Natural Acne Treatment: Berberine

As mask wearing becomes the norm, acne treatment under the mask should move away from traditional astringent ingredients to botanical anti-inflammatory active ingredients. In this article, we will introduce the science behind how the best natural acne treatment, Berberine, works.

Natural acne treatment

“I proposed in my paper on maskne published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology that the topical treatment of acne in a post COVID-19 world should move away from traditional active ingredients such as salicylic acid, retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, sulphur which have an astringent effect on skin, to botanical actives which exert an anti-inflammatory effect. For example, one of the key active ingredients that I have incorporated in the treatment of acne in my practice is berberine,” accredited dermatologist, Dr. Teo Wan Lin.

The causes of acne

Acne is one of the most common skin disorders in the world that affects all age and ethnic groups. To illustrate, key pathogenic factors such as the proliferation and colonization of the bacteria P. acnes, increased sebum production and inflammatory mechanisms can all lead to the development of acne. Additionally, factors like genetic history and diet also play significant roles in acne development.

The best acne treatment: natural ingredients

There has been growing research on plant-derived secondary metabolites that have shown to be effective in the treatment of acne. To illustrate, we’re going to share about botanical ingredients – Beberine. It is effective in the treatment of acne – without any drying effects or risk of irritant contact dermatitis.


Berberine is a traditional Eastern herb derived from various plants such as berberis vulgaris L, and phellodendron amurense. Research has shown that it is effective as an anti-acne active ingredient as it targets various mechanisms in acne formation. 

Here are the four main ways Berberine targets acne formation: 

Natural acne treaten


Berberine promoted bacterial killing in our body’s immune cells, known as macrophages, by increasing proteins that detected pathogens. This targets the proliferation of P.acnes, and other acne-causing bacteria. 


It has also demonstrated anti-inflammatory activity by inhibiting the release of proteins involved in inflammation in the body – namely, proinflammatory cytokines IL-6 and TNF-α. Furthermore, it also was found to regulate signaling pathways in our skin that can lead to inflammation. 

Reduce oxidative stress

Oxidative stress is an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body, which can lead to cell and tissue damage. Research also shows that oxidative stress is also one of the factors that can exacerbate acne formation. Furthermore, berberine has shown to decrease free radicals in the body, reduce breakdown of lipids in the skin, and DNA fragmentation from oxidative stress. To illustrate, it also helps to increase the activity of enzymes that break down free radicals in the body, and stimulate production of gluthianone- the body’s natural antioxidants. 

Oil control 

In addition, berberine also prevents androgen synthesis in the skin. This is important in preventing the formation of acne as androgens are hormones that stimulate the sebaceous glands, leading to more sebum being produced. In short, berberine helps to decrease sebum production by suppressing lipogenesis of sebaceous glands in our skin. 

Additionally, research has also shown that berberine helps to treat acne scarring, erythema, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Accumulation of excess melanin can lead to pigmentation and scarring. To illustrate, berberine helps to reduce these blemishes on the skin by inhibiting melanin synthesis and tyrosinase- the enzyme that catalyzes melanin production. 

Our dermatology practice is distinct as it does focus on cosmeceuticals developed by our pharmacy for the treatment of medical skin conditions. We are able to compound specific ingredients like berberine and other botanicals effective for acne treatment. Dr. Teo’s research in biofunctional textiles for the treatment of acne and maskne has also been published in top journals like the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 


Beberine is available as a standalone product for acne treatment, and also as part of our 360 Conscious Mask Bar subscription, which includes freshly compounded cosmeceutical vials delivered straight to your doorstep. Find out more about the actives here.


Teo W. L. (2021). Diagnostic and management considerations for “maskne” in the era of COVID-19. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology84(2), 520–521.

Soleymani S, Farzaei MH, Zargaran A, Niknam S, Rahimi R. Promising plant-derived secondary metabolites for treatment of acne vulgaris: a mechanistic review. Arch Dermatol Res. 2020;312(1):5-23. doi:10.1007/s00403-019-01968-z

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