Are Natural Skincare Products Actually Effective for Acne?

Unfortunately, the idea that acne is something you can bid adieu after your teenage years is simply not true. In fact, of the 60 million Americans who have acne, at least 20 percent are adults, proving that you can suffer from acne at any age. Treating any kind of acne can be difficult, time-consuming, and expensive.

Many people don’t fully understand how the skin functions, and with so many options on the market, they’re led to believe that “strong” conventional skincare products are the solution to their acne woes. This ties in directly to the common belief that natural products are not “powerful” enough for acne-prone skin. Well, wrong! Making the switch from a chemical acne protocol to a natural skincare routine could actually be key in achieving clear skin. Here’s why and how.

The importance of skin pH

Maintaining the natural, optimal pH balance of your skin is essential for a clear, glowing complexion. A healthy skin pH depends on the acid mantle, which protects skin against external influences like bacteria, allergens, and pollution while maintaining moisture.

“One of the advantages of using natural over synthetic skincare products is that they enhance the skin’s natural function; they maintain the skin’s natural PH and acid mantle,” says Anna Mitsios, naturopath and founder of Edible Beauty, a 100% pure botanical skincare line. This is because natural ingredients work synergistically with the skin, utilizing active ingredients that help optimize skin cell nourishment, repair, and regeneration. On the other hand, chemicals actually strip the skin excessively and therefore disrupt the protective function of the acid mantle.

Watch what you wash with

The first skincare item to check in on is your cleanser. While cleansing is essential to any anti-acne protocol, it is a misconception that acne should be treated with harsh, foaming, conventionally medicated face washes.

“A gentle milky cleanser that is ‘non-foaming’ is actually imperative when it comes to controlling acne. This means that skin is not stripped of its acid mantle, which acts as a protective barrier against microbes and toxins, which can be a common trigger for breakouts,” explains Mitsios, who uses antimicrobial coconut oil as the base for Edible Beauty’s No.1 Belle Frais Cleansing Milk, which she recommends to clients who are looking to treat their acne naturally.

Try these natural ingredients to combat acne

Forget the synthetic chemicals — nature has equipped us with some superstar ingredients to combat acne flare-ups naturally. Some key ingredients to look out for include:

  • Salicylic acid — unclogs pores, reduces bacterial buildup, and gently controls excess sebum, all of which are key causes of acne.
  • Alpha-5-avocuta — derived from avocado oil, this ingredient reduces excessive sebum production by preventing 5 α-reductase activity, an enzyme which is responsible for hormonal acne.
  • Pink clay works to draw out impurities from the skin and keep pores clear.
  • Tea tree oil highly antimicrobial, works to unblock sebaceous glands and disinfect pores.
  • Chamomile & calendula — these herbal extracts are naturally antimicrobial, beneficial for balancing oil production, and help reduce blocked pores.
  • Aloe vera — highly soothing, anti-inflammatory, and with natural wound healing properties.

Dont skip the moisturizer

“Those with acne-prone complexions all too often skip moisturizer for fear that it will make skin greasy. However, it actually has the opposite effect. Proper hydration helps balance sebum production, ensuring that the skin doesn’t overcompensate for dryness by producing excess oil,” explains Mitsios. Rather than ditching this step of your skincare protocol altogether, opt for a natural product that’s oil-free but full of other hydrating ingredients — such as aloe vera, cucumber and hyaluronic acid — until your breakouts are under control.

Address acne from the inside out

It’s important to remember that the skin is the body’s largest organ, which often functions as a mirror to what’s going on inside our bodies. Natural products are certainly effective for targeting acne from the outside, but in order to really eradicate pimples and breakouts, a holistic approach that incorporates diet needs to be taken.

The foods we eat can play a significant role in supporting results-driven natural acne management. Foods that help maintain steady blood sugar levels throughout the day (low glycemic index), along with an elimination inflammatory foods and drinks, such as dairy, refined sugars, processed carbohydrates, coffee, alcohol and artificial food additives, may help improve acne conditions. Consuming a whole food diet rich in vegetables, low glycemic fruit, and good fats supports healthy, blemish-free, radiant skin.