Best in Show: Vegan Acne Treatments

Several months back, I was at a friend’s pool party, and over the buffet table, she made a passing comment about how I was vegan. You know, the usual “Zoe isn’t going to want any of that lamb, since she’s vegan.” As I continued to attack the hummus platter, you can imagine my surprise when a complete stranger to my left turned and said “So if you’re vegan, why do you have acne?”

Uhm, hello extremely rude stranger. Despite how off-putting the comment was, I managed to put on a friendly face and explain that since I went off birth control 3 plus years ago, I have been dealing with some intrusive hormonal acne. THANKS FOR ASKING.

Anyway, I’ve been making some dietary changes to try and tackle my hormones, like including more evening primrose oil and maca, stocking up on magnesium and probiotics, and limiting caffeine and sugar. But while I make those changes, I have also been on the hunt for the very best vegan acne products around.

After lots of trial and error, the clear winners are as follows:


Zen Med Refining Scrub
This scrub is my number one choice for exfoliators, because it not only clears my pores but busts future acne with alpha hydroxy acids and tea tree. It smells minty and refreshing, and doesn’t leave my skin red or raw, perhaps because it contains eucalyptus as well. You can get an entire Zen Med acne kit, which includes the refining scrub plus a bunch of other acne busters, here. 



Dark Angels by Lush

This gritty, black scrub is my biggest obsession. From it’s granular texture to its earthy sandalwood scent, it exfoliates my skin, clears my pores and makes everything tighter and brighter. Star ingredients are avocado oil, charcoal and black sugar. I use it twice a week in the shower, because it’s quite messy. Get some here.

Sircuit Skin SIR ACTIV Zeolite Invigorating Scrub 
This baby smells fruity and delicious, packed full of acne fighting zeolite and jojoba beads, as well as cranberry apple and beet extracts. It’s gentler than the Dark Angels scrub, so I can use it more frequently, and it does a great job of clearing my pores and brightening my complexion. Get yourself some here.


Herbalism by Lush

Herbalism by Lush is my daily go-to cleanser, which smells good enough to eat, and the color is lovely. It contains chlorophyllin, which is extracted from alfalfa plants, so I probably could eat it. Other ingredients are rosemary, nettle and chamomile. The wash not only sops up existing oil, but it helps to balance out my skin’s oil production so I will be less shiny later on. Check it out here.


Tea Tree Toning Water by Lush
I spritz this toner on my face after the shower and pat to dry. It contains acne fighting antibacterials , like tea tree, as well as astringents like grapefruit and juniper berry. Hello, tight face. Get some here.


Sircuit Skin Clarity Mask

Hands down my top face mask choice is this kaolin mask, made out of broccoli, sulfur and spirulina. It helps calm my red spots and prevent future ones from popping up. Check it out here.

Spot gels

Grease Lightning by Lush
This tea tree cleansing gel is gentle enough to apply twice a day, but effective enough to warrant a rave review. It contains tea tree and witch hazel, and helps control oil and keep my skin clean all day. Find it here!

Derma Cleanse Acne Gel
This treatment is perhaps the best I have stumbled on yet, so I guess I saved the best for last. The gel contains salicylic acid, so it’s stronger than the Grease Lightning, and I put it on my face before bed to fight acne while I sleep. It’s heavy duty, so a little goes a real long way. Get it here.

About Zoe Eisenberg

Zoe Eisenberg is a writer, editor, and published author.
This entry was posted in Ask the Vegan, Beauty and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Best in Show: Vegan Acne Treatments

  1. Permission to smack that jerk: granted! Lol

    In other news, I read somewhere, some time, that it’s best to wash the face with only warm water (unless you have been pooped on my a bird or something.) So I spotted using any soaps or fancy cleansers, and you know what? My skin cleared up.

    For years I suffered with acne and the scarring it left me with. Now, I hardly ever get a pimple. And I suspect going vegan even saved me from the flare ups I used to get right before my period! I use coconut oil to moisturize, too.

    I am interested in that mask, though. I’d it only for acne prone skin, or could I use it as a refresher?

  2. Alexandra C says:

    Loved the reviews. Seeing your journey through this is amazing and your blunt honesty is so brave. I hate admitting my faults and flaws especially on da internet !

    The only missing piece I see (seeing that your digestion and liver are rock stars and that hormonal regulating herbs have not seemed to make a difference )….

    I wonder what there is to be said about acne and stress, sadness, and all those emotions we shove into crevices. And the connection with dhea , produced by adrenals. I been getting pimples too which I never got until year 3 med school. I wonder if my adrenals are raisins now ?

    Thanks for the product reviews.

  3. Carrie says:

    I’ve never been a “product” person — I just can’t get into a set routine. I’ve been doing the warm water thing Shade mentioned above for years out of sheer laziness, and also, on the recommendation of my dad. He also scrubs his face with a hot wash cloth, though, and I just can’t get into that.

    Anyways, when I went vegan, my skin immediately started clearing up, and over time, my acne scars have lightened up considerably. I do get the occasional flare-up when I eat a lot of junk foods, though. Other than rinsing my face with warm water, I’ll use St. Ives apricot scrub (the original, not the medicated) a couple of times a month, and when my face is dry, I’ll rub in a couple of drops jojoba oil, which I like because it’s really light and absorbs really quickly.

  4. barbara says:

    You can find the Lush products a lot cheaper if you order directly from the Lush website.

  5. meerkat says:

    Thanks for this information. Most of the results I got when I googled “vegan acne treatment” were either for a single specific product or just “vegan diet = no acne!”

  6. carmen elvira says:

    hello there 🙂 .. thanks for sharing .. i have been looking for these .. i know you are vegan but i wonder .. is these products are cruelty free 🙂 thank youu

    greetings from Mexico 🙂

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