Acne is one of the common concerns for most skin types. It occurs when your pores get clogged with oil and bacteria (P.acnes) and shows up as inflamed bumps that are often quite painful. Some of the most common treatments for acne are prescribed or over-the-counter topical and oral medications. Benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, isotretinoin capsules and even topical retinoids are some of the most effective solutions for acne. But for many, these treatments might be overwhelming for their skin. This is why herbal remedies are still popular among those with acne-prone skin. Even though the science behind them is limited, the anecdotal evidence behind them has kept them relevant. This is especially true in the case of herbs for acne, which offer plant-based solutions for breakouts and provide a variety of other benefits for the skin too!


Benefits of using herbs for acne

Benefits of using herbs for acne

So what makes herbal remedies effective to manage acne in some cases? It is the inherent botanical properties present in them that make them good acne-fighting agents. Some are antibacterial in nature, meaning they can inhibit the growth of acne-causing bacteria on your skin. The anti-inflammatory properties that some herbs have to boost your skin's capacity to manage external damage and thus avoid sensitivity issues. Plus, herbs have fewer side effects when used the right way than potent ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or retinoids. When sourced organically, these natural remedies can really make a difference to your anti-acne skincare routine. Below is a list of some of the most popular herbs for acne, and the best way to use them...


Tea tree

Tea tree for acne

Sourced from the leaves of the Australian tree with the same name, the tea tree has long been used as a versatile ingredient in beauty products. Its medicinal properties include both anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. The herb is capable of inhibiting the growth of acne-causing microorganisms on the skin while being gentle on the skin. This is why it has shown results in managing inflammatory acne-like pimples and other pore issues like blackheads and whiteheads. It is also known to tighten your pores and help in sebum control in the skin.

How to use -

One of the best ways to use tea tree for acne is to use it in its essential oil form.

  • Dilute it with a skin-safe carrier oil like jojoba and dab on the affected areas only.
  • However, if you already have oily skin, crush some tea tree leaves and mix with base ingredients like aloe vera or propolis and use it as a spot treatment to fight blemishes.


Neem for acne

An Ayurvedic staple, neem is a herb that is widely known for its antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing benefits. When dealing with acne, neem can help regulate your skin’s natural oil production. This helps in reducing acne and post-inflammatory inflammation (PIH). Because of its healing properties, neem is an excellent pick for managing acne and limiting the amount of scarring after. Rich in vitamin C, neem can help fade already existing acne scars and give your skin an overall brighter look.

How to use -

The best way to use neem for acne is to turn it into an oil-controlling, anti-acne face mask.

  • Mix equal parts of neem powder with gram flour (besan) and turmeric.
  • Add the mix to rosewater or cucumber water to turn it into a paste.
  • Use the face mask to give yourself a gentle exfoliating massage, leave it on for 10-15 minutes and rinse with water.
  • Follow up with a moisturiser to rehydrate your skin.

Witch hazel

Witch hazel for acne

Witch hazel, also known as nature's astringent, is getting quite popular for acne treatments. The herb is rich in tannins, which can be used to clear excess oil from your skin. The anti-inflammatory properties of witch hazel also contribute to reducing inflamed breakouts and thus avoid bruising of the skin. Adding a DIY witch hazel toner to your routine can also be a good alternative for regular alcohol-based toners that can dry out your skin.

How to use -

To make your own witch hazel concoction at home, follow these simple steps -

  • Procure some witch hazel bark and twigs and add to distilled water in a large, stainless steel pot.
  • Put it on a high flame and bring it to a boil. Once the water starts boiling, turn the flame to the lowest point and simmer for 25-30 minutes.
  • Leave the mix in a safe place to cool overnight. Ensure you are carefully covering up the pot to avoid the mix coming in contact with air or dirt.
  • The next morning, strain the concoction and store it in a glass jar; refrigerate to keep using it safely.
  • To apply, use a cotton ball to apply it on acne-affected areas or places where you generally feel oily throughout the day!


Manjishtha for acne

Manjistha, popularly known as the Indian Madder, is a popular Ayurvedic medicinal herb. The natural blood purifier is known to inhibit the growth of acne-causing bacteria and help keep the pores unclogged on your skin. It is also highly antioxidant in nature and when applied topically, can help calm skin inflammation, redness, rashes and other effects acne can have on your skin.

How to use -

To use a manjistha solution for your acne, follow this step-by-step process:

  • Start by measuring out the amount of manjistha powder you need to make a paste of the consistency of your choice; usually, 1/2 teaspoon makes a good quantity.
  • Mix the powder with honey or rose water to make a paste. Apply on just the affected areas and leave for 1-2 hours.
  • Once done, rinse with room temperature water; repeat 1-2 times a week to keep your skin pimple-free. 


Lavender for acne

A popular calming ingredient used in skincare, lavender also has the ability to inhibit bacterial growth. Lavender-infused toners have shown good results in keeping the skin's pores healthy, calming irritated skin, and soothing stressed oil glands to help regulate sebum production. It is also known to help satiate angry-looking breakouts, reduce the pain around it, and keep it from developing further.

How to use -

The best way to use lavender for acne is in its essential oil form.

  • Mix 1-2 drops of lavender oil with a carrier oil and use it as a spot treatment.
  • You can also add the drops to your facial steamer and give yourself a skin-clearing facial once a week.

FAQs about herbs for acne

FAQs about herbs for acne

Q. What are the precautions to be taken while using herbs for acne?

A.  Some of the precautions to keep in mind while using herbs for acne are -

  • Do a patch test 48 hours prior to rule out sensitivity, allergic reactions and skin irritations to certain ingredients. If you notice swelling, itching, or burning, or redness, do not apply on your face.
  • If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or menopausal, consult a dermatologist before using herbs to manage your acne.  
  • Do not ingest herbs in order to manage acne internally, some can be toxic and poisonous in nature. Also, keep it away from your mouth region in order to avoid mistakenly ingesting it.

Q. How long do herbs take to cure acne?

A.  Natural remedies take longer to work as compared to prescribed medications (topical and oral) like isotretinoin and antibiotics. The results also depend on the kind of acne you are suffering from. For instance, pimples caused due to bacterial infections can be healed by using tea tree as a spot treatment. On the other hand, hormonal and cystic acne may show little to no results even after using natural remedies for a long time.