For most of us, flawless skin is practically a myth. You know, like unicorns, foot-friendly stilettos and the perfect man. No matter how well we maintain our skin and abide by the “Thou shalt not go to bed with makeup on” dictum, we still occasionally wake up with little Mount Vesuvius zits on our face. And while there’s never a right time for a big pimple, there’s certainly a wrong time — like when we’ve run out of spot treatment.
No need to panic, there are plenty of products you likely have at home that can help suck out bacteria, close up pores and reduce redness. Try applying any of the DIY spot treatments below to a clean, dry face — you might even find a solution that works so well for you, you can ditch your expensive products altogether.
Witch Hazel Extract
This concoction is distilled from the bark, twigs and leaves of a specific plant that has long been known to be a home remedy. Some drink it to treat diarrhea, colds and fevers. WebMD also says it’s common to put it on skin to reduce inflammation. That means it reduces redness. It also has astringent properties and the ability to fight bacteria. Put it on a cotton ball and swab it on that zit.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Available at every grocery store pretty much everywhere, this stuff balances the pH of your skin, reducing bacteria’s chance of survival, and helps absorb oil with its astringent nature. Dilute one part vinegar to three parts water. Dip in your cotton ball and apply directly to the zit. Leave it on for at least 10 minutes to overnight.
Honey and Cinnamon
Between the antimicrobial properties of cinnamon and the antibacterial nature of honey, you’ll be giving that blemish an all-natural one-two punch in the face; figuratively speaking. Two tablespoons of honey to one teaspoon of cinnamon mixed into a paste is a wonderful spot treatment. Leave on for 15 minutes and rinse away.
Got strawberries? Cut off the top and use the green stem as a handle. Rub directly on your blemish for a minute. Let the juice sit for another 10 minutes (at least) and rinse. Strawberries are chock-full of an ingredient that’s included in almost every acne-fighting product on the market: salicylic acid. Why not get it from Mother Nature rather than a lab?
You know it’s good for sunburns, but aloe vera’s anti-inflammatory nature helps big zits, too. It reduces redness and swelling. It can also reduce skin irritation and it’s antibacterial, so it can prevent a zit that’s already a nuisance from becoming an incident. It’s best to use a broken-off leaf from a live aloe plant. The bottled gel at the store just isn’t as fresh and therefore not as effective. Apply gel directly to your pimple, then let it sit for 10 minutes and rinse.
The worst breakout I ever had in my life was on my forehead. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say I needed a spot treatment — everywhere. And no over-the-counter product worked.. Then I heard about baking soda’s antibacterial power. I mixed the soda and a dab of water in my palm to form a paste. Every day for a week, I massaged the paste onto the infected area for a minute, then rinsed. The result? Breakout gone for good. Baking soda also works as an exfoliator, so as it lifts away dead skin, it can really get into your pores and do its magic.
Freshly-squeezed lemon juice is essential for this treatment to really work—so skip anything bottled or concentrated. Like baking soda, lemon has exfoliating properties because of its citric acid. The juice is also an astringent that works to dry out skin and reduce the oil that clogs pores. This might sting a bit, so if you can’t handle it, mix it with a dab of organic plain yogurt. Be sure to wash off any remnants before going in the sun as it can cause discoloration.
What NOT to Use
The myth of toothpaste as a zit zapper is so prevalent, we couldn’t let it slide without saying something. It’s often recommended as a way to “dry out” a zit. And while it can do that, it doesn’t do so in a good way. For one, the menthol that makes your mouth feel fresh does nothing good for your skin. And most toothpastes are so full of other chemicals that could irritate your blemish, the risk isn’t worth it. Not when there are so many options that are harmless and provide benefits that come straight from the earth.