12 Surprising Home Remedies for Acne

Updated: Mar. 08, 2021

If you have acne, proper skin care and treatments can help. However, you may also consider natural home remedies like these, which include aspirin, honey, green tea, and more.

Fight acne at home

It’s frustrating to fight any type of acne. While there are skincare habits and acne treatments that help, it’s also possible that your skin could improve with home remedies. Although there is some evidence that these acne home remedies may work, there isn’t enough research and science to say for sure that they will do the trick. These might not necessarily be scientifically proven acne remedies. However, if you have these ingredients at home it could be worth a shot to try them.

dropper with a bottle
istock/temmuz can arsiray

Acne home remedy: Tea Tree Oil

With its natural inflammation-fighting properties, tea tree oil is less harsh than benzoyl peroxide but may be just as effective against acne, according to Jeannette Jacknin, MD, a San Diego-based board-certified dermatologist specializing in holistic dermatology.  She recommends mixing 12 drops of tea tree oil with 1/2 teaspoon of goldenseal powder to make a paste. “Apply it on acne spots for 20 minutes twice a day, then rinse it off,” says Jacknin. “It’s too potent to leave on and could dry out or irritate your skin.”

clear glass of green tea with leaves

Acne home remedy: Green Tea

Green tea has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that may be beneficial for the skin. To get its effects, use a cooled cup of green tea as a face wash or lay the bag over the affected area. “This will be helpful in soothing irritated skin and reducing the inflammation of acne lesions, but don’t expect it to completely clear your complexion,” says Jacknin. (Find out the 8 surefire ways to get rid of acne once and for all.)

honey dripping into a wooden spoon

Acne home remedy: Honey

Honey’s antibacterial properties may help improve acne. Apply a teaspoon of honey to affected areas, or make a mask by mixing 1/2 cup of honey with 1 cup of plain oatmeal and leaving it on for 30 minutes.

echinacea blossoms and tea in glass cup and saucer

Acne home remedy: Echinacea

Echinacea is traditionally used to speed wound healing and prevent colds and flu. But several studies—including one published in the Journal of Dermatological Science, have shown that its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects may also improve inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema. And those same properties may help with acne as well, says Dr. Jacknin. Use echinacea tea as a daily face wash by soaking a cloth with it, or put a few drops of tincture on a cotton ball and dab it on blemishes.

aspirin in a packet
istock/Ulrich Knaupe

Acne home remedy: Aspirin

Salicylic acid is the main ingredient in aspirin. It is also a go-to for acne treatments. You can harness the acne-fighting power of salicylic acid by making a zip-zapping paste of crushed aspirin and water. Apply it just to pimples. “You never want to spread something like this over your entire face,” says Dr. Jacknin. “It could be very drying and irritating.”

dried chamomile in a wooden spoon on burlap
istock/Chris Gramly

Acne home remedy: Chamomile

Chamomile helps decrease skin inflammation and may help with acne, according to a review published in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. In a blender or coffee grinder, combine the contents of a chamomile tea bag with enough water to form a paste, and apply that to acne. Alternately, steep two chamomile tea bags with 1 cup boiled water for 15 minutes. Let the tea cool, then use a cotton ball to dab it on your face after cleansing.

witch hazel, dried and blossoms with wooden spoon
Maren Winter/istock

Acne home remedy: Witch Hazel

Witch hazel acts as an astringent, naturally drying and shrinking blemishes, according to Dr. Jacknin. To get its benefits, pour witch hazel onto a cotton ball and wipe your face each morning and night.

cut aloe leaves

Acne home remedy: Aloe

Aloe, known for its burn-relieving properties, may promote healing, fight infection, and even reduce scarring. Scrape the gel from an aloe plant out with a spoon or buy aloe gel from health-food stores—just make sure it’s pure aloe, with no added ingredients. Dab it onto blemishes or spots at risk of scarring. (Find out what skin habits may lead to scarring.)

lemon halves
istock/Six Dun

Acne home remedy: Lemons

Lemons act as an exfoliant, skin lightener, and antiseptic to reduce the appearance of scars and prevent new pimples from forming. On a clean face, dab acne with a cotton ball or cotton swab dipped in lemon juice, then rinse with cool water. Dr. Jacknin also suggests mixing lemon juice with witch hazel and using it as a spot treatment. (Find out what other solutions dermatologists recommend for clearing up acne.)

measuring spoons; one filled with liquid
istock/Christine Glade

Acne home remedy: Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar contains malic and lactic acids that may help exfoliate skin and dry out acne. For a DIY toner, mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and water and apply to skin with a cotton ball, making sure to shake well before each use. Dr. Jacknin recommends starting by dabbing the toner only on pimples to make sure it doesn’t irritate your skin.

bowl of tangerines
istock/Emilie Duchesne

Acne home remedy: Acidic foods

Acidic foods like citrus fruit juice or vinegar are astringent and may help dry out acne. Dab a little onto a cotton ball to help battle acne; gently swipe the cotton on the affected areas. (Don’t miss these 8 acne-fighting ingredients to add to your routine.)

person holding a translucent capsule

Acne home remedy: Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that may improve acne. Get the benefits from taking a multi-nutrient capsule containing fish oil, or add more salmon, albacore tuna, flaxseeds, and walnuts to your diet. Studies have shown that getting more of omega 3s may reduce acne breakouts. Now, find out the daily habits of people who never get acne.