Current acne “treatments” all leave much to be desired.
Over-the-counter products contain chemicals that can cause burning, peeling, and crusting of the skin.
As for antibiotic creams — they require prescriptions, they lead to antibiotic resistance, and they become less effective with time.
Isn’t there a better way to achieve clear skin?
Today, I want to tell you about a completely different approach to dealing with acne. I’m talking about essential oils.
You’ve probably seen essential oils featured as key ingredients in expensive skincare products.
The fact is, you can use essential oils directly as a highly effective and natural first-aid for acne — without side-effects.
Read on to find out the specifics of how to treat acne breakouts with essential oils, as well as the ways they can help you achieve permanent blemish-free skin.
Eradicating the bacteria that cause acne
One of the key parts of an acne breakout is an explosion of bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes.
These bacteria are normally present in your skin in tiny amounts and don’t cause any problem.
But what happens with acne is that one of your pores gets clogged up.
This means you keep producing more sebum (the oily stuff in your skin), which causes these bacteria to start multiplying and multiplying until… you guessed it — you get a pimple.
Killing off these harmful bacteria is the first way in which essential oils can help you get rid of acne.
The fact is, many essential oils have powerful antibacterial properties.
This should not be surprising — fighting bacteria is one of the main purposes essential oils serve in the plant world.
Scientists have tested multiple essential oils and found the ones that are the most promising in killing the bacteria that causes acne. Here are four of them:
All of the oils above are safe to use at a dilution of 5%. This dilution is higher than typical skincare applications of essential oils — but it’s the recommended dilution in the case of acne.
And how should you use these oils to eradicate acne-causing bacteria? Here’s a simple antibacterial and anti-acne recipe, using tea tree oil:
- 1 ounce aloe vera gel
- 45 drops tea tree essential oil
Mix the tea tree oil with the aloe vera gel, and store this in a glass bottle. When you get an acne breakout, simply apply the blend to your skin where the acne is. You can continue to apply it every hour.
Red, swollen, and painful: Essential oils to treat acne-caused inflammation
I mentioned before that acne is caused by an explosive growth of bacteria.
Well, that’s not the complete story.
The fact is, the nasty acne-causing bacteria causes your body to respond with a process known as inflammation.
In general, inflammation is a good thing — it’s the way your body protects itself.
But, inflammation can also be a major nuisance.
You know the symptoms in case of acne. You get a big swollen bump, which becomes increasingly red and sensitive.
The fact is, the majority of the visible symptoms of acne are actually the result of inflammation, as this graphic shows:
Treating this inflammation is the second way in which essential oils help with acne.
Many essential oils have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
You can apply these oils to reduce redness, to make your skin less sensitive, and to bring down the unsightly swelling.
Which essential oils are we talking about specifically? Here are the best anti-inflammatory essential oils to help with this step of treating acne:
- Roman chamomile essential oil
- Lavender essential oil
- Frankincense essential oil
- Patchouli essential oil
How do you apply these oils to your skin? Here’s a simple recipe using just Roman chamomile:
- 6 drops Roman chamomile essential oil
- 1 tablespoon aloe vera gel
Mix with oil with the aloe vera gel, apply to skin after you’ve applied the blend from the first section. Of course, you can also blend in any of the other anti-inflammatory essential oils at the same ration (6 drops essential oil to 1 tablespoon carrier) for added effect.
Skin regeneration after acne: Anti-oxidant essential oils
Once your skin erupts with acne, and then you eradicate the bacteria and cool off the inflammation, what’s next?
Well, that’s when the repair process starts.
The thing is, even when the actual flare-up passes, there’s frequently an unsightly blemish left behind for days or sometimes weeks.
In extreme cases, acne can even leave behind a scar.
Now, do you remember how I mentioned that essential oils are used in skincare products all the time?
Well, the most common reason essential oils get into skincare products is because they help skin recover more quickly.
There are different ways that oils do this.
Some essential oils actually encourage new skin cell production.
Other oils are antioxidant and help make the natural healing process quicker and more effective.
And as mentioned before, many oils are antibacterial (as well as antifungal and antiviral), which prevents further infections of the wounded area and allows for still quicker healing.
So what does all this have to do with acne?
In short, there are essential oils that can help your skin heal more quickly once the acute phase of an acne breakout is over.
What’s more, these oils can reduce or even prevent any lasting effects such as acne scars.
Which oils are we talking about?
Here’s a simple recipe for how to use these oils:
- 18 drops rosemary essential oil
- 18 drops lavender essential oil
- 18 drops Helichrysum essential oil
- 1 ounce argan oil
Do you need to break it up into separate phases?
Like I said above, essential oils can help with acne in three separate ways: eliminating the acne-causing bacteria; reducing the body’s natural but overprotective inflammatory response; and encouraging skin healing after the acute acne phase passes.
I also gave you three separate recipes.
Now, you can definitely use the oils separately in three distinct steps, but you can also combine them.
The good news is that many essential oils serve multiple purposes. If you want to make a single blend that you can use over and over during all phases, use the following:
- 45 drops tea tree essential oil
- 27 drops Roman chamomile essential oil
- 18 drops lavender essential oil
- 1 ounce aloe vera gel
Simply pre-mix this, keep the blend in a glass bottle in your fridge, and whenever acne appears, apply the blend to your skin until the blemish disappears entirely.
Which other carriers are good?
In the recipes above, I recommended using aloe vera gel.
It’s important to note this isn’t plain aloe vera extract. Instead, it’s a commercial gel that’s had emulsifiers and thickeners added. Plain aloe vera extract is watery and won’t make a good carrier (essential oils don’t dilute in water-based substances).
Anyways, I listed aloe vera gel because it has been shown to act in combination with essential oils to help treat acne even more quickly than essential oils can do by themselves.
However, what should you do if you don’t have aloe vera gel on hand when acne strikes?
You can certainly use other carriers, such as plant oils.
The thing to be careful about is that some carrier oils can clog pores (I know, not what you’re looking for).
The good news is, there are some kind people out there that have put together a list of oils that DO NOT clog pores as well as those that might.
Lists like this rank carrier substances according to something called the comedogenic rating, with a 0 rating meaning “no chance of clogging pores”, to 5 meaning “high risk”.
Here’s one list of comedogenic oils from the fabulous MelenialSkin blog:
The thing is, some people can safely use comedogenic oils on their face without causing breakouts. For example, many people online will routinely recommend using coconut oil on the face, even though it’s high on the comedogenic rating above.
But why take a risk with your own face?
If you tend to get acne and you don’t want to make the situation work, stick with oils on the list above that have a rating of 0 or 1.
What about preventing breakouts altogether?
So far, we’ve talked about dealing with an acne breakout that’s already happening.
And if you try the recipes above, you will see they can be a huge help in this case.
Still, wouldn’t it be nice if you could simply stop acne breakouts altogether?
Essential oils can actually help with this as well.
The first way, of course, is by using the same antibacterial essential oils to keep those harmful bacteria in check.
If you’re using a commercial cleanser like this, you can simply mix in drops of tea tree essential oil with a teaspoon of your cleanser.
You can also try the oil cleansing method, as explained here by PaleoHacks:
If you’re following the recipe above, you can simply add 3 drops of tea tree oil to each tablespoon of carrier oil to make a natural, anti-bacterial cleanser.
Hormonal acne and the essential oils to help
A second way to prevent acne breakouts is by dealing with hormones.
Acne is thought to be affected by the male hormone testosterone, but clearly, something else is at play also.
In fact, by the time they reach their 30s and later, women are twice as likely to have acne as men.
For many women, acne follows a regular cycle along with their periods, further suggesting that shifts in female hormones might be at play.
Here’s how essential oils can help.
Several essential oils seem to have an estrogenic effect, and can be used to balance female hormones if these appear to be causing problems like acne.
If you know that you always experience breakouts at a regular time and you suspect it’s caused by hormone variations due to your period, try out the following recipe:
Simply use a few drops of both of these oils in your home diffuser. This can balance a drop in estrogen that can result in acne, and it can also help with other hormone-imbalance symptoms such as headaches.
Not everybody experiences skin breakouts in times of stress.
But for those unlucky ones who do, the acne is sure to contribute to what was already a miserable situation.
Here’s how essential oils can help (yet again).
Many essential oils are great at helping you manage your mood — everything from getting you to relax, destress, or feel more energetic and positive.
So if you find that you are getting weighed down with burdens and worries, and you worry that this will lead to your next breakout, try the following recipe:
Simply put a few drops of each of these oils into your home diffuser, and diffuse at those times when you expect or notice increased stress. If you haven’t got a home diffuser, simply inhaling from the bottle of one of these oils should also offer you some immediate stress relief and help prevent a breakout.
Essential oils are a great treatment for acne on many levels.
They can help you get rid of the unsightly stuff faster, and help your skin recover more quickly and completely.
They can even help you eliminate some frequent causes of acne, and prevent breakouts altogether.
The good news is, a few common oils are all you need. Make sure you give them a try and see how they help your skin.
What has been your experience with acne and essential oils? If you have questions or you’d like to share your story, please let me know in the comments below.
DISCLAIMER: We've done our best to research the topics on this site and to present accurate, up-to-date information. However, you should always do your own research and consult with a medical professional before making any decisions regarding your health. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.