8 Best Essential Oils for Acne

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

The use of essential oils for acne is a popular practice that is often more effective than modern pharmaceutical recommendations for this common condition.

Why Use Essential Oils for Acne?

Acne is a condition that occurs when the secretions of the sebaceous glands (oil glands) block up the hair follicles in the skin. This can lead to inflammation, blackheads, whiteheads, and nodules, which can be raised patches of tender, painful, and red skin. Not only is acne unsightly, but it can persist for years, particularly during puberty, when the oil glands may be more active than usual. That being said, acne can affect anyone, but there are many effective and simple remedies to cure this inflammatory skin condition. [1]

While there are many aggressive prescriptions for chemical salves and creams that can lessen the inflammation, some of these powerful medications have unwanted side effects, whereas essential oils rarely do. Provided you are not allergic to the specific essential oil, the active ingredients, compounds, volatile acids, and antioxidants in these oils can prevent inflammation, eliminate excess oil from the skin and sebaceous glands, speed healing, and improve skin health.

A young woman suffering from acne applying essential oil on her face

Essential oils can help in dealing with acne. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Essential Oils for Acne

The best essential oils for acne include the following:

Let us discuss them in detail now.

Tea Tree Oil

Also known as melaleuca oil, this Australian export contains some of the most powerful antioxidants in the world, and is perhaps the most famous anti-acne essential oil on the market. With antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties, applying even a few drops of this oil (diluted) on the skin can have remarkable results. [2]

Lavender Oil

This oil is well known to speed the healing of the skin, particularly cracked skin from dryness. These areas are very susceptible to acne breakouts, but regular use of this oil for 1-2 weeks should be able to clear up most of the nodules and patches of irritation. [3]

Clary Sage Oil

This readily accessible oil is antibacterial in nature, so applying 2-3 drops on a cotton ball to inflamed patches of acne can make a big difference. When the pores become clogged, they become ideal places for bacteria to accumulate and inflame the skin; this oil stops that from happening. [4]

Juniper Berry Essential Oil

With dozens of different antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, anecdotal evidence and modern research both indicate that juniper berry essential oil can be an excellent anti-acne topical remedy. [5]

Rosemary Oil

The rosmarinic acid found in this essential oil is known to be anti-inflammatory in nature, and to speed the healing process. In the case of acne, you can simply add 5 drops of rosemary oil to a cotton ball and then gently dab it onto the painful patches of acne for quick improvement. [6]

Oregano Oil

As an antiseptic and antibacterial oil, oregano oil is ideal for soothing the skin by treating the underlying infection. Once the immune system reduces the inflammation, it is much easier to exfoliate the skin and eliminate much of the pore blockage that is occurring. [7]

Neroli Oil

The active ingredients in neroli oil can help to regulate the oil production by the sebaceous glands, and even impact the hormonal balance in the body, making it an ideal solution for chronic acne. [8]

Rosehip Oil

Packed with antioxidants and vitamins, this oil can help to reduce the swelling and redness of an acne outbreak, while also reducing the appearance of scars from acne, and generally improving the look of your skin. [9]

How to Use Essential Oil for Acne?

While every essential oil is different, there are general rules for using essential oil for acne. You will also use different essential oils depending on your symptoms; for example, some are more for skin hydration, while others will eliminate the infections and clear up pore/follicle blockage.

  • To begin with, you will want to wash your face with warm water and pat dry.
  • Eliminate as much of the oil and moisture from your face as possible before applying the oil.
  • For specific locations, add 2-3 drops of oil to your fingers and gently rub it into the inflamed areas.
  • You can also blend essential oils with carrier oil or creams for face masks and scrubs.

Essential Oil for Acne Side Effects

Despite the many health benefits of using essential oils for acne, there are some side effects that should be considered, such as allergic reactions and negative interactions with other medications, among others.

  • Allergic Reactions: If you happen to be allergic to the plants from which these essential oils are derived, then topical inflammation is to be expected, including rashes, hives, and additional redness. Discontinue use of any essential oil that causes these types of symptoms.
  • Drug Interactions: If you are already taking medication for acne, or any other condition, be sure to speak with your doctor before applying essential oil to the face. These oils are rarely consumed, particularly for acne, but if you are using one that can be taken internally, the risk of these drug interactions is much greater.

Remember, essential oils are very potent concentrations of volatile compounds, which can have powerful and unpredictable effects.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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