The Ultimate Guide to DIY Face Masks for Acne: Everything You Need to Know!

The ultimate guide to DIY face masks for acne

Homemade face masks for acne aren’t one-size-fits-all. In this Ultimate Guide to DIY Face Masks for Acne we cover absolutely everything you need to know — which ingredients never EVER belong in a DIY acne mask, the best ingredients by skin type, and how to construct your mask. Let’s dig in!


Face masks are a must in every great skin care routine, and are especially helpful for managing breakouts.

Think of a face mask like a superfood-packed smoothie — one smoothie (even daily) can’t replace a healthy diet (a.k.a. a great skincare routine) but it can provide a mega-dose of nutrition to support your health.

And the best face mask? I would beg to say it’s homemade…

The best part about homemade face masks for acne: they’re completely customizable!

You can pick and choose those ingredients that are going to be most beneficial for your skin.

Because face masks in general or even masks specifically to address acne aren’t one-size-fits-all: depending on your skin type, certain ingredients should be avoided or included for the best results.

(And no, your skin type doesn’t stop at “acne-prone”!)

DIY face mask for acne and blemish-prone skin with activated charcoal

In this Ultimate Guide to DIY Face Masks for Acne, we cover absolutely everything you need to know to make the best, most effective mask for your unique skin.

  • Which ingredients to NEVER use in a homemade face mask for acne (spoiler: coconut oil is on the list!)
  • How to test for your skin type
  • The best DIY mask ingredients for acne-prone skin by skin type (all skin types, oily, dry, sensitive, and with blackheads)
  • How to construct your homemade face mask + some fantastic go-to recipes

A few common DIY face mask ingredients make acne and blemishes even worse.

Needless to say, you do NOT want to include these in your DIY acne masks!

COCONUT OIL

Surprised!?

Trying to use coconut oil for acne is like adding lighter fluid to an already raging bonfire: things are about to get a lot bigger and badder and out of control.

Because coconut oil has a very high comedogenic rating of 4 (on a scale from 0 to 5), which means it’s very likely to clog pores.

Please don’t be fooled by those arguments that the lauric acid in coconut oil helps manage breakouts and as a result reduce acne. While lauric acid is antibacterial, this doesn’t negate the pore-clogging properties of coconut oil. Plus, managing breakouts is usually so much more complex than simply managing the bacteria on the skin.

BAKING SODA

Baking soda has a very basic pH.

The skin, on the other hand, has a slightly acidic pH at which all is happy and calm. This slightly acidic pH helps keep the “bad” bacteria in the skin’s microbiome under control.

When the skin’s pH is thrown off balance and veers more to the basic end of the pH scale, things go awry — not only can it get very sensitive and irritated, but bacteria like the p. acnes bacteria can thrive and lead to breakouts.

OTHER COMEDOGENIC OILS AND BUTTERS

These include avocado oil, flaxseed oil, soy oil, and cocoa butter.


To choose the right ingredients for your DIY acne mask, you first need you know your skin type.

Now you may THINK you know your skin type… but you may be wrong!

I’ve seen this time and again with my clients, which is why I always ask them to take this simple test before we rework their skincare routines.

There’s a very simple way to determine your skin type.

You’ll need just 2 things:

  • 1.5 hours during which time you can go totally makeup free!
  • A gentle, pH-balanced face wash (not regular soap or an oil cleanser)

Step 1: Wash your face, pat dry, and let it be – without applying any skincare products or makeup – for 1.5 hours.

Step 2: After the time’s up, how does your skin look and feel?

  • Is very shiny with very visible pores → OILY
  • Feels tight and appears more wrinkled → DRY
  • Oily in some places while dry and tight in others → COMBINATION
  • Red and irritated → SENSITIVE
  • None of the above → NORMAL

The best face mask ingredients for acne and blemish-prone skin


Now let’s take a look at which ingredients are best for your skin type.

This is where the fun begins! Choose the best ingredients for your DIY face mask.

ALL ACNE AND BLEMISH-PRONE SKIN TYPES

Matcha green tea is extremely antioxidant-rich, helping to prevent the sebum oxidation that many researchers believe to be one of the root causes of breakouts and acne. Studies have also found that it helps decrease excess oil production.

  • How to use it: 1/4 tsp of matcha per single mask application; best when mixed with honey, yogurt, or clay and a liquid.

Raw honey is a natural humectant that draws and holds water to the skin plus is antibacterial. A win-win for all types of acne-prone skin! (Note: manuka honey can be too strong for dry or sensitive skin, which is why I recommend it for oily acne-prone skin types only.)

  • How to use it: You can use raw honey as a single-ingredient face mask. So go on and mix with any other ingredients in quantity way you want! About 1 tbsp is the perfect amount for a single mask application or as a base.

Plain yogurt helps gently exfoliate the skin with natural lactic acids while also providing moisture. Be sure to choose organic!

  • How to use it: Like raw honey, you can use plain yogurt as a single-ingredient face mask. So go on and mix with any other ingredients in whatever quantity you want! About 1 tbsp is the perfect amount for a single mask application or as a base.

Lavender, tea tree, and rosemary essential oils help gently manage bacteria and reduce inflammation. In my humble opinion, they’re a must in every DIY acne mask! Sort of like the cherry on top. (NOTE: Essential oils may not be suitable for very sensitive skin types.)

  • How to use them: Essential oils are very strong and need to be properly diluted — just 2-3 drops per single mask application!

DIY acne mask with matcha

OILY ACNE AND BLEMISH-PRONE SKIN

Clays draw excess oil from pores, helping to prevent the backup of dead skin cells and excess oil that makes a zit! Bentonite clay is one of the most well-known and effective clays for blemish-prone skin.

  • How to use them: Clays can be mixed with water, aloe vera gel, diluted apple cider vinegar, honey, and yogurt. About 1 tbs of dry clay is the perfect amount for a single mask application.

Apple cider vinegar is acidic, helping to bring the skin’s pH back to its happy place. It also contains exfoliating enzymes and

  • How to use it: Never use apple cider vinegar undiluted on the skin! I recommend mixing 1 tsp apple cider vinegar with 2 tsp water. Make a great addition to clay masks.

Manuka honey is special in that it’s extremely antibacterial. It can be too harsh for sensitive and dry skin types, but works wonders for normal and oily acne-prone skin.

  • How to use it: Like raw honey, you can use manuka honey as a single-ingredient face mask. So go on and mix with any other ingredients in whatever quantity you want! About 1 tbsp is the perfect amount for a single mask application or as a base.

homemade face mask for acne and blemish-prone skin with clay

BLEMISH-PRONE SKIN WITH BLACKHEADS

Bentonite clay is well-known for drawing impurities from the skin… like trapped gunk from pores!

  • How to use it: Bentonite clay can be mixed with water, aloe vera gel, diluted apple cider vinegar, honey, and yogurt. About 1 tbs of dry clay is the perfect amount for a single mask application.

Activated charcoal has become a very popular ingredient in DIY acne masks and DIY blackhead masks in recent years and for good reason: it’s well-known for absorbing impurities and toxins, and so helps to draw gunk from the pores.

  • How to use it: Use the contents of just 1 capsule per single mask application (you’ll need to twist the cap open).

DRY ACNE AND BLEMISH-PRONE SKIN

Aloe vera gel (please, not the lime green goo that pretends to be aloe gel!) is extremely soothing and hydrating.

  • How to use it: Aloe can be mixed with clays, ground oats, or even raw honey to help thin it out (some raw honey can be very thick).

Vegetable glycerin is the most amazing humectant ever! Vegetable glycerin is also non-comedogenic.

  • How to use it: A little goes a very long way! Add just 4-5 drops of vegetable glycerin per single mask application.

Rose water very gently tones the skin and balances its pH. Plus,

  • How to use it: Rose water mixes well with clays and ground oats. You can even use it to thin raw honey (which can be quite thick depending on the brand) if need be.

homemade acne mask with honey

SENSITIVE ACNE AND BLEMISH-PRONE SKIN

Rose water very gently tones the skin and balances its pH.

  • How to use it:
  • Rose water mixes well with clays and ground oats. You can even use it to thin raw honey (which can be quite thick depending on the brand) if need be.

Aloe vera gel (please, not the lime green goo that pretends to be aloe gel!) is extremely soothing and hydrating.

  • How to use it: Aloe can be mixed with clays, ground oats, or even raw honey to help thin it out (some raw honey can be very thick).

Ground oats have long been used to soothe irritated skin. This is why oatmeal baths are such a popular natural remedy for those with eczema.

  • How to use it: Ground oats can act as a sort of clay when mixed with water, rose water, or aloe, and also pair perfectly with kaolin clay.

Kaolin clay is considered to be the most gentle of all the clays. It helps refine skin tone and texture without over-drying or irritating.

  • How to use it essential oils are very strong and need to be properly diluted — just 2-3 drops per single mask application!

Oats make a fantastic addition to DIY acne masks for those with sensitive skin


How to construct the perfect DIY face mask for acne and blemish-prone skin

Now that you’ve selected your ingredients, it’s time to put your homemade acne mask together!

Start with about 1 tbs of a base

  • Clay + 1 tbs water, rose water, diluted apple cider vinegar, or aloe gel (1 tbs clay + 1 tbs liquid)
  • Ground oats + water or rose water (1 tbs ground oats + 1 tbs liquid)
  • Plain organic yogurt
  • Raw honey
  • Manuka honey

Or of course, you can mix and match! For example:

  • 1/2 tbs clay + 1/2 tbs ground oats (+ 1 tbs liquid)
  • 1/2 tbs yogurt + 1/2 tbs raw honey

Add any extras

  • Matcha green tea
  • Activated charcoal
  • Vegetable glycerin

Last but not least, add just 2-3 drops of essential oils!

NOTE: Essential oils may not be suitable for very sensitive skin types.

Some ready-made homemade acne mask inspiration:


Do you make your own DIY face masks to help battle blemishes?

Have any go-to, tried-and-true recipes? Any tips and tricks? Please share with us in the comments below!

Or have you concocted your own signature recipe based off this guide? Are you willing to share with the community!? We’d love to hear what’s working for you!

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  1. Do you think cosmetic grade coconut oil is in the same comedogenic boat as food grade? I have a coconut oil based makeup remover I’m questioning… 🙂

  2. Hiya Nadia,

    It’s been a while since I wrote to you last or read one of your blogs!
    I used to be on your website almost every day and reading your book when I had a minute.
    It’s been a little busy on my end. I found out I had a tumour in my pituitary gland back in Feb of last year.
    I was gaining weight uncontrollably and I had lost my period. Doctors thought I was going through perimenopause before finding the tumour.
    I had surgery in June and since then lost all the weight I gained, but that may also be a result of getting diabetes incipidus from surgery and drinking around 3-5 liters of water and fluids a day!
    I have to go back for another surgery in July/Aug as my sinuses are inflamed, they got irritated too much during surgery I guess so I have to get them fixed.
    And to top it off, I hurt my arm shoveling snow, so now I’ve gone for ultrasound and x-rays, hopefully doctors recommend I rest just rest it and no surgery on it is required.

    Anywho, one day at a time as they say.
    Now that I’m kinda getting back into my normal routine. Putting together one of these masked sounds delightful.
    With my hormones being all out of whack my skin too was all over the place, I honestly think at one point or another over the last 2 years I have had every skin type. But it seems to have settled down and I have to say also, since surgery I have had hardly any breakouts! Maybe it’s all the water intake, maybe my hormones are coming back into balance but whatever the reason, I’m happy. I don’t wear any coverup or foundation or even powder anymore, I can face the world bare faced it it feels great!

    I do have a question though. With my hormones being all out of normal ranges before surgery, I really started growing facial hair around my chin and it’s the one symptom I haven’t been able to cure. Do you have any suggestions for natural hair removal?

    Thanks for taking a minute on me.

    Megs

  3. Hey, Ashley! If you struggle with breakouts yes I would avoid it! Or at least try taking it out of your routine for a couple weeks and see if you notice any improvement. There’s SO much that plays into acne and breakouts, but pore-clogging ingredients can most definitely be making things worse or even sometimes the primary cause!

  4. Wow Megs, I’m so glad to hear you’re recovering well and feeling better! The fact that you’re seeing improvements in your skin is a good reflection of your body rebalancing 🙂 I’m so happy for you! The same hormones (androgens) that are most typically behind acne can also lead to excess facial hair – this is why both are so common in women with PCOS, which is marked by excess androgens. So I wonder if you’ll start to see this go away as your hormones continue to balance. But in terms of natural hair removal, I personally just use a micro-razor and plucking. I’ve tried Moom certified organic wax in the past but it made me break out. And I’ve heard good things about threading if going to a salon is within your budget. Sorry I can’t be more help here!