Herbs For Acne: What Science Says And How To Use Them Effectively

Written by Ramona Sinha

Acne responds well to systematic treatment that involves topical and oral medications. While this is true for severe acne, mild and moderate acne often respond well to herbal remedies. These remedies are gentle on the skin and a part of ancient Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic remedies.

Herbal medicines may not give you instant or fast results. But they may help reduce the pain, inflammation, and bacterial growth associated with acne. If you want to give them a try, we have a list of herbs and DIY remedies that you may try at home. Keep reading.

Herbs For Acne: Do They Work?

Herbs For Acne: Do They Work?


Yes. Herbs can help reduce inflammation and kill acne-causing bacteria to improve your condition. While they may not be potent on severe cystic or hormonal acne, herbs can definitely heal mild to moderate acne.

Most of these herbs have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can also maintain your skin’s overall health. However, always do a patch test before using them to avoid allergic reactions. Let’s take a look at the common herbs you can use to heal acne.

Popular Herbs That Can Help Manage Acne

1. Neem

Neem or Azadirachta indica is popularly used in Ayurveda and is considered “sarvaroganivarini” (that which keeps all diseases at bay). This herb is effective against acne-causing bacteria like P. acnes and S. aureus (1). It has anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce redness and swelling associated with acne, and its antioxidant properties help maintain overall skin health.

2. Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel


Witch hazel or Hamamelis virginiana is known for its astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. It contains tannins, polyphenolic biomolecules that have anti-acne and antiseptic effects (2). Tannins are also anti-inflammatory. That explains why witch hazel is a popular ingredient in anti-acne skin care products.

3. Lavender

Lavender is popularly used in aromatherapy for its de-stressing effects. However, the extracts of this fragrant herb can inhibit P. acnes bacteria. Lavender essential oil can help in acne prevention and management as it has anti-inflammatory properties. It is more effective in improving early acne (comedones), minimizing the size of pores, and regulating sebum secretion (3).

4. Red Ginger

Red Ginger


Red ginger is commonly used as an antibacterial agent. A study evaluated the efficacy of an acne lotion formulated with 7.5% red ginger essential oil. It found that red ginger has antibacterial effects against P.acnes and S. epidermis and can control acne inflammation (4).

5. Chamomile

German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) has anti-inflammatory properties. A study found it to be effective against P. acnes bacteria and suitable for use in anti-acne formulations (5).

You can use these herbs or their extracts (like essential oils) in DIY recipes for acne management. Here are a few recipes that you can try at home.

How To Use Herbs For Acne: DIY Remedies

How To Use Herbs For Acne: DIY Remedies


1. Neem And Besan Face Mask

You Will Need

  • 1 tablespoon of besan
  • 1 teaspoon of powdered neem
  • 2 tablespoons of yogurt

How To Use 

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Apply the mask to the affected areas.
  3. Leave it on for 15 minutes.
  4. Wash off with lukewarm water.
  5. Repeat this process twice a week for quick results.

2. Witch Hazel Toner

You Will Need

  • 4 tablespoons of witch hazel solution
  • 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel
  • A few drops of lemon essential oil (optional)
  • Cotton pad (for application)

How To Use

  1. Blend all the ingredients until properly combined.
  2. Pour the mixture into a small spray bottle and refrigerate.
  3. Use it as a toner after cleansing your face.
  4. You can use it daily for best results.

3. Lavender Essential Oil Spot Treatment

You Will Need

  • 16 drops of lavender oil
  • 8 tablespoons of carrier oil (use avocado, sweet almond, jojoba, or olive oils)
  • Cotton ball (for application)

How To Use

  1. Mix the two oils and store the mixture in a dark glass bottle.
  2. Use a cotton ball to apply the mixture to the affected areas.
  3. Apply it once daily before bedtime.

4. Red Ginger And Tumeric Face Mask

You Will Need

  • ½ knob of red ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric


  • 2-3 drops of red ginger essential oil
  • 1 tablespoon of any carrier oil
  • A pinch of turmeric powder

How To Use

  1. Grate the ginger and extract it juice.
  2. Mix with turmeric powder to prepare a paste.
  3. Apply the mixture to the affected area.
  4. Leave it on for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Wash off with lukewarm water.
  6. Use once every day for results.


  1. Mix the two oils.
  2. Apply the mixture to the affected areas.
  3. Leave it on for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Wash off with lukewarm water.
  5. Use it once daily for best results.

5. Chamomile Facial Mist

You Will Need

  • 150 ml chamomile tea
  • 5 tablespoons of rose water (hydrosol)
  • Spray bottle

How To Use

  1. Mix the ingredients in the spray bottle.
  2. Shake well and spritz it on your face.
  3. Do not wash it off.
  4. Use it every day after cleansing.

These are easy, right? However, before you try any of these recipes, remember that herbal or natural never means safe. There are a few associated risks you should be aware of. Find out in the next section.

Risks That Come With Using Herbs For Acne

The most common side effect associated with herbal remedies is allergic reactions. If you are allergic to any of the ingredients, especially essential oils, you may experience:

  • Redness
  • Itchiness
  • Flaking
  • Burning or tingling sensations
  • Rashes
  • Hives

Essential oils may also cause sensitivity and make your skin vulnerable to photodamage. Hence, always use essential oils at night, just to avoid sun exposure. If you are going out, apply sunscreen to lower the risk of sunburn.

Closing Thoughts

Herbal remedies can be a great addition to your skin care routine if your skin is prone to breakouts. Their antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties can reduce mild to moderate acne and minimize the chances of scarring. However, before using them, do a patch test. If you are under medication, consult your doctor before trying alternative treatments.

Frequently Asked Questions

What clears acne naturally?

Herbal extracts may help reduce acne inflammation and redness and clear your skin.

What herbs can be used to cure hormonal acne?

Herbs may not work on hormonal acne. You have to follow systemic treatments involving topical and oral medications. Consult a doctor for guidance.


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. Azadirachta indica in treatment of acne vulgaris-an open-label observational study
  2. Medicinal Plants for the Treatment of Acne Vulgaris: A Review of Recent Evidences
  3. Inhibitory Effect on Acne Using Anti-Bacteria of Lavender Essential Oil in Adolescents
  4. Formulation and Evaluation of Anti-Acne Lotion Containing Red Ginger (Zingiber officinalle Roscoe) Essential Oil
  5. Anti-bacterial and antioxidant strategies for acne treatment through plant extracts
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Ramona is a journalist-turned-content writer. She holds a Master’s degree in English Literature and has been writing for the digital world for over five years. She specializes in writing for Skin Care. She has done a certificate course titled ‘Dermatology: Trip To The Skin’, offered by Novosibirsk State University. She believes that beauty begins with a good skin care regimen and is on a mission to eliminate all toxins from her routine. She helps and guides readers in selecting products and ingredients specific to their skin type/issue. When Ramona is not working, her books and passion for music, good food, and traveling keep her busy.