Similar to the sea salt baths I recently posted about, soaking in herbal baths can also be a relaxing method to nourish your skin. There are a number of herbal bath oils available that can help promote clear skin, as well as enhance your skin tone and texture.
There are a few reasons why herbal baths can work better than your typical herbal topical cream or cleanser. While you are soaking your skin in warm water, your pores naturally dilate, allowing nutrients to better penetrate the surface of your skin (and also allowing for removal of unwanted bacteria and dead cells). In addition, the temperature causes your circulation to increase, enhancing your body’s ability to utilize the nutrients that are absorbed.
A few herbal bath oils known to help sooth and protect the skin include chamomile, which also helps relieve anxiety and relax the body, and sage, which can reduce inflammation and has long been used to help with skin conditions. There are many other as well, but it’s always a good idea to do some reading first and find out why certain herbs have been used for such causes.
Too much soaking can be harmful to your skin as well, so don’t overdo it with any herbal bath treatment. The water should be warm but not scalding hot, and you usually don’t to stay in the water for more than 30 minutes. Used properly, these baths can be help invigorate your skin, but don’t expect an overnight miracle either. Regular but moderate use of soaking is the most effective and safest way to treat your skin.
Birth control pills have become an unlikely, but popular alternative acne treatment. In fact, it’s not unusual for women to consider going on the pill simply for its ability to promote clear skin. This isn’t simply an un-researched side effect either. The FDA has actually approved certain brands of birth control pills specifically for this use, such as Yasmin, Ortho Tri-Cyclen and Estro-Step (although other generic brands are medically possible of the same results). Some brands of the pill are even marketed with acne control as a selling factor.
So how do birth control pills help keep your acne under control, and are they a safe and practical treatment to use?
Anyone familiar with vitamin B5 acne treatment should understand the relationship between hormonal shifts and skin oil – namely that when your body produces more hormones, it can do so at the expense of metabolizing your skin oil, leading to oil build-ups within your pores and acne. Birth control pills work directly to counteract this, as they function by suppressing production of the sex hormone androgen by the ovaries and adrenal glands. By inhibiting the production of androgens, contraceptives free up more coenzyme-A for purposes such as metabolizing skin oil. As such, the pill actually produces similar results to vitamin B5, preventing acne from the inside-out and improving your overall skin tone.
The pill obviously has a few side effects that should be considered by anyone thinking of using it as an acne treatment. You can experience mood swings, changes in weight, and other effects. You should definitely consult your physician about whether going on the pill is right for you. That said, there are now low-dose contraceptives available for the specific purpose of acne control, so you may be able to minimize your side effects using these (whether this will minimize your results as well is unknown). It can also get a bit expensive depending on your brand, but with the crazy amounts of money some people spend at the dermatologist, this may not be a factor for you if the treatment works.
Some acne sufferers will visit the beach to try to hide their acne by tanning. However, there is something else at the beach that may actually be a lot more effective in treating your skin – the sea water. It’s a common story on the message boards that people have noticed improved skin after going for a swim in the ocean, thanks to the benefits of salt water.
This sounds great, but not everyone lives by the ocean. So what do you do if salt water isn’t to be found anywhere nearby? There are a number of stores online and off where you can purchase sea salt, and this can work just as well. To promote clear skin, you’ll want to dissolve the salt in warm water, such as a bath, and soak for about 30 minutes per day.
Salt water promotes clear skin in a few important ways. It naturally enhances exfoliation, gently speeding the removal dead cells from the surface of your skin. But more than simply eliminating the top layer of dead cells, salt water draws unwanted bacteria to the surface of your skin, tightening your pores in the process. This is one of salt treatment’s best benefits, provided you give it the time it needs to work. Soaking in salt water allows the salt to penetrate your skin cells, causing them to flush out unwanted toxins. This can provide lasting improvement in the clarity and texture of your skin.
Treating your skin with sea salt can take some effort, so it’s not for everyone. Time for results can also vary, with some seeing results within just a few days, while other require up to 8 weeks for considerable improvement. For deeper blemishes such as cystic acne it may simply not be enough. However, this treatment can be especially effective for treating pesky body acne in areas such as your back. So it’s certainly worth a try if you fall into that group.
The success of the acne device/gimmick Zeno has spawned a number of imitators, with the latest being a new heat-treatment tool called Thermaclear. Thermaclear uses the same approach to acne spot treatment as Zeno – using heat to penetrate the top layers of the skin and kill underlying bacteria, but the way it works is a bit different, and perhaps more convenient for users seeking clear skin.
While other acne heat treatments require a slow, steady application that can last longer than a minute for each pimple, Thermaclear’s application is as short as 2 seconds. That fact alone makes this a much more practical solution for anyone with real acne problems. Of course, a lot of heat is rapidly generated in that moment, so it may be a mildly painful jolt for those not used to such things. Does it work as well as other heat treatments? The jury is still out on that one, but according to the medical tests, it can successfully shorten the life span of your zits (from 4-7 days to as little as 2-3 days in many cases, apparently). So in other words, it should work about as well as most spot treatments such as benzoyl peroxide.
Thermaclear is definitely a spot treatment device, so don’t expect it to prevent future acne from forming. Its use is simply to speed the elimination of existing acne spots. In order for the device to work, you have to catch your zits very early in formation. This goes for all heat treatment devices. Their effect is minimal upon acne blemishes that are already mature. You need to apply the device at the very first sign of a pimple for best results, and then continue to apply it to each zit, at least twice per day in most cases.
If you have mild acne and want a new spot treatment, or perhaps have bad reactions to chemical spot treatments, Thermaclear may help you out. Devices like this aren’t going to give most people clear skin, as they don’t regulate your oil glands or prevent bacteria from forming in the first place, but they are handy for those who need a non-chemical way to manage acne.
Sure, spot treatments may not actually prevent future acne or promote clear skin in the long term, but sometimes you just need to get rid of that one pesky zit fast. For those times it’s always helpful to have a decent spot treatment on-hand. Here are a few suggestions:
Benzoyl Peroxide Cream- One of the most popular spot treatments, and a main active ingredient in common products such as Neutrogena’s “On-the-Spot” cream, Benzoyl Peroxide (BP) remains one of the most reliable spot treatments out there. You can typically find BP for much cheaper online than what you will pay for the name brands in stores, and it still works just as well. A 2.5% concentration is usually all you need, so don’t nuke your skin with higher concentrations, as studies have found that while higher percentages dry out your skin more, they don’t actually increase BP’s acne-fighting properties.
Tea Tree Oil – Often referred to as an all-natural alternative to BP, tea tree oil is a powerful antibacterial agent that makes for an effective acne spot treatment. Some users have found tea tree oil to be less abrasive to their skin compared with BP, while still just as effective at stopping acne. Tea tree oil has a powerful smell that turns some users off, but it absorbs quickly into the skin, and personally I don’t mind the scent at all. It may be a good idea to stick to applying this one only before bed if it bothers you.
Green Tea Cream – A lesser known spot treatment compared with the other two, green tea cream has been shown in a number of tests to again produce results similar to BP in combating acne. Green tea is one of the best herbal antioxidants out there, and using green tea extract (usually at concentrations of about 3%) in topical form, has been shown to have powerful antibacterial properties. Of course, actually drinking green tea is a good idea to supplement your clear skin diet, but the topical form is best when it comes to the fast results needed by a spot treatment.