Here's Why Cleansers With Essential Oils Don't Work on Combination Skin

Not going to name names, but for so long I was relying on a generous blend of essential oil–based cleansers for my skin. Interestingly enough, a few days would pass by, and I'd be left with unwanted pimples. I completely overhauled my skincare routine, replaced and swapped products with others that I knew for sure weren't the culprits, and everything boiled down to my cleanser. Aren't botanic essential oils supposed to be healthy for my skin? I thought. I was perplexed that my skin had such an immediate reaction to these earth-friendly ingredients.

The New York Times was spot-on with the cause of this problem: "Found in an array of farm-to-bottle, natural lines, [essential oils] are often touted as being pure and beneficial for one's complexion," The New York Times states. "[Skincare specialist Kristina Holey] found the opposite to be true. … Some constituents of certain essential oils, like those in bergamot, are transformed into chemicals and enzymes when exposed to sunlight, which can induce a photo-allergic response," Holey tells The New York Times. Moreover, she says the volatile compounds in essential oils often disrupt the microbiome, or healthy flora, of the skin—weakening its protective abilities. Among sensitive types, this can be enough to trigger flare-ups and, as Holey witnessed, "an exponentially rising rate" of reactions. All in all, not all essential oils are created equal.

To delve into this even further, I reached out to skincare specialist Suzanne LeRoux, who also happens to be the founder of One Love Organics, along with Cindy Bae, MD, of Laser Skin Surgery to explain what exactly is it in essential oils that could harm the skin. Read on for a comprehensive analysis.