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A Reader's Skin Care Question Answered

I am trying to post more reader questions here on Chic & Green, and I'd like to answer a question here since this is a question I am often asked.

J., one of my sweet southern ladies, sent me a question not long ago about natural ways to treat staining or minor scarring for acne. She did something so many people do, and that is pick at the acne. When you're an acne sufferer, your doctor will tell you right off the bat not to pick. What I have found, though, is that people will try almost anything to remedy the problem--including picking at their skin. 

I told J. that there are many remedies found in her own kitchen to help remedy the problem.

Let's look at some of them:

A concoction of tomato paste & cucumbers

It sounds a bit like a vegetable salad, doesn't it? With daily use, this duo can help to fade acne scars over time.

How does it work?

Cucumber is extremely soothing. Possessing toning qualities, applying cucumber can help to calm and revitalize the skin. We all know how cucumber slices applied to the eyes can reduce puffiness, right? The same effect works when mashed cucumber (or by simply applying sliced cukes) is applied to the skin. Cucumbers can reduce inflammation and help to fade sacne scars with regular use.

I like to combine this with antioxidant tomatoes. For this, buy a small jar of tomato paste at the grocery store. I think tomatoes are one of the most underrated skin foods out there. A recent study in Great Britain showed that regular consumption of lycopene-rich tomatoes (specifically paste) can help protect skin from UVA damage as well as prevent premature aging. The tomato paste also helps to absorb excess sebum. In addition, when combined with cucumber, slight skin lightening can occur. This is how the cuke-tomato cocktail can help to treat and fade acne scars.

When starting out with this all-natural treatment, I'd try a patch test first (as with any product). If it doesn't irritate, start with a small amount daily. Apply to cleansed skin and let sit for 10 minutes or so. Rinse with tepid water. You should start to see results within 2 weeks of regular use.

Honey, Egg, and Lemon Mask

Lemon juice and honey are also both effective, over time, at scar fading. In fact, if you make a paste of egg whites, honey and lemon juice and apply it with cotton balls and let sit on the scars for about 10 minutes before rinsing off, it may show you the best results--you could see fading in a couple of weeks.  

You can use any honey, but I prefer Buckwheat Honey. The darker the honey, the more antioxidant protection present. That is why buckwheat is perhaps the most beneficial of all honeys. Much fuss has been made over a pricy ingredient called Manuka Honey lately. I have tried Manuka in test batches of products and my testers showed similar improvements to Buckwheat Honey. Don't feel you have to spend a fortune for good honey! My favorite kind is made locally in Hamlin, NY. It's the Buckwheat variety by Doan's Honey Farm and is just delightful. Locals can find it at Green Acre Farms in Greece (Latta Rd.) and right here in Irondequoit at Aman's on East Ridge Road (I have seen it in Irondequoit as well at a small market on Titus but it costs about 50% than Aman's).

Honey is great because it is truly anti-bacterial. It's also soothing. So many anti-bacterial treatments are drying and stripping. Honey is anything but.

Lemon juice (I use fresh) works because it lightens. It can add highlights to blonde hair by squeezing juice into the hair and sitting in the sun. Similarly, you can dab it apply it to scars and have a lightening effect. The one most important thing to remember, though, is that lemon juice is very photosensitizing. You cannot squeeze it on the skin and then sit in the sun (I do not advocate sitting in the sun anyway, though, without effective sun protection).

I like to mix 1 egg white with 2 T. honey and 1 T. lemon juice. Apply it to cleansed skin and let sit for up to 15 minutes. Rinse with tepid water.

The above two are the remedies I would try first. Other natural remedies to treat acne scars include fenugreek seed (but do not use often, as it can be too irritating) and a blend of 5 drops of Sandalwood Essential Oil and 1 T. liquid such as rosewater, aloe vera juice or green tea massaged in with a cotton pad.

Tomorrow on Chic & Green: What's In It Wednesday takes a look at Aquaphor, one of the most recommended products for baby's skin.