Try thyme to tame acne

By Shayna Brouker • Published: July 3rd, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

If you’ve sampled every gel, cream, wash, scrub, masque and supplement to erase your acne, take a tip from your spice rack: try thyme. The herb used to season meats and stews in Middle Eastern, French, Italian and Mediterranean cuisine can also calm your complexion.

Researchers from Leeds University in London found that when steeped in alcohol, thyme packed the most potent punch fighting pimples compared with marigold and myrrh. It even beat classic anti-acne chemicals benzoyl peroxide and salicylic (sal-uh-SILL-ick) acid. And unlike many acne treatments that contain these stringent solutions, which can irritate skin and cause dryness, herbal remedies like thyme soothe skin with their anti-inflammatory properties.

While a promising proposal, it’s too soon to tell whether thyme can truly stand in for drugstore staples. And scientists warn not to try making your own thyme tincture at home — it’s different than what’s produced in labs.

So hold off on slathering thyme on your face, but feel free to spice up your chicken Provençal (pro-van-SALL) with the stuff.

Dermatologists say you can eat your way to great skin with the right diet. Almonds fight sun damage with their antioxidants, and the vitamin A in carrots helps ward off breakouts by preventing the overproduction of cells in the skin’s outer layer. And good news for chocoholics: Antioxidants in cocoa and dark chocolate smooth skin texture and fortify cells’ defense against damaging U-V rays. Omega-three fatty acids in flax seeds, walnuts and salmon attract water to cells, reducing wrinkles. Last, don’t forget your greens. The water in spinach and other leafy vegetables helps plump up skin, too.

So until a thyme-tinged face wash hits the market, stick to dermatologist-recommended solutions … and don’t skip the salad bar. You’re only a spinach and almond salad away from a glowing complexion.