Treating Acne in Kenya: Natural & Conventional Methods


Understanding Acne. 7 Types of Acne You Must Know About. 

Long but Fun Article Alert!
Regardless of your age or gender, every time you are dealing with acne, the cause is either hormonal, nutritional, infection or reaction to an internal or external irritant.
In this article, we will address the commonest type of acne in women, commonly known as Cystic acne. As you will learn in the article, the majority of acne cases are related to hormonal imbalance. We will keep a special focus on hormonal balancing and topical acne remedies.


7 Types of Acne

Facts about acne, details to follow:

  • Acne is a skin disease involving oil glands at the base of hair follicles
  • Acne affects 3 in every 4 people between age 12 and 30 years old (75%)
  • 75% of all acne cases are related to hormonal imbalance, primarily too much of androgens
  • 92% of women in Africa experience acne between age 12 and 30 years.
  • Balancing hormones in women can clear 82% of all acne issues

Understanding How Acne Happens

Human skin has small holes called pores. The pores connect to an oil gland under the skin called sebaceous gland. Sebaceous gland produces an oily liquid called sebum.
Sebum carries dead skin cells to the surface of the skin. The hair grows through the follicle through the skin. Sebum also has anti-bacterial properties protecting the skin from infections.
When these pores get clogged/blocked, oil builds up under the skin forming a pimple.
If dead skin cells, sebum and hair clump together, it can get infected causing a swelling to result.
By understanding how acne/pimples form, we can agree cleaning the skin can prevent acne. Overdoing it can expose the skin to bacterial infections when sebum is washed off. Using skin clogging face products (oily/petroleum jellies) can trigger acne.

Causes of Acne:

As stated in the opening paragraph of this article, there are a handful causes of acne. Androgen hormone is the single most common cause of acne in men & women.
What are Androgens?
Androgens are male hormones that increase during teenage years. In women, androgens are converted to estrogen.
Androgens cause the sebaceous glands (oil glands) to grow faster and larger. Overproduction of oil can clog pores or break cellular wall allowing bacteria to invade and grow. This causes acne to develop.

Other Causes of Acne

  • Greasy cosmetics – clogs the pores
  • Medications containing androgen and/or lithium
  • Emotional stress – lowers immunity
  • Menstruation – Again, hormonal imbalance

Acne Tip!

Tip: If you suffer from acne, completely avoid greasy face products. The worst product you can apply on your face is a petroleum jelly. These jellies clog the pores and worsen your acne.
If you have oily skin with acne, chances are, you have high androgens. DIM with Vitex for women can help balance hormones, androgens and achieve a smooth acne free skin.

Types of Acne

Types of Acne

There are many terms used to describe acne and some might have confused you by now. This section will make your understanding of types of acne a bliss.
The first 3 types of acne are called non-inflammatory acne. Non-inflammatory acne responds well to non-prescription products and does not leave scars. These are the commonest types of acne.
From #4 to #7, these are called inflammatory acne and requires a dermatologist and prescription strength treatment.


A comedo is a basic acne that has become clogged with dead cells and oil. A comedone can develop into a white head or a black head. Cosmetic products that may trigger the development of comedones are called “Commedogenic”. You may notice the word “non-commedogenic” on skin care products like lotions, meaning they are likely to clog your pores causing acne.
Whiteheads and blackheads are types of comedones. An open comedo is what we call a black head. A closed comedo is what we call a white head.

2. Black Heads:

Blackhead Pimples
Blackheads are types of comedones that are open at the surface of the skin. They are filled with excess oil, melanin, and dead skin cells. Irregular reflection coming from clogged follicle gives them the black color. The black color is not caused by dirt – as myths have it.
Blackheads are easily treated with non-prescription acne products. They rarely scar the skin. It can take several weeks for treatment to clear them completely.

3. Whiteheads:

Whitehead PimplesWhiteheads are comedones that stay closed on the surface of the skin. The oil and dead skin cells prevent the clogged hair follicle from opening.
Just like the blackheads, whiteheads are easy to treat with non-prescription acne products. It may take several weeks of treatment before you can see results. DO NOT SQUEEZEOPEN WHITEHEADS. This can spread the infection and cause deeper infections that will leave a scar after healing.

4. Papules:

Papule pimplesPapules are comedones that have become inflamed forming small or red pimples. Papules should never be squeezed as this will lead to deeper infection and scarring. Papules may be painful or sensitive to touch.
Papules get worse before they get better. A large number of papules may be considered moderate to severe form of acne.

5. Pustules:

Pustule pimpleLike the name suggests, these are pus-filled pimples with either white or yellow pus. Pustules are large whitehead like pimples with a red ring around them, indicating inflammation of the area surrounding the dead cell and clogged oil sac. These types of acne cause scars and are considered severe.
They require a dermatologist intervention and most likely, prescription strength face products and antibiotics.
Pustules are closely related to boils.

6. Nodules:

Nodule pimpleNodules are large inflamed, deep firm pimples often painful.  Nodules should be treated by dermatologists. Nodules do not respond to non-prescription medicines and acne face products.

7. Cysts:

Acne Cyst
Cysts are large, deep pus-filled and inflamed form of acne like boils. They are painful with or without touch and should be treated by a dermatologist.
Nodules and cysts are the most severe forms of acne one can get.

 Acne Treatments:

Although most acne treatment methods focus on treating the skin, it is important to address what triggered the acne in the first place.
As we discovered earlier, most of the acne cases are caused by high androgen hormones. Women with high androgen hormones develop acne, oily skin, facial hair (beard and mustache), hair thinning, hair loss, baldness, hair growth in the body and may have irregular monthly periods
The first step in treating women acne is by balancing estrogen & progesterone hormones. If the one does not have any or enough progesterone hormone to balance the estrogen hormone, androgen levels go high triggering all sorts of problems.
darkening of the neck and armpits is a perfect medical depiction of insulin resistance. See Estrogen Dominance article.
This explains why dermatologists may put women on birth control pills to treat acne but this synthetic progesterone forces the body to live in a semi-pregnant state.
Progesterone hormone #1 function in a woman body is to maintain pregnancy. When you are put on progestin birth control pills by your doctor to control acne, your body assumes that you are pregnant, causing it not to release the egg (ovulation).
Most people get even more severe acne breakout once they stop taking birth control medication for acne.
Others can go for a long period of time without getting pregnant and many more people develop a more problematic condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

There is a better Natural way.

Herbal natural remedies are much safer than synthetic birth control pills that trick your body that you are pregnant – while not.
DIM with Vitex is a proprietary blend enhanced with black pepper extract that balances estrogen hormone and naturally lowers androgen hormones.
Evening Primrose Oil: Evening primrose oil (EPO) has been shown to relieve acne, make skin smooth, soft and strong and relieve symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome. Evening primrose oil should be taken once or twice a day (comes in 1300mg caplets) for optimum results.

Acne Face Products:

Benzoyl Peroxide Products:

Benzoyl peroxide kills bacteria that causes acne, removes dead skin and excess oil that clogs the follicles. Non-prescription benzoyl peroxide products have a concentration of 2% to 10%.

Tip: Tea tree oil is a natural product that has been shown to be more effective than 5% benzoyl peroxide. It is natural, safe and has no side effects. It also smells great.

Salicylic Acid Products:

Salicylic products prevent pores from clogging. They come in strengths from 0.5-5%. Pay attention to this ingredient when we get to home remedies for acne. It may just surprise you because Aspirin is a close cousin.

Alpha Hydroxy Acid Products:

There are two common types of alpha hydroxy acids products in non-prescription acne treatment. These are glycolic acids and lactic acids.
They are synthetic forms of sugar-producing fruits acid like oranges and lemons. They help by keeping the follicles open and by stimulating the skin to grow faster by removing the top dead layer of skin.
By stimulating faster growth of brand new skin, these products are great for reducing or removing acne scars.


Sulfur is an antibiotic. Sulfur in acne treatment products helps by removing excess oil and killing of acne-causing bacteria. Sulfur products are usually mixed with Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.

Retinol (Vitamin A1)

Retinol containing products are very effective in treating acne and has anti-aging effects. Most products with anti-aging effects are not cheap, so you should expect to pay more for retinol containing products.

Which Acne Products Should You Buy?

Here are general guidelines on using non-prescription acne products.
Since there are so many different types of acne product on the market, it is easy to get confused on which ones you should use. Remember, stronger or expensive is not always better.
Start with Benzoyl Peroxide Products. If you're not sure which acne product to buy, start with one that contains benzoyl peroxide. It's effective and well-tolerated by most people. Give it a few days before expecting to see any results.

TIP: If you want to go the natural organic way, Use tea tree oil based products. Tea tree oil is more effective treating acne than benzoyl peroxide products according to research.

Be Patient: Acne does not go away like common cold :-) . Expect to continue using benzoyl peroxide products for several weeks or months. Expect to continue using acne products for a while. Stopping using them may cause a relapse of acne.
Start with lower to moderate strength Acne products: Sometimes it is not important to start with very strong and expensive acne products.
Change gears upwards, not backward: If you start with Benzoyl peroxide product for several weeks and you are not seeing results, advance to a higher strength or a combination therapy containing benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and Sulphur.
Even better, skip sulfur and switch to natural therapies like tea tree oil and Manuka honey

Natural “Do It Yourself” (DIY) Acne Treatment & Recipes:

Team natural loves this section of the article. Please note that these DIY recipes may include non-natural ingredients used in common acne cosmetic products.

Aspirin Acne Mask Recipe:

Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) is very similar to salicylic acid discussed above as the first line of acne products ingredients.
Yes, the same aspirin you take for a headache.

  1. Get regular aspirin (not enteric coated) 100mg and crush 3 pills into a fine powder.
  2. Mix it with 1 tablespoonful of clean water to form a white paste.
  3. Set it aside.

Preparing the skin:
Using black African Soap only (I refuse to use any other soap if you have acne), wash your face clear and pat to dry. Never wash your face more than or less than twice a day – always.
  • Pat your face to dry with a clean towel. – Do not rub – pat to dry.
  • Using Q-tip, apply your aspirin paste on your acne.
  • Allow the paste to sit for 15-30 minutes until it is completely dry
  • Rinse your face completely with clean water
  • Leave your skin like that (no lotion) overnight
  • In the morning, apply water-based (oil-free) lotion like Aveeno
Repeat this procedure daily for the first week and then reduce to 3 times a week as your acne gets better.
Your skin will become very dry as aspirin drains the sebum. Some people report stinging sensation after applying the mask. This mask if for people with acne and oily skin only. If you want to prevent skin drying, mix aspirin with a tablespoonful of water and 1 teaspoonful of manuka honey.

Banana Peel for Acne Recipe:

Now, this sounds strange huh? But just try it. It will surprise you how well it works. Just try is for a week and take pictures daily and compare.

  1. Get an overripe banana peel and cut into small pieces
  2. On a clean face (always use African black soap), rub the inner side of the banana peel until it turns brown.
  3. Make sure you cover all your face, not just acne areas.
  4. Allow it to sit overnight if possible or for as long as possible
  5. Clean with African black soap and repeat the procedure every day

Your skin will look smoother and more elastic. Acne scars will slowly start fading away. Your acne will decrease slowly but surely.

Manuka Honey Acne Mask Recipe:

Manuka honey acne mask is probably going to give you the most dramatic results and probably the fastest and longer lasting. This natural recipe is not cheap
Manuka honey only comes from New Zealand. New Zealand has come up with an international standardized method of grading manuka honey.
The K factor or UMF (unique manuka honey) factor on the bottle of manuka honey indicates the antibiotic strength compared to phenol. The higher the UMF or K factor, the more effective the honey is against bacteria. The more expensive it is.

Beware – Chinese & Indians have factory made “manuka honey” they are selling as true raw manuka honey. Buyer beware!

Get a half teaspoonful (not tablespoon) of raw manuka honey with UMF above 15+.
Get egg yolk (not whole egg) into a clean bowl.
Mix if with manuka honey and a tablespoon of clean water
On a clean dry face (always use raw black African Soap), apply your new face mask and allow it to sit until it is dry. The longer it stays the better. If you can leave it overnight, even better.
This is probably the most effective acne face mask. Adding tea tree oil after cleansing would make it even more effective.
Pure tea tree oil is more powerful than Benzoyl peroxide in treating acne, yet it is natural, safe and no chemical side effects.

Which Oils Causes Acne? Comedogenic Oils Ratings:

Earlier in the article, when we defined types of acne, we said comedones are acne. Skin product that does not cause acne is said to be non-comedogenic. Products that cause acne are called comedogenic products.
This table shows acne causing factor of common oils. It is important to pay attention to the base oil of the cosmetic products that you use.
Be careful what you have heard about coconut oil on oily skin because it is highly comedogenic!
Your best oils re those with 0-1 ratings if you have oily sensitive skin. People with dry skin can take chances with rating 2-3. Rating 5 is almost guaranteed to cause acne to people with oily skin

Oil Name  Acne Cause Rating Linoleic acid  Linolenic acid  Oleic acid
Argan Oil 0 37% <0.5% 43%
Hemp Seed Oil (this oil is my HOLY GRAIL oil!) 0 56% 10% 11%
Safflower Oil 0 70-80% NA 10-20%
Black Currant Seed Oil 0-1 41% NA 15%
Blackberry Seed Oil 0-1 62.7% 15% 15.1%
Blueberry Seed Oil 0-1 44% 25% 23%
Goji Seed Oil (aka Wolf Berry Seed Oil) 0-1 68% 3% 19%
Poppy Seed Oil 0-1 58.5% NA 28.3%
Red Raspberry Seed Oil 0-1 52% 22% 11.7%
Sacha Inchi Oil 0-1 33% 54% 7%
Watermelon Seed Oil (aka Kalahari oil or Ootanga oil) 0-1 63% NA 15%
Shea Butter 0-2 3-8% NA 40-55%
Shea Nut Oil 0-2 9-14% NA 57-73%
Sunflower Seed Oil 0-2 59% 0.5% 30%
Tomato Seed Oil 0-2 49% 2% 21%
Broccoli Seed Oil 1 11.2% 11% 13.3%
Calendula Oil 1 NA NA NA
Castor Oil 1 4% NA 4%
Cucumber Seed Oil 1 60-88% <1% 14-20%
Emu Oil 1 15% 0.9% 47.4%
Grape Seed Oil 1 63-72% NA 21%
Hazelnut Oil 1 7-15% 0.5% 68-85%
Kiwi Seed Oil 1 16% 63% 13%
Meadowfoam Seed Oil 1 NA NA 2%
Milk Thistle Seed Oil 1 61% 0.2% 24%
Pomegranate Oil 1 10% 0.5% 5%
Rosehip Oil 1 44% NA 14%
Sea Buckthorn Oil 1 7% NA 29%
Strawberry Seed Oil 1 35-50% 30-38% 12-18%
Babassu Oil 1-2 NA NA 15%
Black Raspberry Seed Oil 1-2 48% 28% 10.5%
Elderberry Seed Oil 1-2 43% 35-45% 8-12%
Guava Seed Oil 1-2 77% 0.7% 11%
Maracuja Oil (aka Passion Fruit Seed Oil) 1-2 77% NA 12%
Neem Oil 1-2 13% NA 50%
Plum Kernel Oil 1-2 24% NA 67%
Walnut Oil 1-2 51% 10% 30%
Camellia Oleifera (aka Green Tea Seed Oil and Camellia sinensis Oil) 1 7% NA 79%
Apricot Kernel Oil 2 23% 0.22% 70%
Baobab Seed Oil 2 24-34% 1-3% 30-40%
Black Cumin Seed Oil (aka Kalonji oil, Caraway Oil, Nigella sativa Oil, and Black Seed Oil) 2 53.08% 0.24% 21.7%
Borage Oil 2 39% NA 18%
Brazil Nut Oil 2 25-40% 0.1% 35-50%
Cherry Kernel Oil 2 42% NA 46%
Cranberry Seed Oil 2 35-45% 22-35% 20-25%
Jojoba Oil 2 NA 1% 5-15%
Kukui Nut Oil 2 40% 26% 25%
Lanolin Oil 2 NA NA NA
Mango Butter 2 1-13% NA 34-56%
Mango Seed Oil 2 4% NA 40-46%
Olive Oil 2 5-15% NA 63-80%
Peach Kernel Oil 2 15-35% NA 55-75%
Peanut Oil (aka Groundnut Oil) 2 32% NA 48%
Pecan Oil 2 21% NA 41%
Pine Nut Oil 2 49% NA 24%
Pumpkin Seed Oil 2 47% 0.2% 36.3%
Rice Bran Oil 2 34% NA 38%
Sandalwood Seed Oil (aka Sandalwood Nut Oil) 2 2% NA 50-53%
Sweet Almond Oil 2 20-30% 0.4% 62-86%
Tallow 2 3% 1% 47%
Tamanu Oil 2 29-38% NA 34-41%
Evening Primrose Oil 2-3 75% NA 6%
Macadamia Nut Oil 2-3 1-5% 3% 55-67%
Mustard Seed Oil 2-3 10% 11% 25%
Papaya Seed Oil 2-3 3% NA 77%
Avocado Oil 3 15% 0.8% 65%
Chia Seed Oil 3 18.7% 61% 7.7%
Cottonseed Oil 3 42-54% 1% 19-35%
Date Seed Oil 3 NA 2% 41-50%
Mink Oil 3 16% NA 39%
Sesame Oil 3 46% NA 39%
Carrot Seed Oil 3-4 10.8% 0.2% 68.4%
Marula Oil 3-4 4-7% NA 70-78%
Cocoa Butter 4 3% NA 35%
Coconut Butter 4 3.2% NA 35%
Coconut Oil (though it seems this oil works for many people just fine) 4 NA 0.2% 5-8%
Linseed Oil (aka Flax Seed Oil)- Cold Pressed 4 17% 59% 15%
Palm Kernel Oil 4 NA NA 15%
Red Palm Oil 4 14% 0.3% 49%
Soybean Oil 4-5 50% 7% 24%
Wheat Germ Oil 5 7% 55% 14%

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