Unwelcome breakouts don't cease to exist once we hit a certain age. Truth be told, recent studies1 have proved that adult acne is, in fact, on the rise, so don't fear if you're suffering from pimples well past your 20s. You're not alone. Thankfully, the way to diminish that pimple is in closer reach than you think. (And no, the answer is never to pop the pimple!) While there are plenty of very effective OTC creams available, if you prefer the natural route or are in a pinch, chances are you can find a fast-acting solution right in your kitchen. Ahead, find nine DIY acne spot treatments you can uncover in your pantry or fridge.
We all know green tea is loaded with healthy antioxidants and has been linked to overall better health, but according to board-certified dermatologist Suneel Chilukuri, M.D., applying it directly to the skin can help heal breakouts, too. "Green tea has been shown to decrease sebum production2, and the caffeine in the tea will increase blood flow to allow more rapid healing of the blemish," says Chilukuri. Start by boiling water and make the tea just as you would if you were drinking it. After letting the tea bag cool slightly (so as not to burn yourself), squeeze out the tea and apply the tea bag directly to the blemish. Let the green tea sit on the blemish for two minutes and rinse.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has become a go-to in the world of DIY solutions. It's known for its ability to fight bacteria and helps dry up excess oil (similar to an astringent), which is exactly what you're looking for when it comes to healing blemishes. It's also anti-inflammatory, making it a great option for those pimples that are sore to the touch. Dilute the ACV with water, and apply directly to the pimple.
Shocking but true: Aspirin is not just for headaches and cramps. According to board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D., it's a great option for treating inflamed acne. "Aspirin contains acetylsalicylic acid, a cousin to salicylic acid, and is thought to have direct anti-inflammatory effects," Zeichner says. The anti-inflammatory effects, in turn, help the pimple to heal itself quicker. But instead of taking it orally, Zeichner recommends crushing the aspirin and mixing it in warm water. Next, take a cotton ball or cotton tip applicator, soak it in the mix, and apply to the blemish for three to five minutes.
Although turmeric is not a new invention, it's recently become a household staple when it comes to healthy living, including using turmeric for better skin3. "Turmeric has been shown to provide a variety of health benefits," says Zeichner. "Its antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties make it useful in treating acne." When applied to the skin, it decreases acne-causing bacteria and alleviates inflammation, making it a well-rounded solution for treating a breakout. Not to mention, it may help reduce the appearance of scarring, too.
While ice doesn't directly heal acne, it certainly helps in reducing inflammation. We've all been there: A newly discovered breakout that is swollen, inflamed, red, and just downright irritated. These types of blemishes don't exactly disappear overnight, but helping to reduce the inflammation will certainly make it easier to deal with until it's completely healed. Simply wrap the ice in a thin towel or cloth and apply directly to the breakout.
Honey is one of those oldie-but-goodie ingredients that even your grandma swore healed everything. And to be honest, she's sort of telling the truth. It has natural antiseptic properties4, which help to eliminate acne-causing bacteria and work great as a spot treatment. When it comes to healing acne, it's important to grab medical-grade honey like Manuka honey to help eliminate bacteria.
When it comes to DIY solutions, you may categorize white vinegar as a natural substitution for cleaning products, but it's actually a great option for the skin, too. "White vinegar acts as an antiseptic, killing bacterial components of acne," says board-certified dermatologist Deanne Mraz Robinson, M.D., FAAD. The high levels of acidity will help dry out the blemish, which in turn will speed up the healing process of the breakout. Not only does it work as a spot treatment, but Robinson also suggests those with widespread acne use it as a soak by diluting it with water.
We know (and love) aloe for soothing skin and healing sunburn, but this plant is loaded with skin-healthy (and hair-healthy) benefits. The clear gel inside of the aloe leaf is composed of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and proteolytic enzymes. Not only will it help naturally heal the pimple itself, but it may help lessen scarring as well. Be sure to snag a fresh aloe leaf when possible, instead of a bottled version, for best results. (Here's how to store aloe, too.)
Organic, unflavored yogurt
While we've heard time and time again that increased dairy consumption may be linked to causing acne5, applying the creamy food topically does just the opposite. Robinson suggests grabbing a tub of organic and unflavored yogurt to apply directly to your blemish. "Applying yogurt topically can benefit the skin's microbiome, while the lactic acid also exfoliates to reveal a brighter complexion," says Robinson.
Andrea Jordan is a beauty and lifestyle freelance writer covering topics from hair and skincare to family and home. She received her bachelor's in Magazine Journalism from Temple University and you can find her work at top publications like InStyle, PopSugar, StyleCaster, Business Insider, PureWow and OprahMag. When she's not writing, you can find Andrea tackling new recipes in the kitchen or babysitting one of her many nieces and nephews. She currently resides in New Jersey with her husband and cat, Silas.