12 Essential Oils for Acne That You Should Try

Some people think of acne more of a cosmetic problem than a health concern.

But this common skin disease, which results from the clogging of the hair follicles, can actually lead to anxiety and low self-esteem [1].

In some cases, it can even increase the risk of depression and suicidal tendencies [1].

Teenagers who are at a vulnerable stage of emotional well-being and self-awareness are most commonly affected by acne.

Up to 87 percent of teens suffer from this persistent skin problem [2].

If you suffer from acne, it’s a good idea to rely on safe yet effective home remedies such as essential oils for acne that can curb problem for good.

Here are some of those that you should try.

1. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is commonly added to over-the-counter acne medications as it has been found safe and effective for this skin condition [3].

Evidence collected from a 1990 study verifies its efficacy in “reducing number of inflamed and non-inflamed lesions” [4].

A more recent study dated 2007 followed the results of a 15-day treatment of acne, and found that 5 percent tea tree oil was 3.55 to 5.75 times more effective than the placebo [5].

It worked great on mild to moderate cases of acne breakouts [5].

This is due to the oil’s ability to combat acne-causing bacteria, specifically Propionibacterium acnes, Staphylococcus aureus, and Staphylococcus epidermidis [6].

Terpinen-4-ol, alpha-pinene and alpha-terpineol are the active compounds behind this antimicrobial mode of action [6].

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 drops of tea tree oil
  • 1 spray bottle filled with water

Recommended Directions:

  • Add tea tree oil to a spray bottle of water.
  • Spritz mixture on face or body affected by acne.
  • You can also apply tea tree oil on pimples using a cotton ball.
  • But be sure to mix it first with water or carrier oil such as coconut oil.
  • It’s not safe to use tea tree oil undiluted.

2. Lavender

Lavender’s profound skin benefits have long been acknowledged by medical experts. They believe that this oil is capable of treating by soothing, nourishing and moisturizing dry skin.

It is also said to minimize scars and dark spots that are caused by acne.

Several studies also indicate that it has inhibitory effects against Propionibacterium acnes, which is one of the bacterial strains that cause pimples [7, 8].

Not only does it prevent the growth and spread of bacteria, it also tones down acne-related inflammation, reports a 2013 study [8].

On top of these, lavender has relaxation effects, which can be good for those breakouts that are triggered or aggravated by stress [9, 10].

As you can imagine, stress and acne are linked in two ways: stress triggers acne, and acne causes stress. Using lavender to break off this cycle is indeed a good idea.

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of lavender oil
  • 1 tablespoon of jojoba oil

Recommended Directions:

  • In a bowl, combine lavender oil and jojoba oil.
  • Mix with a spoon, and then transfer to a glass jar with lid.
  • Cover the jar.
  • Shake the bottle to blend the oils.
  • Apply on the face or body using a cotton ball or pad.
  • Repeat remedy twice a day for one to two weeks or until acne breakout subsides.

3. Juniper

Juniper is another popular remedy for acne cases, minimizing skin infection and irritation. It has been recognized for its antiseptic, astringent and cleansing properties that are beneficial for this skin issue [11].

Not only that, in a study that can be found in the Pharmaceutical Development and Technology, it was explained that juniper oil has strong bactericidal effects that make it a suitable ingredient for an anti-acne topical formulation [12].

Even when diluted with carrier oils, its antimicrobial and anti-acne activities were not altered or reduced [12].

The presence of alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, and p-cymene contributed to these beneficial effects [13, 14].

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 drops of juniper oil
  • 2 drops of lavender oil
  • 1 tablespoon of mild organic facial cleanser

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  • Be sure to mix well.
  • Scoop out a small amount on your palms.
  • Rub palms together and use it to wash your face.
  • Massage face gently using circular motions.
  • Rinse with cool water.
  • Do this once a day before sleeping.
  • This remedy is safe enough for everyday use.

4. Lemongrass

You love the lemony aroma of lemongrass oil, which is one of the primary reasons it is typically added to bath and perfume products.

Aside from this, you will also appreciate how it can actively combat acne without causing the skin to become overly dry.

It has been found to have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that are essential for acne control [15].

A 2009 study published in the International Journal of Essential Oil Therapeutics confirms that lemongrass oil has potent inhibitory activity against microbes that cause acne [16].

Among the 22 essential oils frequently used in Thai traditional medicine, lemongrass was one of those with the strongest bactericidal effects on not just one or two but five strains of Propionibacterium acnes [17].

This is a great alternative to antibiotics, to which some bacterial strains have become resistant [17].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 tablespoon of sweet almond oil
  • 3 drops of lemongrass oil
  • 3 drops of tea tree oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Pour all the oils into a glass bottle.
  • Shake the contents gently to blend.
  • Apply three drops of the mixture on the affected area of the skin.
  • Do this every night before sleeping.
  • Massage mixture into the skin gently.
  • Use this remedy for several weeks.
  • This can also be used to get rid of acne scars and stretch marks.

5. Clary Sage

Stress doesn’t directly cause acne, but it can definitely worsen it. It’s no wonder people who lead stressful lives rarely have flawless skin.

According to an American research, high levels of emotional stress aggravated acne inflammation and increased number of blemishes on the skin [9].

This is where clary sage comes into the picture.

In 2014, researchers discovered that clary sage oil can safely and effectively reduce stress levels by up to 36 percent, minimizing the production of cortisol, improving mood, and reducing risk of depression and anxiety [18].

Otherwise known as the “stress hormone”, cortisol is an adrenal hormone that regulates changes in the body such as blood sugar levels, blood pressure levels, immune responses, anti-inflammatory actions, and so on. These changes occur in response to stress [19].

Apart from calming the senses, this oil is also a powerful antibacterial agent, working against bacteria that cause skin infections, even those that are resistant to antibiotics [20].

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of clary sage
  • 3 drops of clary sage
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Use a diffuser to fill the room with clary sage aroma.
  • Pour only five drops of clary sage oil into the diffuser.
  • The rest of the clary sage oil should be combined with coconut oil.
  • Apply oil mixture on affected skin and massage gently.
  • Follow procedure once a day for up to four weeks.

6. Chamomile

Chamomile won’t be a widely used herbal remedy without good reason.

In tea form, it has been found effective in treating anxiety and digestive ailments, among many other health problems [21].

Its oil extract meanwhile has been an important part of cosmetics as well as medicinal aromatherapy [21].

For those with acne, chamomile can prove to be a reliable solution, thanks to its astringent, healing and anti-inflammatory properties [21].

Apigenin, bisabolol, and chamazulene are among the active compounds that help chamomile in controlling acne [22].

This oil can also minimize blackheads and acne scars [23].

Use this oil remedy in combination with a cup of chamomile tea to soothe your senses.

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 drops of chamomile oil
  • 2 drops of lavender oil
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 cup of chamomile tea

Recommended Directions:

  • Wash your face with a gentle cleanser.
  • Pat it dry with a clean towel.
  • In a bowl, combine chamomile oil, lavender oil and olive oil.
  • Pour oil mixture in a glass jar.
  • Apply mixture on your face using a cotton ball.
  • Leave it on for 10 minutes before washing off with cool water.
  • Drink a rejuvenating cup of chamomile tea afterwards.
  • Do this treatment method once a day for three to four weeks.

7. Sandalwood

Sandalwood is one of the essential oils proven effective in clearing cutaneous infections and inflammation [23].

Various studies show that this oil is often added to skincare products, as it can also soften and cleanse the skin [23].

So it’s no surprise that it’s considered a suitable treatment for acne and other skin problems.

And not only does it alleviate acne, it also relieves symptoms associated with this condition such as pain, inflammation and itchiness [23].

Moreover, it’s highly effective in combating pimple-causing bacteria S. aureus [23].

In a 2012 study, it was found that sandalwood oil contributed to the efficacy of an anti-acne formulation made of salicylic acid. Results indicated success in treating mild to moderate cases of acne, but with few minor side effects [24].

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 drops of sandalwood oil
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • Warm water
  • Cool water

Recommended Directions:

  • Wash face with warm water.
  • Mix honey and sandalwood oil.
  • Spot apply mixture on acne.
  • Let it sit for five minutes.
  • If there’s stinging pain, reduce the duration to three minutes or less.
  • Rinse thoroughly with clean water.
  • Pat your face dry with clean soft towel.
  • Do this procedure every night before sleeping for one to two weeks.

8. Lemon

Oxidative stress due to free radicals is a leading cause of premature aging. Lemon oil, which is an established antioxidant, can help in this matter [25].

But this is just one of the many things that it can do.

It can also help combat acne, as shown in a study featured at the Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Scientists of Korea. Findings from this scientific investigation reveal that lemon oil has significant sterilizing and antimicrobial actions [26].

In fact, it even worked better than eucalyptus oil in controlling Propionibacterium acnes [26].

Use this oil not only to have flawless skin, but also one that looks young and rejuvenated.

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 drops of lemon oil
  • 1 tablespoon of organic facial cleanser

Recommended Directions:

  • Splash your face with cool water.
  • Add lemon oil to a facial cleanser.
  • Pour a small amount on your palm and apply on your face.
  • Massage onto your skin.
  • Rinse with cool water.
  • Do this everyday until acne disappears.

9. Rosemary

Revitalize skin and bring back its former glow with rosemary oil. This oil is believed to ease acne breakouts by minimizing production of oil, preventing inflammation, and soothing redness and irritation.

On top of these, it is also said to be effective in boosting blood circulation, which will help restore the youthful appearance of the skin.

How true are these claims?

Two studies point out that rosemary indeed has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties [27, 28].

Not only does it hinder pro-inflammatory enzymes, it can also suppress the activities of bacterial strains that cause acne [27, 28].

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 drops of rosemary oil
  • 1 teaspoon of aloe vera gel

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine aloe vera gel and rosemary oil.
  • Cleanse your face with a mild facial wash.
  • Apply a thin layer of aloe vera mixture on your face.
  • Leave it on for 15 minutes.
  • Wipe it off and rinse with cool water.
  • Use this solution three times a week until condition improves.

10. Frankincense

A natural toner and skin tightener, frankincense is also a great tool for combating skin blemishes such as acne.

A case study of frankincense as acne treatment explains that its active compound boswellic acid plays a crucial role in its anti-inflammatory actions, something that anyone with acne-prone skin can benefit from [29].

As if all these aren’t good enough, frankincense oil can also reduce scars and wrinkles, making your skin glow like never before.

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 teaspoons of raw honey
  • 3 drops of frankincense oil
  • 2 drops of tea tree oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Cleanse face with warm water and mild facial soap.
  • Rinse well.
  • Pat it dry with a soft and clean towel.
  • In a bowl, mix honey, frankincense oil and tea tree oil.
  • Apply on the face evenly.
  • Let it sit for 15 minutes.
  • Rinse with cool water.
  • Do this technique three times a week until acne is gone.

11. Bergamot

Oil extracted from citrus fruits like bergamot has long been used for acne control [30].

Not only is bergamot oil rich in active compounds such as flavones which can effectively nourish the skin, it also works as an anti-inflammatory [30].

Topical application of this oil can help tone down swelling and redness caused by acne.

It is also a proven antibacterial, as reported in a 2009 study [30].

According to the findings, bergamot and lemon are among the citrus oils with the strongest antibacterial effects [30].

This means that using bergamot oil is most likely to provide quick results for your acne woes as it deals with the source of infection.

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 drops of bergamot oil
  • 1 teaspoon of jojoba oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine bergamot and jojoba oil.
  • After cleansing face with mild facial wash, apply oil mixture.
  • Let it sit for 10 minutes before rinsing with cool water.
  • Repeat procedure once a day for one to two weeks.

12. Thyme

Thyme is widely recognized as a culinary spice, adding unique flavor to simple dishes.

Its oil extract, meanwhile, is used for its cosmetic and medicinal properties [31].

It can cure a vast array of ailments and skin issues, including acne [31].

Thymol, the major constituent of thyme, has been found to be a strong antibacterial agent [31].

Apart from curbing the bacteria that causes the appearance of acne on the skin, it also works in toning down inflammation and irritation [31].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 teaspoon of raw honey
  • 2 drops of thyme oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Add thyme oil to honey.
  • Spread a thin layer on the face.
  • Wait for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing with warm water.
  • Repeat remedy once a day for up to two weeks.

If you want to finally get rid of acne once and for all, you must use these essential oil remedies that are safe and highly effective.