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5 Home Remedies for Acne That Work and 5 to Avoid

Home remedies for acne can appear to be a natural and affordable way to treat acne, and sometimes they have certain helpful properties. However, these solutions may not be as curative as they seem.

Also read: How to choose the best acne treatment

Biggest Take-Aways:

  • Home remedies, such as green tea, tea tree oil, and aloe vera, may have some effectiveness in treating acne, but they do not address all the causes of acne and are inconvenient to use.

  • Consuming foods high in zinc or omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce acne, but dietary changes should be combined with a holistic topical acne treatment plan for the best results.

  • Certain "home remedies" should be avoided, including lemon juice, rubbing alcohol, and toothpaste, as they may irritate the skin and worsen acne. Investing in a treatment system with proven active ingredients is generally recommended to address all the causes of acne. Our kits have been proven effective for more than 20 years.

Ingredients found in your kitchen or local supermarkets, like witch hazel, apple cider vinegar, fish oil, or toothpaste, may have properties that affect acne. Still, without careful formulation, they can leave your skin worse. Read on to learn which home remedies to use, which to avoid, and how to use home remedies responsibly.

Home Remedies as Natural Ingredients

Green Tea

Research has shown that green tea is an effective treatment of acne vulgaris. When used properly, it can:

  • Reduce skin inflammation and skin irritation

  • Help reduce sebum (oil) production

  • Act as an antioxidant

Instead of applying green tea directly to your acne at home, we recommend using green tea or green tea extract as ingredients in other products so that you can address all the causes of your acne.

For example, here at Exposed we use green tea in many of our products, such as our tonics, serums, and scrubs. We use green tea extract as one ingredient in order to reduce inflammation and make our treatment healthier for sensitive skin.

Different types of dried tea leaves in wooden spoons

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil has antibacterial properties, meaning it can assist in wound healing and disinfecting in general, and because an excess of bacteria is one cause of acne, it also may help with reducing acne.

Because tea tree oil disinfects your skin, we don't recommend using it at home, as too much of it can irritate your skin and potentially make your acne worse. That's why we typically pair tea tree oil with calming ingredients like green tea extract, so that while it disinfects your skin, other ingredients calm your skin and help prevent irritation.

Aloe Vera

Some studies have shown that aloe vera can be a useful ingredient in reducing acne, and that there are little to no side effects.

This is because aloe can speed up healing, soothe and moisturize. While we should mention that aloe alone will not get rid of acne, it can be a useful ingredient in your skin care routine, especially if your acne is caused by inflammation and dryness.

Foods High in Zinc

By consuming foods that are high in zinc, you may help clear your acne. Some studies have shown that diets rich in zinc may help with reducing breakouts.

Zinc modulates the immune response, so eating zinc-rich foods can keep your immune system from overreacting, which creates less inflammation and therefore acne.

Some foods that are high in zinc include:

  • Oysters

  • Crab

  • Lobster

  • Beef

  • Pork

  • Cashews

  • Yogurt

  • Pumpkin seeds

  • Baked beans

  • Chicken

  • Oatmeal

Remember, these foods can be helpful acne treatment options when eaten- please do not apply beef directly to your skin!

Foods High in Omega 3 Fatty Acids

While more research is needed, the existing research on Omega 3 Fatty Acids is promising. These studies have shown that people suffering from acne may benefit from including more healthy oils in their diet.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids have many other benefits as well, and you can easily add them to your diet with foods like nuts, fish, fish oil, and plant oils.

It is again worth mentioning that changes in your diet in order to treat acne are best supplemented by a holistic topical acne treatment plan.

Sushi and soy sauce

"Home Remedies" to Avoid

Make sure to avoid these "home remedies" for treating acne as they may actually worsen your acne.


Applying honey to acne-prone skin will, at best, give you a sticky mess and, at worse, further irritate your skin.

Many bottles of honey actually have various other ingredients aside from honey, and those are the ingredients that cause irritation. Manuka honey was previously marketed as a cure-all solution, but research has shown that it is not actually effective in treating acne.

Honey dripping off a spoon


Probably one of the most popular at-home acne treatments, toothpaste is all hype and no healing. That's because toothpaste is designed for your teeth, not your skin.

Because toothpaste effectively kills the germs in your mouth, some sources have claimed it can also kill P. acnes bacteria and “dry out” acne. But your teeth are much tougher than your skin. Your teeth can withstand harsh chemicals in toothpaste such as sodium lauryl sulfate, fluoride, and baking soda, which can irritate the skin, cause inflammation, and lead to acne.

In fact, if you have acne around your mouth, your toothpaste might be causing it.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a popular home remedy on the Internet, but unfortunately, there’s no science to suggest it actually works. If anything, there’s proof that it could make acne worse.

The most common explanation for this vinegar’s efficacy is that its acidity helps exfoliate the skin. But in reality, it is too acidic. Although excess oil can cause acne, we still need a thin layer of oil to protect our skin from irritants, and apple cider vinegar can easily strip the skin of all oil, leaving it irritated and exposed.

Coconut Oil

While coconut oil can help soothe and moisturize your skin, it is also very likely to clog your pores causing whiteheads and blackheads. If you have acne-prone skin, we don't recommend using coconut oil.

Coconut oil in a jar

The Best Way to Get Rid of Acne? A Combination of Scientific and Natural Ingredients.

Natural ingredients and home remedies are important for treating acne, but they aren't the whole picture. Ingredients like tea tree oil or aloe vera can be found at your local store and have properties that disinfect, heal, and hydrate skin. However, these ingredients must be combined with other, scientific ingredients.

When used effectively, the properties of natural ingredients can be harnessed to help diminish the appearance of acne without an increase in irritation. But simply applying these ingredients to your skin without a larger treatment plan in place is not effective. If used alone, not only will treatment occur at a slower rate, but there is also very little research as to how effective and safe these remedies are on their own.

Exposed Skincare utilizes natural ingredients along with other scientifically proven ingredients to provide an acne cure that really works. Proven scientific ingredients such as Benzoyl Peroxide, Salicylic Acid, and Azelaic Acid are able to target the build-up of oil and bacteria and help to unclog pores and promote the shedding of dead skin cells while working side by side with home remedies like green tea extract to soothe inflammation.


Before and after photos of Exposed Skincare results
Michaelangelo Ojeda said, "Honestly, I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t find you. Thank you Exposed!"


When you take our quiz, you will get personalized recommendations for a full and complex treatment plan that combines both natural ingredients as well as scientific ones for balanced treatment.

Home Remedies For Acne F.A.Q.

Can home remedies clear my acne overnight?

Understandably, you want to clear your acne as quickly as possible, but it's important to be realistic about what's possible.

Acne is a complex skin condition with many different causes. It's caused by a combination of factors, including hormones, genetics, and certain bacteria on the skin. This means that getting rid of acne is more complex than using a quick home remedy.

While some home remedies may seem appealing because they're cheap and easy to find, it's important to be cautious. Many home remedies are not supported by scientific evidence, and some may even be harmful to your skin

So, can home remedies clear your acne overnight? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Acne is a condition that can reoccur at any time and therefore requires ongoing management. While it's possible to improve your acne with the right treatment, it's highly unlikely that any single home remedy will work overnight to clear your skin completely.

Instead of relying on home remedies, it's important to develop a treatment plan that's right for you. Because of the convenience and how effective it is, we recommend a complete acne treatment system. Your plan might include lifestyle changes, such as avoiding picking or squeezing pimples, avoiding greasy hair products, and changing your pillowcase more often.

Can home remedies help my acne during and after pregnancy?

Many women experience acne during pregnancy, which is most common during the first and second trimesters. This is due to an increase in hormones called androgens, which can cause the glands in the skin to grow and produce more sebum, an oily substance that can clog pores and lead to inflammation and breakouts.

Pregnancy and postpartum acne is usually temporary and will clear up once hormones return to normal. Some natural remedies for treating pregnancy acne include using apple cider vinegar as a toner, baking soda as a spot treatment, citrus fruit for its alpha hydroxy acid content, honey for its antibacterial and antiseptic properties, coconut oil for its antibacterial and antifungal properties, and oatmeal and cucumber as a homemade mask.

It is important to avoid over-washing the skin, scrubbing the skin, and using hot water, as these can all lead to further irritation. Instead, it is recommended to use a mild, soap-free cleanser with cool or lukewarm water and to pat the skin dry instead of rubbing it.

It is also important to follow a consistent skincare routine, use oil-free products, and avoid picking or squeezing pimples.

Are home remedies effective for acne scars?

It's important to note that not all acne scars are created equal. There are several different types, and some are more difficult to treat than others. That being said, let's see what the research says about some popular home remedies:

  • Lemon juice: Some people claim that applying lemon juice to their scars can help reduce their appearance. But there's not much scientific evidence to support this. Lemon juice can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, which can make scars look worse over time.

  • Aloe vera: There is some evidence that aloe vera may have wound-healing properties. However, it's important to remember that not all wounds are the same, and more research is needed to determine if aloe vera is effective for treating acne scars.

  • Honey: Honey has been used as a wound dressing for centuries, and it's possible that it may have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. But again, more research is needed to determine if it's effective for treating acne scars.

  • Rosehip seed oil: A small study found that applying it to post-surgical scars may help reduce their appearance (Valeron-Almazan, Rojas-Garcia, & Martinez-Santos, 2015). However, it's important to note that this study was very small, and more research is needed to determine if rosehip seed oil is effective for treating acne scars.

  • Nigella sativa (black seed oil): May have anti-inflammatory properties. However, more research is needed to determine if it's effective for treating acne scars.

So, what's the verdict? While some of these home remedies may have some potential for treating acne scars, more research is needed to determine their effectiveness. In the meantime, it might be a good idea to follow the advice of the American Academy of Dermatology and try one of the many proven treatments for acne scars that are available.

Are home remedies useful for severe acne, for example, cystic acne?

Severe acne, like cystic acne, can be a real pain (literally and figuratively). If you're dealing with this type of acne, you might be wondering if home remedies can help. Let's take a look at what the experts have to say.

It's important to note that severe acne, like cystic acne, can be difficult to treat. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, this type of acne "is the most severe form of acne, characterized by painful nodules on the face, neck, chest, and back". It's also important to note that home remedies for acne are not supported by scientific evidence and may not be effective for severe acne.

So, what can you do if you're dealing with severe acne? The National Health Service recommends several treatment options, including topical creams, gels, and lotions, as well as oral medications like antibiotics and isotretinoin. If your feel your acne is out of control and so severe, you're uncomfortable treating it alone, it can make sense to work with a dermatologist to determine the best treatment plan for your individual needs.

Suppose you're a teenage girl dealing with severe acne. In that case, you might also consider speaking with your doctor about taking oral spironolactone, a medication that is effective in treating acne in this population.

It's also important to take good care of your skin and follow a healthy skincare routine. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using a gentle, oil-free cleanser, avoiding picking or squeezing pimples, and applying non-comedogenic (non-pore-clogging) moisturizers.

In summary, home remedies for severe acne, like cystic acne, are not supported by scientific evidence and may not be effective.

What are the best home remedies for spot treatment of pimples?

If you're looking to spot treat a pesky pimple, you have a few options. One of the more well-known remedies is using benzoyl peroxide (BP). BP is a powerful acne-fighting ingredient that kills the bacteria that cause acne. It's available in various forms, including gels, creams, and lotions. However, it can be drying, so follow the instructions on the label and start with a lower concentration if you have sensitive skin.

Another option is salicylic acid. This is a type of beta hydroxy acid that helps to unclog pores and reduce inflammation. It's found in a range of products, including toners, spot treatments, and even some shampoos. Just be sure to use it in moderation, as it can also be drying.

Tea tree oil is a natural alternative that is effective at reducing acne. It has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a great choice for spot treatment. Just be sure to dilute it with carrier oil, as it can irritate the skin when undiluted.

Finally, you can try using honey as a spot treatment. Honey has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a great natural option for treating acne. Apply a small amount directly to the pimple and leave it on for a few hours before rinsing it off.

Remember, it's always a good idea to test a small skin patch before using any new product, including for spot treatment.