly; I can't believe I hadn't done it sooner.
It's been around 18 months since I made the switch, and I am now for the first time in my life leaving the house, going to work and going out at the weekends... with no makeup on.
The concept of this would have had me in an anxiety coma two years ago, as I'm sure it does for anyone else who knows the burden of bad skin. But I am writing today to tell you that there is a way to have the skin you always wanted, be more confident, spend less time worrying, less time staring helplessly in the mirror, and spend less money on your skin care.
So fellow acne sufferers, you're probably all dying to know the one hit wonder cure which will banish all your blemishes forever? Well I'm afraid to say there is no such thing as an overnight cure. Natural remedies work slower than chemical laden products, but that is because they are more gentle on the skin and provide deeper, longer lasting results. So perseverance is important. It's also important to note that not everyone has the same skin type, so a product or method which works for me, may not necessarily work for you. However I am here nevertheless to share my experience, my recipes and my methods- tried and tested, in the hope that I might help some people going through the same things as I was. Here chaps, is a brief list of all the methods and products I have used so far, that have changed my life.
1. Raw Apple cider vinegar: I bought this initially because of the health benefits. When taken internally, the raw enzymes in the vinegar react with your body, creating an alkaline environment, which helps resolve a number of health issues, including lowering blood sugar, lowering blood pressure, increasing energy levels and resolving skin problems. I then realised that using it topically can also have a great effect on the skin, due to its' anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. It also restores the skin to a healthy PH balance, which suppresses overproduction of sebum, and it contains alpha hydroxy acids which remove dead skin cells. I find it best used with a 50/50 mix of rose water as a toner, applied morning and night after cleansing, with a cotton bud.
You can buy apple cider vinegar here at: https://www.buywholefoodsonline.co.uk/rewardsref/index/refer/id/177179/
2. Natural cold pressed oils: It sounds crazy to someone who suffers with oily skin, but using oil on your face is actually a really effective way of clearing up a number of skin problems. As you may remember from high school chemistry; 'like dissolves like', so using natural oils on an oily face can inhibit the overproduction of unnecessary oil. It also immensely improves the quality of your skin, making any blemishes or breakouts that do happen, look loads better. Depending on your skin type will depend on the oil you should use, but I find that pumpkin seed oil at night is really effective. It contains loads of zinc and selenium which help balance an oily complexion, it's packed full of antioxidants which help slow the ageing process, it increases firmness in the skin and it deeply moisturises and soothes. It's a little too oily for daytime use though, which is why I only use it at night, but I find the perfect oil to use during the daytime is Rosehip oil. Like pumpkin seed oil, it balances oily skin and contains loads of antioxidants which fight cell damage, but it has a number of added benefits. Like the sheer amount of vitamin C it contains stimulates collagen production, it reduces fine lines and wrinkles (perfect for anyone who is starting to feel the long term effects of over-drying acne treatments), it protects against UV damage, it helps even skin tone and promotes skin regeneration thanks to all of its essential fatty acids, and it all round gives me the face of an instagram famous tween. I can honestly say if I had to ditch all of my new beauty products and only use one, I'd dash them all in favour of rosehip in a heartbeat.
You can buy both of these at: https://www.buywholefoodsonline.co.uk/rewardsref/index/refer/id/177179/
3. Rosewater toner: Not the stuff you've seen on TV made by Loreal that contain loads of chems and cost as much as a new face; just actual pure, simple rosewater. It's been a miracle skin tonic for centuries, supposedly used by Cleopatra herself, and a staple in an Indian household. It has anti-inflammatory properties which can help reduce acne swelling and redness, controls the skins PH balance which stops it producing excess oil, removes dirt from clogged pores, hydrates and revitalises the skin, the anti-oxidants in it can strengthen skin cells and help heal scars faster, it evens your skin tone, and the smell is so god damn intoxicating it can help relieve stress and anxiety. Apply some to a cotton pad after your morning and evening cleanse, and sweep the last bits of dirt from your face in upward motions. Depending on my skins' current needs, I sometimes add a couple of drops of essential oils, such as Tea Tree or Eucalyptus to help kill any remaining nasties, but that all depends on what kinda mood my face is in. And psst... you can buy pure rosewater for £1 for 250ml in Asda, just check the Indian section under World foods.
4. Aloe Vera Gel: I don't know about you guys, but sometimes when I've got a giant juicy face volcano thats got a head so big I can basically hear it screaming at me to let it out... I give in and torture my face for the sake of a few seconds of pleasure. I know it's dirty and wrong, but we're all guilty of it at some point- and judging will only make the acne fairy come down on you harder next month! So you're staring at your mottled face, full of regret. You're sure all the devastation zones are going to join forces and create one giant monster zit by morning, your face feels like it has its' own pulse, and you're scared to get back into bed for fear that your boyfriend mistakes you for Freddy Krüger. Cue the Aloe Vera Gel. The proper stuff is made from nothing but the flesh of the Aloe Vera plant, so in some cases it's safe to drink (always check the label.) It contains loads of antioxidants which help the skin heal quicker, it moisturises without giving an oily feel, and it contains the hormones Auxin and Gibberellins which provide effective wound healing by reducing skin inflammation and killing bacteria with minimal scarring. Smother your swollen red face in this delicious plant spuff, and feel everything tingling and shifting back into its rightful position. I use it alone if my face is super duper red and puffy, but it can also be used by mixing it with your chosen moisturising oil to achieve a more matte look during the daytimes.
You can buy Aloe vera gel at: https://www.buywholefoodsonline.co.uk/rewardsref/index/refer/id/177179/
5. A natural, gentle face cleanser: Every. Single. Acne product. Claims to be this. Take it from someone who has tried them all: none of them are. They're all designed to dry out your skin so that your spots clear up, but your face is so dry that you have to use excessive amounts of their moisturiser, and when your face is so damaged from all the chemical abuse; you need to buy their pricey anti-ageing cream. (I wonder if the same companies also make embalming cream for our subsequently over-pruned corpses...) Upon this realisation I decided to make my own cleanser, the recipe for which I have been using and tweaking for over a year now. I have had a lot of success with it, and can attribute the majoritive improvement of my skins quality to this. If you're feeling adventurous, give this natural facial cleanser recipe a whirl:
Pink Manuka, Coconut face wash
1 parts finely ground pink Himalayan sea salt
2 parts Manuka honey (NPA rating 10+ or above)
2 parts raw virgin coconut oil
Mix the three ingredients in a pot and apply a generous amount to face during a hot shower. Use it to scrub your face clean, and if you're feeling patient, leave to sit on your face while you wash your nether regions. Wash off and use toner.
This recipe is cheap, easy to make, an effective everyday treatment, and if you accidentally get some in your mouth... no biggie, it tastes like salted caramel.
But if you're one of those lazy queens, or queens who are too busy to buy all of the separate ingredients, measure and mix them together and blah blah, the second best option is Lush facial cleansers. I found this a very easy alternative to carrying all the separate ingredients whilst road tripping around Europe. They have a fairly impressive range, but my personal favourites are Angels on bare skin and Herbalism. It's a bit more expensive than making your own or buying Satan's own brand Clearasil, but the guys in there are always super friendly and helpful, and having a skin consultation is like having a mini pamper session, so it's well worth a visit.
So guys, if you're stuck in a skin rut, unable to shift all those nasty skin irritations, and trying new products is your bag, give these boys a whirl. I will say however that topical treatments alone were not solely responsible for my skin rehabilitation, and rather a combination of these and the following:
- A healthier diet rich in nuts, dark greens and fresh fruit
- SO... so much water
- Cutting out dairy almost completely
- Drinking no alcohol (or if you can't face the thought of a sober existence, switching to alcohol with a lower ABV% has a pretty positive effect too).
I know that trying to cure bad skin seems like an impossible task, but there is a treatment out there that's right for you- you just need to find it!
If you feel like you need any advice on how to get started, or what products and treatments are right for you, I am more than willing to offer advice. I may not be a doctor, but I did manage to do what no doctor ever could- and that was cure my bad skin.
Good luck on your path to beautiful luminousity!