5 Chemical-Free DIY Facials That Help Control Acne

In my lengthy experience with acne, I’ve come to learn the simplest recipes are often the most effective treatments. Luckily, that hasn’t stopped me from trying out decadent skin care applications because there are a handful of acne cleansing recipes that are totally effective and you don’t have to be a gourmet chef or chemist to make these recipes on your own.

Preventing acne can be all about habits and cleansing routine, but breakouts can happen to even the most committed if their cleansing source is sub-par. Some attributes of a poor face cleanser would be those that are too harsh in ingredients containing irritants like fragrance and sulfates, others could be that it’s just not doing its job cleaning bacteria and dirt out of pores, but for my own personal acne-struggle, it’s usually that products are too drying, causing additional pimples and breakouts.

When you're making your own skin care products, consider the state of your skin, consider what has and hasn’t worked for you in the past, and also consider swapping out ingredients that have historically wreaked havoc on your skin — this is always hard for even myself to remember. I’ll make an order for a client that has severe acne and let my skin eat the leftovers to avoid wasting product, but sometimes those treatments are too harsh for my face and I end up sacrificing clear skin in an attempt to save the planet. Fortunately, my efforts aren’t all in vain because I’ve been able to identify some of the more versatile botanicals for clearing up mild to moderate acne.

These five DIY cleansers can help prevent and fight acne while respecting your natural oil production and budget.

1. Tomato & Charcoal Mask

Kristin Collins Jackson

For this recipe, you'll need the following:

  • 1 teaspoon of dried tomatoes, ground
  • 1 ounce of charcoal powder
  • 3/4 ounce of distilled water

Sometimes an OTC product inspires a DIY facial that ends up being the answer to a breakout. This recipe is a take on YesTo's tomato mask and it's so easy to make. Tomatoes have lightening properties to lift scars from acne and charcoal's natural viscosity can pull acne-causing bacteria to the surface. Start with dried tomatoes which you can dry yourself. You'll basically be working with sundried tomatoes that are unsalted and unseasoned. Grind the tomatoes up as fine as you like (I like to powder mine down completely using a electronic grinder). Add the tomato powder to dry charcoal and mix well manually. Dilute with warm water to reach a smooth consistency and apply on damp, makeup-free skin. Let the mask dry on your face before rinsing with warm water.  

Yes To Tomatoes Skin Clearing Face Mask, $9, Amazon

2. Sweet Banana Daily Cleanser

Kristin Collins Jackson

Bananas are one of my favorite acne solutions — the stimulating nutrients have always helped to bring down inflammation in even the most painful blemishes and Manuka honey's pH balancing properties keep my natural oil production flowing which is important in acne-prone skin. Control the oil, but don't stop the oil all-together.

There are plenty of ways to make this cleanser. The quickest way is to use half a peeled banana, add honey, and use a blender to mix them together, but the drawback is that the cleanser will be highly perishable. The other way is you can follow the method from above and dry, sliced bananas,powder them and add to the honey. I've made effective cleansers out of both, but love the consistency of powder and honey on my face. Whatever method you choose, add 1/4 teaspoon of organic turmeric powder to enhance your acne-controlling experience.

3. Blueberry Coffee Scrub

Kristin Collins Jackson

Coffee is no doubt one of the pioneer ingredients of natural skincare and it's so easy to work with, you need not look to a fancy label to make a facial scrub that will stimulate circulation while exfoliating your pores, coffee has antioxidants. Add organic blueberries for even more antioxidants and to support an even skin tone. I like to work with both of these ingredients dry, using a teaspoon of dried blueberries and 2 tablespoons of freshly ground coffee. Then I add brewed, coffee grinds until I reach a wet, thick consistency where I can keep the mask on for a few minutes.

Next, gently massage onto your face and neck before rinsing with lukewarm water. Add 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg or clove powder for a more stimulating mask, but be sure to do a test patch on the inside of your elbow because both spices can be irritating. Remember: less is always more when working with strong, antiseptic ingredients for the first time.

4. Fenugreek & Frankincense Exfoliating Powder

Kristin Collins Jackson

For this recipe you'll need the following:

  • 1 ounce of frankincense powder
  • 1 ounce of fenugreek powder
  • 1 ounce of arrowroot powder
  • 1 ounce of sandalwood powder
  • 4 drops of carrot seed oil
  • 6 drops of sweet orange essential oil
  • 4 drops of cardamom essential oil
  • 10 drops of ylang ylang essential oil

I love exfoliating powders for their shelf-life: I prefer dry and powder fresh ingredients for preventing acne because it can take a couple of weeks to start seeing results. When treating a blemish on-site, you should see immediate results (that's the point) and won't need to keep fresh botanicals for weeks at a time.

For this recipe, I combined frankincense powder, fenugreek powder, and arrowroot powder; alternatively, you can use powdered adzuki beans, baking soda, or other ingredients you've found effective for your skin. Make about 4 ounces of powder and then add essential oils in a sealable, tinted container. Shake well. Apply with water once a week on makeup free, damp skin. This mask is amazing for cystic acne and moderate to severe breakouts.

5. Seaweed & Clay Facial

  • 1/2 dry, seaweed sheet - unflavored, unseasoned, and unsalted
  • 1/2 tsp finely ground, Himalayan Pink Sea Salt
  • 1 teaspoon of aloe vera water
  • 1 tablespoon of bentonite clay
  • 2 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
  • 15 drops of grapefruit essential oil
  • 13 drops of lavender essential oil

I thoroughly love seaweed facials, but the scent is so strong, I often can't bear to wear the mask for more than a few seconds. It's been my dream to find a way to cleanse with seaweed more often to keep my pores clean and my complexion clear. Finally, this seaweed and clay facial has showed promise for controlling my acne. In a large bowl, soak the seaweed sheet in a half cup of distilled water for about five minutes. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and transfer to a blender. Turn the blender on for about 30 seconds and transfer to a tinted, sealable container. Add essential oils and apply weekly on damp, makeup free skin for up to five minutes.