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The natural acne remedy that puts prescriptions to shame

Recent research supports an herb for being more effective at fighting acne than one of the most common prescription ingredients.

As I’m working on an upcoming story for Delicious Living magazine about natural acne-fighting ingredients, one thing is becoming clear: They do work—and they have the research to prove it.

One such standout that is perhaps showing the most promise for natural acne treatments is thyme, a well-known herb in the mint family. According to research conducted earlier this year by Leeds Metropolitan University, presented at the Society for General Microbiology’s Spring Conference in Dublin, thyme killed the bacterium that causes acne, Propionibacterium acnes, after only five minutes.

Not only was thyme more effective than the other herbal remedies tested—marigold and myrrh—(and I should note that these ingredients also showed beneficial actions against acne), thyme even had a greater antibacterial effect than benzoyl peroxide, the ingredient found in most prescription acne products.

Strong support for natural acne fighters

I often get questions about top natural acne remedies from people who struggle with the skin condition and are concerned about the potential health risks of prescription acne treatments.

Treatments such as oral tetracyclines, topical retinoids, and isotretinoin pose issues particularly for pregnant women; they have been linked to birth defects, bone-growth issues, and other potential effects on developing fetuses. Other risks for everyone include allergic reactions and irritation.

The reason this research from Leads Metropolitan University holds so much promise for the natural acne category is because it proves efficacy in relation to a well-known acne drug, therefore having the potential to boost consumer confidence that a natural remedy can be as effective as a conventional one.

There are many lifestyle tips and traditional natural ingredients that experts recommend for acne. I'm also a strong believer that lifestyle is critical to the maintenance of healthy skin. But when it comes to serious solutions for a serious problem such as this, we want the proof that we’ll see results. And that proof starts with the ingredient research.

Research conquers consumer skepticism 

As I covered in our NEXT Forecast, consumer skepticism has been a major barrier to the growth of the natural personal care industry. If this is true for categories such as hair care (swearing off a shampoo that failed to live up to that rich lather we’re used to, for example), imagine what it means for products that address a skin condition like acne.

One of the clearest ways for natural products to compete with conventional ones across the personal care segment is by benchmarking against them (something we’re seeing a lot of in the natural cleaning product category). This study did that on the ingredient level, and I think we’re going to see more and more companies conducting clinical research on their finished products as well.

Consumers can continue to put the pressure on companies by staying current on the research and looking for products that incorporate top nontoxic ingredients. And studies such as this give natural products companies more credibility when they do use these ingredients—and bragging rights to support a belief that they've had for years: That the best solutions to our everyday problems often come from nature. 

What have you found to be the most effective ingredients to prevent or manage acne? 

Discuss this Blog Entry 10

Jennifer Stewart (not verified)
on Sep 7, 2012

Any research into non-toxic acne treatment is excellent news indeed. I look forward to when these researchers actually test the efficacy of Thyme on skin instead of just in test tubes. Considering how much benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid the average person puts on their face over their lifetime, we really need a safer alternative.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 12, 2012

So do you take the thyme as a supplement, or wash with it?

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 13, 2012

So, how do you use the thyme for acne?

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 13, 2012

Same question as the first anonymous. I hate it when you bring up great ides and then leave us hanging without any
"how to's!"

on Sep 13, 2012

Thanks for your comments. Yes, this refers to the topical application of thyme, so look for products such as facial washes and creams that highlight the herb. Benzoyl peroxide is a topical acne ingredient; therefore, this study compared only thyme's topical benefits to those of benzoyl peroxide. I'm working on another piece that provides various tips and acne-fighting ingredients that are both topical and ingestible (for example, probiotics, guggul and zinc--some of the most research backed). Stay tuned!

Co2 laser Orange County (not verified)
on Feb 22, 2013

Good one, I am also looking for the stuff about acne like you explain in your article. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Malcom Papai (not verified)
on Apr 26, 2013

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