Essential oils have recently become a beauty buzzword, but in reality, they’ve been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. Some practitioners say Ancient Egyptians were among the first to use essential oils as early as 3000 BC for spiritual enrichment, beauty, medicinal benefits, religious ceremonies, and even embalming. But in regards to your skin, some essential oils—when used correctly, which usually involves diluting them with a carrier oil—may have a multitude of benefits like soothing eczema and fading dark spots. When applied with the correct carriers, these oils might be more a natural way to decrease the appearance of stubborn pigmentation through cellular regeneration without the chronic dryness, irritation, and sun sensitivity potentially caused by harsh chemicals.
There are over 90 essential oils with supreme health benefits in the world of aromatherapy. So, where do we start? In order to find out which ones work best on fading scars and discoloration, we reached out to Shrankhla Holecek, founder of Uma Oils. She claims that these aromatic solutions can actually improve communication between your cells, which help strengthen and restore damaged skin, rather than simply treating symptoms or bleaching the spot like pharmaceutical drugs do.
Keep scrolling to learn the best essential oils to treat and diminish dark spots.
Meet the Expert
Shrankhla Holecek is the founder of Uma Oils, a luxe collection of organic face oils and wellness oils steeped in Ayurvedic tradition.
Tea Tree Oil
“Tea tree oil's fading superpowers come more from its ability to prevent and rapidly heal a blemish or wound, rather than a scar fading itself (although it does have minor resurfacing properties like a gentle acid). It banishes bacteria associated with a blemish or skin tear, leading to faster healing. When you heal faster, you're less likely to develop a dark spot. A great carrier oil for blemish-prone skin is grapeseed.”
Always patch test any new essential oils for skin irritations on your inner elbow 24 hours before intended use.
"Lavender helps calm irritation and rapidly fight inflammation to settle the raised part of a blemish and help your skin repair faster. The linalyl acetate, an ester naturally found in lavender, is anti-inflammatory and has a history in wound healing, leading to less scarring. When it comes to carriers for lavender oil, I love pomegranate best because of its ultra-small molecules that penetrate the skin quickly, delivering potent nutrients. It feels and absorbs like a serum, but does everything (and more!) that a great oil would do.”
“Geranium wields a natural astringent action, which calms redness, and is also deeply soothing and toning in nature. It also helps with better hydration retention in the skin, which always leads to an improved natural appearance of any scarring or pigmentation. Pomegranate oil is suitable carrier oil for geranium.”
“Because of its ability to spurn cell turnover, frankincense oil is one of the best for helping heal and fade scars. It’s a potent natural agent to stimulate healthy skin turnover and strengthen the skin’s elasticity. Think of frankincense’s cellular regeneration properties like the qualities of traditional retinol, but without the drying, sun-sensitivity or thinning of the skin many retinols cause.”
Dilute essential oils about six to 30 drops per ounce of carrier.
“Citrus-derived essential oils (neroli comes from the flower of the orange tree) are great because even though they don't have any vitamin C in them, they actually aid the absorption of vitamin C into the skin. Vitamin C is one of those substances that while widely regarded for its healing and scar-fading properties, but it is notoriously poorly absorbed. So, to double up the action of your vitamin C serums, add neroli or juniper berry oil. Added bonus: everybody loves the smell of neroli.”
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient required for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of the body, including the skin, but we cannot produce it on our own. In skincare, it helps to boost collagen, lighten discoloration, and fight free radicals.
“Chamomile oil has a fantastic naturally-occurring ingredient called Azulene (also in blue Tanzy), which is highly reparative; it's calming and cell-renewing, so it helps fight damage. Azulene is a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant, so it will prevent degradation of skin in times of stress, keeping it blemish and scar free.”
Clary Sage Oil
"Clary sage essential oil is an excellent option for oily skin because it has the unique properties of working with skin cells at the subdermal layer to regulate sebum production naturally. Clary sage is a very elegant and deeply therapeutic solution to oily skin because of its unique moderation properties. Since blemish-prone skin tends to develop more scarring, this is a wonderful preventative essential oil to add to your skincare routine.”
"Specifically, the curcumin in turmeric essential oil is very anti-inflammatory. Ayurvedic practitioners have used it in skincare for evening out the complexion, preventing acne and blemishes, as well as hyperpigmentation. It is believed to moderate the excess melanin production that often is the cause for dark spots.”
Rosemary Essential Oil
“Rosemary essential oil is great for fading dark spots because it enhances circulation, and better circulation is always great for your skin. It is also a disinfectant, so it will help prevent bacterial growth that can lead to scar-creating blemishes. Its phytonutrients are believed to also fight free radical-related damage and hyperpigmentation.”
Now that you've selected the best oils, it's time to learn how to dilute and use essential oils in your skincare routine.
Hollinger JC, Angra K, Halder RM. Are natural ingredients effective in the management of hyperpigmentation? a systematic review. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2018;11(2):28-37.
Telang PS. Vitamin C in dermatology. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2013;4(2):143-146. doi:10.4103/2229-5178.110593