acne mask
Image: Shutterstock/Subbotina Anna

Fighting acne is a lifelong battle for some people. After adolescence, you probably assumed that there was some light at the end of the tunnel. But adult acne is more prevalent that you might realize. 20% of adults struggle with acne, and the total spending on acne products tops over $3 billion annually. You read that right. Billion.

That’s not even factoring in money spent on medical treatments for acne, like visits to the dermatologist or having scars removed. It’s estimated that 20 million Americans have acne-caused scars. So if all that money is being spent to treat acne, why are so many people still dealing with it? Maybe it’s time to take matters into your own hands with a DIY acne mask.

Your acne might respond to some of the DIY treatments listed below. But before you dig in, here are three cautionary notes about treating your acne at home.

  1. Always wash your hands before touching your face. As someone with an acne problem, you need to be extra careful about introducing more bacteria onto your skin. Be especially mindful of times when you’re not actually treating your skin. When you’re leaning on your elbow with your head in the palm of your hand, when you cup your chin in your palm, or even when you brush your hair off your forehead, you’re adding dirt and bacteria to your face with your hands. You don’t have to be perfect, but the less you touch your face with unwashed hands, the better off you’ll be.
  2. Always disinfect tools and cloths before using. If you use a certain cloth or tools on your skin, you should launder the cloth after each use and soak the tools in rubbing alcohol for a few minutes before every use. For best results, only bowls and utensils fresh out of the dishwasher for mixing up the best face masks for acne. This will further keep dirt and bacteria off your skin.
  3. Avoid picking at your face. You’ve heard this a thousand times, but if you have acne pustules on your skin, and you have to go to work or school, chances are you’re going to do it anyway. Be warned though, that picking at your face is the leading cause of acne scars. So if you want that pustule to break, a better option is to prick it gently with a thin, disinfected needle and allow the contents to come out onto a clean tissue. Dab as needed and then cover up with concealer or powder.

Ingredients for DIY Acne Mask

The best acne mask will have ingredients that serve multiple purposes. The ingredients should:

  • Prevent future acne breakouts
  • Minimize the time it takes for existing breakouts to subside
  • Assist in healing the skin for better health, looks and texture

Some natural ingredients for an acne mask that do these functions are:

  • Tea tree essential oil (also called melaleuca oil)
    Buy online or in health food stores where essential oils are sold
  • Witch Hazel
    Available in any drug store
  • Sour cream (yes, the edible kind)
    In your grocer’s dairy aisle (get full fat version)
  • Avocado (or avocado oil)
    In your grocer’s produce aisle (California or Mexico variety is fine)
  • Vitamin E (in liquid or capsule form)
    Available in any drug store
  • Hyaluronic Acid
    Available online as a serum. Be sure to check ingredients for purity.
  • Dead Sea Mud
    Available online. Check the label for purity.
  • Jojoba Oil
    Available in some health foods stores where essential oils are sold, as well as online.

There are other ingredients that can help with acne, too, both natural and chemical. For the best face masks for acne that you can make at home, though, the natural ingredients listed above are best. They’re also easy to source.

Recipes for the Best DIY Acne Mask 

Acne mask recipe 1:

In a small bowl, blend one half mashed avocado with a tablespoon of sour cream. Add 4 drops of vitamin E oil, and 4 drops of tea tree oil. Mix well. Apply a thick layer to the face. Allow to set for 10-15 minutes, or until dry. Rinse with warm water and pat dry.

Acne mask recipe 2:

In a small bowl, blend ¼ Dead Sea Mud with 4 drops of tea tree oil. Add distilled water until the consistency is a paste-like consistency, if the mud is too dry to smoothly apply without tugging at your skin. Apply a thick layer and allow to set for 10-15 minutes until dry. You should see cracks appear in the mud when it’s ready to be rinsed off with warm water. Pat dry.

Acne mask recipe 3:

Before bed, mix about a tablespoon of jojoba oil with a teaspoon of sour cream in a small bowl. Apply in the same manner as you would a cream. Leave on overnight and wash as usual in the morning.

Causes of Acne

When treating your acne at home, it helps to know a little about some of the causes of acne breakouts. Some of them you can control, but others are harder to control.

Hormones can cause acne when they are released in the body. These hormones might come from chronic stress, puberty (hence teenage acne problems) and menstruation (hence those monthly breakouts). You can’t control most of these things, but you can try making lifestyle changes so stress doesn’t factor so much.

Diet can lead to acne. If you suspect this, try keeping a food journal, noting the dates when acne occurs. You might find a surprise connection between eating certain foods and acne appearances.

Hygiene plays a big role. If you’re not washing your hands lots of times per day, you aren’t washing them enough. Your face needs to be cleansed at least twice – once in the morning and once at night.

Excessive oil (sebum) production causes greasy looking skin and acne. Contrary to popular belief, drying your skin up doesn’t help. Your skin will just overproduce to compensate for lost moisture. Instead, use a product like hyaluronic acid to moisten your skin and keep moisture locked in.

Give these treatments at least two weeks, and your skin will start to improve. There are no guarantees, of course, but chances are you will see a noticeable difference.

Do you have a favorite acne mask? Let us know in the comments.

Kate Supino writes from South Florida, where she enjoys the sun, the sea and the sky.