I have battled acne for the majority of my life. It's had a hold over me for 20 years now. I have used just about every single prescription product without much success. I stopped those meds nearly 4 years ago when I became pregnant. After the birth I was breastfeeding...still am...and I didn't want to put anything harsh into my body, no matter how safe some of those meds claim to be for pregnancy. I looked for natural solutions.
You can find natural acne treatments all over the place - drugstores, grocery stores, health food stores etc. The prices vary. Do the products work? I can't tell you because I've never tried them. I can tell you that I don't have much faith in them. Many natural products still contain ingredients that can irritate your skin such as parabens, artificial dyes and fragrance. So what to do you do? I looked for ways to do it myself as naturally as possible.
When I had my son I joined www.mothering.com and began reading the message boards. I was already familiar with the magazine as I had been a subscriber for a decade. The messages boards are a.w.e.s.o.m.e. There's such a wonderful variety of people there with enormous amounts of information, resources and experience. It was after reading post after post about natural skin care that I came up with my own little regimine. There following is what I use most often:
Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
Lavender Essential Oil
Tea Tree Oil
Chammomile Essential Oil
Apple Cider Vinegar is one of those little wonders from nature. It's very good for you when used both externally and internally. It's a purifier and can help heal a variety of ailments. Our focus here is the skin. ACV is best when organic and raw. That's not always the cheapest option, so if you have to choose between organic and raw then go with organic. ACV works as a toner, it helps regulate the pH of the skin and is also an antiseptic and will take care of the naughty little bacteria involved in acne. It's high in alpha-hydroxy acids and will help calm and smooth skin over time. There are different schools of thought on whether or not to dilute it or not before applying it to your skin. With anything, use the most gentle option first, so dilute it. For me, I apply it full strength with no problems. You can let it sit on your skin for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing with water or you can leave it on overnight. This isn't something to apply before you go on a date as you'll smell like fermentation. Mmmmm.
Essential oils also have benefits for skin. As with ACV, organic is best and it's even better when it's organic and wildcrafted. Again, this is not always an option due to expense. For me, Lavender, Tea Tree Oil and Chammomile have all worked the best. The use of TTO for acne is pretty mainstream these days, with lavender and chammomile being lesser known. These three oils do well together. You can apply separately, alternating days, or together. I do both. There is debate, as with ACV, on application. Some believe you need to dilute it in a carrier, such as jojoba oil. Others believe you can apply it "neat," that is, directly to the skin. I apply it neat and haven't experienced issues with it. You can swipe it all over your face with a pad or you can spot treat individual pimples. When I have a nasty little whitehead, I dab a q-tip (organic cotton - you can get them cheap at whole foods) with one or a combo of these oils and apply it directly to the pimple. The whitehead is usually gone within seconds. If I'm not running right out the door I will put a little raw honey over the spot to help it heal.
- Chammomile - I use Roman Chammomile, which I believe is generally the best for skin issues. It has many healing properties. For acne it acts as an antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and calming agent. It also has tonic properties. This oil is helpful when dealing with painful pimples.
- Lavender - Like Chammomile, it has many, many healing properties. And for the skin, it works a lot like chammomile. It's antiseptic and anti-microbial. I prefer Bulgarian Lavender.
- Tea Tree - the smelliest of the bunch. It's another germ-killer and also has analgesic properties. TTO has the ability to stimulate immune function, which helps the skin heal itself.
A lot of times I apply ACV with a fabric cosmetic round (if you want disposable, try to use organic cotton if possible. Cotton contains an innumerable amount of pesticides that don't do anything to help your skin). I use fabric to lighten the load on the planet. These are tiny and don't make a dent in my laundry. I let it sit for a few and I don't wash it off. I used to apply a mix of my three essential oils with a cosmetic round, but I've changed my routine. I now have a separate honey jar where I've mixed raw honey with lavender, chammomile and tea tree essential oils. I apply that mixture to my skin with my hands (clean, of course) and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. I do this before a shower so I wash it all off in there.
After showers, I moisturize with organic jojoba oil, which has healing properties of it's own and is usually very good for acne-prone skin. It also works well as a carrier for essential oils.
This routine has helped immensely. There is also the issue of internal reasons for acne, such as poor diet and other health conditions, which I'll address another time. The skin secretes toxins from within our body, so it's logical to believe that an imbalance within the body with manifest on the skin. So drink your water, eat well and take some skin-happy supplements like a good-quality probiotic.
If you're interested in re-usable fabric cosmetic rounds, visit HagRag That's where I got mine. They are also very easy to make.
For good quality essential oils visit Mountain Rose Herbs.
This post is part of the Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways Blog hop, sponsored by Frugally sustainable.