The 8 Herbs to Treat Acne Have Skin-Clearing Superpowers

Photo: Lauren Naefe/Stocksy
Sure, basil adds a delightful dash of flavor to your zoodles—but did you know it's also great for your skin?

Not only are plants powerful in terms of your diet (turns out they can even offset your vices) and your environment, but certain herbs and flowers can do things like fight acne and calm inflammation when used on your face.

No one knows this better than Joshua Morgan and Brad Scoggins, the duo behind Little Barn Apothecary, who have been crafting organic, holistic products out of all-natural ingredients for years (way before the brand officially launched in 2015). As herb enthusiasts (no, not that kind), they're well-versed in what to slather and spritz on for everything from calming skin redness to keeping whiteheads gone for good.

"A lot of [breakouts] come from modern-day products that are filled with parabens and synthetics that are clogging the pores"

Clearly, they're doing something right: Not only is the indie brand an editors' favorite, but this Friday, August 12, Little Barn Apothecary is opening it's first brick-and-mortar store in Atlanta. The stylish shop (filled with gorgeous plants, no surprise) is meant to be a hub for natural beauty enthusiasts, who will be able to test the latest and greatest from them—and other under-the-radar brands—as well as learn more about how plants can nourish the skin.

little barn
Photo: Chris Burden

Which is truly part of the duo's mission: educating people on how natural ingredients can help them solve their most stubborn beauty problems. "Most flare-ups can be balanced by healing from within using a mixture of herbs and all-natural products," says Scoggins. "A lot of [breakouts] come from modern-day products that are filled with parabens and synthetics that are clogging the pores. As far as acne and cleansing goes, you really want to nurture the skin."

Whether you're visiting Little Barn Apothecary's flagship in Atlanta, examining ingredient lists at the drugstore, or shopping the farmers' market, these are the eight most powerful plants to help you tackle acne and clear up your skin.

basil clear skin
Photo: Security/Pixabay

1. Basil

The green herb is a far better astringent than alcohol (or those harsh acne treatments full of benzoyl peroxide), according to the experts at Little Barn Apothecary. "[Basil] helps to pull things from the skin and acts as an antiseptic," Scoggins explains. "It'll help with any inflammation that's commonly associated with acneic skin and helps to regulate oil production, which is a culprit behind some breakouts." Don't have a product featuring basil? Scoggins says that for a DIY cleansing mask, you can simply mash up a few stems and smear them on your face.

cajeput herb
Photo: Dustaway/Flickr

2. Cajeput

"The cajeput is similar to tea tree," says Scoggins. "It's distilled from the bark of the white wood tree. It's really good for astringent properties and clearing inflammation. Plus, it's also antiseptic so it helps to eliminate the bacteria that's causing breakouts." And, like basil, this herb is a great ingredient to look for if you have whiteheads.

Photo: Valeria Boltneva/Pexels

3. Lavender

As you probably guessed, lavender is all about calming. "If you have redness,  you can incorporate lavender to reduce it and calm the skin," says Scoggins. "It's also great on the senses; it helps with relaxation and creates a little zen moment."

Photo: AKuptsova/Pixabay

4. Chamomile

"Chamomile is another herb that's really great for cleansing the skin," Scoggins explains. He advises mixing it with natural clays and oatmeal to create a calming facial buff—or look for it in an all-natural cleanser.

rose petals
Photo: Oom Endro/Pixabay

5. Rose oil

Rose oil is another calming powerhouse, and it happens to be a incredible antidote to those annoying pre-period flare-ups. "Hormonal acne responds really well to rose," says Scoggins. "There's a lot of balancing in rose oil, which comes from the petals, so that is great to use for targeting breakouts [related to your cycle]."

Photo: Hermaion/Pixabay

6. Geranium

If your breakouts are of the blackhead variety, look for geranium in your skin-care products. "Geranium oil helps to slow down the effects of aging and regulate your oil production," says Scoggins. That's key because, as he explains, blackheads "pop up when you have an overproduction of oil and clogged pores."

blue yarrow
Photo: NPS

7. Blue yarrow

This beautiful herb is not as delicate as it looks in its natural form. "Blue yarrow is a really powerful astringent that will help to promote skin healing, and it's one of those very antiseptic herbs which rids skin of bacteria and prevents breakouts," notes Scoggins. "It's good for inflammed skin as well as blackheads." Reach for it when your skin is in full-on freakout mode.

Photo: James Jardine/Flickr

8. Hibiscus

Looking for an anti-aging boost to your skin-care regimen? Turn to this floral stunner. "Hibiscus has been called nature's Botox," says Morgan. "It's also great for clearing and helping to firm the skin. It helps with fine lines and diminishing the appearance of wrinkles." In other words, it's pretty but powerful.

In the middle of an acne flare-up? Here's how to handle it, the Ayurvedic way. Also worth checking out is this skin-saving (and delicious) smoothie recipe for a beautiful summer glow. 

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