Does Garlic Help Acne? What Does Science Say?

We bet you never thought you could use garlic in these ways to manage acne!

Medically reviewed by Dr. Preethi Nagaraj, MD DVL Dr. Preethi Nagaraj Dr. Preethi NagarajMD DVL youtube_iconinsta_icon
Written by , MSc Annie Jangam MSc Experience: 11 years
Edited by , MA (English Literature) Ramona Sinha MA (English Literature) Experience: 11 years
Fact-checked by , MA (English Literature), Certified Skin Care Coach Shiboli Chakraborti MA (English Literature), Certified Skin Care Coach Experience: 4 years
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Several things you find in your kitchen can be used to treat different ailments ranging from skin issues to respiratory illnesses. Garlic is one such ingredient that is believed to treat many skin conditions. Not only can you add it to your healthy diet plan but also use it as an alternative medicine at home for acne issues. But does it really work? How does garlic benefit your skin? Keep reading to find out what science says about the skin benefits of garlic and how it may help minimize acne.

protip_icon Trivia
The word ‘garlic’ stems from the Old English term ‘garleac,’ which stands for ‘spear-shaped leek.’

Garlic For Acne Does It Work? What Science Says

In a recent study, 7.5 % of garlic juice was found to fight against Propionibacterium acnes, a bacteria that causes acne (1). This study had further demonstrated that using garlic juice in a gel form could be better due to its added stability. However, this study needs to be further validated by clinical trials.

Garlic has been used as a preventive remedy since ancient times to ward off infections and improve the immune system. Scientific evidence reports that garlic does have antimicrobial properties against other species of bacteria like Staphylococcus, Salmonella, Vibrio, Mycobacteria, and Proteus (2). However, the exact mechanism of how garlic works to fight acne is yet to be studied.

For now, we can speculate that the antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties of garlic may help manage acne.

Savvy, a skin-focused blogger, discussed the medicinal benefits of using garlic against acne. She writes, “When experiencing any chronic illness, like acne, incorporating raw garlic into your diet will help your body overcome the infection… I take garlic every day to keep my skin clear. I pop the cloves like pills and down them with water (i).”

If you are wondering how to actually use garlic to treat acne, we have got you covered. Read on to learn the different ways you can use garlic to treat your acne.

How To Use Garlic For Acne?

1. Garlic Puree

Garlic puree for acne
Image: Shutterstock

This simple homemade remedy acts as a herbal medicine and is believed to be effective due to the antibacterial properties of garlic. Raw garlic can also be used, though a diluted version will be gentler on your skin. You can use this remedy thrice a week for the best results.

You will need

  • 3 to 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of water

Process

  1. Crush the garlic cloves.
  2. Add water to make a thick puree.
  3. Apply the mixture to the affected area.
  4. Leave it on for 10 minutes.
  5. Rinse with water.
  6. Pat dry.
  7. Apply a moisturizer.

2. Raw Garlic Juice

Raw garlic juice in a glass container

A less messy way of using raw garlic for acne is by simply using a diluted version of its juice. You can use the following raw garlic juice remedy as a rinse-off spot treatment to effectively treat those painful breakouts.

You will need

1 tablespoon of strained garlic juice
1 tablespoon of water
Cotton pads

Process

  1. Mix the garlic juice and water in a little bowl.
  2. Dip the cotton pad in the solution and dab it on the acne-affected areas of the skin. Avoid using the mixture as a mask as it may otherwise cause irritation.
  3. Leave it on for no more than 5 to 10 minutes. A mild tingling sensation is normal. But wash off immediately should it burn.
  4. Rinse gently and pat dry.
  5. Follow up with a non-comedogenic moisturizer.

3. Garlic And Yogurt

Garlic and yogurt for acne
Image: Shutterstock

Yogurt has probiotics that may help treat acne (3). It is believed yogurt may also clear out clogged pores and dead skin cells that may otherwise contribute to acne. Include this in your skin care routine every alternate day to help get clear, blemish-free skin.

You will need

  • 2 to 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of yogurt

Process

  1. Grind the garlic cloves and yogurt to a fine paste.
  2. Apply this mixture to the acne-prone area.
  3. Rinse with warm water after 15 minutes.

4. Garlic And Rosewater

Young woman applying garlic and rosewater mixture to her face for acne
Image: Shutterstock

Rosewater is soothing and gentle on acne-prone skin. Rosewater and the plants extracts have been reported to be effective against acne, thanks to their antibacterial properties (4).

You will need

  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of rosewater

Process

  1. Crush the garlic cloves and add rose water to make a thick paste.
  2. Apply this mixture to the affected area.
  3. Do not leave this on for more than 10 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water.
  4. Pat dry and follow with a moisturizer.

5. Garlic And Aloe Vera

Garlic and aloe vera for acne
Image: Shutterstock

This natural remedy is applied topically on the skin. It can be helpful to prevent future breakouts (5). Apart from hydrating the skin, aloe vera also has an anti-acne effect (6). This home remedy is perfect for people with sensitive skin.

You will need

  • 2 tablespoons of garlic juice
  • 2 tablespoons of aloe vera

Process

  1. Add aloe vera to the garlic juice.
  2. Apply this to the acne-prone area.
  3. Rinse after 15 minutes

6. Garlic And Honey

Garlic and honey for acne
Image: Shutterstock

Honey is a natural humectant and has anti-microbial properties (7). This remedy is perfect for those with dry skin. You should use this only once a week.

You will need

  • 2 to 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • 1 tablespoon of honey

Process

  1. Crush the garlic cloves and dilute the mixture with water.
  2. Take equal quantities of garlic-water mixture and honey.
  3. Mix them thoroughly and dab the solution over your pimples or acne scars.
  4. Wash after 10 to 15 minutes.

7. Garlic And ACV

ACV has antimicrobial properties that may help treat acne-prone skin (8). However, keep in mind to use diluted ACV on the skin. Undiluted ACV could be too strong for your skin.

You will need

  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of diluted apple cider vinegar

Process

  1. Grind the garlic cloves with ACV.
  2. Strain the mixture with a cheesecloth.
  3. Spread a thin layer of this solution over your acne.
  4. Let it dry for 10 minutes.
  5. Rinse with water.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that drinking garlic water or raw garlic juice may also help clear acne. However, keep in mind that consuming too much garlic has its own risks.

Precautions To Be Taken

Garlic is very strong in nature and can cause a slight burning or stinging sensation when applied to the skin directly. It is recommended to dilute it with water or other ingredients before topical application. Contact a doctor if you notice the following symptoms after applying garlic:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Persistent tingling or burning sensation
  • Allergic reaction, skin irritation, or rash

Garlic is known to interact with various drugs and medications (mentioned below) (9). Keep this in mind before you ingest garlic-based home remedies.

  • Warfarin
  • Antiplatelets
  • Saquinavir
  • Antihypertensives
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Quinolone family of antibiotics such as Ciprofloxacin, and hypoglycemic drugs

Note: Garlic is a potent irritant and can cause severe irritant reactions, especially on sensitive skin. Hence, always dilute garlic juice and never apply it directly. It can be used on an occasional acne breakout, but if you have persistent acne, applying garlic daily can cause irritation, leading to pigmentation, and is hence not advisable.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Applying garlic on your face may leave your skin smelling. Mix 1 teaspoon of salt with 2 tablespoons of baking soda and add water to the mixture to form a paste. Then, scrub your skin and rinse it with soap and water to eliminate the smell.

Infographic: DIY Garlic Face Masks For Acne-Prone Skin

Garlic’s antibacterial and antioxidant properties, combined with the skin-enhancing properties of other ingredients, can work wonders for your overall skin health. We have listed some of the quick yet effective DIY garlic face masks in the infographic below. Check them out.

diy garlic face masks for acne-prone skin (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Garlic may help eliminate acne-causing bacteria and reduce inflammation. However, more clinical studies are needed to prove garlic’s anti-acne properties. Nevertheless, anecdotal evidence supports the use of garlic for acne treatment. If you want to try this remedy, follow the methods discussed in the article. However, remember that it is potent and can cause skin irritation, so use it cautiously and do a patch test before applying it to the skin. Moreover, garlic may interact with a variety of medications when consumed. Therefore, consult a dermatologist before using garlic for treating acne.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can garlic burn your skin?

Yes, garlic contains chemicals such as allicin and allyl propyl disulfide that may cause your skin to burn (10). Avoid applying raw garlic on your face.

Are tomatoes and garlic good for acne?

Yes, using a combination of garlic and tomatoes may be good for your acne. Tomatoes and garlic contain anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that may help soothe and manage acne (2), (11).

Can garlic remove pimples overnight?

There is not enough scientific evidence that suggests garlic may help reduce pimples overnight.

Key Takeaways

  • Garlic has been demonstrated to be effective against acne-causing bacteria.
  • Garlic is used in various ways to treat acne. These include garlic puree, garlic and yogurt, garlic and rosewater, garlic and aloe vera, garlic and honey, and garlic and apple cider vinegar.
  • However, garlic might induce a little burning or stinging sensation when applied directly to the skin. Hence, it is best to dilute it with water or other ingredients.
Garlic for acne

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team


Say goodbye to acne with the power of garlic! This video reveals three simple steps to effectively use garlic for treating acne. Unlock the secrets to clearer skin now!

Personal Experience: Source

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Development And Evaluation Of Anti-acne Gel Containing Garlic (Allium Sativum) Against Propionibacterium Acnes,
    https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Irma-Herawati/publication/318855135_Development_and_evaluation_of_anti-acne_gel_containing_garlic_Allium_sativum_against_Propionibacterium_acnes/links/5eaee37ea6fdcc7050a65150/Development-and-evaluation-of-anti-acne-gel-containing-garlic-Allium-sativum-against-Propionibacterium-acnes.pdf
  2. A Review: Anti-microbial, Anti-inflammatory effect and Cardiovascular
    effects of Garlic: Allium sativum ,
    https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Imad-Hameed/publication/322909963_A_Review_Anti-microbial_Anti-inflammatory_effect_and_Cardiovascular_effects_of_Garlic_Allium_sativum/links/5aa171d30f7e9badd9a43e9d/A-Review-Anti-microbial-Anti-inflammatory-effect-and-Cardiovascular-effects-of-Garlic-Allium-sativum.pdf
  3. The effect of probiotics on immune regulation, acne, and photoaging,
    https://www.mdpi.com/2311-5637/5/2/41/htm
  4. Pharmacological Effects of Rosa Damascena,
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3586833/
  5. Acne-causes And Amazing Remedial Measures For Acne,
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340874478_ACNE-CAUSES_AND_AMAZING_REMEDIAL_MEASURES_FOR_ACNE#:~:text=antiseborrheic%20medications%2C%20anti%2Dandrogen,nicotinamide%2C%20and%20keratolytic%20soaps.&text=mild%20baby%20soap%20and%20water,and%20gently%20pat%20it%20dry.&text=The%20following%20are%20some%20of,may%20influence%20for%20developing%20acne
  6. Aloe Vera: A Short Review,
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2763764/
  7. Medicinal and cosmetic uses of Bees Honey A review,
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3611628/
  8. Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression,
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5788933/
  9. A Review: Anti-microbial, Anti-inflammatory effect and Cardiovascular
    effects of Garlic: Allium sativum,
    https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Imad-Hameed/publication/322909963_A_Review_Anti-microbial_Anti-inflammatory_effect_and_Cardiovascular_effects_of_Garlic_Allium_sativum/links/5aa171d30f7e9badd9a43e9d/A-Review-Anti-microbial-Anti-inflammatory-effect-and-Cardiovascular-effects-of-Garlic-Allium-sativum.pdf
  10. How fast can a naturopathic medicine cause skin burn? a case report of garlic burn
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4883610/#:~:text=One%20of%20the%20most%20commonly
  11. Enhancing the Health-Promoting Effects of Tomato Fruit for Biofortified Food
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3972926/
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Dr. Preethi Nagaraj is the medical director and senior consultant dermatologist at Twacha Skin and Hair Clinic, Kakkanad, Kochi, India, with 11 years of experience. She completed her post-graduation in Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology from the prestigious St. John’s Medical College, Bangalore. She was awarded a training fellowship in pediatric dermatology by the Indian Association of Dermatologists, Venereologists, and Leprologists...read full bio

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