Natural & Herbal Treatments For Acne Prone Skin

As one of the most common skin care concerns, acne is surprisingly hard to get a handle on. When breakouts occur—it always seems like they come at the worst possible time—it might be standard practice to run for the concealer, or anything that could possibly help bring down the bumps. But rather than settle for a quick fix, we’ve asked our founder Barbara for her best tips to prevent and deal with acne, starting with the foods you eat.

What causes acne?

Traditionally, the main cause of acne is attributed to two factors: excessive shedding of the dead skin cells that line the follicle and the production of excess oil which creates the perfect environment for acne-causing bacteria to form. Specifically, inflammatory damage to sebum, also known as sebum oxidation, causes a pimple to form. Sebum is a waxy substance that contains squalene which, when exposed to oxidative damage from UV exposure or irritants, turns into squalene peroxide and causes breakouts.

Dietary Tips for Getting Rid of Acne:

It’s important to realize that a lasting solution for acne usually involves a holistic approach. Inflammation and hormonal issues set the stage for sebum oxidation. Sugary foods are particularly bad for acne because they are inflammatory and increase blood glucose, which in turn increases insulin, thus triggering sebum production. Focus on reducing insulin, a hormone that helps your body regulate sugar, by sticking to a low glycemic diet. Dairy products, especially skim milk, have also been implicated in increasing inflammation. Protect yourself by increasing your intake of antioxidants—more fruits, veggies and herbs such as Green Tea which may be able to limit sebum oxidation. Consider supplementing with a multivitamin fortified with Zinc and Vitamin C.

The pioneering dermatologists John Stokes and Donald Pillsbury first suggested the link between the gut microbiome and acne. Consider adding more fermented foods to your diet such as kimchi, sauerkraut or kombucha to help reduce skin inflammation.

The skin is an organ of detoxification and is closely paired with the liver in helping the body eliminate toxins. Try taking more liver-supporting herbs such as Milk Thistle and Dandelion Root to support the body’s detoxification process.

Addressing Acne Topically:

Exfoliate a few times a week with Salicylic or Glycolic Acid, powerful ingredients that penetrate deeply into the pores to dry out excess sebum. Include soothing herbs like Aloe into your skin care routine to help combat inflammation, along with antiseptic herbs such as Rosemary, Cinnamon and Oregano to help refine pores and reduce redness. Also look for Sulfur, a compound helpful in killing bacteria in your skin.
Combat sebum oxidation by increasing antioxidants in the skin to decrease inflammation. Niacinamide is a key B3 Vitamin with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Superoxide Dismutase is an enzymatic antioxidant that can also neutralize free radicals.

Banish Breakouts with this Acne-Clearing Regimen  

  1. Use a gentle exfoliating cleanser like Colloidal Silver & Salicylic Acid Cleanser daily to reduce oil while protecting the skin microbiome.
  2. After cleansing, rebalance your skin’s pH and calm inflammation with Lavender & Honey Balancing Mist.
  3. Use our Watercress & Spirulina Detox Mask 2 times a week to purify and unclog pores. 
  4. The mattifying Rosemary & Salicylic Acid Acne Clearing Moisturizer hydrates your skin without adding excess oil for a smooth, radiant finish.
  5. At night, apply Chlorophyll & Salicylic Acid Spot Treatment directly on blemishes to reduce blemishes and improve the appearance of acne scars. 
  6. Drink 2 cups of Spearmint and Gotu Kola Clarifying Tea daily, to help balance the skin and detoxify the body for skin that appears clearer and calmer.

Stress and Acne

Dermatologists have long understood the connection between stress and our skin. A number of hormone receptors lie in the skin near the hair follicle and sebaceous glands. Recent studies suggest that Substance P, a neuropeptide that gets dispersed when the body experiences stress, may promote acne. Try to incorporate activities to adapt to stress such as aromatherapy inhalations, meditation, yoga, exercise or hiking.

Popping Pimples

The best way to prevent acne scars and guard against additional breakouts is to resist the urge to touch, scratch at or pop your pimples; this could cause the bacteria to spread and result in more acne. That said, it can be hard to stop yourself. If you’re going to pop your pimples, here’s the right way to do it. Gently squeeze your pimple with clean hands wrapped in cotton or tissues. Sweep away debris and dab with Tea Tree Essential Oil, then do not touch.

Acne can be frustrating, but it is treatable. Just be sure to take into account the multiple factors that may be affecting your skin. If you want more guidance, visit our spas to discover your Skin Personality and receive a customized holistic prescription to achieve your best results.


Stokes JH, Pillsbury DH. The effect on the skin of emotional and nervous states: theoretical and practical consideration of a gastrointestinal mechanism. Arch Dermatol Syphilol. 1930;22:962–93.

The role of neuropeptides in the multifactorial pathogenesis of acne vulgaris, Ruta Ganceviciene, Markus Böhm, Sabine Fimmel and Christos C. Zouboulis. Dermato Endocrinology, May-June 2009