Best Essential Oils for Acne: 2018 Buying Guide

Updated 5 years ago

Let’s face it. Acne is terrible and it is unfortunately a fact of life for many of us. When you suffer from acne, you have to think about every product you put on your face and its potential to cause inflammation and irritation before deciding to use it. That is because oftentimes when you try to use a new product, you disrupt the perfectly careful skincare routine you have developed, leading to more breakouts. It is so hard to find good skincare and makeup products that do not trigger a breakout. That’s why you do not even think about trying to incorporate a new product into your beauty regimen without expecting to suffer the consequences. If you are like millions of people who suffer from acne, you know how hard it is to find a good product that can help manage your acne without causing more breakouts. One treatment for acne that has been found to help many people is essential oil. It is gaining popularity in the skincare world amongst dermatologists and skin care professionals. Intrigued? Keen to learn more? Keep reading for all the details and learn how you can incorporate essential oils into your routine.

What is essential oil?

Essential oils are plant extracts that are distilled into natural oils. They have antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, meaning they kill the acne-causing bacteria in your skin. Other essential oils help heal blemishes that have already formed, while some even help fade acne scars. Many skin care professionals and dermatologists recommend essential oils because they are less harsh on your skin than other chemical-based skin care treatments. They come in liquid form, usually in smaller bottles.

Essential oils aren’t just good for your skin. They are also used in other beauty and hair products, widely used in the food industry, a staple in some medicines, and even used to help combat health illnesses including headaches, nausea, and migraines. Simply put, essential oils are all-around powerful health and wellness natural products.

Our Favorite Essential Oils for Acne

Radha Beauty Tea Tree Essential Oil

Professionals and dermatologists highly recommend this brand of essential oils. All of their products come in dark blue bottles to protect the product from the sun, as sun can render the products ineffective or less-effective. Tea tree oil is probably the most recommended and well-known acne fighter of all the essential oils. It is great for acne-prone skin types because it reduces blemishes by killing acne-causing germs and bacteria. Tea tree oil is also anti-inflammatory, meaning it reduces the size of pimples and dries out puss. Tea tree oil is very potent and drying, so it should be used with a carrier oil (more on this later) to dilute the solution if you have sensitive skin. If you do not want or need to dilute the tea tree oil, to apply, place one to two drops on affected area using your fingertips, a Q-tip, or a cotton pad. Because it is a strong product, it is best to start treatment slowly, using once or twice per week at the beginning. You will want to be sure to use a moisturizer, as tea tree oil is very drying.

Zongle USDA Certified Organic Lemongrass Essential Oil

Lemongrass essential oil fights pimples on oily skin types. That is because the lemongrass stimulates the skin and prevents pimples from forming, and also revitalizes and tones the skin. Zongle’s lemongrass essential oil is 100% natural - so much so that it is even safe for ingestion to help with other health concerns. Reviewers love this brand because it is USDA certified organic. For those reviewers who use the lemongrass essential oil with a carrier oil, the preferred carrier oil is coconut oil.

ArtNaturals Therapeutic Frankincense Essential Oil

Frankincense oil helps keep your skin young by reducing wrinkles and reduces scarring caused by acne and age spots. Frankincense oil is extremely gentle, so it can be used on all skin types. It is best to use this oil by mixing this oil with a carrier oil such as coconut oil or jojoba oil. You can also make a face mask with frankincense oil by mixing a few drops with clay and mixing with water to create a paste. Next, apply the clay mixture to your face and let sit for five to ten minutes before washing off.  

Thayers Alcohol-free Rose Petal Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera

Witch Hazel is one of the most popular natural acne treatments because of its antibacterial properties which help fight acne, as well as this essential oil’s ability to remove excess oil from your skin. Dermatologists love witch hazel because it is a reliable product that pretty much always shows results. Thayers is the most popular brand with dermatologists and reviewers alike as fans. Witch hazel is typically used as a toner after cleansing your face. The aloe vera in this formula helps soothe skin to reduce skin irritation. It’s alcohol free, meaning you won’t feel a burning sensation when applying this product.

Pura D’or Organic Rosehip Seed Oil

Rosehip seed oil is a cult favorite for celebrities and makeup artists. Rosehip oil is full of essential fatty acids that calm and soothe skin while helping correct uneven skin tone and fade scars. Rosehip oil has calming properties that help reduce inflammation and also leaves your skin brighter. This product can initially seem oily when first applied, but the oil soaks into the skin quickly, leaving you with hydrated and brighter-looking skin. It is great for oily skin because the fatty acids send a signal to your skin not to create excess oil, which is often a culprit of acne. So your skin will be clearer and brighter after using this rosehip seed oil. Reviewers of this produce happily report that acne scars and age spots faded soon after starting to use this product and their skin was brighter and more hydrated.

Majestic Pure Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender essential oil is good for acne and acne-prone skin because of its calming properties. It can be applied after a pimple has been popped to calm, clean, and heal the skin and stop bleeding. Lavender essential oil will also help alleviate itchiness and skin irritation caused by acne. It also reduces the appearance of dark spots and scars caused by acne. Lavender is also very calming, and can help reduce stress and anxiety, which are often triggers for acne.

doTERRA Oregano Essential Oil

You are probably surprised to see oregano on this list. Rather, you would expect to see it in a recipe book. That’s because oregano is not just an herb you use to season your food. Like tea tree oil, oregano oil contains antibacterial and antifungal properties that help fight acne. However, oregano oil is very potent, so it needs to be used with a carrier oil. Dermatologists recommend using jojoba oil as the carrier.

Healing Solutions Juniper Berry Essential Oil

Juniper berry is a natural antibacterial and antimicrobial product, meaning it naturally fights skin irritation and blemishes. Dermatologists recommend this product because of its powerful antibacterial properties that fight acne. To use, apply two to three drops on the affected area. If you have sensitive skin, you can mix a few drops with a carrier oil such as coconut oil or jojoba oil.

Aura Cacia Helichrysum Essential Oil

Helichrysum essential oil helps fight acne scars. The replenishing properties found in this essential oil also helps promote skin regeneration and smooths skin. It is best to use this product by mixing a few drops with a carrier oil such as jojoba oil or coconut oil. Reviewers love this product because it is great at reducing acne scars and fading dark spots.

Zongle USDA Certified Organic Geranium Essential Oil

Geranium essential oil helps promote a glowing and even skin tone. Reviewers love this product because it is a gentle, yet effective moisturizer that promotes healthier skin. Dermatologists recommend this for acne-prone skin because you can use it without fear of breaking out. It can help your skin at all stages of your blemish - when your blemish is growing, when it’s formed but before it’s open, and in the healing stage.

Why use essential oils to treat acne?

Many people are turning to essential oils to treat acne because essential oils are natural, gentle on the skin, and address the root problem of acne, while providing other benefits to the skin. Prescription drugs and chemical treatments typically contain harsh chemicals that come with side effects and oftentimes do not work permanently, if they work at all. Unlike other acne treatments, essential oils do not only fight acne, but they often have other benefits such as helping to smooth skin and brightening your skin.

How to Use Essential Oils

Using essential oils to help treat acne means that you will be using these essential oils topically on your face. There are different methods in which you can opt to apply the essential oils, depending on your preference and current skincare routine.

Who can use essential oils?

Essential oils are safe and can help nearly everyone, except children and pregnant women. Pregnant women should consult with a doctor or professional before use essential oils because some of the oils may contain medicinal properties that should not be used while pregnant. For a long time there was a misconception that oil causes breakouts and oily skin. That is not true. Essential oils can be used by all skin types, and will not cause breakouts, but will help prevent breakouts from occuring.

How to apply essential oils?

How you apply the essential oil depends on what essential oil you are using and how sensitive your skin is. There are a few options though in determining how to apply your essential oil to your skin. The first is to apply the essential oil directly to the skin, either with your finger or a cotton pad. You will typically apply one to three drops on the affected areas.

Another option is to use a carrier oil, as you read above. What is a carrier oil, you ask? A carrier oil is a gentle oil that you mix with a few drops of the essential oil. Coconut, rosehip seed, jojoba, and olive oils are considered carrier oils. There are certain essential oils where that is recommended, and other instances where you decide to make it less potent. Because so many of these essential oils are extremely potent, your skin can’t tolerate the pure essential oil alone, and needs it to be less potent. Que carrier oil, which allows you to still use the essential oil but delivers it in a less harmful dosage. Plus, many of the carrier oils provide additional skin benefits.

How to incorporate essential oils in your skincare routine?

Dermatologists generally recommend first incorporating an essential oil by applying it once per day. Essential oil is pretty versatile and there are many ways you can incorporate it into your skincare routine. You can apply alone to the affected area, mix a few drops into your face wash or moisturizer, or use it as a post-face wash hydration by mixing a few drops of the essential oil with a carrier oil, such as jojoba oil, which will deliver hydration to your skin. Already have a good skincare routine down that you don’t want to mess with? You can even add a few drops to your favorite foundation and incorporate it into your skincare routine that way.

What causes acne?

Acne can be caused by a variety of factors. Sometimes it is just the luck of the draw and you can inherit acne from a parent. Hormones, diet, stress, and medications can also play a role in contributing to acne. Eating a diet full of vegetables and fruit and reducing your intake of processed foods and sugars can help reduce some cases of acne. Stress is a major cause of acne for many people. Sleep is another factor. If you do not get enough sleep, your body creates more hormones, while also creating more stress on the body, and that can sometimes cause breakouts.

Acne is caused by excess sebum production where bacteria infect pores. To get rid of and to prevent acne, you need to rebalance your skin to reduce sebum production, thereby reducing bacteria so as to minimize infections and inflammation. The essential oils listed above help to reduce and prevent acne.

Why do essential oils help combat acne?

Essential oils work for your skin because they kill bacteria on the skin while also soothing the skin and protecting it from irritation and stress.

Many skincare products are extremely drying to your skin, which causes your skin to produce more oil, often resulting in more breakouts and acne. The active ingredients in many essential oils help balance and regulate your skin’s oil production - whether that is because your skin is too oily or too dry.

Can essential oils help reduce acne scars?

OK so you finally manage to get your acne under control. But now you are left with acne scars that are seemingly impossible to get rid of. Besides getting your acne under control, essential oils are great for fading acne scars. They have powerful ingredients that aid in naturally lightening dark acne spots. The following essential oils are known to help fade acne scars.

  • Helichrysum
  • Immortelle
  • Rosehip seed
  • Lavender
  • Jojoba oil (a carrier oil)

It is best to treat your acne scars with any of these essential oils diluted in a carrier oil, except for jojoba oil, as it is a carrier oil. You should start start to see a difference in your scars after a few weeks of using any of these essential oils.

What to look for in an essential oil?

Because you want to kill bacteria in order to minimize infection and inflammation, dermatologists recommend finding an essential oil with antibacterial and antiseptic properties. It’s hard to go wrong with an essential oil. However, depending on your skin type, some essential oils will work better with your skin than others.

For oily skin, you are best off using an oil rich in linoleic acid. Rosehip oil is good for all skin types, especially oily skin. Geranium essential oil is also a good option for oily skin because helps create balance and reduces excess oil. For dry skin, any essential oil will work on your skin. However, how you apply these oils is what makes a difference. It is best to apply any essential oils with a carrier oil so as to deliver moisture and hydration to your skin. Plus, the essential oil may be a little harsh on dry skin to use alone, so a carrier oil will help dilute the essential oil. For sensitive skin, you will want to beware of oils that are more potent, such as tea tree oil. Always start by incorporating it slowly into your skincare routine, and it may be a good idea to mix calming lavender oil with the stronger oils to create a blend.

Now that you are familiar with what essential oils are and why they are so popular in the skin care world right now, you are also ready to reap the benefits from these great acne-fighting skin care treatments. Be sure to always read instructions before use, as some essential oils have very specific application instructions.