What are the most common causes of acne for teens and for adults?

Acne vulgaris (common acne) often begins during the teenage years, and about 85 percent of teenagers are bothered by some degree of acne. Other types of acne may be caused by externally irritating cosmetics, chemicals, and oils; heat and humidity; ingestion of certain drugs such as high-progestin birth control pills; food sensitivities; hormonal imbalance; or hormonal fluctuations such as those that occur in puberty, pregnancy, or menopause.

Natural-medicine proponents think that acne is in part the result of blood being too acidic, a condition brought about by eating refined foods, sugar, chocolate, and lots of dairy products, sweets, fat, and cholesterol. Naturopaths also believe that acne is the result of poor elimination of toxins via the large intestine and kidneys.

Acne is made worse by the use of oil-based cosmetics and moisturizers, poor diet, nutritional deficiencies, allergies, lack of exercise, stress, environmental pollution, hot weather, emotional problems, and the onset of menstruation.

There seems to be a genetic component as well, as parents with a history of severe acne often have children with the same problem.

What are the top natural remedies (topical)?

Products that contain white willow bark, a natural form of salicylic acid, are very affective.

Alba Botanica Natural ACNEdote Invisible Treatment Gel’s signature ingredient is Willow Bark Extract, Licorice and Lentil Extracts help neutralize acne-causing bacteria and combat shiny skin.
Organic Aloe and Organic Chamomile help soothe and calm inflammation.

Other natural remedies that use white willow bark are Boscia, “Dr. Elaine’s” treatment regimen, Neostrata Spot Gel, and DIY skin care. Derma e and Reviva are also top holistic skin care lines.

There is a lot of science behind using Tea tree oil to fight acne. Pure, undiluted tea tree oil is found in health food stores and online. Tea tree oil is also an ingredient in a number of commercial products including: DDF Benzoyl Peroxide Gel 5% with Tea Tree Oil, the Kiss My Face product line, Paul Mitchell’s product line, and Desert Essence Thoroughly Clean Face Wash with Organic Tea Tree.

Witch hazel is also a wonderful natural treatment for acne, with a lot of science backing it up. Quite a few natural astringents and acne treatments now incorporate this very effective witch hazel extract. They include: T.N. Dickinson’s All Natural Astringent For Face and Body, Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Solutions Daily Moisturizing Lotion, Olay W/Witch Hazel For Combination/Oily Skin Deep Cleansing Face Wash, Mychelle Clear Skin Serum, and Natralia Acne Rescue Wash and Cream.

There are also effective Green Tea cream and Tumeric creams for acne. Feverfew and Burdock root topically are also said to work.

If you want to do it yourself:

1)Calendula soap, made from marigold flowers, is good for helping to clear blemishes.Wash with it twice a day, using warm water alternating with cold water.

2)A combination of calendula and witch hazel also makes an excellent cleanser. Mix equal parts of liquid calendula extract and distilled witch hazel and apply this to the lesions three times a day.

3)Make a goldenseal and tea tree oil paste by mixing ½ teaspoon of powdered goldenseal root with 12 drops of tea tree oil. Apply the resulting paste to the acne lesions and leave it on for twenty minutes before rinsing it off. Repeated twice a day, this has been found to be extremely effective.

4)A combination astringent lotion made by mixing equal parts of liquid marigold and chickweed extracts and distilled witch hazel can be applied to blemishes three times a day.

5) Use a clay masque for deep cleansing. Mix 1 teaspoon of green clay in a little water, until a paste is formed. Apply this to areas of oily skin and leave it on for fifteen minutes before washing it off with warm water.

6) Lemon juice diluted in water has an antiseptic effect when applied twice a day.


What are the top natural remedies (ingestible)?

The following herbs have been noted to help acne when taken orally:

  • Burdock root. Take 500 milligrams three times a day.
  • Echinacea and goldenseal. Take 500 milligrams of echinacea with 300 milligrams of goldenseal three times a day.
  • Grapeseed or pine bark extract. Take 250 micrograms three times a day.
  • Blue flag, cleavers, echinacea, figwort, and poke root. Make a tea containing equal parts of these herbs, and drink a cup three times a day to help support the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, and to promote healthy elimination.
  • Red clover, echinacea, nettle, burdock root, dandelion root, licorice root, and ginger. Make a tea containing four parts red clover, two parts each echinacea, nettle, burdock root, and dandelion root, and one part each licorice root and ginger. Drink one cup three times a day to aid in eliminating toxins.


Would you say topicals or ingestibles are more research backed for acne treatment and/or prevention?

Topicals are more research-backed than ingestibles for acne treatment and prevention. Some of the recommended oral herbal concoctions are based on anecdotal results.

What is the latest and most impressive science on natural acne remedies?

That on tea tree oil, witch hazel, white willow bark, burdock root, feverfew, and turmeric.

Does lifestyle play a role both in developing and preventing/ treating acne?


Eating a healthy whole food, balanced diet

Drinking 6-8 glasses of pure water a day,

Getting regular exercise, preferably outdoors in the fresh air and sunlight.

Lots of restful sleep each night.

Stress reduction is very important.

What do you think is the most surprising cause of acne?

I think food allergies and pollution are the most surprising causes of acne.

Is it possible to “prevent” acne? How do you know if you’re prone to it?

Genetics do play a role, so if your family members have bad acne you are more likely too also.

You can try to “prevent” acne flares by:

  • Use drying astringents no more than once a week, being careful not to irritate your skin and thus worsen your acne.
  • Do not squeeze pimples, pustules, or whiteheads. This can cause infection and scarring.
  • Do not lean on or block acne lesions with your hands or other objects.
  • This will make them worse.
  • If you wear makeup, use oil-free, water-based products. Remove any makeup completely every night before going to bed.
  • 5) Use flesh-tinted anti-acne lotions such as Clearasil to cover acne instead of covering blemishes with makeup.
  • Avoid heavy, oily moisturizers. If a moisturizer is necessary, use only noncomedogenic, water-based formulations.
  • Wash your hair regularly, especially if it is oily. Do not use oily conditioners or hair gels. Try to keep your hair off your face.

What are the benefits of natural ingredients specifically for acne compared to synthetics?

Natural ingredients should not incorporate synthetic preservatives and chemicals such as parabens and phthalates which have been shown in studies not to be healthy for the body.