6 All-Natural Remedies for Common Skin Woes (and They're Probably in Your Pantry Already)

These holistic skin solutions use natural ingredients you're already familiar with.

Loving the skin you're in can be tough when it's always acting up. Whether you're dealing with dry, itchy patches or every-so-often pimples, skin problems aren't only a pain to deal with, they can also make you more self-conscious.

Fortunately, you don't always need to book a visit with your dermatologist. Instead, natural, home remedies can ease a variety of topical skin woes. But do keep in mind that a professional opinion or product is often still the best solution to certain skin conditions. "Natural DIY remedies are a fine substitute in a pinch, but in no way are they meant to replace actual skincare," says Joanna Vargas, celebrity esthetician in New York City.

Of course, the word "natural" gets used frequently, and just because a product uses that term doesn't mean it's safe. "Natural can refer to literally thousands of ingredients, and as I like to say, poison ivy is natural," says Rajani Katta, MD, a clinical professor of dermatology at McGovern Medical School at UT Health in Houston, Texas, a clinical assistant professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, and the author of GLOW: The Dermatologist's Guide to a Whole Foods, Younger Skin Diet.

Dr. Katta says many of her patients ask about natural skin care because they're worried about the risk of allergic reactions or toxicity from over-the-counter (OTC) skin care products. "You have to look at each of these natural products and judge them on an individual basis," she explains. While some natural ingredients have been studied extensively, and in some cases are shown to be just as effective as OTC products, others have the potential to cause side effects like allergic contact dermatitis.

For the safest route to organic skin remedies, turn to the most natural skin "products" in the world: food.

"Beyond farm to table is farm to face," says Ava Shamban, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Beverly Hills, Calif., and founder of AVA MD and SKINFIVE. "I've always been a big believer that glowing skin can be found shopping in your pantry, as we know that a range of key plant-derived botanics, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other natural extracts support the health and integrity of our skin, nails, and hair." Not only can they calm, hydrate, and fight inflammation, they can also deliver antioxidants, exfoliate, balance, brighten, and what Dr. Shamban calls "skinsational" results.

Here are six all-natural ingredients that double as topical remedies and soothing relief for common skin ailments.

Natural Remedies for Skin: natural skin care and remedies
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01 of 06

Epsom Salt

What it does: This simple ingredient fights inflammation, irritation, dehydration, and soothes and smoothes rough patches for softer, more even skin. "A great elixir for a scrub or bath, Epsom salt is rich in magnesium, which plays a vital role in over 300 enzymatic and metabolic processes in the body, including the regulation of blood pressure and immune support," Dr. Shamban says. It can also remove toxins and relax muscles, and by combining it with essential oils, it will exfoliate, hydrate, moisturize, and seal the skin.

How to use it: To take an Epsom salt bath, add 1 cup to warm water and enjoy the soak one or two times a week. To make a scrub, combine 1/4 quarter cup of olive oil, five drops of pure essential lavender oil, 3 teaspoons of Epsom salt, and 1 teaspoon (about two tea bags' worth) of green tea in a bowl or jar. Mix the ingredients until they form a paste-like consistency, adding more Epsom salt or olive oil, if necessary. Massage the paste gently across damp skin, avoiding your face.

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02 of 06

Green Tea

What it does: What doesn't green tea do? First, it works against aging. "Green tea decreases inflammation and scavenges free radicals to offer anti-aging benefits," Dr. Shamban says. It's also gentle and calming on the skin, and its epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) works as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and natural sunscreen with a photoprotective effect. Green tea is also an ingredient in several keratosis pilaris treatments. The one caveat? Although it's great for a little bonus sun protection, "green tea should never replace broad spectrum SPF 30," she says.

How to use it: Make a simple toner that can be used for eye puffiness anytime. Mix 1/4 cup of well-steeped green tea with 1/4 cup of witch hazel (available at most local pharmacies). Should you desire, add up to 1/2 cup of rosewater. Place this in a spray bottle and keep in the fridge for easy access (and a cooling effect) for 10 to 14 days.

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03 of 06


What it does: "Honey is one of Mother Nature's power players," Dr. Shamban says. It's not only antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, it's also anti-viral and anti-fungal, which means it can fight inflammation and speed the skin's healing process. And largely because of its flavonoids, it can be beneficial for acne or blemish-prone skin. Studies have found that it can actually reduce the size and duration of acne blemishes, she says.

How to use it: To fight inflammation or highly reactive skin, Dr. Shamban recommends mixing 1 tablespoon each of Manuka honey, matcha powder (or green tea or chamomile tea), and sweet almond oil and using it on skin as needed. Combat dry skin with a honey mask by combining 1 tablespoon each of Manuka honey and olive or almond oil with mashed avocado (up to half an avocado). Apply to your face for 15 to 20 minutes once or twice weekly, or as needed, and follow up with a moisturizer for dry skin.

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04 of 06


What it does: Oatmeal baths can help relieve irritated skin, and they're often recommended for sunburn, eczema, and poison ivy to help soothe red, inflamed areas. "Research shows that colloidal oatmeal demonstrates mild-anti-inflammatory properties," Dr. Katta says.

How to use it: Process whole, uncooked oats in a food processor until they become a fine powder. Add that powder to a warm bath (the water should quickly turn white and milky) and soak for 10 to 15 minutes.

05 of 06


What it does: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and fiber, soy has antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic benefits. "Typically, soy has been shown to reduce hyperpigmentation, enhance skin elasticity, support sebum balance, and enhance levels of cellular moisture," Dr. Shamban says. Plus, it can decrease photo-aging of the skin through its antioxidant properties.

How to use it: Make a hydrating, milky cleanser to lightly exfoliate your skin by mixing 2 teaspoons of nutmeg powder, 4 tablespoons of soy milk, and 1 to 2 teaspoons of plain Greek yogurt. Spread this over your face and massage in circular motions for 1 minute. Let it sit for another minute before rinsing with lukewarm water. Repeat daily.

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06 of 06

Coconut Oil

What it does: If you're looking for a moisturizer for sensitive skin, coconut oil has earned fame as an effective ingredient, and it's supported by science. "In research studies, it's been shown to improve skin moisture levels and reduce water loss from the skin after application," Dr. Katta says.

How to use it: Apply coconut oil, even the kind used for cooking, directly to any dry areas of the skin, including the face.

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