Acne is a fact of life for most teens. But, pimples and blackheads can plague us long after high school. In fact, adult acne can crop up later in life as a response to fluctuating hormones, stress, food sensitivities, or due to a new cosmetic or sunscreen. While drugstore shelves are inundated with acne products, there are a number of safe and effective natural remedies that can help you stay blemish-free.


There has long been controversy surrounding diet and acne, but there is little evidence linking chocolate to the blemish on your face. However, there are clear studies linking sugar and dairy intake with acne. For example, a clinical trial that appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a high glycemic index (high sugar) diet, filled with refined carbohydrates and sugars, worsened existing acne. Also, people with acne tend to have lower levels of key antioxidants in their skin, particularly vitamins A and E, and selenium. Because of this, many dermatologists recommend eating an antioxidant-rich diet containing a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Researchers at the University of Connecticut have also reported that healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids play an important role in maintaining healthy skin and may help in the treatment of acne.


Along with a healthy diet, it’s important to keep skin scrupulously clean. Wash your face morning and night with a gentle, non-irritating cleanser. Check labels for a cleanser containing willow bark since this natural source of salicylic acid helps enhance cell turnover while gently dissolving dirt and impurities that may clog pores. After cleansing, apply an oil-free, non-comedogenic moisturizer that contains acne-fighting ingredients like niacinamide or tea tree oil.


Glutathione: is known as “the master antioxidant” because it plays a vital role in maintaining good health. But, according to a recent study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, people suffering from acne often have low glutathione levels and this may contribute to breakouts. To get the most from supplemental glutathione: look for a reduced form. Typical dosage: 250 mg daily.

Niacinamide: Applied topically, this B vitamin has been clinically shown to reduce sebum (oil) production and inhibit P. bacteria. Look for natural products that contain a 2% concentration of niacinamide.

Tea tree oil: A growing number of clinical trials have confirmed the effectiveness of this botanical oil for reducing the number of blemishes and their severity. This can be used either full strength on individual pimples or as part of an acne product. Use topically.

Willow bark: A natural source of salicylic acid that helps enhance cell turnover by exfoliating the skin. It is effective for gently dissolving dirt and impurities that may clog pores. Use topically.

Zinc: Taken orally, zinc reduces inflammation and kills P. bacteria. One study of 48 people with mild to moderate acne found that nearly 79 percent of those taking supplemental zinc experienced 80 to 100 percent improvement. Typical dosage: For acne, studies have used 40 to 300 mg of zinc sulfate two to three times daily. But, because high doses can deplete your copper stores, take 2 mg of supplemental copper when taking zinc.