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12 Strange Acne Remedies: Some You Might Not Want To Know About

By Megan Griffith

Reviewed for medical accuracy by Dr. Jaggi Rao,
MD, FRCPC Double board-certified dermatologist

Throughout the years and even today, there have been some pretty weird and wacky ways to address the appearance of acne. From baking soda to dryer sheets, people have tried some pretty odd things. Some of these treatments might seem gross but remember, it worked for someone, somewhere! By no means is this a DIY instruction sheet. It is informational only and if it strikes your fancy to try one of these, please consult with your physician before trying any of these at home. Yes, even the banana peel.

Acne Remedies
Could these odd acne treatments work?

Coal Tar

Coal1 is known to belong to a class of drugs called keratoplastics. When used as an exfoliant it’s shown to effectively cause the skin to shed dead cells away, as well as slow the growth of new cells. Slowing the growth of skin cells might possibly prevent trapping the bacteria that cause acne beneath the skin. It’s very often used for those suffering from psoriasis, too2.

Urine Therapy

Yes, this is just what it sounds like. Catching the urine and applying it to pimples or the entire face3 has been shown to be quite effective for a FEW people. Using it as a mask for 10-20 minutes and then rinsing away leaves behind a more conditioned skin due to the substance called Urea that is found in urine. It can also be used with compresses or spread on with a washcloth soaked in urine.


That’s right. Windex. Somehow, Windex made it to the acne treatment scene soon after its introduction as a cleaning product. This treatment is GREATLY discouraged though, as Windex contains many volatile chemicals and the pH of Windex is highly alkaline. Our recommendation? Don’t try this one at home! Thanks a lot, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”!

Banana Peel

Banana peel contains a chemical called lutein. It also contains Vitamins A, B and C as well as potassium, magnesium and many other great vitamins and minerals. Using a banana peel4 on your face should help to curb inflammation and may even help clear pimples.


The potassium, sulfur, phosphorus, and chloride in potatoes are rumored to help clear breakouts. Simply cutting off a piece of potato and using the white meat of this root is the method for application. Remember to wash it away though. Potatoes are very “starchy” and when they start to dry they leave behind a gritty powder that will flake. Not pretty.

Athlete’s Foot Powder

In the summer it’s not uncommon to experience a rash and breakout under the bra, that’s a two-fold issue. More than likely it’s both a bacterial and fungal infection. Simply powdering with Athlete’s foot powder is believed to help clear all of this rash and return the skin back to normal. The powder wicks away moisture while also providing a fungal fighting medication.


Many acne patients would love to go to their esthetician and get the strongest, deepest chemical peel possible. Most estheticians just aren’t going to do that. Salicylic acid is the closest thing to a chemical peel that the average acne sufferer is going to receive5. That being said, aspirin is made from acetylsalicylic acid and can provide those anti-inflammatory benefits as well as dry the blemishes for faster healing. All of that right at home from the medicine cabinet.

Dryer Sheets

Here is a strange one. After a dryer sheet has been used, SAVE IT! Some say rubbing the sheet on the face will remove oils and gently exfoliate it as well. It is probably best to use dryer sheets that are already only slightly scented as the fragrance could cause further irritation, but these sheets can be washed, rinsed and dried again for use and re-use.

Bird Poop For Geishas

Bird poop? It is said that geishas would use the droppings of Nightingales each night as a facial mask to keep their skin clear and smooth. The poo was probably part of a concoction of other ingredients, but who thought this was a good idea in the first place? But again, this worked for someone, somewhere. Supposedly it worked pretty well for Claudia Connell of Daily Mail.

Snail Slime

Oh yeah! Snail slime! It’s actually quite a beneficial elixir. Even some dermatologists have said that the regenerative power of this slime is quite renowned. South African farmers who regularly handled escargot reported younger, smoother looking skin on their hands. The beauty market in Korea picked up on it, and it finally made its way into the US around 2010. Apparently, the ability of the slime to restore damaged tissue and replenish moisture6 has proven quite useful in the healing process of those with acne.

Pepto-Bismol And Listerine

Please don’t mix these together. It’s been said that you can use Pepto-Bismol for a mask, as it seems the salicylates it contains help to treat the skin all over. After the PB mask, spot treat with Listerine7. Listerine was first introduced to the medical industry as an antiseptic to be used during surgeries! Some have reportedly found that the herbal oils and alcohols found in this mouthwash are very antibacterial and work well for acne as well.


Some people have actually reported this as a remedy. Of all the junk science out there though, this may be in the Top 5 of junkiest. One woman was reported to have said that she had a breakout and then was abstinent for 2 weeks after that. Those 2 weeks her acne cleared completely and returned at the same time her lover did. It worked for someone, somewhere. Maybe.

If you have acne, chances are that you have tried many, many different methods trying hard to get your skin clear and healthy. The moral of the story is this, keep trying but try things that make sense. Some of the “remedies” found here probably work at least for a short while. Some may even clear acne just as good as a Proactiv solution, but without a healthy lifestyle and diet, any remedy will likely be short-lived.

Bird poop? Consider the fact that geishas also had a very natural, organic, and whole food diet. There were a lot of Omega-3’s in their diet and virtually no sugars or dairy. Maybe that was actually the real cause of their near perfect skin. Not Nightingale droppings.


  1. Kaidbey KH, Kligman AM. A human model of coal tar acne. Arch Dermatol. 1974 Feb;109(2):212-5.
  2. Leong LY. How I use coal tar in dermatology. Singapore Med J. 1990 Dec;31(6):614-5.
  3. Totri CR, Matiz C, Krakowski AC. Kids These Days: Urine as a Home Remedy for Acne Vulgaris? J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2015 Oct;8(10):47-8.
  4. Kapadia SP, Pudakalkatti PS, Shivanaikar S. Detection of antimicrobial activity of banana peel (Musa paradisiaca L.) on Porphyromonas gingivalis and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans: An in vitro study. Contemp Clin Dent. 2015 Oct-Dec;6(4):496-9.
  5. Lekakh O, Mahoney AM, Novice K, Kamalpour J, Sadeghian A, Mondo D, Kalnicky C, Guo R, Peterson A, Tung R. Treatment of Acne Vulgaris With Salicylic Acid Chemical Peel and Pulsed Dye Laser: A Split Face, Rater-Blinded, Randomized Controlled Trial. J Lasers Med Sci. 2015
  6. Autum Kuanpradit C, Jaisin Y, Jungudomjaroen S, Akter Mitu S, Puttikamonkul S, Sobhon P, Cummins SF. Attenuation of UV-B exposure-induced inflammation by abalone hypobranchial gland and gill extracts. Int J Mol Med. 2017 May;39(5):1083-1090.
  7. Vlachojannis C, Al-Ahmad A, Hellwig E, Chrubasik S. Listerine® Products: An Update on the Efficacy and Safety. Phytother Res. 2016 Mar;30(3):367-73.
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Barbara Reply

I am 37 and I still have acne. When I put foundation on it just looked horrible over the acne. However, I bought dermalmd blemish serum by my friend recommendation and I LOVE it. It goes on smooth with no stickiness or greasy feeling and i genuinely believe that this helps acne breakouts. Definitely worth the money

December 4, 2018 at 10:03 am Reply

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