I have been plagued with bad skin my entire life and my ego is permanently scarred.
The middle school years are mostly to blame. Between trying to fit in at a new school, braces and puberty, the fact that my face looked like a walking pepperoni pizza was devastating. While I made it through the first three, acne has continued to be an issue even as a grown adult.
As a young adult, it spread from my face to my back. While pregnant, it returned with a vengeance after the pregnancy glow wore off. Which repeated itself with baby #2 as well.
Even now, my skin still has issues. When I’m struggling with sleep or stressing over issues beyond my control, you can see it in my face. Literally.
However, after 20+ years of trying more “perfect acne solutions” than either one of us can count, I have finally figured out the secret to healing acne naturally the other 40 weeks out of the year.
Now, I am by no means claiming to be a skin expert or even telling you that my solution is the perfect solution. However, I am telling you that this works. I have tried all sorts of washes, scrubs, ointments, lotions and even pills, but I know I’m not alone in this struggle. So my hope is that you find inspiration through what worked for me, and I sincerely hope it works for you too!
6 Easy and Frugal Steps to Healing Acne Naturally
1. Switch to Real Food
There’s quite the controversy out there about the association between food and acne. Chocolate causes break outs… no wait, it doesn’t.
Greasy foods cause break outs… no wait, that doesn’t do it either.
No matter what food is claimed to be “directly” related to acne, this we know for certain: What you eat does effect your body, for good and for bad.
Did you know that your skin is the largest organ of your body? There’s your science lesson for the day folks, and deductive reasoning concludes that your skin is part of your body – therefore, what you eat effects your skin too. So then the elephant in the room begs us to ask:
How can we expect to have clean skin when we eat dirty food?
Simply put, we can’t.
Those deliciously salty and crunchy tortilla chips that I crave now and then are at fault too.
When we eat junk, our bodies try to rid the icky stuff anyway it can. It could be inflammation, headaches, diarrhea, constipation… or acne. Yes, the process of your skin getting rid of harmful toxins through the pores of your skin can cause skin irritation and breakouts.
The first step to healing acne-prone skin is by changing the diet. Those people who claim green smoothies “work wonders” for their skin aren’t kidding – it’s all the nutrients they’re getting in just the one glass! Daily smoothies are a great place to start, but so is making just one switch, like reaching for a homemade (extra salty) pretzel instead of the processed chips.
2. Use a Natural Cleanser
I used to think that brand name cleansers were the best, until my skin never really got better just by using such-and-such cleanser. It took many years to come to the conclusion that the cleansers designed with “all these amazing” ingredients could actually be hurting my skin, instead of helping it.
I liken skin care to food allergies. Some people have reactions to certain ingredients in food, like MSG or artificial colors, right? So why couldn’t our skin react to ingredients in cleansers too?
And since it’s hard to really narrow down what particular ingredient is causing the problem, it’s best to use products with the least amount of ingredients possible.
Commercial soaps and cleansers made their way to the trash can and were replaced with a simple bar of goat’s milk soap. Goat’s milk contains lactic acid, which helps keep the pH level of the soap at a level closer to that of skin, making it less likely to irritate the skin or cause adverse reactions. The production of goat’s milk soap also tends to be a more natural process, so you don’t have all the weird ingredients or additives that you’ll find with traditional cleansers.
To add icing to the cake, goat’s milk soap is VERY affordable. I bought a 3-pack of soap back in May for $4 and I’m STILL on the first bar. At this rate, it’ll be just $4 for the entire year… which is WAY cheaper than any specialty cleanser I’ve ever purchased in the past.
Update: Since that original soap purchase, I’ve tested another brand that has just three simple ingredients and is even gentler on my skin. Read more about my brand recommendation HERE.
3. Use a Natural Exfoliator
I’m sure you guys have heard how exfoliating works: Exfoliating helps to refine the skin, shed dead skin cells and reveal smoother, finer, clearer skin underneath… blah blah blah.
Being the typical acne-prone teenage girl, I bought into the hype and started exfoliating before I could drive. You know those cleansers with the little beads? That was agent #1 in my skin care arsenal and all was fine and dandy until earlier this year when I noticed my skin breaking out outside of the normal cycle… and it was NOT healing within a few days.
Folks, we’re talking MONTHS of painful, red bumps that appeared to be clogged pores, but no matter what I did, they simply would not go away!
Then one day I had an epiphany and considered the fact that maybe my skin was clogged with something other than the naturally occurring oils. So I took a needle, made a tiny hole and squeezed. Plain as day out popped a tiny, hard, white bead that was from my exfoliating soap!
My seemingly harmless soap was doing a pretty good job of sabotaging my skin if you ask me. Those little beads are so tiny that I didn’t notice when I applied my makeup. Then within a few hours, my skin had already started to regenerate and form new skin over the beads. Sure enough, within a week I’d have another new shiny red bump to add to the collection.
As soon as it became clear that the exfoliating cleanser was the culprit, it got the boot too. It was replaced with a super simple device: a washcloth.
Within one week my skin improved greatly as time went on, the painful bumps cleared up and stopped coming back. I now keep the washcloth in the shower with me, and use it every other day to scrub gently while washing.
My natural exfoliation method is pretty affordable too – free!
Side note: If your kids take baths where you shower, be sure to swap your washcloth for a new one often. My kids like to use the washcloth while they bathe, but my face is sensitive to the even the small remnants body wash left on the washcloth.
4. Switch to a More Natural or Better Yet, Homemade Lotion
Everything I had done up until this point had greatly improved my skin, but it was still problematic. It never looked clear or smooth. The major breakouts had greatly reduced, but my skin still always looked a bit ruddy, like a mirror that someone cleaned with a dirty rag. It was skin obviously, but something wasn’t quite right…
In my head I did a mental checklist of everything in my normal routine that had changed:
- Morning soap? Check.
- Evening soap? Check.
- Lotion? Oh wait.
This was about the time I started making my own tinted moisturizer and realized the amazingness of Redmond Clay. I mean, I already knew first-hand how awesome it was in cleaning and whitening teeth – first when we switched to this clay-based toothpaste and then when we started making our own homemade replica version.
But there was a disconnect somewhere.
A – the body uses the skin to rid itself of harmful toxins
B – Redmond Clay draws out harmful toxins through the skin
See the relation? Once I connected the dots between the two and added Redmond Clay to my homemade tinted moisturizer, my skin was so much clearer, and for the first time in a really long time, pretty! That’s a really big statement coming from my skin’s worst critic – me.
My homemade tinted moisturizer is now part of my daily morning routine. At night, I moisturize with this facial lotion bar since there’s still a little bit left (and you really only need a pea-sized amount), but when it’s gone, I plan to make another batch of moisturizer with Redmond Clay and essential oils, just minus the colors.
5. Switch to a More Natural, or Homemade Makeup
It seems like such an insignificant thing – the powder you put on your face that mostly falls off before the day is half way over – but this too made a huge improvement on my skin.
In honesty, it was probably a combination between adding homemade foundation powder TO my routine and taking the traditional commercial foundation OUT. Nonetheless, my skin continued to improve despite my wearing make-up every day and NOT washing it off at night.
I know, here’s my clearly problematic face and I’m breaking the #1 beauty rule of washing your face before you go to bed at night?!
Yes indeed I am, because I figure this: My face is no longer covered with junky makeup. It’s being moisturized, soothed and healed with coconut oil, lavender oil and tea tree oil while the toxins are gently being drawn out with clay. Is it really a big deal to go to bed with a bit of nutmeg and cocoa powder on my face? No!
Again honesty here, part of my not washing my face is laziness. BUT, being the good little blogger that I am, I did experiment and not wash my face at night for a few weeks, just to see if it really made a difference…
And you know what? It didn’t. Since not washing doesn’t hurt, I’m okay with be a bit lazy in the face washing department.
6. Add a Weekly Detoxifying Clay Mask to Your Beauty Routine
Last, but certainly not least, this clay mask is my new heavy hitter in my skin care arsenal. Because it’s simply hydrated clay, it’s so gentle on the skin. At the same time, that powerful clay draws out the toxins and leaves behind skin that is SO soft, and so clean!
When my skin is struggling, this clay mask comes to the rescue and speeds up the healing process. It is so effective actually, that Mr. Crumbs uses it too!
He had some persistently clogged pores so one night we used the mask together while playing memory with the kids. Then a couple of weeks later, he had a particularly painful pimple on his nose that was taking its sweet ‘ol time to heal. One application of the mask and within 24 hours, the swollen red bump had shrunken and the next day, it was gone!
A note on Redmond Clay products: I get asked all the time about the Proposition 65 and lead warnings on the Redmond Clay label. I did some research and found out about why its on there. Read about it here.
Making The Natural Beauty Routine Affordable
Much of what I’ve done to heal my acne has been free or very inexpensive:
- real food from the kitchen (and already accounted for in my budget)
- $1.25 for a bar of soap that lasts 3+ months
- washcloth from the closet (which was actually a Christmas gift)
- homemade tinted moisturizer costs just 20¢/month
- homemade powdered foundation is just 25¢/month
The only true “expense” I’ve come across in this healing acne adventure is the clay itself since you have to buy it upfront, although this 10 oz bottle is by far the most affordable I’ve seen. Considering one tub of clay will likely last you several months, the $8.50 is REALLY a good deal, especially since it does triple duty as moisturizer, foundation AND clay mask.
Well, quadruple duty really, if you count the toothpaste.
If you compare it to the cost of one bottle of the old exfoliating cleanser I used to buy each month, well then, we’re actually SAVING money by going with an all-natural skin care routine. Who knew the DIY all-natural route would be the most cost effective!
Do you struggle with acne or other skin issues? Have you tried Redmond Clay in your beauty routine?
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Redmond Trading, which has been a part of my beauty routine long before this post idea was born. As always, I would never recommend anything on Crumbs that I wouldn’t recommend to a close friend or neighbor, and all opinions here are my own. This post contains affiliate links. By making a purchase through those links, I will earn commission that helps to keep the lights on in the Crumbs house – with no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Crumbs in this way. Read my full disclosure statement here.