A list of everything I hate about self-medicating acne remedies would be longer than the Harry Potter series. It's like every beauty blogger and self-proclaimed dermatologist secretly conspired against the acne-prone community.
From 5th grade to high school, I bought into their game, trying dozens of different facials and homemade acne treatments that were supposed to bring me Cleopatra skin. Spoiler alert: They never did. To sum up the last decade with the war I've waged on my face, I've made a list of five DIY acne remedies that did not work for me.
1. Honey and Lemon
A deadly duo that's been praised by the masses, this mask is supposed to combine the bacteria-killing effects of honey with the magic toning and lightening abilities of lemon. Please, just keep these two ingredients in your tea. I tried this one for more than two weeks, and although my face did smell fresh for a few hours, I broke out significantly on the cheeks and chin.
2. Egg Whites
The science on the effectiveness of egg whites for acne is shady, but it apparently works as a "mild astringent". The cleanser that I made with them neither hurt nor improved my skin condition, but it did make me feel a little foolish for wasting perfectly good eggs. I didn't stick with them for more than a few days.
The famous Cleopatra beauty staple is supposed to work as a cleanser and an exfoliant. I actually stuck with the milk facials for about a month, but then eventually stopped. My skin did feel a little softer and definitely more refreshed after the milk cleanses, but after the first month or so I started noticing more breakouts around the mouth. No thank you.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
My mother swore by this one. I really wanted it to work, as it made my face feel slightly raw and tingly. I tried using straight out of the bottle and then added a little water when my faced turned radish-red and I realized that it was supposed to be diluted. In both cases, I still broke out. I used it for about a month at the behest of my mom, then tossed it in the trash where it belonged.
5. Tea Tree Oil
Another one of mama's favorites, this one made me break out like nobody's business. I applied it as a light mask, let it sit for a few minutes, then rinsed it off. After a week, my face was poppin' with new visitors.
What Really Works
If you're someone who gets maybe 3-4 pimples a month and considers that a breakout, then this list is not for you. For those with seriously acne-prone skin, like oily-that-could-give-Crisco-a run-for-its-money or skin drier than the Sahara desert, then this list is definitely for you.
After years of self-treatment and over-the-counter products, I finally sucked up my pride and went to a dermatologist. In the end, medication was the only thing that helped. If professional help is out of reach (lol American healthcare), then the best over-the-counter stuff is benzoyl peroxide as a cleanser, witch hazel as a toner, and a non-brand name moisturizer (I use the one from CVS).