The very best herbs for common acne complaints.
What are the best herbs for acne prevention and treatment?
The best herbs for acne are black cohosh, chasteberry, licorice root, slippery elm, peppermint, rosemary, turmeric, chamomile, calendula, rose, and lavender. But before you start using any of these herbs, it is best to determine the underlying cause of your acne to find which herbs are right for your specific problem.
Modern and Western medicine recommend acne treatments such as salicylic acid and topical retinoids that simply help treat the acne, but not the underlying causes. Herbal remedies can work internally to get to the root of the problem (and topically when you need it!).
Note: This post covers herbs for acne symptoms, but I am not a dermatologist or medical professional. Jump to the bottom of this article to view my Medical Disclaimer. Consult a professional for severe acne and inflammatory skin conditions.
My History with Acne
I am in my 30s. Honestly. Why do I still have acne?
Truth be told, my acne is not THAT bad anymore. Over the past few years, I have worked hard to balance my hormones, which has really helped to ease my adult acne. I did this using a holistic approach through food and herbs, by the way. Not like the 17 year-old-me who tried to treat my acne with birth control pills.
Nevertheless, I still have acne-prone skin so I have to use a combination of the treatments below.
Herbs for Acne Prevention
Determining your underlying cause of acne can help you find the right treatment for your needs. Common causes of acne are hormonal imbalance, immune system issues, and overactive sebum production.
Healing Hormonal Imbalance to Fight Acne
The best herbs for hormonal balance are black cohosh and chasteberry. Check out my full blog post on Herbs for PMS and hormonal balance if you think this might be the underlying cause of your skin problems. I highlight even more herbs to holistically balance your hormones.
Herbs for Boosting the Immune System to Treat Acne
When your immune system is out of whack, your skin can take a real toll! This article on The Role of the Immune System in Acne from The National Library of Medicine discusses the microbiome being a key player.
According to Maryland University of Integrative Health, You can use triphala, licorice root, and slippery elm to promote gut health in order to help heal immune system dysfunction.
Herbs for Balancing Oily Skin
Sometimes, acne can be as simple as overactive sebaceous glands. Peppermint is an excellent astringent that can help reduce oils and kill acne-causing bacteria.
Herbs for Acne Treatment
No matter how hard we try, acne sufferers like myself will still get acne breakouts from time to time. When a spot does come up, herbal remedies can also help in the treatment of existing acne.
Often times, to treat acne, we need to clear the skin using antiseptic and antibacterial herbs, and we need to calm the breakouts with soothing herbs.
Herbs with Antibacterial and Anti-Inflammatory Properties
- Rosemary is an excellent antibacterial herb to help fight acne infections (especially infected whiteheads).
- Peppermint calms and numbs the skin while increasing blood flow which could help speed healing.
- Turmeric fights inflammation for those stubborn red bumps.
Skin Soothing herbs for Acne Spots
If you are looking to soothe painful skin sores, lavender, chamomile, calendula, and rose are the best choices.
- Lavender is antimicrobial and assists in wound healing, along with being incredibly calming.
- Chamomile is excellent for healing skin with calming and pain relieving effects.
- Calendula is antifungal and antimicrobial and is a powerhouse at healing tissue. It’s also great for cuts associated with acne (I know you pop em! I do too. I can’t help it).
- Rose is an astringent with anti-inflammatory properties and is often mixed with other herbs to make a homemade toner.
Healing acne scars
Once your spots are gone, you may be left with acne scarring. Lavender in combination with aloe vera can help soothe skin and stimulate skin repair.
How to Take Herbs for Acne
There are always two options when taking herbs: internally for prevention through teas and tinctures, and externally in the form of oils and salves.
When deciding whether to make an herbal tea or a tincture, you must think about the problem you want to treat. Tinctures work quicker and are taken under the tongue, going directly to the blood stream. Teas move through your digestive system.
Thus, if you are looking to heal the digestive system, it would make the most sense to use a tea. If you want to treat the nervous or circulatory system, a tincture would make sense.
In the case of oils and salves, it is personal preference. Salves are more work to make, but can be easier to use and less messy.
The Herbal Academy’s video on making a calendula salve can get you started in making your herbal preparations for acne!
Are there adverse effects of using herbs for acne?
According to healthline.com,” Possible side effects associated with most herbal remedies for acne include allergic reaction and skin irritation. If you experience inflammation, itching, or burning, discontinue use and consult your doctor.”
To avoid unwanted side effects, use each herb one at a time in a small amount in order to note any allergic reactions.
What are other natural treatments and home remedies for acne?
There are many other natural remedies that can help boost your use of herbs to fight acne!
- Essential oil treatments: tea tree oil, lemon oil
- Apple cider vinegar witch hazel as toners
- Aloe vera to soothe skin irritation
- Green tea can actually make the skin produce less oil
- Vitamin C for immune boosting
- Manuka honey to heal scars
I’ve come to the conclusion that I will probably never have totally clear skin, but through the use of herbs, improving my overall heath, and using only natural products, I do believe my skin has improved drastically. I hope you will have the same results!
Where can I buy these herbs?
My favorite place to buy herbs online is Starwest Botanicals.
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About the Author:
I’m Brittany, totally modern and mainstream turned crunchy mama!
Read more here about how I went from a totally incompetent cook and hyper-consumer to striving to live a more meaningful life from scratch.
I can’t wait to share my modern homesteading journey with you and I hope I inspire you to join along!