If you experience acne, you know that there’s more than one kind of pimple. My bathroom cupboard is filled with different acne treatments, but I swear I need them all.
Keeping this in mind, I created an acne treatment recipe that you can easily customize to suit the needs of your skin. At the heart of this treatment, you’ll find a handmade thyme tincture. In a widely publicized clinical test, an alcohol-based thyme tincture outperformed benzoyl peroxide at killing the bacterium that causes acne. This tincture is easy to make and very effective at calming infected pores.
It also works well on its own. However, like most acne treatments, the alcohol in the mixture can be drying. For those of you who would prefer to limit your skin’s exposure to alcohol, I’ve added a micro-mask option that you can wash off after 10–20 minutes. This is particularly helpful for aging skin that takes longer to heal.
Like most topical treatments, this tincture works best on “simple acne,” or pimples that occur near the surface of the skin.
Over time, the active ingredients in the tincture will lose effectiveness, so you should throw any unused tincture away after four months.
For the tincture you’ll need:
- 1/2 cup vodka (not the flavored kind, must be over 30% alcohol)
- 1/4 cup dried organic thyme (not powdered)
- Small jar (about 8 oz.) and lid
- Another small jar or bottle for the finished tincture
- Paper coffee filter or clean piece of muslin (4×4”)
- Rubber band
- Clean cloth
For the mask you’ll need:
- 1/4 tsp. French green clay powder (for absorbing oil and holding the tincture in place)
- 1/8 tsp. cosmetic activated charcoal powder (optional—for absorbing oil and other pore-clogging junk. Be warned: this stuff is messy, but lends a fun inky look to your mask).
- 1/4 tsp. honey (honey moisturizes, soothes, and has its own antibacterial properties)
- 1/4 tsp. tsp. tincture
- Small glass jar with a tight-fitting lid, like a glass lip balm container
How to: Tincture
Sterilize your jar and lid by boiling them in a pot of water for 10–15 minutes. Make sure the jar is fully submerged and don’t let the boiling water sit unattended. If the water boils vigorously it may crack the jar.
Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool. Remove the jar and lid, touching only the outside. Let them dry on a clean cloth.
Put the thyme in the jar. Pour the vodka over the thyme and swirl the jar gently to stir. Screw the lid on tightly.
Put the jar in a dark place, like a cupboard. Let it sit for 14–28 days, shaking it gently every day or so.
When the tincture is ready, top the jar and cover the top with a coffee filter or piece of clean muslin. Secure with a rubber band.
Sterilize your second jar or bottle as you did before. Don’t forget the lid!
Pour the filtered tincture into the second jar or bottle. You might want to let it sit for an hour to let all the tincture drip out.
Using a cotton swab, dab directly on pimple 1–2 times/day. Store in a cool, dark place.
How to: Mask
In a clean jar, combine the clay powder, activated charcoal powder, and honey. Stir with a clean chopstick.
Add the thyme tincture and stir.
Apply directly to pimple using a cotton swab. Gently wash off with a damp tissue after 10–20 minutes.
Optional: follow with a healing balm. My favorite is Polysporin gel from the drugstore, but you can also use a natural calendula balm.
The micro-mask should be prepared fresh every couple of days.