If you’ve ever suffered from an inflamed hair follicle (AKA clogged pores), you know that it’s more than a skin-deep issue. The worst kind of blemish is hard and painful, but they can also cause some very real emotional distress, ranging from embarrassment and low self-esteem to despair.
What’s challenging about home remedies for blemishes is that what works for one person may not work for the next.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to keep experimenting with various blemish treatment options, until you find what works for you – with both your doctor’s recommendations and some “tried and true” natural solutions.
So, whether you have hard, painful blemishes on your cheeks or chin; a stress blemish; hormonal blemish, or even just a mild blemish; here are four of the best ways to get rid of blemishes – for a blemish-free future!
1. Tea Tree Oil
The Melaleuca alternifolia tree is native to Australia, where it has been used for centuries by the indigenous Aboriginal people as a “bush medicine.” Natives would crush the leaves of this tree to make tea tree oil.1
Now scientifically accepted as a potent antiseptic and antibacterial, tea tree oil has become a popular choice to get rid of a blemish.
In fact, in a clinical study of 124 patients suffering from clogged pores, a 5% tea tree oil solution proved to be incredibly effective. This oil reduced the number of both inflamed and non-inflamed lesions. And, even better, this natural blemish treatment had few side effects.2
Tea tree oil is a strong essential oil, so it should be diluted (water is fine) before use. You can then dab it onto clogged pores as a spot treatment, or add a few drops to your moisturizer or face wash.
2. Manuka Honey
Manuka honey is another home remedy for clogged pores, used medicinally by the native Maori people of New Zealand for centuries. In the 1980s, a professor at a local university spotted some rather unusual activity within the honey. Years later, it was revealed that a natural chemical found in manuka honey, methylglyoxal (MGO), was able to distinguish between “good” human cells and “bad” bacterial cells — killing only the bad bacteria.3
Further clinical trials have shown that manuka honey can kill more than 60 strains of bacteria.4 And, it can also help stimulate cellular growth, which means it can help to heal skin wounds, including those caused by a blemish.5 Manuka honey bandages are even approved by the FDA as a serious option for surgery wounds.6
If you’re suffering from an inflamed hair follicle, manuka honey is a great friend to have. Aside from its potent antibacterial properties against P.acnes bacteria, it also has an acidic pH, just like your natural skin barrier.7
Manuka honey comes in a variety of “medicinal” strengths called the Unique Manuka Factor — or UMF — indicating the potency level:
UMF 5-9: low-level activity
UMF 10-15: moderate useful level activity
UMF 16+: superior high-grade activity8
For a natural blemish treatment, try a manuka honey mask by applying a very thin layer of honey to your face. Cover your face with a warm washcloth, and leave the honey on for at least 30 minutes. You can also use the honey as your actual face wash, though it’s best to do this in the shower to avoid too much mess.
3. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera may be a favorite of the overly sun-kissed, but it turns out, aloe is also a great blemish remedy. This is because it contains more than 200 different biologically active substances, including antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.9
Aloe vera also contains salicylic acid, Vitamin E, zinc, and a magical duo called glucomannan and gibberellin. Why are these so important?
Salicylic acid is a natural antibacterial,
– and it’s able to help dissolve the “intercellular glue” that holds skin cells together – making it a great natural exfoliator.10,11
Zinc and vitamin E are commonly-cited as being great for the skin. But in one particular study, low levels of vitamin E and zinc in the blood were tied to the severity of clogged pores.12
Finally, glucomannan and gibberellin work together to help stimulate cells in your connective tissues. This, in turn, helps increase the production of collagen. A breakdown of collagen during the healing process is what leads to blemish scarring.13,14
You can make an easy, aloe face mask at home by mixing 1 tablespoon of aloe gel with ½ teaspoon of water and ½ teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. Leave the mixture on your skin for up to 30 minutes, and then rinse. You can also take a fresh aloe leaf, scoop out the gel, and apply it to your blemish spots overnight.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Speaking of apple cider vinegar, it’s popular today for helping to ease everything from sore throats to tummy troubles. But you may also find it to be a useful natural blemish treatment.
Apple cider vinegar contains citric and lactic acids, and both of these acids have been shown to help kill P. acnes bacteria.15,16
In one particular study, subjects applied lactic acid lotion to their faces twice daily for one year. At the end of the year, a majority of the study participants saw a 90 to 100 percent reduction in their lesions.17
To cleanse your skin with ACV*, mix one part apple cider vinegar with 3 parts warm water, and dab the mixture on your blemish using a cotton ball. You can also play with these ratios as your skin gets more used to the ACV.
*Always do a patch test before using ACV to ensure that you’re not sensitive to this natural astringent. Some people have been known to experience a little irritation.
Final Thoughts on How to Get Rid of Blemishes
In addition to these great home remedies for treating an inflamed hair follicle, another natural remedy which may help ease hard, painful clogged pores is to reduce the stress in your life. Commit to exercising often; take a few minutes at your desk each hour to deep breath; learn to meditate; add a yoga class to your weekly routine; and make sure there’s plenty of downtime in your schedule for things that make you happy.
Your skin will thank you!