Sometimes kicking it old school is the best way to solve a problem. Gulping down water works just as well (or better) than popping an Advil when you have a headache, and a dip in the ocean can replace ointment if you need a soothing cure for skin inflammation. So when it comes to acne, it’s no surprise that taking an ancient approach can work wonders.
One of the oldest healing methods in the book? Traditional Chinese Medicine.
“Chinese Medicine is a foundational-based medicine that looks at the root of the body,” says Mona Dan, a Beverly Hills-based acupuncturist and owner of Vie Healing, a holistic medicine center and supplements line. “We believe the environment and the proper flow of blood and energy throughout the body have a strong impact on us.”
“The most important approach to fighting acne is looking at the internal aspect.”
And breakout-prone skin, Dan says, is no different. “The most important approach to fighting acne is looking at the internal aspect,” she says. “Your body holds onto toxins because you’re [nutrient] deficient. This builds up heat, which shows up on the skin as different kinds of pimples.”
The fix, Dan says, isn’t any single serum, but rather a 360-degree approach. “You don’t want to have to work for your body,” but instead find a way to make your body work for you, Dan explains. This means attacking the problem at its root—no trial-and-error testing of spot creams necessary (phew).
Here are the four most important ways to combat acne, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine.
1. Choose natural topicals
One thing’s for sure: TCM will never ask you to apply harsh acne treatments (so you can say goodbye to your benzoyl peroxide). Instead, it’s all about using organic, totally natural ingredients that have cooling properties—many of which you may already have in your kitchen. “Applying things like honeysuckle flower powder, pearl powder, turmeric, and fresh cucumber juice reverses the heat in the body that causes acne,” Dan explains.
“Honey is my secret weapon for everything,” Dan adds. “It’s a great antibacterial and antifungal.” (Plus, it’s effective as a face wash—I’ve tried it.) Dan advises mixing it with some coconut oil for a synergistic, skin-boosting blend. Another acne solution you can find in your cupboard is oatmeal, which Dan says is best for treating dry, cystic acne.