Beauty may be only skin deep, but trouble spots on the surface can have a profound impact. Aside from physical discomfort, problem skin can undermine confidence and even become socially debilitating. Come meet a few plant helpers that can help you to feel good in your skin and ready to face the world.

Most people associate pimples and blackheads with the teenage years, like a rite of passage earned when chronological age reaches double digits. The truth is, nearly one-fourth of all adults suffer from acne, the majority of which are women. Hormonal fluctuations experienced in both age groups tend to trigger an increase the production of sebum from sebaceous glands in the skin. While this substance is needed to naturally lubricate skin, excess sebum can become trapped under dead skin cells and block pores. Because this event shuts off the route for sebum to escape to the surface, the follicular canal inside the pore becomes inflamed. To make matters worse, a bacterium called Propionibacterium acnes that lives on human skin gravitates to the site to make a meal of the trapped oil. Unfortunately for you, all of these ingredients combine to make the recipe for a zit.

Handle with Care

It might be tempting to think that the way to eradicate flare-ups is to keep your face scrupulously clean. To a point, this is reasonable. However, washing too often or using harsh soaps and astringents - especially products that are alcohol-based – can disrupt the skin’s pH balance, strip the skin of natural oils and irritate inflamed skin, which will only aggravate existing problems and invite new ones. Gentle cleansing each morning and night with a mild facial wash is sufficient, followed by a light moisturizer free of heavy oils, namely petroleum by-products.

If you wear makeup, avoid heavy, oil-based foundations that can clog pores. In fact, mineral makeup is more than trendy – it reduces shine, the appearance of fine lines and the likelihood of breaking out.

Feed Your Face

Since your skin is nourished from within, what you eat is reflected in your complexion. Now, before you panic at the thought of giving up your secret stash of chocolate, rest assured that there is no scientific evidence to support the notion that this food, in particular, causes acne. Ditto for pizza, soda, French fries and the like. In fact, the only clear association between these foods and problem skin is drawn from the fact that teenagers often regard these foods as dietary staples.

However, there is evidence that consuming lots of fresh fruits and vegetables can improve problem-prone skin because they deliver beneficial antioxidant and anti-inflammatory vitamins and minerals. Vitamin A, for instance, decreases sebum production, while B vitamins play a role in regulating hormone metabolism.

Herbs for Healthy Skin


Neem is traditionally used to counter all sorts of skin conditions. The oil is used topically, while the leaf or powdered herb is taken orally. The plant contains two anti-inflammatory and antibacterial compounds called nimbidol and gedunin, both of which are effective against Propionibacterium acnes.

Yellow Dock Root

Yellow dock is a rich source of selenium and magnesium, minerals that work together to control swelling and irritation in blocked pores by enhancing the activity of an anti-inflammatory enzyme called gluthathione peroxidase.


The root and leaf of this plant contain several antibacterial and anti-inflammatory chemicals. For centuries, the herb has been used topically and orally in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine to treat acne and other skin disorders. Burdock is often combined with dandelion, nettles and other herbs in combination formulas to promote healthy skin.


Also known as “stinkweed,” this scrubby desert plant yields limonene, alpha-pinene and various amino acids that reduce symptoms of inflammatory skin conditions, including acne, herpes, psoriasis and eczema. Because compounds in this herb appear to exert estrogenic effects, it is generally used as a topical remedy to treat problem skin rather than taken internally.


Turmeric is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine to keep inflammation in check. The active component of turmeric, curcumin, is also highly antioxidant. You could supplement with capsules of this herb, but it’s much more satisfying to simply enjoy it’s warm flavor in food, especially Indian cuisine.