When it comes to making your own DIY mask for acne, there are countless options. But which face masks really help? And how do you know which one is right for you?
We’ve compiled some of the best DIY recipes for face masks for acne and sorted them into four categories based on skin type: sensitive, dry, oily, and combination.
The best face masks are always gentle and hypo-allergenic, but it will be better to do a spot check with these masks on your arm first.
No mask should be used more than once or twice a week, and it’s not meant to replace a regular, consistent skincare routine.
Also, particularly bad breakouts or open cystic acne probably need the attention of a dermatologist 👩⚕️ or doctor. A treatment mask alone won’t solve those.
DIY Acne Face Mask: Sensitive Skin
The most important thing to remember when creating a face mask for sensitive skin is that you need to use gentle ingredients. This skin type is more easily irritated and inflamed than other skin types, and these conditions can exacerbate pimples and even cause them.
If you choose to buy products, always check the label to ensure they don’t contain potentially abrasive ingredients. For instance, a mud mask with ingredients like bentonite clay or even therapeutic sulfur 🌋 can be dehydrating. The same goes for a charcoal mask. Even a mask with tea tree oil, which is a favorite acne treatment in many products, needs to be used with caution. All of these are much better suited to skin with more oil.
But first, try to make your own mask at home.
In all skin types, inflammation 🔥 is the root cause of breakouts, but it is especially so for sensitive skin, which will likely get the most benefit from a mask that reduces inflammation. We recommend trying a honey and lavender oil mask.
Honey & Lavender Oil Mask
This is one of the best masks for more delicate skin, but it’s also great for anyone struggling with anxiety. Research has found a clear link between breakouts and stress because when our bodies are stressed, the inflammatory response is triggered much quicker.
We always recommend honey 🍯 for sensitive skin because it is very gentle, but it’s also antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, which can help speed up the healing process. Acne is technically a kind of wound, and the longer it remains unhealed, the more likely it is to form a scar, so this mask can even be helpful in scar prevention.
Research has demonstrated that essential oils (such as tea tree oil and lavender oil) can be surprisingly helpful for acne-prone skin. Tea tree oil is as effective against acne as benzoyl peroxide, a popular spot treatment, but it’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory remedy. Lavender oil’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-depression properties are well documented. It is also an exceedingly popular acne treatment because of its antimicrobial activity — it was even used to treat infections during World War I.
- 1 tablespoon of raw honey
- 3 drops of lavender oil
Combine the honey and lavender oil and stir until evenly mixed. Use your fingertips (or a cotton ball, if the stickiness bothers you) and apply the mixture to your face. This mask can stay on for however long you like, but we recommend leaving it on for at least 30 minutes ⏰. When you’re ready to remove it, simply rinse your face with cool water and pat dry with a soft towel.
DIY Acne Face Mask: Dry Skin
Usually, dry acne-prone skin is sensitive too, because it doesn’t produce enough oil to create a protective barrier against potential irritants. The best face masks for dry skin contain ingredients that moisturize, hydrate, and prevent inflammation 🔥.
Aloe Vera & Green Tea Mask
Combined, these two ingredients can protect and nourish dry skin to prevent irritation and inflammation 🔥. The research surrounding aloe vera and acne is conflicted, but one proven acne-fighting property aloe vera seems to have is to improve the effectiveness of other acne-fighting ingredients.
Green tea is an amazing anti-inflammatory agent, both for drinking and directly applied. One of our favorite at-home remedies is tea ice cubes—simply press a cube of iced tea on particularly inflamed pimples to make them less painful and visible. We also recommend using the tea in this mask, especially when combined with aloe vera.
- 1 tablespoon aloe vera
- 1 teaspoon green tea, or alternatively, 2 drops green tea essential oil
Combine the ingredients and mix thoroughly before application. This mask should dry relatively quickly and can be left on overnight if desired. To remove, simply rinse with cool water 💧.
You can use brewed tea for this mask recipe, or use its essential oil. If you choose to brew your own, drinking the rest of the cup might give you an extra anti-inflammatory boost.
DIY Mask for Acne: Oily Skin
Oily skin types consistently produce excess oil which often gets clogged in pores, especially if there’s any inflammation. This can increase acne caused by bacteria 🦠.
How Do Bacteria Cause Acne?
P. acnes, the bacteria primarily associated with acne, consume the oils our skin produces as their main food source. This means that when there’s a normal amount of oil, p. acnes can help prevent oil buildup, but excess oil can mean increased bacterial activity. If the skin becomes inflamed and bacteria get trapped in a pore, they quickly multiply and a pimple or cyst can form.
So, the secret is oil control. Oily skin requires the perfect combination of ingredients, like honey and lemon juice. Lemon juice alone is too harsh, and honey alone may not break through the oil sufficiently to benefit the skin, but together they can make a great face mask. This can also be a good spot treatment for any unexpected breakouts.
Honey & Lemon Juice Face Mask
Yes, we’re recommending honey again, for all the same reasons. Because excess oil is prone to breed excess p. acnes bacteria, honey’s antibacterial properties can be a huge help in treatment. It also speeds wound healing, which means pimples will fade more quickly, making them less likely to leave a scar or dark spot.
Lemon removes dead skin cells and helps with oil control. It may be able to lighten dark marks caused by pimples. However, it’s best to use a fresh lemon rather than bottled lemon juice 🍋. Once the air has oxidized the juice too much, it loses most of its acne-fighting powers.
- 1 tablespoon of raw honey
- Juice from ½ of a freshly squeezed lemon
Combine the honey 🍯 and lemon juice until thoroughly mixed, and apply. Because of the harshness of the lemon juice, we recommend leaving this face mask on for only 20 to 30 minutes ⏰. If you find that it still causes irritation, use less lemon juice in the recipe and keep the mask on for the same amount of time. If this doesn’t get rid of enough of the oil, keep the amount of lemon juice the same, but allow the mask to set longer. Rinse with cool water to remove.
DIY Face Mask for Acne: Combination Skin
Most of us have skin that’s oily in some areas and dry in others, which can prove challenging to address.
To combat breakouts, we suggest two possible solutions:
- use only raw honey, or
- use two types of face masks on the different areas of your face. It’s a bit more work, but worth it.
Going Beyond DIY
Face masks are a fun addition to any skin care routine, but the keyword there is “addition.” To prevent breakouts, you need a more comprehensive approach.
At Exposed Skin Care 🏆, we use benzoyl peroxide, (an antimicrobial)salicylic acid (an exfoliant), and hyaluronic acid (a hydrant). However, these can potentially be too abrasive, so we included green tea extract 🍃 to prevent inflammation and redness. Each of our products fosters this kind of balance to ensure that they do not cause irritation. This seems like common sense, but many skin care companies try to get rid of acne right away and lose sight of the long-term goal: staying acne-free.
Our Basic Kit is perfect if you don’t want a lengthy routine, or if you’re just looking for a strong base for all your DIY recipes. If you prefer a full line of products to ensure clear skin, we recommend our Ultimate Kit. This kit contains nearly all of our products, from our simple Facial Cleanser to our own Clarifying Mask.