Essential Oils for Acne
If you suffer with acne, then this can be a highly unpleasant experience. Not only is acne uncomfortable and potential painful and itchy, it’s also unpleasant to look at and can make us feel somewhat un-confident about our appearance. Worse still, is that acne can potentially lead to the appearance of permanent scars! And this is a condition that is very widespread, with a growing number of women in particular now suffering well into their 30s and 40s.
It can often feel as though the myriad treatments and solutions don’t really hold the answer. On the one hand, you have countless expensive products being marketed to you that don’t really do anything much. Then you have the options being touted by GPs – which are usually powerfully astringent and liable to burn off the top layer of your skin.
And there’s still no guarantee it will work!
This is why you might consider using natural alternatives instead – including ones that contain essential oils. Let’s take a look at whether this is a viable option and whether you should consider it for your own acne troubles.
How Essential Oils Treat Acne
Acne is caused by a number of factors. But one of the main contributors is something known as ‘sebum’, an oil that is intended to prevent the skin from drying out.
Unfortunately, when the body starts to produce too much of this, it causes the dead skin cells to ‘stick’ to it where they can end up clogging up pores. Trapped here, they end up providing a nice spot for bacteria to build up and this then results in the area becoming red, swollen and inflamed – what we know as a spot.
There are numerous things that can contribute to this build up of sebum but one of the most common causes is an imbalance of hormones. This is why stress can contribute to acne, as well as the menopause and birth control pills.
Most famously of all though, puberty leads to acne thanks to a sudden and pronounced increase in testosterone.
So what can essential oils do to help? Actually, they can help in a wide number of ways. You might think that using oil to ‘fight oil’ could be the worst thing to do for your skin but actually this would be to ignore the role that different oils can play.
Firstly, some essential oils can help to reduce the swelling and inflammation that makes spots look red and angry. Many essential oils are anti-inflammatory and at the same time might also be able to cool and ease the pain thanks to analgesic properties.
On top of this, essential oils can also help to remove dead skin and thereby clear the pores. That’s because some essential oils are slightly acidic – such as lemon oil – and this means they can work similarly to a chemical peel (only they’re much less severe).
Another potential benefit of essential oils is to deliver nutrition to the skin. By offering vitamin E and other important nutrients, these oils can strengthen the skin cells and make them much healthier looking. This helps you reduce the number of dead cells and improve the look of those that remain.
And finally, you can also use essential oils to kill the bacteria that contribute to spots. This is because many essential oils are also anti-bacterial. As long as you rinse your face thoroughly, you should find that you don’t contribute to additional oil. The reason sebum is a problem is that it’s continually being produced and so you can’t get rid of it.
This is the theory behind why essential oils can help you to clear your skin. But it’s more than just a theory and it also stands up to closer scrutiny. In one study, it was found that tea tree oil for example was six times more effective than placebo in treating the condition!
How to Use Essential Oils for Acne
Now you know what’s going on, the next question is how you can start benefiting from it and treating your own skin. The answer is that there are several popular ways to apply and use essential oils to treat acne.
One option is simply to apply the oils topically. Just apply 2-3 oils directly to the area, along with a carrier oil such as jojoba or coconut oil where necessary.
Coconut oil is actually very beneficial for the skin in its own right and will help to hydrate it and penetrate more deeply. This is a particularly good choice of carrier oil therefore and also something that everyone should have around the home for a myriad of other reasons!
Another option is to make your own face scrub or wash. There are numerous recipes for this which you can find online, but one good one that includes probiotics to help reinvigorate the skin and kill bacteria is:
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons of honey
- 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
- 20 drops of tea tree oil
- 2 capsules of live probiotics
The Best Essential Oils for Acne
With all that out the way, let’s take a look at which oils make the best treatments for acne. There are plenty of good options out there but here are a few of the most effective:
Tea Tree Oil
As mentioned earlier, tea tree oil has been positively proven to work in numerous studies. This is thanks in particular to the antimicrobial and antifungal properties that it possesses. In fact, you can buy all manner of different over-the-counter treatments containing this oil in particular. While these products are very expensive, you can get the most important aspect at a much cheaper price!
Tea tree oil can be used by applying 2.3 drops to a clean cotton ball and applying directly to the area. You can also add it to your face wash yourself.
Lavender oil is profoundly effective when it comes to treating acne which is once again thanks to its antimicrobial features. Another benefit of lavender though is that it is also highly antioxidant. For those not in the know, this means that it can combat free radicals that damage cells. The result is that your skin cells last much longer without being damaged.
In the short term this could potentially lessen the build-up of dead cells. In the long term though, it may mean that you get fewer wrinkles making this an effective 2 in 1 treatment that combats acne and the visible signs of ageing!
As a nice added bonus, lavender is also well known as a treatment for stress in general. Seeing as stress (and cortisol) indirectly increases sebum and therefore acne, this could also be helpful! Diffuse 5 drops to maximize the relaxation benefits.
Juniper Berry Oil
Juniper berry oil is naturally antibacterial and antimicrobial – once again meaning it has all the right stuff for combating acne and helping to keep your skin looking clear and smooth. Several studies including a 2005 study published in Pharmaceutical Development and Technology have shown that this is an effective treatment when applied topically.
Some of the most important ingredients that make juniper berry oil so effective are alpha-pinene, p-cymene and beta-pinene. Again, these have found their way into a great number of different products you can buy on the shelf – but it’s cheaper and healthier to get them in the oils!
Clary Sage Oil
Clary sage oil contains an ester called linalyl acetate which can reduce inflammation and provide a natural remedy for acne and a variety of other irritations affecting the skin. It is particularly effective at combating breakouts and at regulating the production of sebum.
And, like lavender oil, clary sage oil is also very effective at improving the mood and lessening stress. In fact, clary sage is often used as an antidepressant and antianxiety solution (anxiolytic). As we’ve seen already, this can have additional benefits for improving acne symptoms.
As you can see then, essential oils can have a wide number of benefits that make them very effective at treating acne. Just like products you buy on the shelf, you shouldn’t expect any of these things to offer you clean skin overnight, but it’s a more gentle, natural and healthy alternative to using strong synthetic compounds and you’ll save a lot of money this way too!
Just make sure to combine your use of these oils with the right skin care regime including the right diet and occasional rinsing with cool water.