Benzoyl peroxide. Salicylic acid. These are two of the most popular zit-zapping ingredients on the market today… but is it just me, or do “peroxide” and “acid” not sound like things you want to put on your delicate, already-irritated face?
Obviously, a word is just a word — just because it’s scary-sounding doesn’t mean it’s bad — but in the case of benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, there is some cause for concern. The star ingredients of drugstore spot treatments (you can find them in Neutrogena On-the-Spot Acne Treatment and Clean & Clear Clear Days Ahead Fast-Acting Acne Spot Treatment) are known irritants. In other words: Yes, they take a pimple down like that… but they may also cause the skin around the pimple to become red, dry out, and develop an inflammatory reaction. And that’s the last thing anyone who’s already dealing with an about-to-burst blemish wants, right?
Enter: Mother Nature. (She always knows best, after all.) These three totally natural ingredients also make effective spot treatments — and they’re safe enough to use wherever and whenever you need.
This is, without a doubt, the sweetest way to kill a pimple. Manuka honey comes from New Zealand, and is made by bees that pollinate the native Manuka bushes. Something about this bush gives the resulting honey off-the-charts antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, and the substance has been used by native New Zealand tribes for literally thousands of years to heal open wounds. Even modern hospitals use Manuka honey to treat skin issues!
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To use it as a spot treatment, just dab a fingertip’s worth of honey on to the affected area and let it sit for 20 minutes. The Manuka’s antibacterial properties will get to work immediately to help kill any acne-causing bacteria. Sure, it’s a little sticky (and a little expensive, honestly), but it’s worth it.
You don’t need to look further than your kitchen cabinet to find a good spot treatment. Turmeric, the famed Indian spice, has all the anti-inflammatory and skin-brightening power you need. Simply mix a teaspoon of turmeric with a few drops of water, rose water, or honey (you can even combine it with the aforementioned Manuka honey) until it develops a paste-like consistency. Dab it on any active pimples and wait 30 minutes. Swelling should go down and redness should fade by then, but you can leave this on as long as you like.
Tea Tree Oil
Granted, honey and turmeric aren’t ideal for overnight use (your pillow definitely won’t appreciate them). In this case, tea tree oil is a great alternative. As an essential oil, tea tree has concentrated antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and it also helps balance any excess oil that may be triggering your breakouts. It is powerful, though, so you never want to put pure tea tree oil on your face. Instead, dilute it with a milder “carrier oil” (for instance, coconut oil or olive oil — again, the kitchen is your face’s best friend!). Mix one drop of tea tree oil with three drops of carrier oil, and apply the mixture to spots. You’ll wake up with fewer pimples — and no extra irritation.