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Acne Home Remedies

Only A Few Work, and Then Only to A Limited Degree

By: Dan Kern, Acne.org Founder & CSO
Last updated: April 13, 2020

The Essential Information

While home remedies seem intriguing, they are unlikely to dramatically clear the skin. If you do decide to try a home remedy, exercise caution to avoid hurting your skin.

Home remedies with at least some science behind them (might help a little):

Home remedies with little or no science to back them up (probably won't help much, if at all):

A potentially harmful home remedy (avoid):

  • Crushed & dissolved aspirin: Aspirin, when dissolved in water, produces salicylic acid, an ingredient that can help reduce acne. However, it is difficult to control the dose, and when applied at too high a strength can cause serious problems such as skin burns or even life-threatening systemic complications.

The Science

In an attempt to clear their acne at home, people have used inventive ingredients including lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, honey, egg whites, baking soda, milk of magnesia, calamine lotion, crushed & dissolved aspirin, toothpaste, and countless others.

Some people claim that certain home remedies work for them to some degree, and there is some science behind a select few of them. For instance, lemon juice contains alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), which have been proven to reduce acne to some degree, and drinking apple cider vinegar after a high-sugar meal may help reduce a blood sugar spike, which could hypothetically keep hormone and insulin levels in check, thereby staving off excess skin oil production.

On the flip side, the vast majority of home remedies show little promise. For instance, spot treating a pimple with toothpaste is unlikely to do anything, and may irritate the skin and make acne worse. Other popular home remedies like baking soda, egg whites, honey, topical apple cider vinegar, milk of magnesia, and calamine lotion all have little to no compelling science behind them.

After researching many home remedies, the conclusion is fairly clear. There exists no "all natural" or home remedy that can approximate the safety and results from proven acne medications and procedures. Also, when all is said and done, using home remedies are often more expensive than simply buying acne treatment products. Therefore, if you want clear skin, your time will likely be better spent researching proven options instead of experimenting with what are often disappointing home remedies. Still, using home remedies can be fun, so if you only have an occasional pimple and aren't too concerned about acne, feel free to indulge in the home remedies discussed on Acne.org, but stay realistic about results.

Caution: One home remedy, which involves crushing and dissolving aspirin in order to make at-home salicylic acid, can be dangerous. Because it is difficult to dose, this may cause burns to the skin, and in a worst case scenario when dissolved aspirin is applied to too-large an area of the skin, absorption into the bloodstream and hospitalization can result.

Acne Home Remedies

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