The 6 Best Essential Oils for Acne

The 6 Best Essential Oils for Acne

Alternative therapy for acne is quite popular these days. It seems like so many people are throwing in the towel and choosing to go for unorthodox treatment options as opposed to the usual treatment for acne, which consists of topical treatment combined with some kind of more serious prescription.

Well, one of these options for alternative treatment is essential oils. And you might think that it’s not a good idea at first, considering the fact that essential oils have been used to treat other health conditions. And you might be right. But, before we rush into a conclusion, we should see what the consensus among the skincare community is. After all, if they’re proven successful, you will save yourself a lot of time from experimenting with them yourself, or not giving them a chance at all. In the end, what do you have to lose?

Let’s see what essential oils actually are, which are the most popular essential oils for treating acne and if they come with any benefits whatsoever.

What Are Essential Oils?

Before we delve deeper into the subject, it’s important to explain what these essential oils are, so that we understand where they come from and why we use them for certain purposes.

You might be wondering: What’s up with the name? Why are they called essential oils? Well, the name actually derives from their formula. These oils contain the essence of the plant which they’re derived from, hence the name essential oils. And by essence, I don’t mean just the physical liquid, but also the smell and taste.

When it comes to the process of derivation itself, it’s actually not as difficult as it might seem at first glance. Usually, the oils are derived by using multiple methods which don’t damage the extractions. These typically include methods such as cold pressing or distillation.

As soon as this process is finished, they are combined with so-called carrier oils. This is due to the fact that if essential oils are applied to the skin directly, they might cause irritation, redness or burning sensations. To avoid this, essential oils are diluted with carrier oils, resulting in a much easier and pain-free application.

You might be wondering which oils are used as carrier oils. Usually, vegetable oils which aren’t too hard on the skin are used as carrier oils such as coconut oil, avocado oil, rosehip oil or jojoba oil. Once this method of combining takes place, the essential oils are ready to be applied even on the most sensitive of skins!  In the production process lie all the benefits of these oils, so companies must pay special attention to it.

How Do Essential Oils Work?

Since essential oils aren’t created to soothe acne, their main purpose is to be used in aromatherapy. And for the purpose of aromatherapy, the best means of using essential oils is by either inhaling them or applying them to the skin directly (but diluting them first). When you apply essential oils to the skin, the body absorbs them. But, if you want to increase the rate of absorption, there are some techniques you can use such as applying them with heat. If it’s your first time using essential oils, this method isn’t recommended. Stick to direct application in small amounts so that your skin can get used to it.

By inhaling essential oils, your body will benefit from the inside out. How so? Firstly, your limbic system will be stimulated after the inhalation. The areas of the limbic system are involved in memory, learning, motivation, and emotion. Chances are, you can already guess where this is heading. This could explain why we heavily associate certain smells with memories and why some smells trigger long-forgotten memories and emotions.

It’s important to note that regardless of the purpose for which you’re using essential oils, they aren’t supposed to be swallowed at any point.

Are Essential Oils Safe to Apply to Your Face?

Before we delve into all the potential benefits of essential oils for treating acne, it’s crucial to address one of the most common concerns regarding essential oils and topical application: Are they safe to apply to the face?

The short answer is yes. However, there’s more to it than that. As I’ve discussed before, essential oils should always be diluted with other carrier oils. That’s what makes them safe for application, even on delicate areas such as the face. Unless you put essential oils directly on your face, you should be fine. Allergic reactions are common with essential oils, but going for the diluted version reduces the chances of you suffering from any allergic reactions.

Another issue that might not make them safe for the face area is the type of carrier oil they’re diluted with. Always check the box to see which the other ingredients are and if you notice that the carrier oil is a past trigger of breakouts, then choose another type of oil to apply.

Paying attention to the list of ingredients also includes checking if the product is fragrance-free. If you have sensitive skin, this is a must!

Do a patch test before applying the whole product on your face. A patch test is essentially when you apply a small amount of the product on a small area of your hand or, if you’re brave enough, your face. Wait for 24 hours and see if you get any kind of adverse reactions on the place which you’ve applied it to. If not, it generally means that you’re safe to apply the product on your whole face. It goes without saying that if you notice any kind of negative reactions even if you’ve been using the essential oil for a while, stop using it immediately.

How Does Essential Oil Help with Acne?

Acne is one of the hardest skin conditions to treat and it affects people from different ages and backgrounds.  Not only is acne painful on a physical level, but it also takes its toll emotionally on the person who’s suffering from acne. When it’s not treated properly, it can lead to other complications such as scarring and hyperpigmentation.

There are many causes of acne, from increased sebum production to acne-causing bacteria and hormonal fluctuations. If you’re suffering from severe acne, the best course of action for you would be to visit a dermatologist. Skin treatments such as essential oils or other DIY at-home treatments might offer temporary relief, but unless you know the real reason behind your acne, they will just keep reappearing and cause you trouble in the long run.

That being said, here is how essential oils can treat mild acne or occasional pimples that pop up either around your period or during stressful situations.

Plants have been used in medicine for centuries due to their healing benefits. Even during the times when technology wasn’t so advanced, people were aware of how useful they can be for all kinds of purposes and tried to utilize their benefits to the best of their ability. Think about it, there is a reason why we haven’t stopped using them just yet.

Unfortunately, not many studies have been done regarding the role of essential oils in acne formation, so keep in mind that some of the reported benefits are anecdotal. What we do know, however, is that essential oils contain antimicrobial and antibacterial properties which are incredibly useful when it comes to treating the acne-causing bacteria.

On a deeper level, using essential oils is known to improve anxiety and stress, meaning that you’ll be less likely to break out from stress. On top of that, there is some evidence to suggest that essential oils help with insomnia and disturbed sleeping patterns, and we all know how damaging a lack of sleep can be for us, especially if you’re a teenager who’s still developing.

When it comes to topical application of essential oils, applying them on a regular basis can improve your skin’s ability to heal faster, both in terms of texture and breakouts. Applying essential oils also protects the skin from irritation and any environmental influences which can be damaging for the skin.

Which Essential Oils Can Help with Acne?

Now that you’ve been hit with all that information about how awesome essential oils actually are, it’s important to clarify which essential oils actually help with acne. Keep in mind that not all essential oils are created equally, especially not when it comes to using them as an acne treatment. Only some essential oils contain those anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial benefits which we’ve discussed. We will elaborate on the best essential oils for acne, how to use them and every other piece of information you’d ever need in your skincare journey. So let’s get started.

Tea Tree Oil

There is one essential oil which almost everyone can use without any adverse effects or negative reactions, and that is tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is famous for its antimicrobial, antibacterial and antibiotic benefits which help with existing acne but also prevent future ones from developing. And, what’s more, it’s very gentle on the skin, making it a perfect option even for those who suffer from sensitive skin.

Unlike antibiotics, which can lead to antibiotic resistance, tea tree oil can be applied on the face for a prolonged period of time without your skin getting immune to its bacteria-fighting properties. It functions similarly to other spot treatments, so you should apply it directly on your pimple using a cotton ball and leave it overnight. Don’t forget to follow up with a moisturizer, regardless of what kind of skin you have. In the morning, wash your face as usual.

Alternatively, you can add a few drops of tea tree oil in your favorite mask and use it a couple of days per week. Another thing you can do is pick up a skincare product which already contains tea tree oil inside like a tea tree oil infused cleanser. This will give you an easy way to incorporate tea tree oil in your skincare routine gradually without spending too much time on it.

Lavender Oil

Another incredible oil that can help you with acne is lavender oil. It’s just as effective when applied topically as a spot treatment, just like tea tree oil, but what gives it a special place in your skincare routine is its ability to help lower stress levels. And, as you already know, stress levels contribute to the appearance of acne on a great level, mostly because they increase the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, which, in turn, cause more oil to be produced on the skin.

So, how should you use lavender oil as stress relief? One of the easiest ways to do so is by investing in an air diffuser which will allow you to breathe it in easily. Another option is to apply it directly on certain spots on your body such as your neck or your wrists. Using lavender oil on a regular basis is shown to lower stress levels and help with anxiety, so don’t be surprised if you notice other improvements in terms of your health such as more regular periods and better sleeping patterns.

Some people claim that lavender oil can help with dark spots and hyperpigmentation, but there isn’t enough evidence to support this claim. Lavender oil can also help if you have really dry skin, especially if you’ve overworked your skin with harsh treatments in the past. Due to the high amount of antioxidants it contains, lavender oil has the potential to benefit your skin on many levels regardless of your skin type.

Rose Essential Oil

Roses don’t just provide us with a wonderful smell. It turns out, rose essential oil can fight E.coli and staphylococcus, among other bacteria. Due to its antiseptic and astringent properties, it can combat acne-causing bacteria. By using rose essential oil you can provide great moisture for your skin, especially if it’s on the drier side. Its anti-inflammatory properties help treat redness and irritation.

On top of that, regular application of rose essential oil has been shown to help with the skin texture and even heal wounds! It seems like there’s not a skin problem in sight which this essential oil can’t tackle!

Oregano Essential Oil

Oregano oil has been shown to help with parasites and certain types of bacteria. When it comes to the skin, it contains amazing anti-inflammatory properties which are of great help to the skin. Not to mention, it’s a very potent source of antioxidants, which is something your skin can always use more of.

So, if you’re suffering from redness, swelling or any kind of scarring that’s acne-related, consider adding oregano essential oil in your skincare routine. Not only will it help you in regards to the skin, but it can also help with relieving pain, repel insects, fight cancer and fight off free radicals.

Orange Essential Oil

Many DIY acne treatment recipes seem to involve citrus fruit, and it turns out it’s for a good reason!  Orange essential oil is full of antimicrobial and antiseptic properties, which is very useful if you’re somebody who’s suffering from acne due to excess bacterium.

Orange oil is gentle on the skin and incredibly soothing, which means that it’s a perfect addition to your regular routine especially if you have dry or sensitive skin. It will help to treat your acne, all the while helping you keep off any new pimples.

Peppermint Oil

Here is another wholesome option for you that will help you win the battle against acne. Peppermint oil is amazing for treating the acne-causing bacteria. It will work especially well if you’re somebody who has acquired some type of resistance against other treatment options such as benzoyl peroxide or antibiotics.

The smell is another plus when it comes to peppermint oil. It applies well and it doesn’t irritate the skin. However, it’s still advised to use a patch test, even with the gentlest of essential oils. Your skin isn’t that predictable, after all.

Other Benefits of Using Essential Oils

You’re probably already familiar with the benefits of using essential oils for aromatherapy. Essential oils have been shown to help with anxiety and stress in many cases. Nowadays, so many people use them to give their homes, pillowcases and even laundry a lovely and fresh smell. Similarly, it’s used as a natural scent for many cosmetics and skincare products.

Many people report an improvement in their sleeping patterns once they start using essential oils. Apparently, essential oils make for a great insect repellant too, so if you’re on the lookout for a natural alternative to regular repellants, look no further.

Can I Use Essential Oils with Other Acne Treatment?

Since you’ve probably already asked this question in your head, let’s clear this dilemma up. Using essential oils with other conventional treatment increases the chances of you having side-effects such as redness and irritation. You are also at a higher risk of having a cross-reaction with some of the treatments you’re using or any oral medication you’re on.

Whatever changes you’re planning on making in your skincare routine, always consult with your dermatologist.

Side-effects of Using Essential Oils for the Skin

Here are some of the possible side-effects of using essential oils, both from application and inhaling:

  • rashes
  • irritated skin
  • headaches
  • allergies

Even though these seem pretty harmless at first glance, it’s never easy having to deal with irritated skin, especially if your skin is overly sensitive. Not to mention, if you do suffer from any kind of allergy, it’s advised to avoid the essential oil altogether. If some kind of allergy emerges in the process, stop using the oil immediately.

Patch tests will be your best friend in the process of finding out what works for your skin, so make sure you do one before testing any of these out.

Eating essential oils is extremely dangerous and it can cause fatal consequences. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s best to avoid using essential oils.


It’s always fun to experiment with unusual acne treatments, and essential oils are a great option. There are some on the market which can be very useful for mild acne. However, if you suffer from severe acne, the best course of action is to visit a dermatologist for a comprehensive skincare routine and acne treatment plan.

This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances, and its goal is to offer a general view of the subject. In case you are suffering from a severe case of acne, you should consult with a dermatologist or a certified medical professional.

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