At-Home Acne Treatments

I look at DIY recipes and skincare hacks all the time. Some of them can be just silly, some are interesting, and others should probably come with a warning that says "may ruin your face." There's nothing wrong with making a homemade face mask or serum if you do them correctly but they aren't always as cost effective and easy as they seem. 

At-home "hacks" or DIY recipes definitely have their pros and cons. If you do your research you can make effective products like moisturizers, masks, and serums from home. This would seem like an obvious route but, if you're like me, you also take into account time, overall cost, and preservation. Realistically, the amount you would spend buying all the items you would need to make a single product is most likely not going to save you money. Perhaps it may seem cost effective because you're making a larger batch of a single product but then factors like shelf life and its effectiveness over time come into play. 

The time it takes to make some of these products just for it to have a really short shelf life (some even just a day) really does make them a little pointless for the most part.

This doesn't make them necessarily bad for your skin. There are many quick and easy face masks you can make at home that are perfectly safe for your skin. Ingredients like honey, turmeric, and avocado all have properties that make them effective in certain skincare. However, when it comes to acne treatments there are so many cost effective and gentle products that are now available you shouldn't have to resort to looking for a solution in your bottom cupboard.  

So, that being said, I want to talk about some common household items that really should be left for what they were designed for and off your breakouts. 


Why do we see people use toothpaste as a spot treatment? Historically, toothpaste contained an antibacterial agent called triclosan. This was the ingredient that gave toothpaste the reputation that it was a powerful spot treatment. However, triclosan highly restricted as an ingredient in antiseptic washes and now most commercially available toothpaste no longer contain triclosan. 

But why are people are still saying toothpaste works? Toothpaste has many ingredients like Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and baking soda that are very drying. It may give the appearance that it's working but it's just drying out your skin. It's also likely to cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation which is going to be more difficult to remove than the spot in the first place. 

What is toothpaste good for: Literally just your teeth and maybe cleaning a stain. There’s a lot of ingredients in toothpaste that are great for oral health but really are too harsh for skin. So keep that toothpaste in your mouth and off your face.

Lemon juice 

Lemons contain citric acid. This is the chemical that gives lemons their strong, sour taste but it can also cause reactions if a person applies it directly on their skin. Most cleansers geared towards acne will have a pH of about 4.5 - 6. Lemon juice is very acidic and has a pH of about 2. This acidity can cause serious damage to your moisture barrier which can cause redness and dryness.

Some potential risks of using lemons on the skin include:
irritation and a stinging sensation
increased skin sensitivity to sunlight

Most people believe that lemon juice is good for your skin because of its Vitamin C content. However, when squeezing a fresh lemon you don’t actually know any of the concentrations you may be getting. The levels of Vitamin C is also going to be determined by factors like ripeness and where it’s from. Not to mention fresh lemons aren’t cheap and buying lemon juice can also contain other preservatives and ingredients that may be irritating. 

At the end of the day you're most likely better off spending money on a product containing vitamin C rather than rolling the dice on a lemon.  

Essential Oils

Truthfully essential oils are more likely going to be more harm than good. Especially if you are mixing your own concentrations. When diluting your essential oils for use they need to be a concentration of 1% or lower or else it could cause severe irritation. 

Tea Tree oil is a common ingredient in acne treatments because it is naturally antibacterial, as well as an anti-inflammatory. However, tea tree oil is not a great option for people with sensitive skin or people who are prone to eczema. Also, applying it directly to your skin without a carrier oil is going to be irritating and drying. One last thing to be cautious of is most carrier oils also have the potential to make your skin break out further. 

It’s probably best to find other options outside of essential oils for acne treatments. If you do like Tea Tree Oil you most likely already have it incorporated in one of your products. 

Baking Soda

Some people claim that baking soda is a great exfoliant and can reduce the appearance of pores. This couldn't be more wrong. Much like the argument against lemon juice, baking soda is highly alkaline, and it has a pH balance of about 8. Applying a large amount directly to your skin is going to be very irritating and drying which is going to cause redness and flaky skin. 

Is baking soda entirely bad? No. Baking soda is still present in some skincare but usually can be found in most natural deodorants. It can still be irritating in small amounts to some but still works for others. I wouldn't recommend it for really sensitive pits. 

Baking soda is definitely not recommended for active acne or acne scar treatments. 

Green Tea/Tea Bags

Green Tea is a powerful antioxidant and is also known for it's anti-bacterial properties. But how does it perform on acne? Green tea has great anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce the redness of a spot. You do have to be careful with the heat of the tea bag. Make sure the bag is room temperature if you want to apply it to your skin or else you can burn your skin or dry out your face.

Are there way better things you can be using on your spot? Most definitely. Most studies I found on using green tea topically suggests that it has more value in anti-aging products and as an antioxidant. If you are going to use a tea bag in your at-home treatment you may see better results using it under your eyes. The caffeine in black and green teas may help reduce the appearance of puffy eyes. 

Spot Treatments 

 Looking for spot treatments we carry? Here's some links below:




*I know this is a masque but I often use it as a spot treatment.

Thanks so much for reading!

This blog was just meant to highlight a few spot treatments. If you have more severe acne issues or have any questions about our products book a consultation



Government of Canada. (2019, August 23). Triclosan. Government of Canada.

U.S. Food And Drug. (2019, May 16). 5 Things to Know About Triclosan. FDA.

Healthline. (2018, June 28). Can I Use Toothpaste on Pimples? Healthline.

Healthline. (2019, May 28). Could Using Green Tea for Acne Be Your Key to Clear Skin? Healthline.

National Library of Medicine. (n.d.). Sodium Bicarbonate. National Library of Medicine.

1 comment

Love the blog, Elsie! <3

Jessica Hetherington January 11, 2021

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