Submit your skincare questions to Dr. Agnes, CEO of Herborium and natural medicine expert
For thousands of years, human beings have looked to the foods that grow naturally around them to fuel their bodies, bring people together, and even treat certain ailments, including acne. From using cloves to numb a toothache, to adding garlic to soups in a fight against the common cold, herbs and spices have been proven to help cure what ails us, all while adding a delicious dash of flavor to the dishes we eat everyday.
For anyone struggling with keeping their acne-prone complexion acne-free, the hundreds of benefits found in certain herbs and spices can be easily implemented into any skincare routine. Adding any of these effective and affordable options to a meal, or a mask, is a super easy way to deliver clear and healthy skin!
Turmeric is high in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, has a flavor profile similar to ginger, and can be added to eggs, vegetables, meats, and various curries. The healing properties of turmeric have been used to treat conditions ranging from heart disease to acne.
When taken systemically, turmeric can be used to add a powerful punch of flavor to many dishes, and it's concentrated extract can also benefit the body from the inside out in a number of ways. Most notably, turmeric is used to treat conditions associated with chronic inflammation such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and this mighty anti-inflammatory can also address the condition of acne, which is directly affected by inflammation.
What exactly is inflammation? Inflammation is a natural response by the body attempting to protect itself from foreign irritants, such as bacteria, chemicals, or even foods that one’s body may be inclined to reject. Inflammation is a common part of the healing process and usually subsides once the foreign element has been addressed. In terms of acne symptoms, when excess sebum created by the sebaceous glands meets dead skin cells or debris in the pores of the skin, bacteria is formed within that pore, causing an inflammatory response from within, which can result in red, swollen bumps that are often painful and irritating. Curcumin, the main active ingredient found in turmeric, works to fight inflammation on a molecular level, targeting the inflammatory pathway in a number of ways, before it becomes a medical issue.
A long-celebrated skin remedy, widely used in Eastern regions such as India, turmeric offers many benefits to the outside of the body as well, mostly in the health and condition of the complexion. By increasing the antioxidant capacity of the body, turmeric helps to protect the body and skin from free radicals, making it ideal as an anti-aging treatment. The benefits of this super spice are not limited to ingestion, and can be seen on the surface of the skin with easy application. Using natural anti-bacterial properties to kill the P. Acnes bacteria linked to acne, turmeric’s anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidizing powers offer acne-prone skin a seriously effective solution.
Mixing turmeric into a paste with a few other skin-friendly ingredients is both easy and cost-effective, just always remember to wear an old shirt that you won’t mind getting dirty, as turmeric can stain clothing and towels.
To give pores a deep clean, the lactic acid in milk or yogurt offers skin a gentle exfoliation, while turmeric and tea tree oil work to remove bacteria, revealing a smooth surface. Milk will make for a thinner mask, and might be better suited for some bath-time relaxation.
Mix ingredients and apply to skin for 15-20 minutes. Remove with a warm washcloth using gentle, circular motions.
To treat existing acne scars or marks, this mask calls for the healing power of lemon juice to help fade spots and reduce redness. To get a double dose of anti-inflammatory goodness, opt for organic honey, which will also make for a thick, luxurious-feeling mask. Turmeric, which can also be used to remove stains from teeth, offers a natural lightening effect, lifting dark spots and resulting in a more even complexion with regular use.
Mix ingredients into a paste and apply to clean skin. Leave on for 15-20 minutes, removing with a warm washcloth.
The antibacterial chemical called eugenol, which is found naturally within cloves, is effective in keeping the surface of the skin free of dirt, grime, and harmful bacteria, which can lead to breakouts. Another anti-inflammatory, the power of clove oil can reduce redness and swelling associated with acne.
Best when taken: Externally. Because cloves have such a strong fragrance and flavor, it’s best to apply topically to the surface of the skin to get the most of this bacteria-busting spice.
Mix oils and apply to affected area, massaging gently. Leave on overnight and wash away in the morning. If you care to continue use, gradually add a drop of clove oil at a time to prevent stinging.
Antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, and antioxidant (are you noticing a theme here?). If there’s one thing garlic is good for, it’s keeping the bad stuff out of your system, from pore-clogging bacteria to harmful free radicals. The sulfuric compounds found within garlic, called thiacremonon, can even dry out blemishes that have already formed.
Best when taken: Internally. The best way to experience the benefits of garlic are through ingestion, as application directly to the skin can burn, so if you already love the flavor garlic adds to pasta dishes, curries, or other savory meals, don’t be shy with those cloves! If you can’t stand the taste but still want to reap the benefits, you can find garlic supplements to take with water, which has no odor or flavor.
Antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, cinnamon is most known for being incredibly antioxidant-rich, and contains twice the amount of antioxidants as blueberries. *NOTE: NOT RECOMMENDED FOR THOSE WITH ROSACEA.
Best when taken: Internally or externally. An excellent addition to just about any sweet treat, cinnamon can also be sprinkled on coffee grounds before brewing for a double-dose of antioxidant power. You can also brew a simple tea, by adding a spoonful of honey, and a cinnamon stick to a cup of boiling water. If you have an extra minute, you can even use it in a mask to reveal a soft, clean complexion.
Mix ingredients in a bowl and apply to skin, rinsing away with lukewarm water after 10-15 minutes. Pat face dry with a clean towel.
A common problem for anyone with acne-prone skin is inflammation, which results in those red and sometimes painful pustules or papules, commonly known as pimples. Naturally antibacterial, antiseptic and full of antioxidants, fennel seeds have long been associated with healthy skin, and can be eaten, or applied topically to witness huge results!
Best when taken: Internally. Fennel seeds can be mixed with a sprig of rosemary to create a pore-cleansing steam, although the benefits of keeping an anti-inflammatory diet make for lasting changes on skin, and this simple recipe can be whipped up in a snap!
Mix oil, vinegar and salt in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients until coated well, and serve.
Bell peppers are rich in vitamins A and C, both of which work to fight off harmful free radicals and prevent the breakdown of collagen, leaving skin youthful and plump. Cayenne is the most common pepper used to help with the treatment of acne. The capsaicin found within hot peppers such as cayenne, stimulates blood flow, helping cells get the nutrients they need, and often results in a flushed and healthy-looking glow.
Best when taken: Internally. Capsaicin gives peppers their spicy bite, and can burn skin when applied topically, so it’s better to ingest by adding whole, or ground pepper to foods. Bell peppers add a wonderful crunch to salads, and a dash of ground cayenne can add a little kick, and a lot of skin-saving benefits to just about any dish, such as pasta, chilis, meat rubs, hummus, and even freshly-pressed juice.
As acne is a combination of internal (overproduction of sebum,) and external (bacteria) factors, treating the problem with a combination therapy approach, that is, targeting these problems both inside and out, will give you your best shot at achieving a blemish-free face, day after day. That being said, if you’re finding yourself in a whirlwind of busy days and grubbing on the go, you can still experience the benefits of skin-friendly herbs by letting AcnEase® do the work for you! 100% natural, and safe for everyone, AcnEase® relies on the naturally healing power of herbs such as gardenia fruit, mustard leaf and dandelion to create a safe and effective solution for acne, treating the problem from the inside-out, whether you have time or not!
We want to hear from you! Do you have a favorite, natural solution for your acne? Any yummy recipes, or DIY masks you turn to? Tell us in the comments!