I’m a bit of an acne treatment aficionado. In high school and college, I tried prescription pills and topical treatments, OTC creams, pads, cleansers—you name it, I’ve probably tried it. One time, in a moment of desperation, I bought these little medicated circular stickers that you place on your pimples to make them “disappear.” (Spoiler: They didn’t work, and I looked like a ladybug.)
Fast-forward a few years, and my skin has cleared up dramatically (which I attribute to a better diet, better skincare regimen, and a shift in hormones). But while most of my pimple problems have vanished, my willingness to be a guinea pig for different acne treatments hasn’t. I still get the occasional breakout and have these annoying little bumps in my T-zone, so when Dr. Carl Thornfeldt, founder of Epionce skincare, told me that drinking two cups of spearmint tea every day was more effective at clearing acne than prescription remedies, I couldn’t grab my mug fast enough.
Dr. Thornfeldt notes that using mint to treat acne isn’t something new, but spearmint has been gaining well-deserved praise: “It has been documented that spearmint is the most potent of the different mints in killing skin disease-causing bacteria and yeasts. In additional, spearmint has the most anti-inflammatory activity of the mint varieties.”
He adds that in a 2015 study by the American Academy of Dermatology, two cups of organic spearmint tea ingested daily reduced inflammatory acne lesions by 25% after one month and by 51% after three months. “When compared with 100 milligrams of prescription minocycline [Ed note: a prescription acne oral medication] taken once daily, after 3 months of use, minocycline reduced the number of acne lesions by 52% but caused side effects in about 20% of the patients. Spearmint tea induced no side effects,” explains Dr. Thornfeldt. I decided to put the herbal remedy to the test.
If I was going to commit to weeks of drinking the same flavor of tea twice a day, I wanted to make it enjoyable. I got set up with a big canister of spearmint tea from David’s Tea, a handy White Perfect Infuser ($12), and a Carry Travel Mug ($32) for my commute and the office. At first, I was worried that so much mint would be too much to tolerate (probably because of my aversion to mints after once eating an entire bag of spearmint Lifesavers and getting a huge bellyache), but surprisingly it was totally fine and actually quite enjoyable. Oddly enough, the spearmint energized me during the day yet helped soothe me to sleep when I sipped it before bed. It was the best of both worlds.
The best part, however, was the fact that it actually helped clear my skin. I didn’t use any acne cream or cleansers the entire month that I tested the tea and kept my diet the same as usual. Even during the week of my period (which is when I break out the most), I barely had so much as a blemish. During a visit home, my mom noted that my skin looked like “porcelain.” I hadn’t heard her say that in ages, and with that, I happily (and smugly) sipped my tea.
Tea time, anyone?