4 Popular Acne Remedies That DON’T Work (and 2 That Do)

We’ve heard them from our grandma, the neighbour or a beauty blogger. Miracle cures that make you lose weight in a week, grow your nails in two days or solve that annoying breakout overnight. They seem innocuous. After all, what’s the worst that can happen?

Acne starts when oil and dead skin cells clog up skin pores, causing inflammation. Many factors contribute to this condition, including diet, stress and hormonal changes. 

We list four common acne remedies that don’t work and two that do.

1. Baking Soda

Baking Soda disturbs the naturally acidic pH of the skin

Inexpensive and easily accessible, the common myth is that baking soda will eliminate a spot overnight. Yet according to specialists, baking soda is a highly alkaline substance (its pH is 9 whilst the pH of our skin is between 4.5 and 5). This disturbs the naturally acidic pH of the skin, and its use for this purpose is not recommended. Many dermatologist advise against using it as side effects include very dry skin, early onset of wrinkles and acne breakout actually worsening.

2. Toothpaste

Toothpaste has a drying effect on your skin

Some ingredients commonly found in toothpaste include SLS, baking soda (again), alcohol and hydrogen peroxide, all of which will have a drying effect on your skin. Hence the trend. Yet according to the Mayo Clinic, drying the skin out and using harsh soaps and chemicals can make acne worse.

3. Coconut oil

Coconut oil not recommend for oily skin

Almost half of the fatty acids found in coconut oil are the medium chain lauric acid. According to a 2009 study  it has been found to be more effective at killing P acnes than a popular acne treatment.  So yes, there is some truth to this.

However, coconut oil is also highly comedogenic (meaning it clogs pores), so many people, especially those with oily skin may find it makes the breakouts worse. As such, dermatologists advise against using it as a face moisturiser. Stick to using it on dry areas such as knees and elbows.

4. Lemon Juice

Lemon Juice can cause hyperpigmentation

Most of the claimed benefits of lemon juice for acne treatment comes from forums and blogs. Actual scientific evidence of this working is pretty much non-existent.

What it can do, however, is lead to hyperpigmentation, particularly for those with darker skin tones. There is some evidence that lemon juice can lead to an increased risk of sunburn.

Overall, studies are limited, meaning it may not be worth the risk.

5. Two That Do

1. Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties

It is common knowledge that tea tree oil may be good for treating spots as it has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. A 2007 study  found that 5% tea tree oil in gel form was very effective at treating mild and moderate cases.

2. Diet

Is My Diet Causing My Acne? | Dr Sam in the City

Perhaps THE most important thing you can do for your skin. According to Dr Sam Bunting, a London-based dermatologist,  diet plays an important part when treating acne. Her advice is to cut back on dairy, prioritise whole-grains instead of the refined ones, up your Omega 3 fatty acid, zinc and Vitamin D intake and eat a rainbow

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