There is a strong inflammatory component to acne breakouts – red, swollen, painful pimples, and even redness of the skin overall – so one of the most important parts of calming acne breakouts is to calm the inflammation.
One of my favorite ways to do this is by using herbal facial washes. You can make an acne wash the same way you would make tea. Allow the liquid to cool enough to avoid burning, but use while it’s still warm. Once it’s cooled sufficiently, soak a washcloth in the liquid and then apply to the face by letting the washcloth drape over the face while you lay back. Ring out excess liquid so the cloth is wet, but won’t drown you or run all over the place.
Making a wash isn’t a precise science. Start with boiling water. Add honesuckle and forsythia blossoms (available in your local Chinatown as Jin Yin Hua and Lian Qiao), and let them boil covered for 10 minutes. Add mint leaves, and boil for another 5 minutes. While you wait, Prepare a bowl with rose petals and 3 tea bags of green tea. After the final 5 minutes have elapsed, poor the liquid into the bowl with the roses and green tea. Let cool to avoid burning. When the tea is cool enough to apply, stir in 1 tablespoon of manukah honey and a quarter cup of organic cucumber juice (peel before juicing). Apply to your face for 5 to 15 minutes.
Honeysuckle and Forsythia both reduce redness and inflammation. Mint is cooling too. Rose petals and green tea are anti-inflammatory. The catechin EGCG in green tea has been shown to also be antimicrobial, with an effect on P. acnes, the bacteria that causes acne. EGCG has also been shown in clinical trials to reduce sebum (oil) production. Manukah honey is strongly anti-microbial, which will also help fight the P. acnes bacteria.
If you’d like, you may use the rising steam as a way to open your pores by draping a towel over your head and the bowl. Don’t get too close; steam can cause burns too.
If you’re allergic to any of the ingredients, do not use this face wash. If you are concerned about a reaction, do a patch test on your arm or behind your ear before applying to your face. Always allow the wash to cool enough to avoid burning.
For more about using acupuncture to treat acne, visit the Acne Page.