8 Best Organic + Natural Skincare Products for Acne

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8 Best Organic + Natural Skincare Products for Acne

In a hurry? Here are our top picks:


ZELEN Life Moisturizer


ALKAITIS Organic Soothing Gel

In this article, we are going to focus on a condition that many of us struggle with: Acne.

Instead of focusing on a particular kind of product, we will review the best organic acne skincare products currently available on the market—including a moisturizer, cleanser, serum, mask, body wash, acne treatment kits, and more.

We are reviewing a complete routine of the best natural and organic acne treatments to help fight skin blemishes from head to toe.

Many people with acne-prone or oily skin are unaware that one of the most important tools for fighting breakouts is a quality oil-control moisturizer.

Our ZELEN Life Moisturizer uses jojoba and calendula oils to hydrate and nourish your skin while balancing your natural oils to help control breakouts. Clary sage, combined with the calendula oil, helps to soothe and protect your skin from bacteria and inflammation, which reduces the appearance of blemishes and redness on your skin.

Our gentle, yet powerful formula of natural ingredients is free of harmful chemicals like parabens, sulfates, petrochemicals, and fragrances. Thus, it can hydrate and protect acne-prone skin without the irritation and damage that comes from synthetic and harmful compounds. All of our ingredients are naturally sourced, organic, and effective for controlling acne.

Creating a complete skincare routine that’s specifically targeted to treat your underlying conditions can be a tricky and time-consuming process. That is why we have put together this comprehensive list for you.

When changing your skincare routine, you want to make sure to add, remove, or swap only one product at a time and give it a few weeks for your skin to adjust—check further down this article for more tips on how to improve your routine.

Changing only one product at a time and giving it a few weeks so that you can see its effects will provide you with a complete picture of how your skin reacts to each product. If you change more than one product, there will be no way to tell which change caused which effect.

All of the advice provided here is meant for your information only and should not be substituted for medical advice. If you have tried over-the-counter treatments and they have proven ineffective, seek medical advice from your primary healthcare provider or a board-certified dermatologist.

Quick summary

bb2-table__imageZELEN Life Moisturizer
  • Jojoba regulates oil (sebum) levels on skin
  • Antibacterial properties restricts p.acnes growth
  • Natural anti-inflammatory calms breakouts
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bb2-table__imageDR. ALKAITIS Organic Soothing Gel
  • Organic seaweed controls inflammation
  • Rich in essential fatty acids and vitamin C
  • Reduces bacterial growth
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bb2-table__imageHey Honey Don’t Miss A Spot Propolis Cleansing Foam
  • Propolis restore skin pH and has healing benefits
  • Plant extracts calm inflammation
  • Controls breakouts by fighting bacteria
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bb2-table__imageJuice Beauty Blemish Clearing Serum
  • Willow bark promotes fast skin absorption
  • Aloe vera heals wounds and scars
  • AHAs & BHAs pulls dead skin cells and oils from skin
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bb2-table__imageSunday Riley Saturn Mask
  • Bentonite clay and sulfur mattifies skin
  • Zinc and B vitamins reduce redness
  • Sulfur kills bacteria, gentle action
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bb2-table__imageNEOGEN Dermalogy Bio Peel Gauze Peeling Pads
  • Eliminates impurities and sebum to reduce breakouts
  • Citrus and papaya give gentle exfoliation
  • B vitamins encourage even skin tone and texture
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bb2-table__imageMurad Acne Body Wash
  • Gentle yet powerful triple-action exfoliation
  • Reduces acne breakouts on the body
  • Soothes irritated, acne prone skin
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bb2-table__imageMario Badescu Acne Control Kit
  • A complete acne-care regimen
  • Great variety, find what works
  • Packed with natural acne fighting ingredients
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Before you buy: 5 Things to consider when purchasing skincare products for acne

As one of the most common skin conditions in the world, there is a large body of research and advice available. There is far too much for us to cover here, but what we will discuss in this section will help you assess your acne and pinpoint its cause. Armed with this information, you will be better able to make decisions on how to manage your acne when purchasing skincare products.

1. Understand acne & what causes it

Everyone gets zits now and then. Clinically, these are referred to as comedones. Comedones are the whitehead or blackhead lesions (blemishes) that appear on our skin. If this is a chronic problem that extends beyond the occasional blemish, we call it acne.

Assess whether you need acne-targeted products

If you only get the occasional blemish, then you don’t necessarily need products targeted at acne. If you have oily skin, then some of them may also be helpful to remove excess oil and mattify. But for other skin types, they may be too harsh.

Assess what type of blemishes you have

While most cases of acne consist of patches of whitehead or blackheads, several other types of skin lesions can occur. Determining the type of blemish will help you figure out what product(s) will best treat your acne.

Types of skin lesions (blemishes)[1]:

  • Whitehead: small bump with a white cap, these comedones are closed at the surface
  • Blackhead: small bump with a black cap, these comedones are open allowing the oxygen to oxidize the infection turning it black
  • Papules: small, red, often tender bumps
  • Pustules: papules that have a pus-filled tip, they look like whiteheads, but they are red and inflamed
  • Nodules: large, solid, usually painful lumps beneath the skin surface
  • Cystic lesion: large, pus-filled lumps beneath the skin’s surface that are usually painful

Note which type or types of blemishes you have as we are going to cover a variety of over-the-counter acne treatments that can help ease the symptoms of certain types of acne. However, nodules and cystic lesions often require the attention of a medical professional such as your primary healthcare provider or a specialist such as a board-certified dermatologist. Even milder forms of acne consisting of blackheads and whiteheads may require medical attention if self-care remedies are ineffective.

Don’t buy harsh soaps or scrubs for daily use

It is a common myth that hygiene (dirty skin) is the cause of acne. This is not true; however, many people buy harsh cleansers or soaps that strip the skin of its natural oil and destroy its protective barrier to remove dirt and unclog pores. Other people will scrub their skin with great vigor or wash it multiple times per day. All of these can result in dry, irritated skin that is left with no barrier to protect it. Not only does this bring further issues with irritated skin, but it can also worsen the symptoms of acne.

Keep this in mind while shopping:

You want to avoid harsh cleansers and soaps. Treat your skin gently and understand your acne’s cause to find the best organic acne treatment for your condition.

So, if dirty skin is not the cause of acne, what is?

Your skin is covered in pores, which are the openings to follicles out of which hair grows. Below this opening is a sebaceous (oil) gland. The gland release sebum (oil), which travels up the hair and out onto the surface of your skin, creating a protective barrier that keeps impurities out and moisture in. Or, that is how it is intended to work. However, there are a few issues that can occur in this process, which can lead to blemishes or breakouts.

Issues with sebum secretion that lead to acne[2]:

  • Oily skin: Excess sebum (oil) production traps dead skin cells that would typically rise to the surface and be shed to become trapped in the pore leading to the formation of blemishes.
  • Bacterial infection: Bacteria (known as acnes) may find its way into the clogged pore and multiply rapidly, leading to red, inflamed bumps. When this bacterial infection works its way deeper into the skin, it can cause cystic lesions or nodules to form.
  • Fungal infection: Fungal acne (called Pityrosporum folliculitis or Malassezia folliculitis) is caused by the natural yeast found on our skin. This yeast follows the same path as the bacteria above, working its way into our pores, leading to breakouts. Fungal acne is often misdiagnosed as bacterial acne, and thus, it can go mistreated for years or even decades, leading to persisting chronic acne. Fungal acne has been classically hard to treat because of common misdiagnose.

Depending on which type of blemishes you have (whiteheads, papules, nodes, etc.) and the cause of your acne (oily skin, bacteria, yeast), you will need to look for different ingredients targeted to treat that blemish and its cause. We will review this more below in the Types of Skincare Products for Acne section.

2. Determine the severity of your acne

One of the first things a dermatologist will do when you see them for acne treatment is to rate the severity of your acne on a scale of 1 (least severe) to 4 (extremely severe).[3]

While such classification requires proper training and expertise, we will give you some information that can help you judge whether you should treat your acne with self-care remedies or seek the help of a medical professional.

Three factors may lead you to seek the help of a healthcare professional rather than over-the-counter treatments:

  • Persistent acne that does not respond to non-prescription treatments: If you have tried several treatments that you can purchase without a prescription, it is time to seek the help of your general health practitioner or a specialist (dermatologist).
  • If your acne covers a large area or you have a high number of cystic lesions or nodules: This could be the sign of a deeper issue that will likely require supervised prescription treatments.
  • Your acne is causing scars or the appearance of dark spots: acne can lead to scarring and discoloration. If you experience either of these, you should consult a dermatologist.

3. Look for oil-free and oil-control products

When buying skincare products to use on areas of your skin that suffer from acne, you want to limit the amount of heavy cream and oil-based products you are using. This includes moisturizers and makeup. Instead, you want to look for products that are oil-free and help control your skin’s natural oil production. This can reduce the addition of unneeded oil and the amount of sebum (your skin’s natural oil) that your sebaceous glands produce. We will talk more about these types of ingredients below.

4. If you are currently using topical or ingested acne medications don’t add over-the-counter treatments without consulting your healthcare professional

Well, that was a mouthful of a title, but it needs to be stated simply. If you are already using a medication provided by a doctor, do not add further over-the-counter treatments that contain ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide—two of the most common ingredients in skincare products targeting acne-prone and oily skin types unless you consult a healthcare professional.

Over-the-counter products can interact with the treatment that your doctor or healthcare professional has prescribed. Always consult with them before changing your skincare routine.

5. Consider what products you need

Depending on the severity of your acne, you may need to switch your cleanser and moisturizer, or you may need to add products like toners or specific acne treatment creams or serums.

Everyone, not just those with acne, should use a cleanser and moisturizer twice per day. If you have more severe acne, add in a toner, more severe still, add a specialized acne treatment.

Apply them in this order (leaving out any product categories you do not use):

  1. Cleanser
  2. Toner
  3. Acne Treatment
  4. Moisturizer

Now that you are familiar with these top-5 considerations to keep in mind while purchasing the best all-natural skincare products for acne, we can get into the product reviews!

The 8 best organic and natural skincare products for acne

1. ZELEN Life Moisturizer

ZELEN Life Moisturizer

Best features:

  • Oil-control
  • Inflammation reduction
  • Antibacterial

Best for:

This moisturizer is best suited to those whose acne is related to excess oil (sebum) on their skin.


Our Zelen Life moisturizer uses jojoba, calendula, and clary sage to replace the hydration and moisture lost from cleansing, which helps to maintain and protect your skin’s natural barrier.

Jojoba oil is very similar to our body’s natural oil called sebum. This similarity means that it is excellent at hydrating skin while maintaining the protective barrier that works to keep your skin healthy throughout the day. The chemical proximity to sebum also makes this moisturizer great for oily skin as it can reduce the amount of natural oil your skin produces. Jojoba oil is also non-comedogenic, which means it does not clog your pores.3 All of this equates to a moisturizer that can keep your skin soft and supple while reducing sebum production and keeping pores clear.

Jojoba oil can also help regulate skin hormones, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as speed up the healing process of the skin, promoting the repair of any damage your skin may have endured from inflammatory acne.

All of these factors make jojoba one of the best ingredients to control oil and reduce breakouts.

Calendula oil reduces inflammation, diminishing the redness you see on your face from acne inflammation. It also pulls moisture into your skin and forms a barrier that locks in that hydration.[4] This potent plant extract also provides a bit of SPF protection, which, combined with a sunscreen, will protect your skin from damaging UVA and UVB rays.[4] Finally, it has antioxidants that eliminate damaging free radicals.[6]

Clary sage has also been included to reduce inflammation further. It also acts as a powerful antioxidant, antibacterial, and anticarcinogenic ingredient to help protect and heal your skin from sun damage and prevent bacterial acne breakouts.[7]

Finally, the essential fatty acids in this formula help to provide your skin with the building blocks it needs to repair collagen and elastin to reduce fine line and wrinkles.[8]

The good:

  • Jojoba oil helps to replace the natural oil that is stripped away from washing; this helps prevent your skin from producing an excess
  • Antibacterial compounds help to kill acnes preventing bacterial breakouts
  • Several anti-inflammatory compounds soothe inflamed skin and reduce redness

Things to think about:

  • Might not be strong enough for those with excessively dry skin
  • Calendula might increase sebum production in a small section of the population

Bottom line:

If you have oily skin and acne, this is going to be the best moisturizer as it reduces breakouts and calms the irritation and inflammation that they cause on our skin.

2. ALKAITIS Organic Soothing Gel

Dr. Alkaitis Soothing Gel

Best features:

  • Soothes and calms inflammation
  • Kills acnes bacteria

Best for:

This soothing and hydrating gel is best suited to those struggling with redness and inflammation from bacterial acne, especially those with sensitive skin.


Dr. Alkaitis has formulated this product with several plant extracts known to be effective at hydrating skin and calming inflammation.

High-quality aloe vera is the base of this soothing gel. This plant extract has been used for thousands of years by the Greeks and Egyptians. Aloe vera is packed with over 75 active compounds that help ease irritation and inflammation while restoring the balance of enzymes and hormones that keep your skin healthy and functioning correctly. It also promotes healing to help your skin recover from the blemishes that occur when your skin breaks out.[9]

Boswellia carterii is a resin that is more commonly known as frankincense and has been used for thousands of years to treat various conditions. It is an effective anti-inflammatory agent that reduces the inflammation and redness associated with acne.[10]

The naturally sourced sea oak is a brown seaweed, also known as Halidrys siliquosa, has several phenolic compounds that have been shown to have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. They also provide some protection against UVA and UVB radiation, helping to protect your skin from photodamage caused by the sun.[11]

Atlantic Kelp, known as Knotted Kelp or by its scientific name Ascophyllum nodosum, is another brown seaweed that has beneficial anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-aging properties. Rich in phlorotannin, this common cold-water seaweed will help to soothe your skin and reduce the damage caused by acne.[12]

The last ingredient in their organic sea complex is red seaweed. This is another plant rich with anti-inflammatory compounds. However, it is also rich in essential fatty acids, such as linoleic acid and oleic acid, both from the omega fatty acid family. These not only help to soothe inflammation, but they also bring moisture to the skin and draw hydration in from the environment.

Linoleic acid can also disrupt the skin responses that lead to outbreaks, helping to reduce their frequency. When they are combined, they work together to reduce the sensitivity of your skin and the resulting irritation that comes from having sensitized skin.[13][14]

There are several other safe and effective plant extracts in this formula, like lavender, rosemary, chamomile, and a vitamin C complex, that we have talked about a lot on this blog as nourishing and soothing compounds. But, the ingredients we discussed above are the real workhorses of this product.

The good:

  • A rich complex of natural and organic seaweeds help to reduce inflammation
  • Packed with antibacterial agents to kill acnes stopping and reducing the occurrence of breakouts

Things to think about:

  • Scented using essential oil extracts which can cause a reaction in some users
  • This one has a high price which may be a barrier to purchase for some people
  • Witch hazel is included which may be too drying for those with already dry skin
  • Some users reported reacting to this product, likely due to the witch hazel, but these complaints were few and far between

Bottom line:

This is a fantastic hydrator for those who have sensitive skin and issues with acne. If you know that witch hazel is too harsh for your skin, you may want to skip this one. This one works great as a post-shave gel as well.

3. Hey Honey Don’t Miss A Spot Propolis Cleansing Foam

Hey Honey Don’t Miss A Spot Fresh Honey Cleansing Foam

Best features:

  • Natural antiseptic and antibacterial agents
  • Balances skin pH
  • Reduces inflammation

Best for:

This foaming cleanser is best suited to those with oily or combination skin who suffer from acne.


Propolis is the main ingredient in this foaming face cleanser. Propolis is a by-product of bee colonies and has been used for thousands of years, especially by the Assyrian, Egyptian, and Greek cultures. It is a mix of bee secretions (mainly saliva), wax, pollen, and other resins collected by bees. Because of this, it is hard to know its specific effects without knowing where the propolis is sourced from because its makeup will depend on the plants and bee species from which it was collected.

Some of the common properties of propolis include antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory agents. If the pH balance of the propolis is similar to the pH balance of human skin, it can also help restore your skins’ pH level.

Most importantly, propolis has been tested explicitly on P. acnes and found to have antibacterial properties, helping to eliminate the bacteria that can lead to breakouts. It also helps to reduce inflammation and promote faster wound healing, helping to clear your complexion once breakouts have ceased.[15][16][17]

Lavender is another key ingredient. It has been used for centuries in the treatment of skin conditions. More recently, studies have begun to demonstrate the many beneficial properties of how lavender works to eliminate free radicals using antioxidants found in the rosmarinic and chlorogenic acids.

These same compounds have also been associated with antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral effects, which can help to stop breakouts. Finally, along with lactones, all of these compounds help reduce inflammation and redness, which evens skin tone and allows our skin to more effectively absorb any moisturizers and treatments you apply afterward.[18][19]

Lavender is also a hydrating compound that promotes the generation of healthy skin tissue, which further helps to clear your skin and aid in its recovery from breakouts.[20]

Myrrha is another plant-based extract; it helps reduce the reactiveness of sebum to UV radiation. When UV radiation interacts with sebum, it can lead to the production of singlet oxygen. Singlet oxygen can cause the same type of damage as other free radicals.

Studies have demonstrated that myrrha effectively stops this peroxidation of sebum, halting the production of singlet oxygen. This potent compound works differently than most antioxidants and is a great addition to help prevent damage from reactive oxygen species (ROS), also known as free radicals.[21][22]

Myrrha also presents some antimicrobial activity which can help keep your skin clear of harmful bacteria.[23]

Finally, honeysuckle extracts have also been included in this formula. Various forms of honeysuckle have been used in traditional herbal Chinese medicine for centuries. Current research has been investigating the compounds that give these plants their anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. As researchers work out the specifics of the mechanisms of action, we can reap the skin benefits that help us fight acne breakouts.[24]

The good:

  • Several antibacterial compounds help to eliminate the breakout-causing bacteria on our face and in our pores
  • Propolis helps to improve wound healing, kill bacteria and, restore skin pH
  • Several plant extracts help to soothe inflammation and promote wound healing

Things to think about:

  • Contains a proprietary fragrance formula which may irritate sensitive skin (all other ingredients rank very low for causing sensitivity issues)
  • Some users reported that they did not care for the scent and noted that it does not smell like honey as most of this company’s products do
  • Some users reported that the foaming action was not enough to cleanse their skin

Bottom line:

This is an excellent cleanser for those with a slightly oilier set or combination skin that can help eliminate bacteria-related acne. However, it may not be strong enough for those with extreme oil problems.

4. Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Serum

Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Serum

Best features:

  • Removes dead skin cells from surface and pores
  • Soothes inflammation and nourishes skin

Best for:

This is a good serum for those battling whiteheads, blackheads, papules, and pustules.


The main ingredients here are lemon and apple extracts that provide alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and help balance our skin’s pH. The AHAs help to not only clear out pores but also to kill the bacteria associated with blemish formation and breakouts. Lemon juice extracts can also help to reduce inflammation, hydrate skin, and reduce the appearance of scars and dark spots by increasing blood flow and promoting cell turnover.[25][26]

Juice Beauty has also included willow bark, a natural source of salicylic acid (the most common BHA used to treat acne and exfoliate skin). In fact, the name “salicylic” comes from the Latin word for willow, “Salix.” The use of willow bark is another treatment that dates back thousands of years to Greek, Egyptian, and Assyrian roots.

Like many of these other herbal remedies from the past, science is now discovering the amazing compounds within these plants that are responsible for their benefits. Willow bark is no exception; it is a natural source of salicylic acid that can help clear dead cells from the surface of your skin and within your pores.

It also prevents acne-causing bacteria from replicating, as well as reducing the stress placed on keratinocytes which stops the cycle of acne.[27] Keratinocytes are cells within the pores, and a buildup of these cells can block the pore and lead to acne.[28] Finally, it has been shown to help improve your skin’s ability to absorb any products applied after using willow bark.[29]

To help reduce inflammation, aloe vera and vitamin C have been included. Both of which can ease inflammation and promote healing of the skin. Vitamin C has been noted for its ability to work directly on those same keratinocytes we mentioned above that line the walls of our skin’s pores.[30][31]

CoQ10 is also added in which helps to improve skin health and functioning while reducing the signs of wrinkles and fine lines. CoQ10 improves cellular metabolism and has antioxidant properties giving it two methods of action that will enhance skin health, helping it repair damage and fight the signs of aging.[32]

The good:

  • A combination of AHAs and BHA helps remove excess oil and dead cells from the skin’s surface and in the pores
  • Willow bark helps improve your skin’s ability to absorb subsequent treatments that are applied
  • Aloe vera and vitamin C help reduce inflammation and promote wound healing, helping to minimize acne scarring and discoloration

Things to think about:

  • As this product consists mainly of natural fruit extracts and juices, it does have an expiration which means if retailers aren’t careful, they can end up with expired and even moldy products
  • Some users reported that the product was sticky upon application but noticed that their skin felt soft and supple once dried
  • Users noted that the skin purging effects took longer than other products
  • Some Users experienced worse breakouts (note: they all had cystic acne)

Bottom line:

This is an excellent serum for anyone fighting acne consisting of whiteheads, blackheads, papules, and pustules. Note that this product is not recommended or formulated for cystic acne, if you struggle with cystic acne, give this one a pass.

Watch out for retailers that are not correctly rotating stock as this product can and will expire due to its natural and organic fruit ingredients.

5. Sunday Riley Saturn Mask

Sunday Riley Saturn Mask

Best features:

  • Can help to reduce and prevent the formation of all forms of acne lesions except cystic acne
  • Reduces the visibility of redness and inflammation
  • Mattifies skin by absorbing excess oil

Best for:

This mask is a fantastic product for all, particularly the most severe acne cases experienced by those with oily skin. It can reduce the number of all acne-related lesions except cystic lesions.


The main component of this mask is sulfur. At one point, sulfur was believed to be comedogenic, but recent research has shown quite the opposite. In fact, it can help prevent breakouts. Although the method of action is not yet known, it is nearly as effective as benzoyl peroxide at killing P. acnes but has none of the side effects. It also helps to absorb excess oil and remove dead cells. At 10% concentration, Sunday Riley has made sure to include an effective yet safe level of sulfur.[33][34][35]

Niacinamide is a B vitamin that reduces hyperpigmentation on the skin, thus reducing the redness and dark spots associated with persistent acne breakouts. It has also been shown to help reduce wrinkles and improve the elasticity of the skin.[36]

Zinc PCA and dipotassium glycyrrhizate are used to reduce further the appearance of redness caused by acne.[37][38]

Also included is bentonite clay, which is a standard treatment for clearing pores and the removal of excess oil.

The good:

  • Kills bacteria using sulfur which is gentler on the skin than salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide
  • Mattifies skin using sulfur and bentonite clay
  • Reduces redness on your skin using B vitamins and Zinc PCA

Things to think about:

  • As with anything that contains sulfur, the smell is unpleasant
  • Some users reported a burning sensation after application

Bottom line:

If you have an oily complexion and suffer from several different forms of acne blemishes, give this one a try. Make sure to do a spot treatment first to see how your skin reacts, as sensitive skin may experience a burning sensation. If you notice this sensation during the spot test, do not use this product.

6. NEOGEN Dermalogy Bio Peel Gauze Peeling Pads (Lemon)

NEOGEN Dermalogy Bio Peel Gauze Peeling Pads - Lemon

Best features:

  • Exfoliates skin to remove dead cells
  • Removes excess sebum and impurities trapped within
  • Provides nourishing compounds to help skin recover from the exfoliating process

Best for:

This is a magnificent exfoliating pad for those with oily complexions that are the source of their acne. Best suited to tackle comedones (whiteheads and blackheads).


This product is a stack of hypoallergenic cotton pads that come pre-soaked in a potent all-natural exfoliating liquid.

Exfoliation is provided by the citrus and papaya extracts. Citrus fruit acids, such as glycolic acid, are a good source of natural AHAs that help to exfoliate the skin. Papaya contains papain, which also helps to exfoliate skin, but also provides nutrients and antioxidants that help to reverse the signs of aging and hydrate skin. Papain can help increase the rate of cell turnover which triggers the proliferation of new, healthy skin cells.[39]

Citrus extracts are also high in vitamins and other nutrients that rejuvenate skin and restore youthfulness.[40]

Niacinamide is also used in this product, which provides the same skin tone and elasticity benefits we discussed above.

The good:

  • Helps to gently exfoliate the skin using naturally occurring acids and enzymes from citrus and papaya fruits.
  • B vitamins can help to even skin tone and texture

Things to think about:

  • Directions say to wash off immediately which likely does not give the AHA’s time to exfoliate
  • Some users reported that the AHAs caused irritation on their skin, which could trigger worse acne symptoms

Bottom line:

This is a great exfoliator that can help to even out skin tone and reduce the redness associated with acne. You may want to consider defying the directions and leaving the product on your skin for 5 minutes to allow the AHAs to do their work.

Do a spot test if you have sensitive skin, avoid altogether if you are sensitive to AHAs.

7. Murad Acne Body Wash Clarifying and Exfoliating Bodywash Gel with Salicylic Acid

Murad Acne Body Wash

Best features:

  • Three forms of exfoliation
  • Specially formulated to treat body acne

Best for:

This is the best body wash for anyone suffering from body acne.


Generally, we think of acne as occurring on the face, but many people suffer breakouts on their back, chest, and other regions of their bodies. Murad has you covered if this is you.

Murad has included salicylic acid and glycolic acid (a common BHA and AHA, respectively), which are conventional treatments for acne. They help to exfoliate the skin, remove dead cells and excess oil while also killing the bacteria associated with breakouts.

Looking at the ingredient list, we also noticed ascorbic acid (a C vitamin), which can help to exfoliate but also provide nutrients that are important for skin health and healing, promoting the formation of healthy collagen.[41]

Ground date seeds are rounded particles that are included in the formula to provide manual exfoliation to remove dead skin before it can find its way into your pores.

Again, looking at the full ingredient list, we noticed jojoba esters, which may be included as another gentle manual exfoliator or could just be included for its hydrating properties. Either way, it makes a great addition to this powerful anti-acne body wash.

Dipotassium glycyrrhizate and green tea are used to calm the skin and reduce the appearance of redness on the skin’s surface.

The good:

  • Triple-action exfoliation provided by several compounds that give both chemical and manual exfoliation using gentle yet effective ingredients
  • Soothes the irritation that can come from both exfoliation and breakouts

Things to think about:

  • The 1% salicylic acid may not be strong enough for severe cases of acne
  • If you are sensitive to exfoliation on your body, you may see an increase in breakouts

Bottom line:

If you have body acne and the skin on your body is not super sensitive or dry, this body wash can be a lifesaver. If your skin is sensitive to exfoliation, skip this triple-action exfoliator.

8. Mario Badescu Acne Control Kit &

Mario Badescu Acne Starter Regimen Kit

Mario Badescu Acne Control Kit


These two kits are being reviewed as one because they are nearly identical, with the only difference being that Control Kit contains drying lotion (a spot treatment for acne blemishes), while the Starter Regimen Kit contains an oil-free moisturizer.

Best features:

  • All-in-one kit makes it easy to start a new skincare routine
  • Powerful cleansing action
  • Powerful drying and mattifying action
  • Control Kit: overnight spot treatment to remove excess sebum from blemishes
  • Starter Regimen Kit: effective oil-free moisturizer

Best for:

These kits are best suited to those who do not currently have a skincare regimen but are suffering from acne. These kits are also a great budget option as you get several products at a reduced rate. Mario Badescu does not recommend these products for those with sensitive skin or those who are currently using topical prescription treatments.


We have reviewed many of the Badescu products included in these kits in our other articles in our Natural & Organic Skincare products series. We will touch on only the most prominent of the ingredients here and then look at the user reviews to assess the potential of the kits overall.

Acne Facial Cleanser: This product does contain SLS, a powerful foaming agent that cleans the skin but is too harsh for sensitive skin. It also contains hyaluronic acid, which helps the skin retain hydration to prevent it from becoming too dry during cleansing. Salicylic acid helps to remove excess oil and dead skin. Chamomile extracts help to soothe skin and reduce irritation and redness.[42]

Special Cucumber Lotion: Isopropyl alcohol helps to kill bacteria and remove excess oil. Cucumber extract is rich in nutrients, including vitamins A and C, which heal the skin. However, vitamin A can increase sensitivity to UV radiation, so be careful if you are using it in the morning or stick to nightly application. This plant extract can also help to soothe inflammation in the skin. Finally, cucumber can also help control sebum production, making it a perfect addition to any acne regimen.[43][44][45]

Drying Mask: Colloidal sulfur (which is just superfine sulfur suspended in a solution) provides the same mattifying and purifying action as mentioned above. It removes excess oil and dead skin cells on the skin’s skin surface. Kaolin clay offers similar benefits to bentonite clay by absorbing excess oils and impurities on the skin’s surface and within pores.

Drying Cream: Sulfur and zinc oxide provide all the impurity and oil removing properties previously discussed while niacinamide (the same B vitamin included in several other products on this list) and aloe vera help to soothe the skin.

Drying Lotion (Control Kit): A lotion packed with several proven blemish drying compounds we’ve already discussed, including salicylic acid, sulfur, and zinc oxide. It also contains isopropyl alcohol, which dries out blemishes and kills bacteria. Camphor is also included to help alleviate the inflammation, pain, and itching that can be associated with breakouts.[46]

Oil-Free Moisturizer—SPF 15 (Starter Regimen Kit): This lightweight oil-free moisturizer provides protection from UVA and UVB rays. Most experts recommended a minimum SPF of 30 for your face, so this is not enough to eliminate the need for sunscreen, but it helps to provide protection. Dimethicone is an occlusive that helps to trap moisture in your skin.[47] Glycerin is a humectant that further helps to add and retain moisture in the skin.[48]

The good:

  • Specially designed regimens for acne-prone, oily skin that quickly get you started on the path to clearer skin
  • Control Kit: perfect for those who have a quality moisturizer but need more spot treatments that can clear out clogged pores and clear blemishes
  • Starter Regimen Kit: makes it easy to get started with a skincare routine for those who do not have one as it has all of the basics in one kit
  • A great way to try out various products and see whether you like them

Things to think about:

  • The combination of all drying products may be too much except for the most extreme cases
  • Not for use with dry or sensitive skin as the alcohol will be too harsh for these skin types

Bottom line:

Both of these kits are packed with oil-control and drying products. This makes them great for those who have very oily skin and a lot of blemishes. For those with less extreme cases, it is a great way to try different products targeted at acne and oily skin.

Control Kit: This kit is an easy way to test out different product types and see what benefits you most. Add one product at a time and see how your skin reacts. Some of the products may be best used as spot treatments such as the drying lotion and cream.

Starter Regimen Kit: It is a great way to get a skincare routine in a single kit. We recommend starting slow with the cleanser and moisturizer and then adding in the other products one at a time to see how your skin reacts. Going full steam by starting with the use of all products at one time may dry out your skin, which could actually worsen acne symptoms as your skin begins to create more oil in response to all the drying products.

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Now that we have looked at the best natural and organic skincare products for acne that work like a charm, let’s review how best to use them.

How to use skincare products for acne effectively

How to use skincare products for acne effectively

We’ve reviewed the top-5 things to keep in mind when shopping for organic acne skin care, as well as a few different products you may want to add to your skincare routine to help treat acne and the order in which to apply them.

Here we will give you a few more tips on how to use your skincare products to avoid worsening your acne and increasing the severity of breakouts.

Use a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser

Avoid products that scrub your skin and harsh soaps, especially on your face. Acne is not the result of dirty skin. You want to control oil production on your skin and scrubbing too hard or exfoliating too often can cause your body to produce excess sebum (your skin’s natural oil). This will actually worsen acne.

Instead, look for gentle products that can remove or control the oil on your skin. These types of treatments will help to limit the amount of sebum your skin produces.

Apply cleanser with your fingertips (no scrubbing)

Using washcloths, mesh sponges, or any other application devices can cause irritation and inflammation, increasing the frequency and severity of breakouts. Never scrub your skin, as this can cause irritation and redness, which can intensify acne symptoms.

Use lukewarm water

Hot water can damage skin which triggers an immune response that can worsen the look or intensity of breakouts. Use water that is slightly warmer than room temperature and rinse with cool water to soothe skin and close pores.

Wash your face twice per day & after sweating

Most people need to wash their face once in the morning and once at night, as well as after they sweat. This may be after a trip to the gym or some other form of physical activity. Hats and helmets can also lead to sweating, which may mean you need to wash your face after wearing one to remove excess oil and impurities that are deposited on your skin.

Use a pea-sized amount of topical treatments once per day

When using products like toners, serums, creams, or other treatments that use medicated ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or retinoids, you do not want to overdo it.

This can have negative consequences such as skin irritation, inflammation, or a worsening of acne symptoms. Gently apply a pea-sized amount of product to your face. Generally, these will be used once per day, unless otherwise advised by a medical professional.

Always moisturize after washing

Even if you have acne, you need to moisturize after washing. Washing your skin helps to remove harmful contaminants on your skin, but it also causes injury to the skin’s natural barrier. This damage can leave your skin vulnerable to further contamination, and it also triggers the production of sebum.

If you have an oilier complexion, use oil-free or oil-control moisturizers to nourish your skin post-wash and prevent further sebum production. You should also look for moisturizers that contain occlusive, which seal in moisture and prevent it from being lost to the environment.

Apply products all over your skin and not just on blemishes

Some products are recommended as spot treatments, and if that is how you are directed to use the product, then do so. Otherwise, they should be applied all over your skin.

This is because many of these products don’t just calm breakouts, they also work to prevent them, but only on the skin to which they are applied. Thus, you want to use them anywhere you are prone to breakouts, not just where you are currently breaking out.

Wash your hair regularly

Shampoo is not really targeted at acne, but it can help prevent breakouts! Your hair is also covered in natural oils which help protect it.

However, if the oil builds to an excess it can find its way onto your face leading to breakouts, especially if you have longer hair. To help stop this transfer you want to keep your hair free of oil buildup by washing it regularly.

Types of skincare products for acne

Types of skincare products for acne

Depending on the type of acne you have, you may need to look for different ingredients. Here, we are going to review some of these prevalent ingredients, and which may be best suited to help clear your skin.

We have organized this section by ingredient/ingredient-type so that you can have the knowledge to interpret the labels when choosing products.


This is not a specific ingredient. Instead, it is a classification of ingredients, a common one you will find on labels. Non-comedogenic means that it does not clog pores. It appears on everything from moisturizers to makeup and these types of products are formulated to help keep the pores clear and free of acne-causing blockages. Look for this term when buying new skincare products.

Salicylic acid

This is one of the holy grails of acne treatment that dermatologists everywhere use on a regular basis. It is available in several over-the-counter products.

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid that exfoliates the outer layer of the skin and clears the natural oil (sebum) from your pores. It dissolves the bonds between dead skin cells to help flush them out of pores and off the surface of your skin.

It also helps to reduce inflammation and pain, as it belongs to the same class of compounds as aspirin (salicylates). Higher concentrations are for prescription use only but they can be found in non-prescription products at concentrations of 3-5%. This powerful anti-acne compound also has antifungal properties.[49]

Salicylic acid is a useful ingredient for those with blackheads and whiteheads.

Benzoyl peroxide

Another favorite of dermatologists, benzoyl peroxide is a potent cleanser that can clear and prevent blocked pores. It is also a powerful antibacterial agent that helps to kill bacteria on your skin and in your pores that can lead to breakouts. It breaks down and releases oxygen which kills the acne-causing bacteria P. acnes.[50]

Benzoyl peroxide is also an irritant, but in this case that is part of its desired effects. I know that sounds backwards, but the irritation it causes in the skin leads to increased cell turnover of the epithelial cells. This causes peeling and promotes the “resolution” of comedones (blemishes/lesions).[51]

What that means for your acne:

The peeling action helps to remove the dead cells and excess oil that are clogging your pores allowing them to clear. Combined with the antimicrobial effect, you should experience the calming and prevention of breakouts.

Benzoyl peroxide can be used on whiteheads and blackheads, but it is best suited to the treatment of cystic lesions and nodules. It works for mild to moderate acne and is often used in combination with other treatments for more serious forms.[52]


This product can bleach clothing, so you need to be careful when using it. It may be best to use it in the shower.

Over-the-counter retinoids

Retinoids help to increase cell turnover, which helps to keep pores free of dead cells and oil while reducing inflammation. Adapalene is the first OTC retinoid and can be found in concentrations of 0.1 – 0.3%. Retinoids are forms of vitamin A, technically, Adapalene is a retinoid-like compound, meaning it has similar functions but a slightly different structure. Only those over the age of 12 should use retinoids unless under the supervision of a healthcare provider.[53]

You may see other names listed for retinoids such as differin, retinol, retinal, and retinoic acid.

Keep in mind:

Retinoids can increase the skin’s sensitivity to UV radiation which is the leading cause of skin damage. Thus, they should be used at night before bed when your skin won’t be exposed to sunlight or other forms of UV radiation like tanning beds.[54]

Now that you’ve got a feel for the most common ingredients used to fight acne and you’ve determined the type of blemishes you have. Let’s break our treatment options down by blemish type to see which of these ingredients is best suited to your acne.

  • Whiteheads & blackheads: Salicylic acid is going to be your best bet for clearing away these close-to-the-surface pore blockages.
  • Papules: As a result of the bacteria acnes, these blemishes are best treated with benzoyl peroxide which will both kill the bacteria, soothe the inflammation, and remove dead cell buildup. Apply it in the morning; then at night, you can add a retinoid product to help reduce the redness and inflammation.
  • Pustules: Another member of the inflammatory acne family, these are again caused by acnes. Thus, the best treatment is going to benzoyl peroxide.
  • Nodules & cystic lesions: these are deeper more severe conditions. You may be able to treat them with a combination of all of the above treatments. First, ice the area to reduce inflammation, then apply a salicylic acid gel followed by a benzoyl peroxide gel, and finally a retinoid cream. Nodules will also often disappear after a few days. Make sure you do not pick or pop this — good advice for any blemish. But as these are deep beneath the surface, you are only going to push the infection further into the skin and make the problem even worse. As such, you want to seek professional help from your dermatologist if at-home remedies just aren’t cutting it.

How we chose these products

To bring you our list of the best natural skincare products for acne, we looked for top-quality products that target blemishes and oily skin issues. They are formulated with ingredients that can alleviate acne symptoms and remove excess oil and dead cells from your skin and pores. They are all free of harmful chemicals that can irritate skin and lead to health issues.

We searched for the best all natural skincare products for acne to make sure we covered every type of skincare product you may need from washing to moisturizing. We only include trusted brands that use high-quality ingredients in their formulas.

No matter which type of product you are looking for, you can find it on our list, whether you want to replace a single product or are in need of a skincare routine in a box. Each of these products helps to cleanse, nourish, and moisturize your skin, leaving it in the best condition possible to heal and recover from breakouts.

We assessed the quality of each product by reviewing the ingredients to ensure that they all contain ample amounts of nutrient and vitamin dense compounds to help reduce acne, not just on the surface but also to clear and purify your skin deep into the pores. We also made sure that each product on our list was free of parabens, sulfates, and petrochemicals.

Each brand on our list is trusted within the skincare community. We also searched for expert and user reviews and aggregated all that information into one spot so that you can be better informed when making skincare decisions.

That way, you can find the right product or products with less effort and cost, giving you the best chance to reduce acne and the scarring and discoloration it leaves on your skin.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Is adult acne rare?

No! Adult acne is quite common. According to the Acne and Rosacea Society of Canada, roughly a third of all acne patients seen by doctors are over the age of 25. Adult acne sufferers are divided into two categories.

Persistent acne is when the issue starts in adolescence and continues into adulthood. This is the most common form of adult acne.

Late onset acne refers to those who do not develop issues with acne until adulthood. This is less common, but it is a growing issue.

Does my lifestyle, diet, or genetics affect my acne?

We reviewed the common causes of acne at the start of this article; however, there are a few risk factors that can increase your chances of developing this common condition. While acne is usually associated with teenage skin, it can and does affect people of all ages and genders.[55]

Common risk factors:

Hormones: Changes in hormone levels can lead to acne breakouts. Several factors can cause our hormone levels to fluctuate. Stress is one common factor. Although stress can’t cause acne, it can worsen the symptoms.

For females, menstrual cycles can cause hormone changes that trigger breakouts. Stopping the use of birth control pills may also trigger acne. Puberty and pregnancy are two other common causes of hormone balance shifts that can lead to acne.

Genes: According to the Acne and Rosacea Society of Canada, studies have shown that around 50% of adults with acne have close relatives with adult acne.[56]

Medications: Steroids and lithium are some common drugs that can trigger acne. However, there are more, and if you recently started or stopped taking a medication, this could be the cause or at least part of the cause of your breakouts.

Diet: This is one of those confusing areas as you can read a great deal of information that either implicates or clears dietary factors as being associated with acne. This is because diet was first linked as a risk factor, later these links were brought into question by further studies. Finally, in the last few decades, studies with better methods and designs have once again linked diet and acne.

Why the back and forth? The link between what we eat and breakouts was more complicated than previously thought. As an example, oily foods were once believed to lead to acne, but later this was dispelled as a myth. The truth is the type of fat matters. Healthy unsaturated fats don’t trigger acne breakouts, while the less healthy saturated fats do. Some fats, such as omega-3, can actually help to prevent breakouts in some people.

A meta-analysis conducted in 2010 looked at all the literature to date and found that certain dietary factors are linked to increased or decreased risk for acne. The ratio of fat types mentioned above is one such factor the authors discussed.

Another is high glycemic index (GI) foods. These are foods that raise your blood glucose levels. Sweets and white bread are two types of high GI foods, and excessive intake of these foods may increase your risk for developing acne.[57]

The relationship between diet and acne is still in need of further research, but because avoiding foods associated with increased risk for acne is also beneficial for our health overall, limiting their intake is probably a good idea.

I’ve tried to treat my acne for years, is it untreatable?

Research on acne and acne treatments has come a long way in the past few years. If you are having trouble treating your acne, consult a dermatologist. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, very few cases of acne are untreatable. Nearly all forms of acne can be managed and abated. So, do not suffer through the effects in the hopes that it will go away.[58]

Shouldn’t I let acne run its course?

This is a common misconception. While you shouldn’t pop your pimples, according to the American Academy of Dermatologists—more on this below, you also shouldn’t leave them untreated either. You could end up with a more severe case of acne, scars, skin discoloration, or suffer more pain needlessly. If acne is a condition you are battling, seek treatment.

Acne can have a detrimental impact on our self-esteem, self-image, and relationships with others. Dermatologists are well aware of both the physical and emotional turmoil that those with acne experience and are committed to alleviating the symptoms.

Should I pop my pimples?

No, this is not advisable. As the experts at the American Academy of Dermatologists note, popping your own pimples can be risky and lead to unwanted side effects.[59]

If you pop your pimples you risk:

  • Permanent scarring
  • More noticeable or severe acne
  • More painful blemishes
  • Infection

Dermatologists are trained professionals, and when they pop a pimple, i.e. clear the clog from a pore, they ensure that all of the blockage is forced up and out. When we pop pimples ourselves, we risk squeezing the material that clogs the pore deeper into the skin, leading to the more severe issues which could leave scars or discoloration on our skin.


Acne is the most common skin issue and is not relegated to our teen years. Cases of adult acne are on the rise and research is revealing more effective methods and products for treating the world’s most common skin concern.

We’ve covered some of the most important factors to consider before purchasing products to treat your acne. Start by assessing your blemishes, is it chronic enough to be considered acne? If so, how severe is your case? What type of blemishes are you battling?

Answering these questions will help you determine what skincare products you need and the ingredients they should contain. We have also provided you with tips for using your products and answered some of the most common questions acne sufferers have.

Do not suffer through breakouts, there are a ton of products out there to try, and you can find relief. If home remedies and over-the-counter products are not alleviating your acne, seek professional help.

Dermatologists are aware of the pains, both physical and emotional, that can accompany acne and have a host of treatments to reduce the frequency and severity of breakouts.

Share your journey to clearer skin with us below. What products have you tried? What has or has not worked for you? What product on our list do you most want to try?

If you know someone suffering from acne, share this article with them so that they can start their skincare journey to clearer, healthier skin!

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About The Author


Board-Certified Doctor and Educator

Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery MBBS (Cardiff University)

London, United Kingdom

Dr. McKeown is a UK based NHS clinician with over 10 years experience in both hospital medicine and surgery. After an initial career in maxillofacial surgery his focus now lies in elderly care and rehabilitation medicine. A board member for Wadham College of Science, Dr. McKeown is passionate about widening access to both education and healthcare around the world and as a result, outside of his clinical work he spends much of his time either teaching or providing medical consultancy to healthcare startups. Commercially, his interests lie in helping research and promote novel, evidence-based medicines originating from natural sources and processes.

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