Is an Egg Mask Good for Acne?

Raw eggs in a bowl.
Can an egg mask really clear acne?. Image: Riou / Getty Images

Here's a recipe that's been around for a while: the egg mask. 

There are a few different directions for this alternative acne remedy.  Some say use the egg white only; other say use just the yolk.  Still others suggest beating the entire egg together, both white and yolk.

The idea is all the same, though: apply the raw egg to your skin, let set until completely dry, and rinse completely. 

Proponents say it can shrink large pores and clear acne.

  What does the science say?

An egg mask won't clear up a case of acne.

Using raw egg, whites or yolk, as a mask will not make acne go away.  Although the skin may feel softer, or even cleaner, after you use this mask, long term it is not going to clear up breakouts.

There are probably a couple of reasons why people think egg has acne-clearing abilities.  First, as it dries it tightens on the face (it gets really, really tight) much in the same way a clay facial mask would. 

It would seem like as it tightens it's drawing impurities and gunk from the pores.  In all actuality, raw egg isn't cleaning out the pores.  No doubt your skin probably feels cleaner.  Egg is just not "cleansing" all those tiny microcomedones from the skin.  And it's those micro-breakouts that eventually grow up to be be breakouts.

Eggs yolks do contain vitamin A, but not in a way that will stop breakouts.

Another reason eggs are often thought to have acne-clearing abilities is because they are high in vitamin A.

  Many of our most powerful acne treatment medications are derived from vitamin A.  This includes topical retinoid medications, like Retin-A and Retin-A Micro (tretinoin), Differin (adapalene), and Tazorac (tazarotene), and the oral medication isotretinoin.

So, it does seem like you may be able to skip the middle man, so to speak, and put a food high in vitamin A directly on your skin instead and get the same results.

Here's the difference, though: while these medications are derived from vitamin A, they are not the same vitamin A you find in foods like eggs.  They have been created in a lab to have a certain effect on the skin, namely a keratolytic effect (which means it makes your skin peel).

Eggs, obviously, don't have the same effect on your skin.

Eggs may one day play a role in the way we treat acne.

Interestingly, some studies have been done on eggs and ways they may be able to help treat acne.  These aren't your typical eggs you pick up at the grocery store, though.

Researchers have immunized laying hens with Propionibacteria acnes, the bacteria largely responsible for inflamed acne breakouts.  Antibodies were collected from the yolks of eggs, laid by the aforementioned immunized hens, which had anti-acne properties.

Although this was all done in a lab, not on human skin, the idea is maybe one day these anti-acne antibodies can be used to treat acne.

Instead of an egg mask, try this. 

There's no harm in using an egg mask for a fun DIY facial.

  Just don't have high hopes that it will completely clear your skin.  

(There is a small chance of contracting salmonella from raw egg, so do take care not to get it into your mouth. I'd recommend pregnant women steer clear of this altogether, to be safe.)

If you're really looking for a good treatment for your acne, you will be better of using a tried-and-true treatment.  Here are some options to get you started.

Over-The-Counter Acne Treatments

Topical Prescription Acne Medications

Oral Prescription Acne Medications

Sources:

Revathy J, Karthika S, Sentila R, Michael A. "In vitro evaluation of the efficacy of chicken egg yolk antibodies (IgY) generated against Propionibacterium acnes." Int J Cosmet Sci. 2014 Feb; 36(1):68-73.

Selvan K, Sentila R, Michael A. "Generation and characterization of chicken egg yolk antibodies against propionibacterium acnes for the prevention of acne vulgaris." Indian J Dermatol. 2012 Jan; 57(1):15-9.

Continue Reading