In fact, is there anything more annoying that an unexpected breakout? The good news is that homemade face masks for acne can be an effective and fairly simple way to treat all types of acne, whether it is an occasional stress breakout or a chronic issue. Plus, spot treating acne with a mask for the occasional pimple can reduce inflammation and kill bacteria without wreaking havoc on other areas of the face that may not be affected.
Meet the experts
Richard Torbeck, M.D., a New York City-based dermatologist
Olivia Rose, N.D., a Toronto-based naturopathic doctor and director of the Rose Health Clinic
Why face masks for acne?
Acne is one of the most common skin conditions, affecting as many as 85% of Americans ages 12 to 24 and a significant number of older adults as well, per the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) [source]. This chronic condition, which may consist of papules, comedones, skin redness, and cysts, can leave lifelong scars if it remains untreated. The good news is that myriad treatments are available—and you don’t always have to go to the drugstore or your dermatologist to find some that work.
Acne-fighting masks can help prevent breakouts from occurring and work to balance oil production. “Face masks that are exfoliating can reduce acne by decreasing the creation of a micro plug of the hair follicle,” explains Dr. Torbeck. “This plug can lead to what is called a comedone or acne bump, which may not be removed from face washing alone.”
Masks can also be an interesting way to change up your normal routine, provide some variation, and help you relax, accompanied by a nice bath or a book.
“Washing your face daily is extremely important for anyone who suffers from acne. However, it’s not quite the same as a mask,” says naturopathic doctor Olivia Rose. “A skin cleanser simply washes off debris and makeup, while a mask works more like a deep-acting treatment.”
12 Acne Face Mask Recipes
While there are many mask products on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the appropriate mask for your particular skin issue. And you might even need multiple masks to address different areas of your face at various times.
Instead, you can make your own at-home masks with readily available ingredients at a fraction of the price. We’ve rounded up 12 recipes full of ingredients that are easy to locate, some of which may already be in your home.
1. Turmeric Acne Mask
A turmeric face mask is naturally antiseptic, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory [source], so it works wonders at soothing inflamed acne-prone skin, notes Dr. Rose. Honey, too, has skin-saving benefits. “It’s a natural humectant, so it’s great for dry, irritated skin as it helps your skin retain moisture,” she says. “When mixed with water, hydrogen peroxide is naturally formed, which helps lighten hyperpigmentation and acts as a natural antibacterial to fight acne-causing microbes.”
—Organic apple cider vinegar
—1/2 teaspoon organic turmeric powder
—1 tablespoon of organic raw honey (preferably manuka honey)
—Milk (as needed)
Apply vinegar to a cotton ball and swipe all over the skin. Mix the turmeric powder with the honey and wait about 5 minutes. Then use your clean hands to apply the mask, avoiding the eye area.
Let the mask sit on your skin for 15–20 minutes, then rinse with warm water. If the turmeric powder leaves a yellowish tint, use a milk-soaked cotton ball to go over stained areas. This mask can be used twice a week.
2. Avocado and Lemon Spot Treatment Mask
Avocado stimulates collagen production [source], which aids in cell regeneration. It’s also loaded with anti-inflammatory hydrating fats that won’t clog pores. The honey is antibacterial [source], while the lemon juice lightens hyperpigmented areas.
—1 ripe avocado
—1 tablespoon organic raw honey
—Half of a lemon
Mash one ripe avocado until smooth, stir in the honey, and squeeze the half lemon into the mixture. Mix together thoroughly, and apply the mask as a spot treatment or to larger acne-prone areas. If you have sensitive skin, use less lemon or skip it altogether. Leave the mask on for 5–10 minutes.
A caution when using lemon juice: Although lemon has lightening and brightening qualities, it can also make the skin photosensitive [source]. Preferably use it at nighttime, rinse your face thoroughly afterward, and be prepared to use a zinc oxide 30+ SPF sunscreen if you’ll be out in the sun the next day.
3. Honey & Baking Soda Face Mask
Combine anti-inflammatory baking soda with exfoliating lemon juice and soothing honey for an easy, effective acne-fighting face mask.
—1 teaspoon lemon
—1 tablespoon organic raw honey
—1 teaspoon baking soda
Add lemon juice, honey, and baking soda into a small bowl. Mix well and apply over the face and neck. Avoid the area near your eyes (lemon juice and honey will both sting). Don’t turn this into a scrub by rubbing it into your skin. After 15 minutes, remove the mask with warm water, then rinse with cold water.
Due to the photosensitivity of the skin caused by lemon, apply this mask in the evening as explained after the first recipe, and always use a good sunscreen when going out the next day.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar & Clay Face Mask
Clay draws out impurities from the pores, while the natural acids in apple cider vinegar address acne by gently sloughing away dead skin cells.
—1 tablespoon bentonite clay
—1 probiotic capsule
—2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
Combine the clay and probiotic powder in a small bowl. Add the ACV to make a paste. It’s okay to use more, if needed, to get a smooth, spreadable consistency. With clean fingers, spread the mixture over your face and let it sit for 15 minutes. Rinse with cool water and apply your usual moisturizer.
5. Charcoal & Aloe Face Mask
Charcoal absorbs excess oil, while aloe is soothing and anti-inflammatory, making it an ideal ingredient to add to any acne mask.
—1 tablespoon activated charcoal
—1 tablespoon aloe vera gel
—1 drop of tea tree essential oil
Mix the ingredients together in a small bowl. Using circular motions, work the charcoal mixture around your face for 1 minute, then let the mask sit for 10–15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with warm water.
6. Garlic & Milk Face Mask
Garlic works to prevent clogged pores, kill off acne-causing bacteria, and reduce inflammation [source]. But it can sting if applied directly to the skin, so dilute it in water, jojoba oil, or aloe vera first. Jojoba hydrates without clogging pores [source], while the lactic acid in whole milk gently exfoliates [source].
—1 clove garlic, crushed and finely minced
—1 teaspoon jojoba oil
—2 tablespoons whole milk (can also use honey or aloe vera)
Combine the garlic and jojoba oil in a small bowl. Then slowly add the milk (or honey or aloe), and mix until you have a smooth consistency. Wear the mask for 5–10 minutes, then gently rub to exfoliate the skin as you rinse with warm water.
7. Probiotic Acne Mask
This mask calms skin with cucumbers as a natural anti-inflammatory [source] and additional probiotics to nourish your skin’s microbiome. Cucumber seeds are rich in potassium and vitamin E, which help reduce blemishes.
—1/2 cucumber, pureed
—2 tablespoons plain yogurt
—1 probiotic capsule
Combine the ingredients in a small bowl and apply to a clean face with clean hands. Avoid the eye area. Leave the mask on for 15 minutes and then rinse with warm water. Follow with your usual toner and moisturizer.
8. Nutmeg Spot Treatment Mask
Combine three acne fighters to shrink a pimple fast without leaving your skin dry or flaky.
—1 aspirin tablet
—1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
—1 tablespoon plain yogurt
Mix 1 crushed aspirin tablet, nutmeg, and yogurt together to make a paste. To spot treat, gently dab it on the zit. Leave it on for 10–15 minutes, and then rinse with warm water.
9. Raw Honey Spot Treatment Mask
One-ingredient treatments are our favorite! Honey has so many uses, and fighting acne is a powerful one. Just dab honey (manuka is ideal) directly on the blemish to not only fight bacteria but also to calm inflammation and redness. Leave it on for 10–15 minutes, and then rinse with warm water.
10. Tea Tree Acne Mask
Tea tree is one of the best essential oils to use against acne, thanks to its natural zit-fighting antibacterial properties [source]. The aloe soothes inflamed skin, while the tea tree attacks bacteria in the pores.
—2 tablespoon aloe vera gel
—2 drops tea tree essential oil
—1 egg white
Whip the egg white in a small bowl, then add aloe gel and tea tree oil. Apply the mixture to your face with your fingertips or a facial brush. Leave it on for 10–15 minutes.
11. Acne–Relief Cucumber Mask
Cucumbers have lightening agents as well as anti-inflammatory properties that will tone and hydrate the skin. This is a great mask if you’re battling acne scars as well. With similar ingredients to the Probiotic Acne Mask a few recipes back, this one is an appropriate choice if probiotics aren’t readily available. Using ingredients that are cold out of the fridge will be super soothing to sensitive and irritated skin, too—so this is one that rosacea-prone readers can use!
—1 peeled cucumber
—1 tablespoon organic Greek yogurt
Puree the cucumber (seeds and skin included!) and then mix in the yogurt. Apply the mixture to your face, and leave it on for 10 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.
12. Deep Cleansing Comedone Mask
Blackheads are typically mixed in with active acne and sometimes form the breeding ground for pimples. This mask targets comedones and should be applied once a week at night since the lemon juice can make skin photosensitive (sun exposure may lead to rashes and skin hyperpigmentation).
—1 egg white
—1/2 teaspoon bentonite clay
—1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
Beat the egg white until fluffy, then add in the clay and lemon juice and mix well. It will form a paste that you can apply to your t-zone or any other blackhead-prone areas. If it’s a bit thick, which will depend on the type of clay you use, add a 1/2 teaspoon of water.
After 10 minutes, when it’s dry and cracking on your face, rinse with warm water. Follow with the appropriate nighttime facial oil or moisturizer.
This post was medically reviewed by Dr. Jennifer Haley, a board-certified dermatologist with extensive experience in medical, cosmetic, and surgical dermatology. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice, and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.