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CF Acne Survival Guide: 4 Simple DIY Acne Remedies


4 Super Simple DIY Acne Remedies

This week, we continue our Acne Survival Guide series with a few DIY acne remedies to help keep your skin clear. (In case you missed them, see the first posts in this series on preventing acne in college and the best makeup for acne prone skin.)

In my quest for clear skin, I found that the harsh chemical treatments I’d been using really took a toll on my skin’s appearance. My skin was always red, tight, and dry, and had even started breaking out in new places. Since I started experimenting with natural remedies, my skin has improved dramatically. Not only is my complexion clearer, my skin looks softer and brighter, too.

Below, I’ll show you how to make four of my favorite homemade acne remedies. These treatments are super simple, and cost much less than your average drugstore acne product. What could be better?

Note: As always, it’s important to do a patch test before you try any homemade skin remedy. Everyone’s skin is different and what works for me, might not work for you. Always test each recipe on a small area of skin before you slather it on your whole face to ensure you don’t have a reaction!

1. Lemon Toner

Photo Credit

This acne treatment is outrageously simple, and really effective. Lemon juice acts as a natural toner that helps exfoliate the skin, keeping dead skin cells from clogging your pores. Its high vitamin C content also makes it a great anti-inflamatory that works to heal blemishes and keep new ones from forming.

What you’ll need:

  • A clean washcloth
  • The juice of 2-3 lemons


Place a damp, warm washcloth over your face for a few minutes to open up your pores so the lemon juice can really penetrate the skin. Use a cotton ball to apply the lemon juice all over your face, letting it sit for about 15-20 minutes. Then rinse with warm water.

Since lemon is an acidic fruit, it might sting your skin a little. If you feel a burning sensation, add water to the mixture to lessen the intensity.

2. Olive Oil Moisturizing Treatment

Olive oil
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Olive oil may be a must-have in the kitchen, but it’s also great for softening and moisturizing the skin, which makes it an effective acne scar treatment.

Scars left by cystic acne are a pain to remove, and often require professional intervention, but keeping your skin moisturized will help lessen the damage and improve the quality of your skin. As always, be sure to wear sunscreen every single day to keep your scars from getting worse!

What you’ll need:

  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Make sure to use “extra virgin”: It’s a little more expensive, but it’s free of additives that can irritate the skin.
  • 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Baking soda’s mild abrasive properties make it a great exfoliant that can remove dead skin cells gently and effectively.


Mix the olive oil and baking soda together in a small bowl. Apply the mixture with your fingers, leaving it on for 20-30 minutes. Remove the mask with warm water using a clean washcloth, then wash your face with a gentle cleanser to remove any excess oil.

3. Honey Mask

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This cure-all mask is my absolute favorite natural acne remedy, and it also happens to be really simple. Honey is a natural anti-inflamatory and has anti-microbial properties, which means it can fight bacterial infection and clear out your pores, leaving your skin clear and glowing.

This has worked miracles on my skin, and unless you’re allergic to honey, there’s no real risk of side effects. (Though always do a patch test like we recommend above!)

What you’ll need:

  • Honey. Seriously, that’s the only ingredient. Just make sure the honey you’re using is raw or unpasteurized so that you can reap its full benefits. The pasteurization process removes many of honey’s infection-fighting properties, and added sugars can cause even more breakouts. Since I live in farm country, I found an awesome local brand for about $7 at my grocery store, but tons of people swear by Manuka honey. Shop around and find what works for you!
  • You can also add organic cinnamon to your mask if you really want to treat yourself. Cinnamon also has anti-inflamatory properties, helps prevent infection, and will gently exfoliate the skin. It’ll also make your mask smell wonderful. Just try to keep from licking your face!


To make your mask, all you’ll need to do is spread a thin layer of honey across your entire face. If you’re adding cinnamon, mix in a teaspoon or two before applying. Make sure to pull your hair back, because you will get sticky.

Let the mask sit for about 20-30 minutes before rinsing thoroughly with warm water. Honey can be a bit drying, so be sure to follow up with a gentle moisturizer for soft, glowing skin.

4. The Ultimate Acne Mask

Photo Credit

Truly pamper your skin by combining the healing powers of honey, avocado and oatmeal. This mask soothes irritated skin, reduces redness, and fights infection, leaving your skin feeling smooth and clear.

What you’ll need:

  • 1-2 tablespoons of raw, unpasteurized honey.
  • Half of an avocado, mashed well. (Make some celebratory guacamole with the other half!)
  • 1/4 cup of oatmeal flakes.


Mix all three ingredients together and apply a thick layer to your entire face (but not so much that it’s falling off in big gloops!). Let it sit for 15-20 minutes (enjoy some of that guacamole in the meantime) then rinse with warm water.

Make circular motions with your fingers while rinsing to really let the oatmeal exfoliate your skin. Then say goodbye to redness and clogged pores for good!

Your thoughts?

What are your favorite DIY acne remedies? Do you have any other tips? Be sure to leave me a comment and let me know what you think – I love hearing your thoughts!

Posted on on March 3, 2013 / Filed Under: Beauty & Hair / Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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28 Responses to “CF Acne Survival Guide: 4 Simple DIY Acne Remedies”

  1. 1
    March 3rd, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    Another great one is baking soda and lemon in equal parts. I just mix them up and do a spot treatment overnight. It kind of dries out your skin so make sure to put it ONLY on the pimples you want to treat.

    As for the avocado mask, I’ve actually been told (and, unfortunately, experienced) that avocado is pretty oily and can cause breakouts. I used an avocado mask once and since my skin is already a bit oily, it just caused me to break out – but not too much.

  2. 2
    March 3rd, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    great tips! something i use:
    olive oil and sugar mixed.
    sugar exfoliates(which takes off dead layer of skin, helps remove dirt, sweat, and clean blackheads, and helps make skin look fresh and vibrant)
    the olive oil leaves my skin silky smooth and moisturized. personally i have dry skin so idk how the oil would work on oily skin!
    i keep it in a plastic container in bathroom, even though there are no chemical perservatives, it lasts long without spoiling.
    1.hold towel with wet water on face for like a min or hold face over boiling water to open pores.
    2. smear olive oil sugar scrub all around face.
    3. rub the sugar everywhere and rub extra in spots like nose, cheeks, chin, forehead where most pimples and blackheads arise.
    4. keep scrub on face for like a min to let oil sink in some.
    5. wash face with warm water.
    6. finish off with a splash of cold water to close pores and reduce the redness you might get from the hot water and scrubbing.

    try it!

  3. 3
    March 3rd, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    This is really simple and inexpensive. Bookmarked for later use!

  4. 4
    March 3rd, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    I’m a huge fan of the honey mask!! I like to add cinnamon to it to make it smell extra delicious, and sometimes I add sugar and use it all over as an exfoliant. Also when my skin gets very dry in the winter I will use it as a face wash – it leaves my skin feeling clean and soft. I’ve also used lemon before, which works well for mild acne.

    I am pretty skeptical about putting olive oil on my face – think I’ll just stick to my tried and true Cetaphil.

  5. 5
    March 3rd, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    I really want to try the oil one! Next on my list is the oil cleansing method, I’ve heard people completely rave about its effects!

    Also, make sure that you COMPLETELY rinse the lemon juice off your face for the first one, because the acidic qualities in lemon juice strips whatever it is in your skin that naturally protects it from the sun (I forget its scientific name!) So make sure you don’t go outside immediately after putting lemon juice on your face!

  6. 6
    March 3rd, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    I prefer jojoba oil to olive oil. It won’t clog your pores and has antibacterial properties which make it really good for acne. It’s more expensive than olive oil, but I spent $8 on a bottle at Trader Joe’s and I need such a small amount when I use it that it turns out to be pennies for each use.

  7. 7
    March 3rd, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    In regards to olive oil, it can sometimes cause breakouts. Because a lot of the time oil labelled as extra-virgin is not, and includes oils from different places, it’s important to ensure your olive oil is pure if you want to avoid breakouts. I prefer using sweet almond oil as a moisturizer because it doesn’t tend to cause acne.
    Here’s a link to more info on the olive oil situation:

  8. 8
    March 3rd, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    Please, please, PLEASE do not use baking soda on your face. Or lemon juice, or vinegar, or anything that doesn’t match the pH of the skin. Your face isn’t a sink where you can dump chemicals on to clean it.

  9. 9
    March 4th, 2013 at 8:29 am

    WOW I tried the honey mask last night. My skin was really inflamed and spotty :( I used some organic honey from the farmers markets, and mixed it with cinnamon. I have combination skin and it helped so much! Who would have thought?

  10. 10
    March 4th, 2013 at 8:30 am

    Does the olive oil not cause breakouts? I’m intrigued, but admittedly a little skeptical–I have really oily skin and putting anything else with the word “oil” in it scares me!

  11. 11
    March 4th, 2013 at 8:35 am

    ^ +1 Chippie. Baking soda and lemon juice is bad!! It’s an organic acid/base reaction that consumes oxygen from the skin. I was getting some mild chemical burns from something similar.

  12. 12
    March 4th, 2013 at 8:43 am

    @ Catherine- I really like the Oil cleaning methods, and I even use Rosehip oil massaged into my skin underneath my moisturiser! It sounds really counter intuitive. The trick is that you clean off the oil on your skin first, then replenish with a purifed oil that doesn’t have any of your skin bacteria in it. It’s also meant to work deeply, as the “like disolves like” principle means that he new oil works on your skin oils to draw these to the surface for the next time you clean your face. I’ve also read that replenishing your skin oil stops your skin from needing to produce more of its own oil.

  13. 13
    March 4th, 2013 at 8:47 am

    Thanks Crysela! I suppose it’s worth a shot, as I’m really fed up with the minimal benefits and dried-out skin I’m seeing from my far too expensive ProActiv habit.

  14. 14
    March 4th, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    I’ll have to try the oatmeal/honey/avocado mask! I once made a mask with egg white & oatmeal. It made my skin super soft, though it`s probably better for people with oily skin.

  15. 15
    March 4th, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    I agree, I wouldn’t use baking soda because not only is it harsh, it is very abrasive (some people use it to clean there bathtubs after all!). However, about twice a year, my skin goes insane and a baking soda and milk scrub is the only thing that calms my skin down. I wouldn’t recommend using baking soda more often then that. Oh also, I rinse with diluted vinegar to try and reestablish the pH of my skin after doing a baking soda scrub (with varying success). But even after that, my skin is red and itchy for the rest of the day, moisturizer or not.

    I’ve heard rice flour is a good gentle everyday scrub, has anyone tried that?

  16. 16
    March 4th, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    Does the anti-inflammatory honey mask reduce redness?

  17. 17
    March 5th, 2013 at 5:53 am

    This is so great! I don’t know how many times I’ve fallen back on the honey mask and lemon juice myself! But about the acne scar treatment, I found this mask recipe on youtube which helps lighten the skin and give relief from sun burns but it really works miracles on fading scars too. The best part is its almost instant!
    The recipe is:
    1/3 cup plain yogurt
    1/4 cup honey
    2 teaspoons olive oil
    you just mix it together in a bowl and apply a thin layer on your skin, leave it for a while (i usually leave it for 20-25 minutes), wash it off with warm water and voila! fresher, cleaner, soft skin instantly!
    Here’s the link to the video just in case:
    Its a must try! :D

  18. 18
    March 5th, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    Great post – you can also try extra virgin cold pressed coconut oil and tea tree oil – both potent anti-bacterial all natural ingredients.

    And using UMF honey which is more potent than plain honey in its antimicrobial properties.

  19. 19
    March 6th, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    So I tried the honey mask the other night using raw honey from Trader Joe’s and mixed in a little cinnamon… I loved it! I hope to incorporate this into my routine and use 2-3x a week. I also recently purchased a bottle of Maracuja oil from the Tarte line, and have been using it as a moisturizer every night after I wash my face. My skin feels so soft and glowy, definitely worth the investment ($40 but I’ve only used about 5-10% of the bottle in a couple months).

  20. 20
    April 14th, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    I normally use more pricey, acne masks. My mom had this product from Citrus Clear called the Acne Spot Treatment – and I am impressed. It applies dense and smoothly, and creates a tingly citrusy sensation. All masks make my face feel tighter and cleaner, but this product makes my pores smaller. 100% ZERO BLACKHEADS from using this. It will work for you

  21. 21
    April 29th, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    I like using lemon juice.

  22. 22
    May 6th, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    Definitely use the Citrus Clear Grapefruit Spot Treatment – you can use it like a mask! That is how I have been using it with great results. It will make your skin feel smoother, shrink pores little by little, and help clear current breakout with each use. It really is good at drawing stuff out of your pores, which is exactly what it is supposed to. If you have oily skin (especially in your t-zone), BUY THIS. It will help :)

  23. 23
    September 19th, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    These all sound great! How often should you use them, and is it bad to try all of them? Or should you just stick to one on a regular basis?

  24. 24
    July 10th, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    I like the acne mask recipe. I think it will work great if applied perfectly.

  25. 25
    August 9th, 2014 at 1:55 am

    Some really cool natural alternatives to treat acne prone skin! I’ve already tried the Manuka honey face mask. But i like the look of the Lemon toner too! I’ll make sure I get round to trying it :).

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