Natural Remedies for Acne

Natural remedies for acne that really work

The other day, I was trying to find a picture of me when I was in high school to show my kids. I couldn’t find one because I was so photo shy at that time… mainly because of my acne (and regular teenage girl insecurities). At that time, I tried every natural remedy for acne I could find, and none of them worked.

Tea tree oil, slathering various types of food on my face, even natural cleansers. Nothing worked. Certainly, part of it was hormonal, but there was also something deeper going on and nothing seemed to be working.

Conventional Methods

Dermatologists suggested things like Acutane, antibiotics, birth control pills and strong facial cleansers. The only one I ever tried was the prescription strength cleaners with Benzoyl peroxide and Salicylic acid. I found that it dried my skin out but didn’t make the breakouts stop, so I just had dry skin AND acne instead.

As a teenage girl, this was devastating, and I eventually decided that nothing would work and resigned myself to a future of scars and thick makeup.

The hormonal changes of pregnancy helped my acne somewhat, making me realize that there was an internal and hormonal connection that was contributing to my skin problems.

As I often do, I started researching and decided that since I hadn’t gotten answers or help from conventional methods, alternative remedies were worth a try. I also researched in detail the gut/skin connection and how hormones affected skin.

Slowly and finally, I started to see improvement. I kept a log of what helped and what didn’t along the way, and I can now say I’m acne free (and scar free).

Skin Health from the Inside Out

One thing I learned in the process of fixing my skin, was that there isn’t an overnight solution and (at least for me) the problem was as much internal as external.

When we isolate the skin and try to treat it externally as an independent organ, we miss a tremendous number of internal factors.

I was shocked to learn that those with digestive problems like Crohn’s Disease and IBS were also more likely to have skin problems, and certain medications that helped with skin conditions were also helpful to digestive troubles.(source) One study also found that those with bacterial overgrowth in the gut were more likely to suffer from severe skin conditions like acne. (source)

At the same time, I discovered accidentally that certain foods and supplements gave me the ability to tan without burning for the first time in my life (and essentially even changed my skin tone).

I found that those with leaky gut were more likely to suffer from cystic acne and skin troubles, and as we did the GAPS protocol to heal my son’s gut problems and allergies, my skin improved too.

Though the specifics will certainly vary by individual, addressing gut problems and improving gut health are important steps to dealing with acne. The process is slow, but lasting. The specific things I found helpful in improving my gut health and inadvertently, my skin health are:

  • Taking a good quality probiotic. I’ve taken several over the years, but the one that seemed most helpful for acne was Prescript Assist. I’ve also been taking Black mineral powder lately and while my acne is already gone, it has seemed to improve my skin.
  • Fat Soluble Vitamins: Once I added Fermented Cod Liver Oil to my daily regimen (years ago), my skin started to improve and it has continually gotten better over time. I also noticed I got fewer stretch marks when I was taking FCLO during pregnancy and using natural products on my stomach.
  • Gelatin/Collagen: I’m a big fan of gelatin and collagen powder for many reasons, but I credit these with speeding the healing of my skin from years of acne. I also often hear “You look way too young to have five kids” and I credit gelatin/collagen with these comments as well. Two great natural brands are Great Lakes and Vital Proteins.
  • L-Glutamine & HCL: I also started taking L-Glutamine for leaky gut and gut health, and it seemed to have a big impact on my skin as well. I still take l-Glutamine daily on an empty stomach to help with gut and skin health. I also still take Betaine HCL to improve my digestion and skin health.

I personally found that balancing hormones was a big factor for me. Hormone balance is a moving target, especially for women, but these are the steps that helped me. Several close friends had their acne drastically improve just by removing sugary drinks and pasteurized dairy (which also make sense in light of the gut connection) so that is a great place to start if you still consume those.

Topical Remedies for Acne

As I worked to fix my internal problems that were contributing to my acne, I found that external remedies actually started to work and seemed to speed the process.

I’m convinced that these still would not have worked if I hadn’t been addressing the internal aspects too, but in combination with addressing gut health, these helped:

Missing Link: The Skin Microbiome

Science is just starting to understand the role of microbes in skin health and I suspect that we will see a rise in skin-biome related companies and products in the next few years.

The basic idea is just as we have a microbiome in the gut, we also have a microbiome in our mouths, on our skin and in other parts of the body (source). Some emerging research suggests that probiotics and other substances that support the skin microbiome can reduce skin inflammation (source), repair the skin barrier and reduce acne (source).

There is even research on probiotic and prebiotic cosmetics and face creams (my recipes for this coming soon) that would help repair the skin on a micro level (source) and scientists are studying the possibility of topical probiotic creams and treatments (source).

Ironically, my homemade makeup powder uses arrowroot, which studies are showing can work as a prebiotic to improve the life of probiotics, which might be one reason some readers noticed that it helped their acne.

TIP: For a short term way to deliver probiotics to the skin, I like mixing a tablespoon of organic yogurt with a capsule of probiotics and rubbing on the skin. I leave on for 10 minutes and wash off.

Bringing it all Together

For me, finally getting rid of my acne required a combination of the above approaches and I can’t stress enough that this is not an overnight process! For me, it took focusing on my gut and hormones before the external remedies helped and I think this is a key factor that is often ignored with acne.

The skin biome connection is just emerging, but I’m also confident that we will continue to learn more about how bacteria balance affects skin health.

Have you ever struggled with acne? What remedies or conventional treatments seemed to help you?

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Reader Comments

  1. Thank you for this! I’ve struggled with acne off and on over the years, with really severe (cystic) acne in high school, with my first pregnancy, again a few years ago and then again a several months ago. I even did a course of Accutane about 9 years ago (horrible, horrible I know!). I’ve always known prescribed medications were only a band-aid fix, even if I didn’t know then that I could take steps to help MYSELF.

    Over the last year, as a family, we’ve really stepped up the food ‘game’: all organic, grass-fed and pastured meats, staying away from gluten and refined sugars and really removed over-the-counter medications. One thing I have really noticed that also makes a difference is reducing stress and getting adequate sleep. But I think everyone is different, with different ‘triggers’ (I recently identified wine as a trigger for me) and it takes work to find them out..sometimes a lot of work.

    Thank YOU for the work you do to help us along the way.

  2. I suffered for years with acne and tried it all. When I was diagnosed with celiac and took gluten out of my diet, I saw improvement but it came back. I knew something wasn’t right because it was not only the acne but other skin problems as well. My skin itched all the time. I began really looking at my diet and researching the cause. I found I was allergic to soy, along with gluten and have sensitivities to diary. So I decided to really clean up my diet, taking away all grains, soy, sugar, dairy and as my gut healed so did my skin. I no longer itch or have horrible red patches. My acne is almost gone. I say almost because I still have an occasional breakout but we have discovered that I am very sensitive to chocolate as well and sometime I just really want a piece of chocolate. But it is like clock work, have the chocolate and wake up the next day with a bump. So I know I should really avoid it as well. I also take a probiotic everyday and use Great Lakes collagen. Both have drastically improved my skin this past year. But deciding to clean up my food choices made the biggest difference!

  3. My Husband needs to try this for his back bad acne even in winter season. What do you think of Carlson labs, not fermented, Cod Liver Oil, Iv been hesitant about taking the pill because it is so high in Vitamin A 2000IU and recommended to take more then one daily. The liquid is less 850IU recommended to only take 1 tsp. it is higher in DHA n EPA. But would he still have to take his Vitamin D if he used the liquid it’s only 400IU, he doesn’t get out in the sun during winter.

  4. Thanks so much for this article! I suffer from cystic acne and have given up on my dermatologist. At one point they prescribed me 3 different pills, 2 topical creams, and harsh cleansers to use EACH day. I have been gravitating towards a natural food diet, and have noticed some cysts go down after alkalizing my body every morning with warm lemon water. I will be sure to try some of your suggestions for even better results and healing! Thank you!

  5. I have had amazing success with witch hazel. I have skin that is oily in some areas and dry in others. Things I tried in the past would tend to treat one but worsen the other. Then my mom suggested witch hazel, not just as a facial cleanser but also for ears and scalp. It acts as a gentle toner without stripping skin of moisture. Thanks for the great info about cleansing from the inside-out! As great as witch hazel works I’d rather treat skin problems at the source!

  6. Thank you for sharing your research and knowledge on alternative healing methods, Katie, I keep coming back to your blog and always find something interesting and helpful!



  7. My acne drives me CRAZY! It’s not very bad though. I am super excited to try this out! Thank you so much!

  8. I really struggled through middle and highschool with acne and i hated it and i used to use prescription medications, acne washes, and patroleum based moisterizers before i did my research. I’ve noticed that my skin has improved after starting to workout and progress into more rigorious training. My diet has become so much more complex and healthier. I am paying attention to almost every detail in what i consume. Even water. From tap water to distilled water. From conventional meat to grass-fed meat. Table salt to Unrefined natural salts. All of it plays a role in your body and how you function. Even playing roles in managing stress levels which can improve your skin. I also find that clay mask do really help. i mix essential oils with them. I make all of my own health care products now from moisterizes, soaps, toothpaste, and so much more.

  9. Yes to all of these, especially oil cleansing and apple cider vinegar. Evening primrose oil has also made a big difference in not only my cystic acne but also my menstrual migraines, which leads me to believe it works by balancing hormones as well.

    • How do you cleanse your face with apple cider vinegar?

  10. I’m wondering if this would help with eczema. Has anyone tried it?

    • Jacqueline, cleaning up your diet will most certainly clear up your eczema-take a look at a possible candida cleanse-Christa Orecchio from Whole Journey offers and online cleanse.

  11. Hi,
    I have struggled on and off with acne (cystic as I have gotten older) and have begun trying more natural remedies. It will be interesting to see how things improve. I have a question though, about my daughter. She is only 11 and already having small bumps and even small blackheads. Do you have any recommendations for things that might help her? I am unwilling to let her use the strong acne products in stores and would prefer she use something natural. She also has a very fair complexion that is easily irritated. Any suggestions would be welcome.I really want to help her with this so that her confidence and spirit aren’t damaged. Thank you so much!

    • I haven’t had the chance to try this myself, but I’ve heard that tamanu oil is really good against acne. Also, maybe you should get her a stick of concealer. I started getting acne when I was around the same age and knowing that I could cover any small blemishes I got really helped (and, to be honest, still helps) with my confidence.

  12. Thank you so much for covering this topic. I am 29 and have struggled with acne since my hormones kicked in at age 13. I take immaculate care of my face. I never touch it when I have make up on, wash it every single night without fail, and am constantly trying to find a solution to my problematic skin. I came across oil cleansing and decided to give it a try. I did a lot of research and thought I had come up with a combination that would work, coconut oil, tea tree oil, lavender oil, and a little bit of raw honey. I used it for about four months. I have never had a break out as bad I had after several months of using coconut oil on my face. It took months for my skin to heal. It was horrible. I stopped applying coconut oil topically and ingesting it.

    I did a little more research, and found out that some people are allergic to coconut oil. I found a blog where a lady reported having a similar experience to mine. She found that even taking internally caused her to have some breakouts, however, not as extreme as using it topically. I confirmed that, after my purge, when I began taking it internally again. My previously clear skin was beginning to break out slightly. I also reconfirmed it when trying out your remineralizing toothpaste with coconut oil. Anywhere the toothpaste dripped on my face, I would break out in that location within a few weeks. So thank you for posting a toothpaste recipe without coconut oil.

    I felt like I was back at square one, with just accepting that I will always suffer from some sort of acne issues, especially around my period. However, after reading this article, you’ve provided me with some internal treatment options that I haven’t tried. I’m very excited to try them out.

    I know this comment is already extremely long, but since this is my first time commenting after almost a year of following your website, I wanted to thank you. Thank you for balancing five kids, a husband, running a blog (and all the research that goes into it), and all the other surprises that life likes to share with us, so people like me can find a path to healthier living. I read your blog post about the New Year and the struggles you face with balancing all of the above. I felt very empathetic towards you. So, if you’re feeling down or questioning whether this is all worth it, I can tell you that your blog has had a BIG impact in my life. Huge. I can’t thank you enough.

    PS. Get some ads on this blog and start making money from all your hard work. I know you would never promote something you don’t support/use yourself, unlike other “health” bloggers I’ve seen.

  13. Do you take all of those supplements daily?

    My skin has always been troublesome and starting in August of last year I developed cystic acne that just will not go away no matter what.

    Recently I have been drinking diluted ACV, and using as a toner. It seemed to work a bit for a week or so but now It’s about back to normal/no more improvements.

    I’m avoiding dairy, and trying my best not to eat gluten.

    I’m normally vegetarian, but rn I’m essentially eating a vegan diet.

    Feeling very desperate because my entire back, parts of my chest and my jawline are covered in painful cystic spots.

    Willing to try anything holistic or natural!


    • I do take the supplements daily. I get cystic acne when I eat processed dairy, wheat or don’t get enough healthy fats.

  14. I struggled with cystic acne from junior high through collage. I went through two rounds of treatment via a dermatologist, including being prescribed an antibiotic. It seemed to help but only when I was taking the medication. When I got engaged I decided to get facials from someone who specialized in problem skin. To my surprise she told me to stop washing my face and instead, put moisturizer on twice daily. That honestly helped a lot. Improving my diet also helped but I still had dry skin. When I started taking FCLO a year ago I noticed the dryness went away within a matter of 2-3 days. I use tea tree EO for the random breakout. Now if I can get rid of all the scarring, that would be awesome.

    • Taking digestive enzymes between meals has been shown to break down scar tissue. With meals it is used up on digestion.

  15. My whole life I’ve never really struggled with acne, until this past year. My acne suddenly has gotten horribly bad. I’ve tried multiple different face washes, masks, and even makeup specifically for acne control. However nothing seems to be working.
    It’s very interesting to me that your post also talks about gut problems. I’ve struggled with IBS since I was in high school (so about 8 years). I’m really hoping your remedies will help with that as well.

    My question is do you use all of the products every day?

  16. Ironically, my complexion has been actin up since beginning the AIP! I suspect that my hormones are out of whack and that testosterone has risen; at least that is what it seems like to me. I have enough other benefits that I am willing to see this through, however. BYW, my complexion is normally OK and I am not a kid– I am in my mid-60’s!

  17. Over the years, I discovered chocolate was a trigger–but then only through experimenting with different types, I realized it was the SOY LECITHIN in chocolate and other products. Dark chocolate (85%) without soy lecithin does not cause any problems for me. Hope this might help someone else.

    P.S. Be careful about consuming large quantities of gelatin if you feel yourself getting depressed…the gelatin blocks feel-good tryptophan from going to your brain. This happened to me when I started doing large doses (although my skin looked great, I was starting to feel strangely depressed!). Wasn’t until I read a book on mood disorders and various supplements that I was able to put the pieces together.

    • Thank you! Nobody believes me, but I SWEAR soy Lecithin causes acne for me. Regular soy products do, and I think flax does too, even in small amount! I ha a probiotic gummy that I was taking, it had soy lecithin as an ingredient and within a few days and then a week my skin exploded!

  18. Thanks Katie!

    I’m curious if you or anyone knows how to help with melasma or “the mask of pregnancy”. I got it with my first pregnancy and then it just got worse with my second. I was never a regular wearing make up kind of girl but now I do because it is just so bad. 🙁 it seems stupid, but when I don’t wear make up people and friends and family make ignorant comments thinking I have self-tanner badly plied or something. And then I go, “no that’s just my face.” I’ve thought of going to a dermatologist but probably wouldn’t take their advice anyway bc I don’t trust conventional medicine. Anyone who can help?

  19. Hello. Thank you SO much for covering this topic and those alike! I love your blog and appreciate ways to help our bodies naturally, esp since many of the other methods haven’t worked for me! I was wondering, is the FCLO you linked the one you take? Is having High Vitamin Butter Oil in the FCLO we take important? Thank you!

  20. Hi Wellness Mama, I love everything about your web page and your cookbook. I have a question, Do you have anything for dandruff (safe enough for kids to use). We tried every brand you can think of, even natural shampoo like yes for carrots, Alba and Kirkland shampoo. The only brand that doesn’t give her this problem is Garnier. But I want to use a natural shampoo for the whole and get rid off all the “normal” shampoo’s. If you do please let me know.

    • I’ve heard that a rinse of diluted apple cider vinegar with rosemary and nettle can help a lot.

    • SebaMed body cleanser (the plain stuff only) used as shampoo is the only thing we’ve ever used that successfully helped dandruff. It’s biodegradable and works wonders.

  21. Katie, thank you for this post! I will have to try your regimen. I am also one of those saying that NOTHING helps for my acne 🙁
    Can you recommend some books about female hormones, imbalances, etc?

    • Hi, for all of you out there struggling with acne, hoping thus might help you as its helped me. Not sure what kind of acne I have but I’m 50 and have struggled all my life. Some I’m sure is hormonal. I have been on a dairy free and gluten free for several months now with no great help with my acne. It has helped other things like arthritis. But I wanted to share I read an article about calamine lotion helping with acne. I have tried everything else do thought I’d try it. It works for me. Even the hard stubborn ones that hurt. I then read ingredients in calamine lotion and found the one I was using had formaldehyde in it. I have since made my own. Here’s the recipe I use:
      1 ts kaolin clay, 1.5 ts zinc oxide, 1ts benonite clay, 5 drops chamomile,5 drops lavender, 1 drop peppermint essential oils. Add witch hazel to make creamy consistency as you like. Use as a spot treatment, use as a mask. I mix a little with my moisturizer and it keeps acne in check. So happy, happy ???? to have found this. Hope it helps someone else out there that is struggling! God bless!

      • Hi again, I forgot the ts of glycerin I put in my calamine lotion.

        Thank Katie for your blog. I feel yours is so much more helpful than most I’ve read. I think that’s do to you, doing all the research you have done and then relating it in such an amazing way! Thanks so much for all your work, love this site. I tell everyone about it.

  22. Thank you so much for posting on this topic! I have had bad acne for as long as I can remember. I have Hashimoto’s and knew that it was probably related to gut issues, but had no idea where to even begin. I am currently nursing, are all of these supplements safe to use while nursing? Thanks again!

  23. Dairy is a huge trigger for me. When I cut it out my skin cleared up. If I overdo the dairy now I will breakout but small amounts are OK. Wish I also had this info as a teenager. I’m saving this info for my kids in case they need it. Thanks!

  24. MY ACNE IS GONE and I can finally look in the mirror and feel pretty and like an adult!! I had very very bad cystic acne. I had a bit of acne in high school. In college it got worse. I got married and started taking birth control, and the acne went away! Which had me convinced that it had a lot to do with hormones. BUT I started reading Wellness Mama and decided I was done with hormonal Birth Control. The acne came back, worse than before. Much worse. I talked to a friend who is a chiropractor and her method worked for me. It’s been a miracle in my life. Acne is all about your ADRENAL GLANDS! Cleanse them and your liver together and you will see major improvements. This is what I did..

    – take an adrenal supplement
    – take milk thistle
    – take a quality probiotic

    do this and you will NOT regret it. I promise. Your adrenals control hormones in your body. Cha ching! 🙂

    • What adrenal supplement do you take? Thanks for the info!

  25. Thanks for this. I’ve had hormonal acne for years, and even went on Accutane in my teens. I found that the pill really helped, but about a year ago I went off it. I had breakouts around my chin about 2.5-3 months afterwards and started doing some research into hormonal acne cures. I found a blog that suggested Vitex root 2x day (morning and night with food), probiotics and a liver supplement like Burdock root. I have found an amazing improvement in my skin and only have a few small pimples before my period now. Also, my fingernails have always been brittle and for some reason they are beautiful and strong now (not sure if its connected but its the only change I’ve made).

  26. Are you saying your scars faded, too? Because that would be awesome! I have struggled, big time, with acne since I was 16. And I have the scars to prove it. I actually did use Accutane years ago, and the huge cystic acne has stayed away. But I almost always have at least one small one and/or a regular pimple. Along with these small red bumps, that I’m not sure what those even are. My acne has improved tremendously, being in AIP 🙂 But I still have scars. I’ve heard lemon can help fade them. Did you do anything specifically for the scars?

    • The internal factors seemed to help the most with the scars. The bentonite mud mask also helped a lot…

  27. I too recommend witch hazel. My Sons friend was embarrassed by his acne so I bought him a bottle of witch hazel & some cotton wool pads . When I see him now his face is just normal. I myself use it to take makeup off & also after washing my face. I find it a very cheap & effective product. Well worth a try if you are having skin problems.

  28. Thank you for this post. I too spent most of my teen years hiding from the camera because of my skin. I tried everything and eventually went on the pill, which helped a little but it never completely disappeared. Two years ago (aged 36) I started cleaning up my diet, starting using oil for a cleanser and eventually came off the pill which made a huge difference.
    People now comment on my glow and ask what I am doing, which is lovely but I now have to watch my adorable 8 year old daughter start early puberty with is her skin has started to break out. I have her oil cleansing and taking a daily probiotic but wondered what else you would recommend for her?

  29. There was a short period of time when my oldest son experienced acne in his late teens. While most pushed for antibiotics to clear it up we decided to take the natural route. We found that drinking homemade kefir on a regular basis helped to maintain a clear complexion and taking burdock in capsule form for those occasional flair ups. All three of them rarely had any issues while living at home unless of course they gave in to their junk food cravings. Now that they are on their own in their early twenties, I notice more instances of acne breakouts.

  30. Thanks for this information. What are your views about Diatomaceous earth? It seems that it helps with acne and other digestive issues. Also how do you decide when to take Bentonite Clay/ Black Mineral pwd/ Probiotic because its best taken in the morning in empty stomach for max benefits.

  31. I do appreciate this blog and it has gotten me on to some good habits I think are benefitting me. I feel I’ve invested a lot…manuka honey, organic olive oil, tea tree oil, mineral salt flakes for bath, jojoba oil, castor oil, vitamin e oil, essential oils, endless bottles of ACV, activated charcoal, witch hazel, rose water, great lakes, vital proteins, bio-kult probiotics, blue ice fermented cod liver oil, the cookbook. Now I’m putting the new pro/prebiotic you recommend in my cart…but I’m getting weary.
    To try and make my “story” short: I’m 45, I had my two children late in life (had high FSH at 34 and after 5 years of trying, had first through egg donor, then five mos. later got preg naturally.) My children are healthy as can be. I am blessed. I’ll measure us as 75% organic and for young kids, they have decent eating habits. My habits could be better, I can’t find the strength to do the GAPS or paleo, etc. I am a life time sufferer of hand eczema. I did develop an allergy to a chemical that was in baby wipes-methylisothiazolinone. Helped when i found that out! It’s in a ton of soaps, shampoos/conditioners. But I still get inflammation on my fingers -the itch is unbearable. And last few years, being heavily perimenopausal (if that’s a thing,) I’ve had various issues crop up in the skin/face department: perioral derm, blepharitis (of sorts), acne…right now on my temples and canNOT get rid of it and it is NOT waning after a month. Just got a few more on my chin. I had been on a low dose of minocycline to treat the perioral dermatitis. I of course don’t want to be on an antibiotic, but well you know when you at your wit’s ends with uncomfortable facial skin, it’s desperate measures. Especially after exactly a year ago when I was having bad acne and dry skin all at once, and I started filling my bathroom with all the above mentioned products to try OCM, etc.
    And anyway, here I am again – uncomfortable acne and dry skin – about to fill my amazon cart with all the links on this blog. OR start a new round of minocycline (boo). As you can tell I’m skeptical….maybe I should just stand back and leave it all alone and let it run its course? Or maybe once and for all, try whole30 or paleo or GAPS, we shall see. I have spent too much time on this. Sorry for it being so long. I hope you read it. Any words of wisdom would be welcome. Thank you.

    • Hi! I am sorry to hear that you are suffering from eczema on your hand. I have had the same issue for years. I get incredibly itchy blisters on my hands and feet.

      I finally figured out that it is because of allergies. I am allergic to eggs, wheat, corn, dairy and about 8 other things. When I cut that stuff out, I feel a lot better.

      I would encourage you to do an elimination diet and also have ano allergy test. My doctor was shocked by how many allergies I have.

      I hope you find relief. If you are reading this blog, you are well on your way. 😉

  32. I just want to give you a high five!
    While topical treatments have their moments, beautiful skin is made from the inside out.
    Way to go!

  33. Katie, thank you so much for this post. I’ve been on Spironolactone for years for my very very bad cystic acne which did cure it, but I have been off of it recently since I’m trying to get pregnant. Did you use all of these methods while pregnant and breastfeeding? I will be sure to consult a doctor, but just wondering what you did. Appreciate any help I can get!! I also want to say thank you for all of your hard work with this blog – you make a big difference in people’s lives!

    • I have used these methods while pregnant but definitely do check with your doctor 🙂

  34. I was on prescription topical medications that were not friendly to my sensitive and very dry skin. I’d always have to apply according to how my skin was feeling that particular day, and that was a gamble I’d usually lose. And in the winter time I’d start losing chunks of skin on my face and I never saw real results. Two or so years ago I looked in to natural plant based oils and started using the oil cleansing method with coconut oil and that was the only thing that didn’t burn or dry out my skin but still gave me results. It worked way better than anything my doctor gave me. Within the last year I switched it around to jojoba oil or almond oil and got even better results. But in August of this year I became vegetarian and that made the biggest difference in my skin. I *maybe* get a zit once every two weeks? No conventional product ever relieved my acne and moisturized my skin better than focusing my efforts on what plants can give me and I’m pretty sure I annoy people with how I rave about plant based oils, haha.

  35. I’ve been struggling with hormonal acne since my tubal ligation through my body into chaos 5 yrs ago which I later learned is common so I don’t recommend that procedure. I had success with a antibiotic but of course had to stop for the health of my gut. I follow an organic grain free/paleo diet, Amour, progesterone, Vitex (normalized my period), iodine, silver, ACV, honey, exercise, detox baths every other day, clay masks, tons of suppliments, Panoxyl soaps, Salic acid spray, witch hazel, aloe Vera, Essencial oils, you name it all feeling like I was fighting a losing battle. My thorough research led me to DHT blockers. My hair has also been oily and had noticeable hair thinning. Back, chest, jawline acne, or oily hair/hair loss can be attributed to too much DHT (bad testosterone). Try feeling like a hot mama for husband with all that going on 😉 I’ve been taking a natural DHT blocker containing saw palmetto for just the past few days (1 in AM & 1 in PM) and fabulousness! Almost completely cleared and hair isn’t disgusting. God bless and hope this helps someone 🙂

    • Can I ask what product you are using that is a natural DHT blocker with Saw Palmetto? I have the same issue, and I was on Spironolactone for years which cured it but now I’m trying natural options. I’m currently trying spearment tea (supposedly a natural androgen blocker) and some other things…but the results haven’t been immediate. However it took about 3 months for the Spironolactone to get me to a clear complexion so it may just take some time.

    • What brand DHT blocker did you use?

      • New Chapter Prostate 5LX but I have increased my dose to 2x am & 2x pm.

  36. Hi! I was wondering when exactly would you use the apple cider vinegar? I have just started using pure coconut oil for oil cleansing every night and was questioning if Apple cider vinegar would dry out the skin more or help it?

    • A good vinegar will act as a toner and is very good.

  37. We have had success by reducing dairy, using sulfer soap, and taking probiotic and garlic supplements.

  38. Hello lovely Wellnessmama community,

    First of all, thank you, Katie for amazing tips and trick. I love your website.

    I have never had too many problems with mi skin, but lately thanks to a lot of stress, traveling and such I ended up with horrible acne, painful and very visible. Below you can find list of Wellnessmama tips that helped me tremendously:

    – taking probiotics everyday before bed
    – B12 and vitamin D in the morning
    – warm lemon water in the morning
    – clay mask twice a week (I use Niaouli essential oil)- this is pure MIRACLE
    – in the evening before bed I do oil cleansing (with coconut oil, I tried many combinations, but this worked the best for me) and use diluted ACV as toned (applied with the cosmetic pad)
    – in the morning I use salt spray
    And that’s all! When I use make up, I use Weleda baby face cream (in yellow packaging) before applying anything.

    When it comes to eating, I eat the ‘usual’ clean diet (no refined oils, sugars, processed food and such).
    Honestly, Katie, I am so grateful for your website, everything I tried works and you inspire me everyday!

    Good luck with your work,

  39. I took all of the necessary steps to deal with leaky gut etc as described in your article. I’ve noticed significant improvements by making these few tweaks to my daily regimen and eating habits so for that, thank you!

    I’ve been doing the oil cleansing method and using the sea salt spray and apple cider vinegar recipes for toners.

    I was skeptical to try the oil cleansing method and I still am. Buying these ingredients and testing them out wasn’t cheap and now I’m more embarrassed than ever as my acne was at it’s all time time worst before trying this but has only gotten worse by the day.

    After two weeks of trying this method, my acne really is at it’s worst and I’m embarrassed to even go out in public. Before I was having issues with clogged pores, black heads, dry & excessively oily skin at the same time and a few deep rooted pimples on occasion. I have a few less blackheads on my forehead but now have more on my nose, my forehead is littered with deep, painful and rather large (dime size) red pimples that hurt.. But it doesn’t stop there, my once perfect complexion cheeks, jaw line and chin are now littered with these same pimples.

    Not sure what to do now, I guess it’s back to the harsh chemical face washes that only mildly clear up my face but at least keep me pain free and that minimizes the acne enough for makeup to hide the rest. I’m glad this worked for some.. I had high hopes it might be a miracle for me 🙁

    • Hi Kelly, I sympathize with you as I have had the same thing happen. Even after changing my diet and taking Kris Kress’s suggestion on skin supplements along with supplements to help restore gut health. Nothing was working. Feeling so bad like you were and wouldn’t leave the house. I read an article on calamine lotion helping with adult acne. I thought what the heck, I may as well try it. It has done wonders to me. My face even hurt, I just wanted some relief. It was calamine lotion that did it. I then read ingredients and found out formaldehyde was one of the 2 ingredients. I have since made my own going off of Katies recipe. I couldn’t handle salt or baking soda in the mix. My recipe is: 1 ts benonite clay, 1 ts kaolin clay, 1.5 ts zinc oxide, 1 ts glycerin, 5 drops of lavender, 5 drops of chamomile, 1 drop of peppermint essential oils, add witch hazel to make a creamy consistency. I like mine a little thin. It feels so good on my skin. The plus is, the nice pink color works well as a concealer if a red spot pops up. I use it a spot treatment, mask, mix a little with my moisturizer. My skin is nearly healed in matter of days. I just wanted to cry for months now because I couldn’t get my acne under control. I hope this helps someone else out there as I know the damage it can do to your psyche.
      Thanks Katie for all your wonderful knowledge!

  40. Thank you very much for your article. I’m very impressed because i just started now to take the same path. I take probiotic every day , focused on my gut, don’t eat gluten, and clean my face only with a natural soap. Still I use a cosmetic moisturiser.
    And I still must say: for 20 years no doctor saw my real acne problem.

  41. Love your website, love the solutions you given me to keep in my kitchen and my medicine cabinet. I would love any feebies that your site keeps promising me, but prevents because I’m already singed up. Thank you for bringing so many wonderful things into my inbox.

  42. Ladies I am encouraged by this article. I am an adult in my 30s with acne and scars. I have tried everything and spent a lot of money in the process. I was on the verge of going to a medical spa to get a chemical peel. I would love to begin this natural healing process. I am a little overwhelmed by the fact that this is still an expensive process. I can’t afford to spend the money monthly that Katie has recommended. I’m still a bit discouraged…

  43. Hi Steph , try the Witch Hazel,don’t know where you are but in the UK it’s less than £3 a bottle & would last you a while. Worth a try.

  44. Thanks for the very informative article! Many of your suggestions are ones that I’ve never heard of before and am anxious to try. Thanks again!

  45. The Betaine HCI-is that a food enzyme? I take a combo from Nature’s Sunshine FOod Enzymes and it’s great!

  46. Hi Katie,

    Thank you very much for posting those acne remedies. I have a mild to moderate acne mainly on my chin and cheeks and before going to my doctor, first I want to try out the most effective home remedies available.

    So far I’ve tried a few including remedies with coconut oil, jojoba oil, baking soda and apple cider vinegar and results were rather average than good. Now I want to share something that might be of help to your readers as it helped me. I found an ebook on Amazon called “Unique Bulgarian Home Remedies for Acne”. It has has a total of 28 remedies some internal and some topical. The author claims that these are remedies from some of the greatest Bulgarian healers and herbalists.
    I’d like to write down a short recipe from the book that relieved my acne symptoms significantly. I still haven’t tried any of the remaining 27 remedies.

    Before bedtime, on your face apply a cotton towel, soaked in water in which lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), soapwort (Saponaria Officinalis), and black elder (Sambucus nigra) was boiled – in equal portions.

    What I do is I just soak the bottom of the towel in the herbal infusion, and wrap it around my head – where the wet part covers my chin and cheeks. I keep it on for about 1 hour, while watching TV before going to bed, and that’s it! I am eager to try some of the herbal ointments written in the book as well, but so far so good.

    Anyhow, thanks again for the helpful post, and hope my share was of help too!


  47. Along with my aging skin, I’ve been battling some nasty cystic acne for way too many years. I’ve also been using Citrus Clear like you mentioned – I’ve been using this daily for the last 2 weeks and all’s good! No breakouts and no dry skin. The Citrus Clear cleanser doesn’t irritate my skin. It doesn’t foam as much as I hoped it would but that’s not a deal breaker.

  48. Hi, can I ask what Citrus Clear Cleanser you are speaking of? I’ve looked back and can’t seem to find where Katie mentioned it. Thank you!

  49. Thank you for sharing with us! Many of your suggestions I have never heard before so I am very excited to try some of them. Thank you!!!!!!

  50. Hi!

    Thank you for these suggestions. I am currently dealing with mild to moderate acne and choosing to go the natural route. I just ordered the Fermented Cod Liver and looking to try another probiotic. From your experience, when would you say is the best time to take the fermented cod liver oil? Should it be in the morning on an empty stomach or with a meal? Thank you!

  51. Would this help with Rosacea?
    I take Cod Liver Oil, Probiotics, and Bone Broth daily, but the Rosacea is the same.

  52. As someone who is suffering from acne outbreaks DermalMD Acne Serum has helped me to get rid of my acne easily and effectively. It is easy to use and works great. The best part of this product is it helps to prevent any acne from coming out in the near future by stopping the oil production and that is something other products that I have tried do not do.

  53. I have a very sensitive skin & pro breakout & have a lot of dark spots due to acne scars. One of my concerns, aging skin around my eyes. I used the Citrus Clear Skin Repair Moisturizer and after 2-3 days – the lines that’s been bothering me for quite a while is lessening & the dark spots on my cheeks start to lighten! my friends saw me & said you look blooming! that’s only 2-3 days of using the Citrus clear moisturizer.

  54. I am having acne at 47. After speaking to my doctor and doing some internet research I finally learned this ‘type’ of acne pops up in women heading nearing menopause.

    I found Evening Primrose Oil to be extremely effective.

  55. I have struggled all my life with acne and have passed it on to my children. My daughter is 11 and is struggling with it now. I would like to try the things you have listed, what do I need to adjust for her age?

  56. I’ve been struggling with cystic acne for years and have gone through all of the hoops and meds (both internal and external) for correcting my face, but as you said, none of these provided long term solutions for my face.

    I plan on taking your advice and integrating many of the above things into my regimen. If anything, I have found that alkalizing my body every morning with warm lemon water, and taking at least 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar each day has slowed the cysts–along with cutting out my beloved coffee, and consuming more probiotics.

    I do have major scarring along my jaws and cheeks, so I’m eager to try what has worked for you. My dermatologist recently recommended Accutane and that was the last straw… what they don’t ask you is about your *health* and in my specific experience, they have just sought to suppress the symptoms.

  57. Can you take the supplements you recommended while pregnant?

  58. Katie, I love your blog! I’ve been following for a while, but I haven’t seen an article on your daily/weekly or even monthly routine. This article alone had lots of info on supplements, but certain supplements have rules on when/how to take; I would love to know what your regimen is. If you’ve already written this, could you please point me in the right direction? Again I appreciate your research and trials to find these very helpful natural methods. Keep up the great work!

    • Thanks so much, Veronica! This post needs updating as it was written several years ago, but it’s still the gist of our daily routine (but add some kids and more homeschooling 😉 )

  59. Thanks so much for replying and sharing your previous post on your vitamin regimen. That’s exactly what I was looking for. Congrats on the new bundle of joy!

  60. Hi Katie,
    Love you blog! I have a leaky gut and addressing this issue with diet and supplements has improved my skin so much!
    I have been taking my Green Pastures Fermented Cod liver oil for a while now, I am curious how many capsules you take each day? Also, if I understand correctly you take your L-Glutamine on a empty stomach but right before breakfast, correct? There is very conflicting info about intake with full or empty stomach.
    Thank so much for helping us in our journey to wellness!

  61. Katie,
    I struggle with Hashimotos as well and found that years of birth control masked my thyroid symptoms and terrible acne until trying to conceive. My skin then developed into acne rosecia with my first pregnancy. It was still pretty awful while nursing and now with baby #2 on the way I am still struggling to heal my skin from these itchy, dry, red, acne patches on my face. Any advice for roscea sufferers? I have tried various Natropaths and all lead me back to the regular dermatologist that want to have me on antibiotics/strong creams. LOVE you and your site!

  62. Hi. Thanks for a great and very helpful blog. I’m a big fan.
    I’ve just checked the Vital Proteins collagen products and they contain the amino acid “proline” (as most protein powders do), and as far as I have researched proline is part of the gluten protein and very hard to digest.

    Gluten protein consists primarily of two proteins. Glutenin and Gliadin. Glutenin is a protein with lots of surface, which makes it easy for the enzymes to break it down. Gliadin on the other hand, is a close packed protein having small surface relative to its mass, making it difficult for enzymes to penetrate. Furthermore Gliadin is made up of a large amount of amino acids that are particularly difficult to digest. These poorly digestible amino acids are proline and glutamine… My kind regards

  63. What about exfoliation? Important or not?

  64. My son had really bad acne. I bought him some tamanu oil. He applies it twice a day after cleansing with a gentle cleanser. The results are amazing. The redness and inflammation are gone, as well as the breakouts. There were visible results overnight! It also is amazing on stretch marks, and my age spots are starting to disappear as well. We call this our miracle oil!

  65. Are there any EOs that would be good to use with oil cleansing to help get rid of blackheads? I don’t really have any acne issues anymore since I began doing that (except during that time of the month) but I still haven’t been able to get rid of the BHs and having them ready grosses me out. It’s especially hard for me to get rid of them completely because I wear glasses at all times while awake or I’d be almost blind.

  66. I am surprise that nobody talked about zinc for acne. I am acne sufferer, I have had acne my whole like and I am 45 and I still have acne. I have tried every single thing. For me, all the natural things didn’t work. I cannot use any oils (oral or topical) because I break out easily, lately I tried fish oil, krill oil, coconut oil and also evening primrose and it was just horrible, I was covered with cystic acne. I also cannot use or take apple cider vinegar, it is too drying for my face and it seems to give me headache. Lately, I have been using diaper rash cream at night and it has helped me a lot. (I have been seeing this in a lot of beauty blogs) Burt bees, Boudreaux and Weleda make good ones. I use the 40% zinc oxide concentration. It is really messy and it dries up your skin but my skin as never looked that good. I know that it has to do with the zinc in the cream. Usually I do a spot treatment before going to bed and I leave the cream all night. It will stain your pillowcase and you look a bit like a ghost.

    My acne regiment is pretty exhaustive.
    I take an all natural multivitamin, probiotics, vitamin D and Vitamin E.
    When I wake up in the morning, I take a big glass of warm water and I had fresh ginger, lemon juice and raw honey.
    As for the face, I use which hazel toner and I love Laroche Posay effaclar or toleriane lines. I am also using sunscreen with a high zinc oxide content. The all natural makeup route was also not a good one for me, I bought lots of makeup at Whole foods and I had allergic reactions to lots of them. I am now back to using my Clinique and Lance brand because it is what works for me. Hope it help.

    • Hello, I have had acne since I was 12. I’ve tried EVERYTHING I’ve seen on the internet in terms of natural remedies, and I’m very into researching. I had cut sugar, vegetable oils and mostly gluten from my diet. Although I’m sure these things stopped my skin from getting as bad as it otherwise would have, as time went on my skin was slowly but surely getting worse. A few months ago, I googled “probiotic for acne” and this website came up called Clear Skin Forever. Long story short, I ended up buying their e-book. ($50, but a money back guarantee, and SO worth it!). The main thing they suggested was cutting out dairy and basically all grains, along with not having many (if any) beans or legumes for a while. They don’t want you to spend heaps of money on supplements, so they have a small list that they suggest. I was fascinated reading their e-book, and immediately started trying to implement the changes. As soon as I cut out dairy, SO much redness went away! Within a week! On the user forum on that website, people share their stories/ask questions/give advice, and there are so many stories of people who have had acne their whole lives healing it. There is much else to be gained from reading that book also. I really appreciate Wellness Mama, Dr. Mercola, and many other sites for their advice – but this book really seemed to make sense from everything else I’d read and make it very clear what to do.
      I thought I had to share this with you as I’m so happy about what this has done for my skin. At 14 years old (when it seems most girls have it the worst), it’s gotten so much better – and I’ve only been doing it for a few months!
      The main premise of their book is that acne needs to be fixed internally. You can put any number of things on your face, but the pimples come from the INSIDE. Fix your internal health and you won’t need to slather all kinds of expensive things on your face, that are only sort of working anyway!

  67. Since you are a teenager – zits are occasionally normal. Here’s what worked my for my 3 kids who all had acne problems at some point i their lives. We swear by two products in our household:

    – ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS wear sunscreen. a little goes a long way, this keeps your skin moist and protected. (oil free if possible**) this also prevents a lot of upcoming skin concerns.

    -Citrus Clear has a Grapefruit Spot Treatment that you can use throughout the day when your skin is oily. My teens used this about 2-3x per day and it worked great on any pimples that came out. They were gone in 1-2 days.