Essential Oils

The 5 Best Essential Oils For Acne & 3 DIY Pimple Rescue Remedies

Updated on 16 June 2020 • 7 minute read
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Why You Should Consider Essential Oils If You Have Acne-Prone Skin

Essential oils (EOs) are highly concentrated plant extracts that are derived from tree resin, tree bark, roots, leaves, nuts, seeds, flowers, and fruits. 

The therapeutic application of EOs is referred to as aromatherapy

EOs are known for their high levels of active compounds that offer medicinal and healing properties. 

When used correctly EOs can help boost immunity, reduce anxiety and stress hormones, improve sleep quality, alleviate headaches and migraines, lower allergy symptoms, manage blood sugar levels, and lower inflammation. 

 

EOs are commonly used in many skincare and beauty products around the world. 

Chances are you may find them in your bathroom if you have a look now. 

Certain oils may treat various skin conditions and can work for different skin types though you should always consult your dermatologist before using oils for skincare

This is especially true if you’re dealing with chronic acne or other skin problems. 

 

Although recently there’s been growing interest in further research to understand EOs’ healing and therapeutic potential, the medicinal use of plant oils is not new.

Plant extracts have been used for hundreds of years by many cultures and civilizations like the ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks.

 

How EOs Work For Treating Acne & Blemishes

It’s thought that people with acne-prone skin have overactive sebaceous glands and excess oil production. (1)

These glands are found under the skin a produce an oily substance called sebum

Sebum naturally moisturizes your hair and skin, but when skin cells don’t turn over fast enough it can get trapped in the hair follicles and cause acne breakouts

Acne is a skin condition that occurs when hair follicles become clogged with sebum, an overgrowth of bacteria, and dead skin cells

The appearance of acne is characterized by inflamed swollen skin, red bumps, blackheads, whiteheads, and/or pus-filled zits and pimples (aka pustules).

 

It’s not just teenagers or hormonal women that experience acne, it can affect people of all backgrounds and ages. 

Pimples and breakouts can be caused by weather changes, allergies, stress, sleep deprivation, and even food sensitivities. 

The typical course of action is an over-the-counter (OTC) spot treatment in either gel or lotion form often containing either benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid as the active ingredients. 

The issue with many OTC acne treatments is that they often contain other harsh chemicals that can overly dry skin and irritate sensitive skin

When used carefully and mindfully, essential oils offer a natural alternative to harsh chemical-laden products with relatively low risk and adverse side effects

 

The active compounds found in many EOs can offer specific properties that are particularly helpful to treat acne

  • Antibacterial properties – Since one of the main causes of acne is an excess of bacteria in the hair follicles and pores antibacterial EOs can help kill bacteria to prevent future overgrowth. 
  • Anti-inflammatory properties – Many EOs are known to have potent effects that help reduce skin inflammation, redness, and swelling. 
  • Anti-fungal properties – Can help kill acne-causing skin fungi. 
  • Antiseptic – Help to keep the skin, hair follicles, and pores clean in order to prevent further inflammation or potential infection. 
  • Antimicrobial properties – Helps keep the skin free of any irritating microbes. 
  • Wound-healing properties – Reduces the appearance of acne scars by helping the skin heal naturally. 

 

The 5 Best Essential Oils For Acne Breakouts

Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)

  • Antibacterial properties
  • Anti-inflammatory properties 
  • Anti-fungal properties
  • Antiseptic 
  • Antimicrobial properties 
  • Wound-healing & scar-reducing properties 

Tea tree essential oil is a highly potent antiseptic so it should be used with care and never applied directly on the skin without diluting with a carrier oil

It can be an effective spot-treatment though it can also dry the skin so it’s important to follow its application up with a moisturizer that hydrates the skin. 

You can also look for a high-quality face wash and cleanser containing tea tree oil

 

Lavender oil (Lavandula angustifolia) 

  • Antibacterial properties
  • Anti-inflammatory properties 
  • Anti-fungal properties
  • Antiseptic 
  • Antimicrobial properties 
  • Wound-healing & scar-reducing properties 

Lavender essential oil is gentle for most sensitive skin types while also being a potent acne treatment addition. 

Its main active components linaool and linalyl acetate are both known to reduce inflammation and help accelerate wound healing while reducing scarring. (2) 

 

Frankincense oil (Boswellia carterii)   

  • Antibacterial properties
  • Anti-inflammatory properties 
  • Antiseptic 
  • Antimicrobial properties 
  • Wound-healing & scar-reducing properties 

Frankincense essential oil is a known potent inflammation fighter that also improves the skin’s healing process. (3) 

It can help to prevent and neutralize scars. 

As an added bonus, Frankincense oil also appears to help aging skin, as it can accelerate new skin cell production while reducing the appearance of dark spots and wrinkles. 

 

Clary Sage oil (Salvia sclarea) 

  • Antibacterial properties
  • Anti-inflammatory properties 
  • Antiseptic 
  • Antimicrobial properties 
  • Wound-healing & scar-reducing properties 

Clary sage oil is rich in linalyl acetate which apart from being an anti-inflammatory also helps to reduce oil production in the skin. 

This makes clary sage especially effective for oily skin types

A 2015 study published on Advances in Dermatology and Allergology found clary sage oil to be effective in treating skin infections and wounds. (4)

It was found to be especially active against antibiotic-resistant strains like Staphylococcus aureus. 

 

Peppermint oil (Mentha piperita)

  • Antibacterial properties
  • Anti-inflammatory properties 
  • Antiseptic 
  • Antimicrobial properties 
  • Anesthetic

Peppermint oil is a potent local anesthetic agent that can help reduce any discomfort due to open sores and inflamed skin. 

Its main active compound, menthol, offers a cooling sensation that many acne sufferers find soothing. 

It also regulated oil production which makes it a good choice for oily skin types

 

The Pros & Cons of Using EOs For Skincare

The Pros:  

  • EOs are potent – a little goes a long way. For example, did you know that 30 lbs of lavender flowers go into just one small bottle? Just a few drops offer multiple active compounds that can positively impact your skin, accelerate healing, and prevent future breakouts
  • High-quality EOs should be 100% natural. This ensures their full therapeutic and medicinal effects on your skin. 
  • If you use EOs mindfully and consume them with care, you’ll likely experience little to no side effects like dry or irritated skin. (Unlike most chemical-laden options.)  
  • You can mix and blend multiple oils to maximize or enhance their skin healing effects. 

 

The Cons:  

  • EOs are potent – unnecessarily high concentrations or misuse can cause further skin irritation or make your acne symptoms worse. 
  • Unfortunately, there are many adulterated EO products out in the market that feature misleading claims and labels. They may be marketed as “healthy” while being diluted with synthetic material.
  • Even though EOs can benefit your skincare routine, they aren’t cure-alls. (If you’re dealing with a serious skin condition consult with your dermatologist or medical provider prior to using them.)  
  • There are contraindications to be aware of for EO use. For example, oils like clary sage should be avoided during pregnancy. Tea tree oil should never be ingested as it can be toxic. Read up on the contraindications of every single oil you topically apply to your skin before use. 

 

How To Choose The Right High-Quality EOs For Your Skincare Routine

Since many EOs on the market can be diluted or adulterated it’s very important to know how to choose the right kind. 

Using adulterated oils on your skin can make your acne worse so be sure to proceed with caution. 

Here are 7 fool-proof steps to help you choose the right oils for your skin: 

1 – Look for certified organic therapeutic grade essential oils.  

2 – Check that testing has been done.

3 – Research the company.

4 – Check the label.  

5 – Check the price.

6 – Check the Latin name.

7 – Check in with yourself.

 

How to Use EOs for Acne Treatment & Skincare 

The first rule of using EOs on your skin is this: 

Never apply them directly to the skin without first diluting! 

This is especially important if you have any open zit, sore, or wound on the skin. 

You can dilute EOs with carrier oils that are known to help minimize breakouts, reduce scarring, and offer antibacterial and antifungal effects: 

  • Rosehip seed oil 
  • Jojoba oil 
  • Coconut oil 

Oils such as tea tree oil can be irritating for sensitive skin. 

It’s best to perform a patch test on your forearm before using it on your face.

Wait 24-48 hours and if there is no reaction then proceed with caution. 

Discontinue use if you experience any adverse reaction or discomfort. 

 

3 DIY EO Pimple Rescue Remedies: 

Acne RX Astringent 

An astringent helps oily and acne-prone skin by reducing excess oil production, shrink pores, unclogging pores, and cleansing the skin. 

What you’ll need: 

  • A medium-sized dark glass bottle with an airtight lid for storage (A spray topper is preferable) 
  • ¼ cup of distilled water
  • ¼ cup witch hazel
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup aloe vera juice 
  • 7 drops lavender oil
  • 7 drops tea tree oil
  • 7 drops frankincense oil
  • 3 drops clary sage oil
  • 3 drops lemon oil 

Mix all the ingredients together and place them in the bottle. 

Keep in a cool, dry place and away from direct sunlight. 

Apply after your face wash/cleanser. 

Use a cotton ball and apply generously to your entire face and neck.

Allow to fully dry. 

Proceed to apply your serums and moisturizer afterward. 

Discontinue use immediately if you experience an adverse reaction. 

 

Acne RX Spot Treatment 

This solution is for targeting specific blemishes without harsh or potentially harmful chemicals found in many over-the-counter products. 

It can be drying to the skin so be sure to moisturize after each use. 

Coconut oil and rosehip seed oil are highly nourishing to the skin and excellent natural moisturizer options for acne-prone skin.  

Discontinue use immediately if you experience an adverse reaction. 

What you’ll need: 

  • A small dark glass container with an airtight cap or lid
  • 1 tablespoon salicylic acid
  • 2 drops tea tree oil
  • 2 drops clary sage oil 
  • ¼ teaspoon activated charcoal powder

Mix all of the ingredients together and put them in the container. 

Cleanse and dry your face. 

Apply twice a day to every specific affected area and blemish and leave on for at least 30 minutes. 

(The longer you leave it on the better the treatment can penetrate the layers of the skin to support healing.) 

This solution doesn’t keep well so it’s best to make it every other day. 

Leave it in the fridge if you have leftover for the next day. 

Discontinue use immediately if you experience an adverse reaction. 

 

Acne RX Scar Solution 

This solution is for supporting the reduction of acne scarring. 

Use it twice a day for best results. 

What you’ll need: 

  • 2 tablespoons of raw Manuka honey
  • ½ tablespoon coconut oil 
  • 2 drops tea tree oil 
  • 2 drops frankincense oil
  • 2 drops lavender oil 

Cleanse your face and fully dry it. 

Mix all ingredients together and generously apply the mixture to your face. 

Allow it to settle for at least 30 minutes although the longer the better. 

Wash off with warm water. 

Discontinue use immediately if you experience an adverse reaction. 

 

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2835908/
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0944711304701804#:~:text=The%20results%20obtained%20indicate%20that,are%20potentially%20anti%2Dinflammatory%20agents.
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5801908/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4360007/

 

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