It’s hard to accept the bothersome reality of acne. Sometimes, it seems like you’re going to be searching for the perfect acne-fighting product forever. We often go for over-the-counter treatments or clinically proven products to aid our acne woes because we’re convinced they’ll give the fastest and strongest skin results. However, turning to harsh chemicals can make your acne worse and come with not-so-good side effects.
Instead of adding insult to injury, opt for natural sources of medicine instead. One option to consider is essential oils, which contain anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties. These organic acne fighters will not only soothe your acne-prone skin but also reduce the appearance of dark spots.
We chatted with the co-founder of all-natural skincare brand EO Products, Susan Griffin-Black, who also happens to be an essential oil expert, along with Dave Karlak, president of organic skincare line Max Green Alchemy, to figure out their favorite essential oils for acne.
Read on for the best essential oils for acne that could be the answer your skin’s been waiting for.
Oils Have Preventable Acne-Fighting Properties
One study reports that tea tree essential oil has the power to treat acne as effectively as benzoyl peroxide—without harsh side effects that can accompany the latter. “A lot of acne solutions dry out your skin, which sends a signal to your body to produce more oil,” explains Griffin-Black. “Farnesol, an active constituent of rose oil, makes dry skin less dry and oily skin less oily. It helps to balance and regulate your skin’s oil production.”
According to Karlak, acne is caused by excess sebum production collecting in hair follicles where bacteria infect clogged pores, resulting in an inflamed blemish. “The strategy is to rebalance the skin environment in order to reduce sebum production and reduce bacteria, which will minimize infection and inflammation,” says Karlak. Karlak advises looking for essential oils with antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Like Griffin-Black, he's also a fan of tea tree oil, along with atlas cedar, cypress, geranium, lavender, lemon, and rosemary oil.
Oils Reduce Visible Acne Scars
The most agonizing thing about acne scars are waiting for them to fade. Thankfully, essential oils have some of the most powerful acne-fighting ingredients that will aid in lightening your dark spots in the most natural way. “Helichrysum and immortelle are my favorite oils for acne scars,” says Griffin-Black. “Their replenishing properties support skin regeneration and promote smoother skin. Rose and lavender are also excellent for scars.” She suggests jojoba oil, a synergy of helichrysum, rose, and lavender, as a wonderful way to ease the appearance of acne scars.
“Acne scars occur from skin trauma and collagen fiber that are in over- or under-production, resulting in visible raised or pitted scar tissue,” explains Karlak. He believes the best essential oils to treat acne scars are those that are diluted in a carrier oil. Karlak assures that carrier oil has the ability to minimize scar tissue while refining the overall skin appearance. His favorite carrier oil for acne scars is rose hip seed oil, which has one of the highest concentrations of natural retinoic acid, which has been clinically shown to reduce and refine scar tissue.
“Max Green Alchemy’s Elemeni Radiance Face Oil ($30) is ideal for acne-prone skin because it include rose hip seed, rose otto, lavender, mandarin, carrot seed and frankincense oil,” Karlak suggests.
Searching for a little more essential oil education? Check out this beginner’s guide to essential oils.