Acne peels and masks take aim at the core issues that cause pimples -- mainly excess oil from the skin glands collecting on the surface of the skin and bacteria that thrive in clogged pores. Peels come in all sorts of varieties -- from all-natural do-it-yourself blends to commercial products -- but they typically fight acne by reducing excess oil and bacteria. They also remove dead skin cells from the surface of the face, encouraging the growth of healthy, pimple-free skin.
Clarify With Lemon
For a basic face peel that particularly targets blackheads, mix the whites of one egg with the fresh-squeezed juice of half a lemon. Apply an even coating of the mixture over the surface of your face -- except for the areas right around your eyes -- and let it rest for up to 30 minutes or until the mask feels firm and dry. Peel the dried mask, then wash away the excess with a clean washcloth and gentle facial cleanser. Lemon packs plenty of alpha-hydroxy acid, which helps cut through oil and bacteria, while the egg whites have a tightening effect on the pores. This combo may actually peel impurities right out of clogged pores.
Exfoliate With Oatmeal
Oatmeal makes for a time-tested acne-fighting skin mask or peel, as it contains the all-natural exfoliant and disinfectant azelaic acid. Prepare whole oatmeal by heating it in milk, just as you would when preparing it for breakfast. To add skin-smoothing properties to rough skin, add a few spoonfuls of yogurt. Likewise, mix in a few spoons of honey for additional antibacterial properties. Let the oatmeal cool, then spread it over your face and cover it with a damp washcloth for about 15 minutes, keeping your nostrils clear for easy breathing. Peel what you can and wash your face clean with a gentle cleanser.
Both homemade and off-the-shelf masks and peels often contain clay, which you mix with a bit of water and apply to the face for an oil-reducing, pore-tightening treatment. The specific type of clay, however, makes a difference. Bentonite clay absorbs bacteria while French pink clay -- made of calcite, iron, illite and montmorillonite -- best suits sensitive skin, where it helps reduce redness and inflammation. Yellow and green clay exfoliates and helps normalize oily skin. Mild kaolin, or white clay, suits normal and oily skin types, absorbs oil and disinfects acne-prone skin. When using any type of clay mask or peel, always rinse your skin thoroughly before your skin begins to flake, as indicated by an itchy feeling.
Off-the-shelf products and professional dermatologists also offer skin peels -- more intense treatments than those you make at home -- for those suffering from acne. In both cases, acids typically serve as the key ingredient. Salicylic-acid peels, for instance, serve as an oil-cutting, blackhead-reducing acne remedy for those with oily skin, while trichloroacetic acid peels lessen the appearance of acne scars and help normalize irritated or inflamed skin. The latter type is not recommended for dark or sensitive skin. Benzoyl-peroxide peels, often available at pharmacies, fight bacteria to ease and prevent breakouts.