20 Best Natural Acne Spot Treatments, Rated by Beauty Experts
PUBLISHED: 07/05/2019 | LAST UPDATED: 01/16/2020
What do 40 million+ people in the United States have in common? Here’s a hint for you… it’s a condition that occurs when the pores become clogged with oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells. Of course, we’re talking about acne.
Whether you or someone you know suffers from acne, there are two ways to approach a sudden acne breakout: 1) reach for a “quick fix” over-the-counter acne spot treatments that simply mask the problem and can even cause major skin dryness and irritation or 2) try using a natural acne spot treatment which will treat your acne from the inside out.
What’s In Your Acne Spot Treatment?
Quick fix acne spot treatment solutions use cheap and overly potent ingredients like ultra-drying denatured alcohol and damaging synthetic acids to quickly “solve” the breakout. While denatured alcohol works wonders to remove excess oil and kill acne-causing bacteria, it can also damage your skin’s acid mantle, throw off your pH balance, and (as a result) cause further dryness and breakouts. What you get in short-term effectiveness, you give up in the long-term beauty of your skin.
Additionally, many acne spot treatments available today are packed with water, preservatives, and tons of cheap fillers that offer no real benefit to your skin. You have to ask yourself, what are you really paying for?
The solution? Try an acne spot treatment made from incredibly potent acne-fighting ingredients that are also nourishing for your skin! Forgoing harsh and drying alcohol-based acne treatments for an all natural acne spot treatment doesn’t mean that you have to make trade-offs for effectiveness. In our over eight month trial of testing natural acne spot treatments, we found several natural products that worked shockingly well at removing blemishes. You just have to know which acne spot treatments are using high-quality ingredients and which ones are just selling snake oil.
Best Acne Spot Treatment Ingredients
The best acne spot treatments on the market take advantage of naturally powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and antimicrobial plant oils, waxes, and acids. Some of the most effective natural acne spot treatment ingredients are:
- Black Cumin Seed
- Tea Tree Oil
- Willow Bark/Salicylic Acid
- Green Tea
- Grapeseed, Jojoba, & Sunflower Oils
- Rose Oil
- Aloe Vera
These ingredients offer a range of benefits as acne spot treatments. Ingredients like honey, tea tree oil, rose oil, and neem have potent antibacterial properties while also having skin-protecting abilities as well. Grapeseed oil, aloe, and turmeric work well at reducing the redness and inflammation that generally occurs along with breakouts. Grapeseed, jojoba, and sunflower oil are non-comedogenic, so they can hydrate the skin without clogging pores.
Note: Acne can be caused by a variety of issues ranging from lifestyle choices to environmental stressors. If you acne is caused by lifestyle choices (for example, poor diet), then there is little an acne spot treatment can do in the long-term to prevent future breakouts. Acne spot treatments are great for temporary flare-ups caused by hormones, clogged pores, and oily skin. Ultimately, if you want to prevent breakouts you should look to address the root cause of your acne. For more information, see our “Major Causes of Acne” section at the bottom of this article.
Finding The Best Acne Spot Treatment
To help you discover truly effective acne spot treatments that are bursting with natural ingredients, our team went out and tested over 100 different acne spot treatments to bring you this list of the very best. Each acne spot treatment on this list was thoroughly researched and vetted for effectiveness, ingredient quality, and brand reputation. Not only did our team try these spot treatments themselves, they also researched third party reviews and customer reviews online. In short, whether you have hormonal acne, cystic acne, or just the occasional blemish, there is an acne spot treatment for you on this list. There are even a few natural overnight acne spot treatments for those who need results fast. Enjoy!
The Major Causes of Acne Breakouts
Acne is almost always manifested from poor lifestyle choices, environmental toxins, or stress. Because of this, we can’t possibly generalize “one central reason” for acne. Contrary to popular belief, acne is not simply caused by clogged pores. While clogged pores do create the perfect environment for acne-causing bacteria to grow, they are only a symptom of some other issue. Here are some of the most common contributing factors to acne breakouts:
Poor Dietary Choices
Certain foods have been proven to cause inflammation in the body which presents itself as acne. Dairy, processed sugars, starches, and greasy food all make up a bulk of the Standard American Diet. It’s consumption of these very foods however that disrupt the gut microbiome balance and cause acne (1,2). An increase in fruits, vegetables, ancient grains, healthy fats, nuts and seeds, as well as staying hydrated can all help to stave off breakouts.
An increase in androgens (male hormones) during puberty causes elevated levels of keratinocytes and oily sebum; leading to acne. In fact, over 75% of people aged 11-30 deal with acne at some point, in varying degrees because of hormonal changes. Hormonal fluctuations women experience during their period, before/after pregnancy, and during menopause also increases sebum production.
Poor Skin Care Habits
Some skin types may react adversely to certain ingredients in skincare and makeup. This has a lot to do with our skin’s natural pH balance, which is at a healthy level between 4.5 – 5.5 (3). Unfortunately, if you apply a formula which is too acidic (below 7.0) or too alkaline (above 7.0) this can throw off your skin’s acid mantle. A disrupted acid mantle can creates a perfect environment for bacteria growth. Additionally, washing your skin too much or too little could also be the cause of acne. Excessive cleansing (or cleansing using harsh soaps and detergents) can strip your skin of natural oils and cause your skin to overproduce oil as compensation. Cleansing infrequently allows for sebum, dirt, and dead skin cells to build up within your pores and create a breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria.
Although anecdotal at the time, a 2003 study conducted at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, showed links between emotional stress and acne (4). Experiencing stress can stimulate various situations both in the body and mind. Corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH, a stress-related hormone), binds to the skin’s sebaceous glands which increase oil production, causing pimples, according to Dr. Adam Friedman, an associate professor of dermatology at George Washington University (5). Increased stress also contributes to poor life choices such as lack of sleep, eating junk foods, and steering away from a proper skincare routine – all of which may promote acne breakouts.
1. (2009) The relationship of diet and acne https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2836431/
2. (2011) Acne vulgaris, probiotics and the gut-brain-skin axis – back to the future? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3038963/
3. (2017) Skin Surface pH in Acne Vulgaris: Insights from an Observational Study and Review of the Literature; The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5605222/
4. (2003) The Response of Skin Disease to Stress Changes in the Severity of Acne Vulgaris as Affected by Examination Stress https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/fullarticle/479409
5. (2017) You Asked: Can Stress Really Cause Acne? http://time.com/5014072/stress-pimples-acne/
6. (2018) Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils; International Journal of Molecular Sciences https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796020/