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25 Best Essential Oils for Acne (Health Expert List)

Overview

If countless treatments can’t seem to rid your acne, it might be time to try essential oils. Made from different parts of plants, many essential oils are packed with nourishing skincare benefits.

Essential Oils for Acne

If you're interested in using essential oil for acne, you might be onto something. Essential oils can be useful remedies for different acne types and every phase of acne, from prevention to healing to fading the appearance of scars. However, it's always a good idea to meet with your dermatologist or perform a patch test before experimenting with any type of oil so you can find the best essential oil for acne.

Essential oils have a dense oil composition, which might cause clogging of the pores in some people. It's always best to combine your organic oil with carrier oils such as Jojoba Oil or Rosehip Oil (one of the best carrier oils for acne-prone skin and scars) to effectively dilute the essential oils without interfering with their efficacy. This dilution process will also help reduce the chance of skin irritation. A good rule of thumb is three drops of concentrated oil to a tablespoon of carrier oil.

What essential oils help acne?

For your benefit, we’ve listed down 14 of the best essential oils for acne.

1. Helichrysum Essential Oil

Helichrysum comes from a small flowering plant with clusters of yellow flowers. This acne-fighting oil is clarifying and soothing for the skin to promote a healthier-looking complexion. It can also be used to heal the skin and fade scars.

This oil is also used in skin care products as the oil has a fresh fragrance also fade acne blemishes.

Scent Profile: Earthy and sweet

2. Organic German Chamomile Essential Oil

Show your skin some love with this anti-inflammatory organic oil. German Chamomile oil is super-soothing for sensitive skin, flare-ups and acne-prone complexions.

Scent Profile: Sweet and herbaceous

3. Manuka Essential Oil

Manuka oil is perfect for soothing sensitive skin, inflammation and acne breakouts to ensure a smooth, blemish-free complexion. You can also use it to keep your nails healthy and strong.

Scent Profile: Herbaceous, earthy and slightly balsamic

4. Organic Tea Tree Essential Oil

Organic Tea Tree oil helps to cleanse complexions of impurities and excess oils, which can help to control acne and breakouts. Tea tree oil is usually used as a blend on the face. The oil of tea tree is also blended with aloe vera and honey for a perfect face mask.

Scent Profile: Herbaceous and earthy

5. Bergamot Essential Oil

Bergamot oil is commonly used to uplift moods but this zesty oil also purifies oily skin and clears acne.

Scent Profile: Sweet, tangy and slightly citrusy

6. English Lavender Essential Oil

English Lavender oil for acne can put you to sleep and clear your pimples at the same time. This calming oil moisturizes skin, reduces acne and cleans wounds for a clear complexion. Bonus point! It’s also suitable for all skin types and is the best essential organic oil for cystic acne.

Scent Profile: Floral, comforting and slightly sweet

7. Egyptian Geranium Essential Oil

The Egyptians have long used geranium to beautify their skin. Egyptian Geranium oil keeps your skin rejuvenated and rosy by reducing breakouts and irritations while smoothing out wrinkles.

Scent Profile: Sweet and floral with refreshing fruity notes

8. May Chang (Litsea Cubeba) Essential Oil

Bright, zesty, and energizing, May Chang oil is often used to cleanse impurities and acne from oily skin. Also known as Litsea Cubeba, it has the added benefits of relaxing the mind and calming breathing issues.

Scent Profile: Herbaceous and citrusy

9. Juniper Berry Essential Oil

Juniper Berry is a soothing and cooling oil with cleansing properties that clear up acne breakouts, irritations and sensitive skin. It is also great for relieving bodily aches at the end of the day.

Scent Profile: Fresh, herbaceous and woody, with a spicy gin-like aroma

10. Clove Bud Essential Oil

Used for its antibacterial and cleansing properties, Clove Bud oil reduces acne and calms skin inflammations.

Scent Profile: Warm and spicy with slight earthy notes

11. Thyme Essential Oil

Herbaceous Thyme oil for acne is a natural remedy for cleansing oily skin, while reducing the occurrence of breakouts. It is also great at cleansing the scalp to promote hair growth.

Scent Profile: Herbaceous and sweet.

12. Rosemary Essential Oil

In lab tests, Rosemary oil for acne destroys acne-causing bacteria. In addition to its antibacterial properties, rosemary oil can also be used to decrease redness and puffiness, which is helpful when treating cystic acne.

Scent Profile: Herbaceous

13. Oregano Essential Oil

Using Oregano oil for acne as a spot treatment can be an effective way to clear up pimples and prevent future breakouts. A study found that it has the strongest antimicrobial activity against acne-causing bacteria. So if you’re wondering “is oregano oil good for acne?”, the answer is a resounding “yes!”.

Scent Profile: Herbaceous and earthy

14. Organic Peppermint Essential Oil

Organic Peppermint oil for acne has antibacterial properties and may control oil production which can lower the occurrence of pimples. It's most suitable for dry, itchy skin types as it provides relief from inflamed and dry skin (also for acne treatment). 

An evidence based research was conducted in the year 2017 to evaluate the antimicrobial properties of essential oils on skin conditions. It concluded that out of several essential oils, peppermint oil was the most popular and effective in treating bacterial and fungal skin infections. (1)

Scent Profile: Minty and sweet

15. Roman Chamomile Oil

The compound azulene in Roman chamomile is known to increase moisture content in the skin. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. Diluted in a carrier oil, your favorite essential oil is known to keep the skin healthy. Those allergic to chamomile family of plants must avoid this oil.

Scent Profile: Herby, sweet and fruity

16. Sandalwood Oil

Sandalwood paste and sandalwood oil are both used in skincare. Its use in Ayurveda is well documented. The anti-inflammatory properties of the oil are used to soothe the burning sensation due to acne. When applied to the skin it is one of the best essential oil to combat the underlying causes associated with acne and is effective in treating different types of acne.

Scent Profile: Sweet and Woody

17. Clary Sage Essential Oil

Clary sage oil is used to regulate sebum secretion. It achieved this due to the compounds linalyl acetate and geranyl. People with oily skin type can use this oil to reduce acne and wrinkles. A drop of these plant oils mixed with a few drops of carrier oil is massaged on the face to dry out your skin, thus making your skin healthier.

Scent Profile: Herbaceous and floral

18. Frankincense Oil

The role of frankincense oil in skin care is limited, but it is used by those with oily skin to reduce the occurrence of acne and reduce the onset of wrinkles.

Scent Profile: Sweet balsamic

19. Geranium Oil

This oil has alkaline properties that have a balancing effect on the skin. It removes the acidic content caused by oxidative stress and maintains a stable moisture level in the skin. Because of this property, geranium oil is used in the manufacture of soaps and other skincare products.

Scent Profile: Strong herbaceous

20. Neroli Oil

Although seldom used in skincare, neroli oil has antimicrobial properties and when combined with other oils balance the sebum content on the skin. The compound citral in the oil is good for skin care.

Scent Profile: Bitter, floral and citrusy

21. Lemon Oil

Derived from the peels of lemon, this oil has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that negate the free radicals, thus preventing ageing and fighting acne. It is also used to reduce hyperpigmentation. It is also oil that is rich in Vitamin C and boosts immune system.

Scent Profile: Strong lemony

22. Lemongrass Oil

With good astringent properties, lemongrass oil not only removes the dead skin from the, but also tightens the pores, thus maintaining skin elasticity and delaying the ageing process.

Scent Profile: Light lemony

23. Cinnamon Oil

The presence of the ingredient cinnamic acid makes cinnamon oil a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. It is applied on pimples and cysts to eliminate it quickly. Some studies have shown that cinnamon oil in face wash is equivalent, if not better, to benzoyl peroxide. Dilute it with a carrier oil and treat acne naturally. Common carrier oils for cinnamon are olive and jojoba.

Research conducted at the Northeast Forestry University, Harbin, China, checked the activities of essential oils against Propionibacterium acnes. It concluded that most of the essential oils in different doses had antibacterial activities that could be useful against acne. (2

Scent Profile: Sweet and spicy

24. Wintergreen Oil

Wintergreen oil shares similar properties with peppermint oil. However, wintergreen is rarely used in treating acne or skincare in general. It contains methyl salicylate which has a soothing effect on the skin.

Scent Profile: Sweet, minty and woody

25. Ylang Ylang Oil

Ylang ylang is used for its balancing effect on the skin and inhibition of skin pigmentation. It is applied to fade acne scars and treat acne. It is also used to remove makeup which has the potential to aggravate the skin and make acne worse.

A study conducted in 2018 performed in vitro antimicrobial evaluation on essential oils and its blends. One of the essential oils used in the trial was ylang ylang and it showed notable antimicrobial properties. (3)

 Scent Profile: Rich, floral and fruity

Research Papers on Essential Oil For Acne Treatment

Clinics in dermatology published an article in 2018 that aimed to find the effects of aromatherapy and essential oils on acne. It concluded that the oils could be used as a alternative medicine for acne. However, other aspects of its use need to be studied. (4)

What happens when you mix or blend an essential oil with aloe vera? It enhances the anti-acne properties of the essential oil. In 2004, International Journal of Aromatherapy published the effect of aloe vera on Ocimum oil. (5)

How To Use Essential Oils for Acne

Essential Oil Acne Spot Treatment

To treat active and stubborn acne, you can use essential oils as a spot treatment. Simply dilute the oil with a carrier oil (such as coconut oil or almond oil) then dip a cotton swab into the mixture and gently apply it onto the acne spot.

Customize Your Favorite Moisturizer

You can also use your favorite moisturizer to dilute your essential oils. After cleansing your face, add a few drops of essential oils onto a dollop of your usual face cream, mix it together and then massage gently into the skin.

As A DIY Face Toner

Mix 12 drops of the concentrated organic oil of your choice with 2 oz of witch hazel in a spray bottle. Spritz onto the face as often as needed to keep the skin hydrated and cleansed.

DIY Spot Treatment

If you're looking for a natural way to treat acne, look no further than your kitchen cabinet. Tea tree and rosemary essential oils are two powerhouse ingredients that can be used to make a DIY spot treatment.

To make the spot treatment, mix together 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil and 1 teaspoon of rosemary oil. Add 10 drops of the mixture to a cotton ball and apply it to the affected area. Leave it on for 10 minutes before rinsing it off with warm water.

You can use this treatment up to twice a day until you see results. Tea tree oil is known for its antibacterial properties, while rosemary oil helps to reduce inflammation. Together, these two oils make a potent spot treatment that can help clear up acne quickly.

Safety

Essential oils are great for self-care routines. However, we should also take care and follow caution when using them to keep ourselves and loved ones safe from its side effects. Generally essential oils are safe, but a few guidelines must be followed to avoid any adverse effects. Also, the oils are different, made up of different compounds. Some people may be allergic to certain compounds while others may be allergic to others. Concentrated oil must be bought after careful deliberation. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind.

  1. Read the label and instructions to make sure you’re using the oil correctly.
  2. While buying essential oils be wary of the terms fragrance oil, perfume oil and natural identical oil.
  3. The term pure essential oil can be widely seen on the bottles. These maybe made from substandard sources.
  4. Ensure that you are not allergic to any ingredients or compounds in the oil.
  5. Make sure to dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil for safe application.
  6. Do not add too much of the oil in the diffuser.
  7. Avoid using essential oils of sensitive areas like the eyes and nose.
  8. Don’t apply it on broken skin either unless it’s mentioned on the bottle or label.
  9. Keep it out of reach of kids and fur kids.
  10. Do not diffuse the oil near kids and pets. Consult a doctor before doing so.
  11. Some oils may make you sensitive to sun damage, so be sure to load up on SPF.
  12. Check the label to see if the oil is photo-toxic.
  13. Always do a small patch test before topical application.
  14. The common unwanted effects caused by essential oils up on topical application are rashes, redness and swelling.
  15. If you show signs of irritation, stop use and consult a health professional.
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