While there’s no denying that the aftermath of a breakout can be messy, there are natural remedies that can help accelerate healing time and fade the marks or acne scars that pimples can cause.
The best part about these natural remedies is that they’re gentle on your skin, won’t clog your pores (which prevents future breakouts), and you can purchase most of them at your local health food store for less than $10.
So save your dollars—and your skin—with these five natural remedies to help heal acne scars.
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Top 5 Natural Remedies for Acne Scars
1. Rosehip Seed Oil
Meet your new BFF for fresh red marks and dark spots: rosehip seed oil.
Rosehip seed oil is extracted from the rosehip seeds of wild roses in Chile. This natural oil can improve your skin’s texture and appearance because it contains vitamin C and essential fatty acids, two nutrients that help build healthy skin cells and stimulate collagen production (1)(2).
Collagen is needed to help reduce hyperpigmentation, fill in deep acne scars and repair the skin’s tissue to fade red spots and dark marks (3).
But what really makes rosehip seed oil a superfood for your skin is a nutrient it contains, called retinoic acid.
Retinoic acid is a form of vitamin A, an antioxidant vitamin. When applied topically, retinoic acid can help regenerate skin cells, reduce hyperpigmentation and reduce the appearance of dark marks (4). Studies suggest that retinoic acid can also help promote collagen formation, especially in those with photodamaged skin (5).
The cool thing about retinoic acid is that your skin can absorb it and utilize it right away. You see, other forms of vitamin A, such as beta-carotene, must go through a series of processes to be converted to retinoic acid before it can provide benefits to the skin (6).
Lastly, rosehip oil is non-comedogenic, which means it doesn’t clog pores and won’t contribute to future breakouts. Rosehip seed oil is safe to use on oily skin because it’s a dry oil, which means it’s readily absorbed by your skin and won’t make your skin feel greasy. For this reason, it’s more similar to a skin serum than an oil.
How to Use Rosehip Seed Oil: Rosehip seed oil is best applied at night after cleansing and exfoliating. Although it absorbs well into the skin, it may still feel oily if applied under makeup.
2. Hemp Seed Oil
While there’s a lack of studies done on hemp oil for the skin, many natural skincare sites feature hemp oil as one of the best home remedies for acne sufferers.
Hemp seed oil is one of the richest plant sources of linolenic acid, an omega-3 essential fatty acid that helps build healthy skin cells, which are needed to fade dark marks and scars. Because they’re a natural anti-inflammatory, omega-3’s, when applied topically, can also help reduce the swelling, irritation and redness that accompany breakouts (7).
Hemp seed oil is non-comedogenic, which means it won’t clog pores or contribute to new breakouts, and is safe for daily use.
Let’s not forget that hemp seed oil is also a whole food that pairs well with recipes—and that healthy skin also stems from your diet. So, drizzle hemp seed oil on your salads and add it to your smoothies!
How to Use Hemp Seed Oil: For improving the skin’s appearance and texture, hemp seed oil is best used as a moisturizer, massaged into the skin after cleansing and exfoliating. For best results, use daily.
- Hemp seed oil is a delicate oil that can go rancid quickly when it’s exposed to heat or light. For this reason, hemp seed oil should always be in a dark bottle and refrigerated. When using hemp seed oil in your beauty routine, take out small amounts as needed.
3. Jojoba Oil
Jojoba oil is extracted from the seeds of the jojoba plant. While it behaves like an oil, jojoba oil is actually a wax ester, which makes it a non-greasy “dry” oil that absorbs into the skin quickly.
Jojoba oil is said to be effective for reducing mild acne scars and redness because it contains vitamin E, which is an antioxidant vitamin that can help regenerate skin cells and improve wound and scar healing (8).
It’s also included in many anti-acne skin care formulas because of its antibacterial and antimicrobial activity, which can help prevent acne-causing bacteria in the skin’s pores from causing breakouts (9).
Additionally, jojoba oil is said to be the closest plant substance to human sebum, which may create a “feedback” mechanism by regulating the body’s sebum production (10). As you may already know, excess sebum production is the primary cause of acne breakouts.
While more research is needed to backup this claim, it’s worth giving jojoba oil a shot. As a non-comedogenic oil, jojoba oil won’t clog pores, and may help control future breakouts by regulating oil production and killing bacteria.
While jojoba oil is a safe natural remedy to use for acne, there are a few precautions to consider when it comes to adding it to your skincare routine.
While some people experience only beneficial effects from using jojoba oil, others experience a “purge” phase, where jojoba oil’s antibacterial properties clean out clogged pores and push out pus that’s formed by bacteria. Initially, this may cause whiteheads or small pimples to form. However, this is simply the cleansing action of jojoba oil at work. After a few weeks of daily continued use, many people credit jojoba oil to a vast reduction in clogged pores.
How to Use Jojoba Oil: Simply add a few drops of jojoba oil to your fingers and massage into your face after cleansing and exfoliating.
- A few drops of jojoba oil goes a long way. If overused, it can cause breakouts by attracting more dirt into your pores.
- Jojoba oil is considered a dry oil because it absorbs into the skin so quickly. However, if you find it too oily, some people prefer to mix a few drops of jojoba with aloe vera gel for a moisturizing, soothing anti-acne treatment.
- Quality is important when it comes to jojoba oil. Many varieties of jojoba oil are heavily processed, refined and contain other chemicals, which will actually contribute to breakouts. Non-organic jojoba oil may also contain pesticides, which can further aggravate your skin.For this reason, jojoba oil is the one exception on this list of natural remedies for acne scars that will cost more than $10. A high quality jojoba oil that’s organic, cold-pressed and unrefined (which is the exact variety that will help your skin) will usually range between $25 and $30. Typically, a larger-sized bottle of jojoba oil that’s $10 or less indicates that it’s unrefined or non-organic, even if it’s labeled “pure.”
4. Exfoliate with Baking Soda
Baking soda is naturally exfoliating, which may help fade acne scars and hyperpigmentation by removing dead skin and regenerating a layer of new skin cells.
Baking soda is also effective for preventing future breakouts because it helps remove the trapped dirt and oil under the skin that causes zits.
Exfoliating with baking soda before applying a natural moisturizer or oil (such as rosehip seed oil or hemp oil) will also help open your pores, enabling the oil to be more efficiently absorbed.
How to Exfoliate with Baking Soda: Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda to 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl, and mix until a paste forms. Massage gently onto your face in a circular motion for a few minutes, focusing on areas that are most affected by dark marks and scars. Rinse off with warm water, and repeat 2-3 times weekly.
- It’s important to choose a non-aluminum baking soda to prevent unnecessary harsh chemicals from coming in contact with your skin.
- Avoid exfoliating areas where the skin is broken open, as this can cause more redness and irritation.
5. Lemon Juice
Freshly squeezed lemon juice is commonly used as a natural spot treatment for fading acne scars because it acts as a natural bleaching agent. Lemon is also rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant vitamin that helps improve the health of skin cells (11). Lemon juice may also help prevent future breakouts because it’s a natural antimicrobial (12).
How to Use Lemon Juice: It’s best to apply freshly squeezed lemon juice to affected areas after exfoliating with a Q-tip or cotton ball. You can leave the lemon juice on overnight or rinse off after an hour. Since lemon juice is highly acidic, it should only be applied to areas affected by dark marks or scars, and kept away from areas where the skin has been broken open.
If you have sensitive skin, diluting lemon juice with water will have a milder effect.
Lastly, lemon juice can be drying, so it’s best to follow up this natural spot treatment by applying a moisturizing oil afterwards, such as hemp seed oil.
Lemon juice can also be combined with baking soda, rosehip seed oil and other natural ingredients to make home recipes for preventing breakouts and treating acne scars.
- Avoid the sun. Lemon juice may increase your skin’s photosensitivity and make you more susceptible to sun damage after being applied. For this reason, it’s best to avoid the sun entirely on the days you apply lemon juice. If that’s not possible, be sure to wear sunscreen.
- Lemon may be too strong of a bleaching agent for darker skin tones. It’s recommended that you do a spot test to see how your skin reacts before using it as a natural treatment to fade your acne scars.
Getting Rid of Acne Scars Through Your Diet
While these natural home remedies for getting rid of acne scars are effective, this blog post wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t emphasize the importance of healing and preventing future breakouts through your diet.
I always say that clear skin is an inside job, which means your internal health has a direct impact on the appearance and texture of your skin. As your largest organ of detoxification, your skin’s appearance is a telling indicator of high levels of toxins in your body (which can manifest as breakouts) or hormonal imbalances.
This is why, in addition to using topical remedies for acne scars, it’s also important to add skin supportive foods to your diet each day.
Collagen peptides can help stimulate collagen production from the inside out, while plant foods such as spirulina, chlorella, leafy greens, fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds are all rich sources of antioxidant vitamins that help promote healthy skin cells.
Refined sugar also acts as a toxin and damages your skin. This is because when you eat refined sugar, it attaches to proteins in your bloodstream and forms new molecules called AGEs, or advanced glycation end products. AGEs damage the collagen in your skin, preventing your skin from healing quicker and also causing premature wrinkles (13).
In addition to refined sugar, foods that are known to cause acne breakouts include dairy, white flour, grains and gluten, which is why it’s best to avoid these foods.
As mentioned above, refined sugar contributes to damaged skin by forming AGEs. But sugar also causes rapid spikes in your blood sugar levels, triggering the release of insulin. Fluctuating insulin levels have been shown to increase sebum production (14). Excess sebum (oil) can clog your pores when mixed with the bacteria that live on your skin and form pimples.
Dairy and gluten are common (and often hidden) food sensitivities for many people. Repeatedly eating a food your body has difficulty digesting can not only trigger an immune response, but also deplete your healthy gut bacteria. This leads to a health condition called gut dysbiosis. Since approximately 70% of your immune system is located in your gut, gut dysbiosis can lead to immune dysfunction, which is a primary cause of inflammatory skin conditions such as acne, eczema and psoriasis.
Lastly, essential fatty acids are an important nutrient for keeping your skin blemish-free. We require both omega-3’s and omega-6’s from our diets to keep our skin healthy. However, they are needed in a very specific ratio with one another—or else they can have the opposite effect and cause acne.
You see, omega-3 essential fatty acids are an anti-inflammatory nutrient, while omega-6’s cause inflammation when consumed in excess, resulting in inflammatory skin conditions such as acne (15).
The ideal omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is 1:2 or 1:3 for optimal health. Unfortunately, today’s Western diet is closer to a 1:17 ratio (16). This means we’re consuming at least 5 times the amount of omega-6’s we should be. This is because omega-6’s are found in high oleic vegetable oils and fats that are included in most packaged foods, fried foods and processed foods.
You can help reduce the inflammation in your skin by adding more omega-3’s to your diet and reducing your amount of omega-6’s. This can be done by eating more omega-3 rich foods at each meal (such as salmon, avocado, walnuts, flaxseed, hemp hearts and chia seeds), while avoiding processed, packaged and fast foods that are high in omega-6’s.
Since the Paleo diet recommends eating the skin supportive foods above, and eliminates the most common foods that cause acne, following a Paleo diet may also be an ideal way to improve the appearance and texture of your skin.
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