How I Clear Up Adult Acne Naturally: A Comprehensive Guide

Having acne in your mid twenties (or at any age) is an embarrassing nightmare. It’s easy to fall into the trap of judgement and/or comparison, thinking acne results from unhealthy choices or lack of cleanliness and that clear skin would make everything easier (ie: make us more likable and other absurdities we’ve convinced ourselves into believing!) The truth is 1) acne can be caused by many factors such as hormones and/or diet and 2) no one is as focused on our imperfections as much as we, but we continue to be hard on ourselves. Or at least, I know I am when I break out!

Insecurities can’t all be fixed with clear skin, but good golly it makes a difference in confidence. Rather than deliver a post on loving ourselves, worts n’ all (even though we should) here are practical tips, products and methods I use to take control of my persistent pimples. This is everything I do, from start to finish in the general order I follow in the hopes that it may be helpful to anyone else struggling with hormonal adult acne.

Photo credit: Nerrissa Mareeh (@msnerriss)

Before I do ANYTHING, I wash my hands.

Imagine all the times we touch our faces and goodness knows what else. If any of those bacteria are on our hands while massaging product into our cheeks, we’re only prolonging the process. Wash your hands.

Mask, mask, mask.

I don’t want to be a broken record on this one, so I’ll keep it short. There are two reasons why everyone should mask.

  1. The right one works wonders. 
  2. Treat yo self. The right mask should be a heavenly experience.

My favorite natural, vegan masks are Moodiez’s create-your-own. They are handmade in small batches with organic ingredients we can pronounce. I wrote another post all about Moodiez masks and my first impressions.

The mask I’m currently using has anti-acne ingredients I picked out myself including a bentonite clay base, coconut powder, charcoal, sandalwood, Australian pink clay and rose petals. I mask at least once a week and change it up depending on what my skin needs.

Some other masks I’m trying out are GLAMGLOW’s Bubblesheet Oxygenating Deep Cleanse Mask (not natural) and Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay (salt of the earth and cheap). I’m also enjoying Trader Joe’s Rich Hydrating Face Sheet Mask (mostly natural) for when I’m on the go. I like that it’s easily accessible, cruelty free and gives my skin much needed moisture making it especially great for flying! This is the mask I used the week this shot was taken:

face acne free
The first acne free day in a year.

Cleanse with Vasanti Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator Exfoliant

Okay, so Vasanti is only 99% natural but free of parabens and sulfates, plus it’s cruelty free and vegan! This is acceptable for me, however if the 1% gets you down, this cleanser is not necessary for awesome skin. I like this because it’s a good exfoliant that mimics microdermabrasion as it ‘sands’ the skin with microcystals (not made of plastic).

This is a gentle but powerful product, great for all skin types including sensitive skin. It’s rare for me to find an exfoliant that is compatible with my tender, forever pink skin. Also, I don’t usually get excited over cleansers, but this is enriched with papaya and aloe and has done wonders so far. Plus, I’m all about two-in-one products.

It’s important to know I use this about every other day. I never use another exfoliating method like face shaving (see below) on the same day. That being said, this is my trusty go-to.

This Vasanti Brighten Up! Cleanser is available on Amazon. I originally received this product through FabFitFun’s subscription box. If you’d like $10 off your first box, follow this link and use code FALLINLOVE.

Pro tip: Double cleanse. It’s generally better to double cleanse with two cleansers at the same time of day rather than cleanse morning and evening. This is because our skin needs time to create natural oils to remain balanced. The exception is when wearing makeup. We always need to remove makeup before bed! Of course, everyone is different and you need to do what’s best for you. But this tip made a HUGE difference in my skincare and saved me time! I follow up a traditional cleanse with this next step.

Oil cleanse with olive, coconut, avocado or whatever oils I’m feeling that day

This is about as natural as it gets. You might be thinking about now “How is oil supposed to help clean my oily skin?” Simply put, like cures like. Oil is the perfect antidote to balance out the oils in our skin, no matter our skin type. When facial oils are balanced, pores tighten over time, preventing nasty blackheads and unwanted breakouts. This is a favorite because it’s low maintenance and the least expensive skincare out there!

On days that I exfolicleanse (totally a word now), this is what I use as a second cleanse. On days that this is my sole cleanser, it’s not necessary to use my serum or moisturizer. Olive oil and coconut are super hydrating. As I live in a dry envorinment and my skin is combination, these are perfect for me. This may be a great option for you if you’re looking for one step skincare.

If you don’t want something so moisturizing, no worries. Any carrier oil can be used for this method! Each one has different results. Hemp oil is ah-mazing for acne! I recommend experimenting to see which carrier oil recipe works best for you. Here is an article of great oils to start with and there’s a link at the bottom with recipes for every skin type:


11 Carrier Oils for Oil Cleansing Method.

How I cleanse using oils:

I cleanse by gently massaging a blend of carrier oils on my face. A facial massage not only feels good but lets the oils seep deep into my skin without the use of water. I then run a clean wash cloth through hot water, quickly ring out the water and place the cloth over my face, allowing the steam to fully open my pours. All the dirt, makeup, oils and impurities rise to the surface and are easily removed with a gentle wipe off. I usually repeat the the process of running under water, steaming and wiping/dabbing a couple times to make sure I get everything! This is what I do, but oil cleansing can be done in different ways. I highly recommend trying multiple methods and see what’s best for your skin.

Pro tip: I always massage in rounded upward strokes to promote blood circulation and fight aging.


This is essentially face shaving for the purpose of removing the top layers of peach fuzz and dead skin. This is a controversial method in the beauty world. It’s not for everyone. It is often discouraged that anyone with sensitive, acne prone skin try this. However, I believe it has helped my skin’s overall health the most!

And I’m not alone. This method has been used by iconic women for years, most notably by Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. But why?? Gently removing the top layer of dead skin promotes rejuvenation of skin cells from the inside out meaning it can eliminate acne scarring faster and even make wrinkles disappear.

*razor drop*

*picks up razor because I need it*

How I shave my face:

I carefully shave every few weeks or so. I find it best to have the blade at a 45 degree angle. I take my time to avoid shaving off my eyebrows and dodge pimples so as not to open them. I then follow with a little TLC, using a toner, serum and moisturizer to super hydrate and sooth. The immediate result is baby smooth skin with a fresh glow. I use Tinkle’s facial razors for the best results. I DO NOT use a regular razor like I use on my legs.

While I love face shaving to get buttery smooth skin without the use of product, I encourage you to do your homework and speak with a professional before trying it for yourself.

Spot Treatment with Lemon and Tea Tree Essential Oils

This is a must as these two essential oils have become my standard, a replacement for acne treatment. Tea Tree removes acne causing bacteria while Lemon oil heals and diminishes scarring. They’re a winning combo for battling acne without turning to other methods, many of which make acne worse if I miss an application.

What works for me:

Two drops of tea tree and one drop lemon is a nice balance. I’ll drop them into the palm of my hand, mix them together my finger and use that same finger to gently rub into my problem areas. As my acne is primarily hormonal, I usually dab this around my mouth and jaw line. I’ve used this method on blemishes I’ve felt under the skin that have yet to emerge and they’re gone the next day!

Pro tip: As essential oils are extremely concentrated, they should be diluted before applying to the face. Try mixing with water or apply with carrier oil. This can be done at the same time as oil cleansing.

There are a lot of essential oil brands out there and not all of them are equal. You can purchase quality lemon essential oil and tea tree (melaleuca) essential oil from Amazon.

Mist Thayers Witch Hazel Aloe Formula Rose Petal Toner

This toner is my holy grail. Wow, that made be sound like a beauty blogger. But to be fair, there are countless bloggers that have this formula in their bag and for good reason. This is the crowd pleaser of skincare. The pink polka-dotted spray bottle it’s housed in is always within arms length of me. I’m looking at it right now. I just spritzed my face. Ahhh…

This product is universal and works for all skin types. It can be used almost anytime. Some say this is a no-go, but I’ll even spray it on top of my makeup. It tightens pores, which we all love, but it goes a step further to balance the skin’s PH. This is necessary after cleansing and treating with essential oils or any acne treatment. For some, balancing skin’s PH is all that’s needed to keep acne in check. Find this Thayers toner on Amazon here.

Note: Rose water or rose hip are generally great for skin, but it’s not suitable for all skin types. Thayers also has lemon, cucumber, lavender, coconut, original, non-scented and medical witch hazel toners with aloe vera.

Sprinkle Some Serum

Okay, so our skin is clean and prepped and balanced. Now it’s time for a serum, an excellent way to target more specific needs…like acne! Most acne treatments focus on removing bacteria. It’s important that we also talk about what can be added to nourish skin that doesn’t result in more breakouts. Again, oils can be our best friend. This is another step that isn’t necessary if oil cleansing, but it’s great if you’re after that envied Hollywood glow.

As I love the Moodiez masks so much, I decided to try their Vitality Facial Serum. It’s an all around beneficial serum made to treat acne, tighten skin, diminish dark circles, moisturize, reduce scars, restore collagen and fight aging. Say whaaat?? Sounds like miracle in a bottle and in the last month of using it, it lives up to the hype. It’s simply a beautiful blend of all natural goodness. Also it’s currently on sale for less than $10 which is like a fifth the price of comparable products. This isn’t sponsored, I just love it so much.


I feel a little weird including this as I have yet to find a moisturizer I can absolutely say is ‘the one.’ (My favorite way to moisturize is with carrier oils.) However, no skincare routine is complete unless it rubs the lotion on its skin. {wink}

I have been using Grown Alchemist’s Hydra-Repair Day Cream with Camellia and Geranium Blossom recently and really enjoy it so far. It absorbs quickly, doesn’t leave a greasy residue or shine and therefore works great as a makeup primer. Hooray for another two in one! 

Is there a natural moisturizer you love? I’d love to know in the comments below.

Lastly, I made lifestyle changes for the sake of pretty skin.

Products and methods, natural or otherwise only got me so far before admitting I needed to get rid of some bad habits and introduce more healthy ones. Most of these are good for holistic health and wellbeing with benefits expanding far beyond skincare. I’ll keep it short as this reeeally depends on the individual.

  • I drink more water.
  • I consume less dairy. This is the hardest one for sure. However, it came to the point that my dairy consumption was almost directly correlated to my breakouts.
  • I eat more fruits and vegetables. Read this post about my favorite way to eat daily fruit and vegetable servings.
  • I balance my hormones by adding spirulina and chlorella to my diet.
  • I stopped freaking out about my skin. Trust in the process because stress only leads to more breakouts.
  • I fight off the urge to pick. I had to do some research to convince myself once and for all that this is bad. There is no ‘right way’ to pick. Any time we open a pimple, we expose it to bad stuff plus irritate the skin, making it more red. No exceptions. I know it’s tempting but staahp it.
  • I always wear sunscreen, even when I don’t go outside. I’m currently hooked on Coola’s Sport SPF 50 White Tea Organic Moisturizer because it smells soooo good. Also it’s moisturizer and suncare in one and I already told you I love a dual product.

Note that this is what has worked for me so far and this may not work for you, though I hope it does. Be a smart cookie and consult with a professional.

Photo credit: Nerrissa Mareeh (@msnerriss)

Okay, enough of my current faves. What skincare do you LOVE? Share in the comments below. I want to try it.

Was this helpful? I’d love to hear if you learned something new.


Mary Caitlin
Mary Caitlin

Lifestyle blogger and creator at Rosy Remedy, exploring the connection between intention, authenticity and happiness. On the hunt for small moments, big water, everything vintage and the best dry cappuccino in the Galaxy.

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