Essential Oils for Acne: Which Are Best, How to Use Then, and Possible Side Effects

Tens of millions of Americans and many more around the world suffer from acne. According to some estimates, around 50% of young adults suffer from acne. And the gender doesn’t matter; it affects both males and females. The search for that elusive treatment never stops. When faced with the challenge of acne, many people turn to prescription drugs, some opt for chemical treatments, and some hit the beauty salon. But what about natural remedies? Today, I will talk a little more about essential oils for acne and how they can help.

Why use essential oils for acne?

Look, I’m never one to tell you this is better than that. In fairness, some people experience great success from prescription drugs. Some people are just allergic to some natural ingredients. But when it comes to what I put on my skin, I always try to be as natural as possible.

One reason is because cosmetic products usually contain harsh chemicals. Yes, they can help your skin at first, but in the long run, they do more harm than good. On the other hand, home remedies for acne and natural ingredients have been used for thousands of years.

Essential oils don’t treat acne just as acne. They target the root of the problem, which is your skin issues and irritation. By doing that, essential oils not only treat acne, but they also prevent them from happening again. In addition, some essential oils, like lavender for example, not only treat acne, but they also fight off stress and anxiety. Essential oils for acne do much more than just treat acne. Their benefits go beyond fighting acne.

What causes acne?

Before we get to which essentials oils to use and how to use them, let’s look at the acne problem for a moment. What causes acne is one of the most common questions, and the causes include:

  • Genetics
  • Skin issues such as clogged pores, bacteria, excess oil production
  • Changing hormone levels
  • Skin irritating activity such as friction from sports equipment
  • Stress
  • Certain medications, like birth control pills, androgens, and corticosteroids

Some people opt to just ignore the problem; they think it will pass on its own. But that’s a mistake. When your skin follicles are blocked, they become swollen. Depending on the severity of the problem, acne can cause emotional discomfort. People feel unattractive, and their self-confidence falls off a cliff. Therefore, it’s important to start treatment as soon as possible. The more you wait, the more irritating the problem gets. And let’s not forget that acne can turn into scars, which can cause even more damage to your skin.

That being said, let’s take a look at the popular choices for treating acne.

Tea tree oil

Essential Oils for Acne: Which Are Best, How to Use Then, and Possible Side EffectsA staple in the cosmetic industry, tea tree oil is famous for its antimicrobial properties. Almost any over-the-counter acne remedies you will find contain some tea tree oil. So, why not go directly to the source?

According to a study conducted by the Department of Dermatology at Camperdown, tea tree oil has a significant benefit when used for acne. There are other studies on the subject as well, and they all suggest the oil has a great effect on mild and moderate acne problems. Just a tiny amount is more than enough to penetrate your skin and start working its magic on your sebaceous glands.

When using tea tree oil, make sure to use 100% pure oil. You can use it topically by adding two to three drops on a cotton ball and applying it on the affected area. You can also add it to your daily wash. Or you can use it in a spray bottle, mixed with water. For those of you with sensitive skin, I recommend mixing tea tree oil with olive oil. One thing to note: don’t overdo it. Tea tree oil is generally safe, but it can dry your skin if used constantly.


Essential Oils for Acne: Which Are Best, How to Use Then, and Possible Side EffectsI mentioned at the beginning that in addition to treating acne, lavender also fights off stress. But in terms of acne problems, lavender helps by providing your skin with antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Lavender essential oil nourishes the skin, healing dry skin and reducing dark spots.

Lavender is the best essential oil for acne when you have sensitive skin. And because stress and acne are related, as we saw in the causes section above, lavender actually treats the root of the problem and prevents acne from happening. And bonus points because lavender improves your sleep quality. All that leads to healthy life that’s acne-free.

There are several ways to use lavender oil for acne. First off, you can apply the oil directly to your skin. Or you can use it as a moisturizer, combining it with jojoba oil and almond oil. For the latter treatment, massage your skin twice per day. And if you want to simply relax your muscles and nerves, apply lavender oil on the back of your neck and wrists.

Clary sage

Essential Oils for Acne: Which Are Best, How to Use Then, and Possible Side EffectsNot many people know of clary sage, an essential oil that reduces skin inflammation and helps with all skin irritations. Clary sage helps by regulating the production of oils on your skin. Oily skin is often associated with acne problems.

To use this essential oil, diffuse five drops of the oil in your home. This will help your stress levels, anxiety levels, and regulate the air quality in your home. You can also apply just one drop of clary sage essential on the affected area. Just be sure to use a cotton ball when applying clary sage directly, and dilute the oil with coconut oil.


Essential Oils for Acne: Which Are Best, How to Use Then, and Possible Side EffectsMade from the bergamot plant, bergamot essential oil is considered a hybrid between a lemon and a sour orange. Some people even call it a “mutation of lemon.” Bergamot oil is removed from the peel of the fruit and used for its medical properties. In terms of treating acne, bergamot provides antiseptic benefits. In addition, bergamot promotes skin growth, making it perfect for common skin problems. And last, but not least, bergamot also reduces stress and anxiety levels.

Because bergamot has antibacterial properties, the essential oil is perfect for topical treatments. Mix five drops of bergamot oil with a teaspoon of olive or coconut oil. Apply on your skin. You can also add other essential oils for acne to the bergamot mix if you want to make it even more potent. Bergamot is one of the few essential oils that works well in teams.

Juniper berry

Essential Oils for Acne: Which Are Best, How to Use Then, and Possible Side EffectsSince 2005, juniper berry essential oil has been praised for its antimicrobial properties, making it one of the most popular skin remedies. You can treat more than just acne: almost any skin irritation and infection can be solved with juniper berry essential oil.

You can apply it directly on the skin and massage the area. However, if you have sensitive skin, I recommend diluting the oil with carrier oil like jojoba or coconut.


Essential Oils for Acne: Which Are Best, How to Use Then, and Possible Side EffectsRosemary brings so many powerful capabilities to the table, starting with reducing excess oils in the skin and its anti-inflammatory properties. Rosemary is more than just a cooking ingredient (it’s great for adding flavor to dishes). But the essential oil has been part of alternative medicine since the days of the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians. Back then, our ancestors used the plant to relieve muscle aches, support skin care, improve memory, and soothe digestive woes. Most importantly, rosemary fights off inflammation, the No. 1 problem with skin problems and all health problems.

When using rosemary oil, dilute 3-4 drops into any carrier oil and massage the mixture on your area of concern. You can also prepare an acne wash by mixing ¾ cup of oatmeal, ½ cup of green tea, and ½ cup of rose water. Add six drops of rosemary oil to the paste, and use on your body instead of soap. The wash will fight off the bacteria clogging your pores and soothe inflamed areas.

Lemongrass oil

Essential Oils for Acne: Which Are Best, How to Use Then, and Possible Side EffectsNot much of a popular choice, but lemongrass is also effective in fighting acne. Distilled from the leaves and stems, lemongrass oil contains vitamins like vitamin A that improve your skin’s ability to repair and replace dead skin cells. Even more important, lemongrass oil contains vitamin E, crucial for healing scars. The best way to use lemongrass is by diluting the oil with a carrier oil and then applying on the affected area.


Essential Oils for Acne: Which Are Best, How to Use Then, and Possible Side EffectsAnother staple in the kitchen that makes its way to skin care products as well. I guarantee all of us use this aromatic spice in the kitchen. In the medicine cabinet, oregano essential oil gives you a valuable asset for skin problems. Oregano has antibacterial and antiseptic properties, both of which are crucial for eliminating acne.

Because it’s very potent, oregano oil should be used in small amounts. Dilute just two drops of oregano oil in any carrier oil. Use a cotton ball to apply on your face. Please note that you should perform a skin test first, as oregano oil can be irritating. For the skin test, mix a few drops of oregano oil with a teaspoon of olive oil. Using a cotton ball, apply a little on your face and wait for it to naturally dry on your skin. You will feel a slight sensation, but that’s normal. The problem is if your skin turns red. If that’s the case, skip the oregano and use any other essential oil.

Possible side effects

All of the above mentioned essential oils are safe for using. However, that means using them in small amounts. If you noticed, I always recommend using just two or three drops of essential oils mixed with a carrier oil.

And I must warn you: when you use essential oils for acne, avoid exposure to sunlight that day.

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