There are countless essential oils out there, all with their own unique benefits, but if you are looking for the best essential oils for acne, these are the top six. They all fight acne in more than one way, and they all have at least preliminary research confirming their ability to help improve your skin.
Tea tree oil
1. Tea Tree Oil: The Best Oil for Acne Prone Skin
Tea tree oil is arguably the best oil for acne prone skin. It fights acne on all three levels: it kills bacteria, it reduces inflammation, and some studies suggest it can reduce how much extra oil the body produces.
The first reason tea tree oil is often used to treat acne is because it can kill p. acnes, even at very low concentrations. Some tea tree oil products contain 10% tea tree oil, but studies show that after 5%, there’s no significant difference in results based on concentration, and many studies show that all you need is 3% to kill p. acnes. The lower the concentration, the lower the chances of irritation and inflammation, so this is a good thing.
The second reason more and more people are using tea tree oil for acne is because it can help reduce inflammation. It’s always good to use products that decrease inflammation, but this can come in especially handy when treating cystic acne. Cysts form when bacteria get trapped in a pore, multiply, and expand downward into the skin rather than up toward the surface. This is often due to excessive inflammation, so with tea tree oil’s ability to both kill bacteria and fight inflammation, it is an ideal treatment for cystic acne.
The last reason tea tree oil is so popular is because it may be able to help with hormonal acne. Hormonal acne turns up whenever our hormones fluctuate because increases in testosterone lead to increased oil production. Some studies show that tea tree oil can help suppress testosterone creation, and thus oil creation, but it may also produce more feminine features, such as less hair growth and enlarged breast tissue.
2. Use Lavender Oil for Acne Caused by Stress
If you notice increased blemishes when you get stressed, you may want to try lavender oil for acne. Even though all acne is formed through the same general factors of oil production, inflammation, and bacteria, those factors can be triggered in different ways. Researchers believe stress is a common trigger for acne formation, and lavender oil may be able to help.
Lavender oil for acne is effective in two main ways, one that helps with stress acne specifically and one that is common in most essential oils. First, let’s explore how stress acne forms and what lavender oil can do about it. Unfortunately, our bodies don’t distinguish very well between physical stressors, like a face-off with a lion, and emotional stressors, like a big presentation at work or school. It reacts the same way in both scenarios: fight, flight, or freeze. No matter which response you tend to have, your body releases large amounts of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. In the moment, cortisol can help reduce inflammation, which should be good for acne, but if you have chronic stress, the opposite is often true. When we’re always stressed out, our bodies release a lot of cortisol which eventually starts to cause inflammation rather than prevent it.
So where does lavender come in? Unlike tea tree oil, which is diluted with a carrier oil and then applied directly to the skin, lavender oil can reduce stress acne through aromatherapy. Lavender oil aromatherapy doesn’t directly reduce acne, but studies show it has a significant impact on stress reduction, which can lower cortisol levels, reduce inflammation, and prevent stress acne.
3. Fight Painful Pimples with Eucalyptus Oil for Acne
Studies show that eucalyptus oil for acne can be helpful in three main ways: it kills p. acnes bacteria, it reduces inflammation, and it relieves pain. If you primarily have pimples or cysts rather than blackheads or whiteheads, eucalyptus oil is a great option for reducing your acne.
Much like tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil has been carefully researched more than most essential oils, and the results indicate that eucalyptus oil could be a great solution for acne. Several studies have found that it is antibacterial, which sounds great but you should always check to see if the research addresses p. acnes specifically. Most antibacterial substances don’t kill every kind of bacteria, so it’s important to know what it can and cannot treat.
Luckily, eucalyptus oil does kill p. acnes, and one study even found that a mixture of 2% eucalyptus oil and 4% guava oil was just as effective in killing p. acnes as 5% benzoyl peroxide (a common lab-made acne treatment).
Its antibacterial properties alone would make eucalyptus oil a great essential oil for acne, especially pimples and cysts, but it also has anti-inflammatory and analgesic qualities that can help as well. Analgesic substances can reduce pain, and if you’ve ever had a particularly large pimple or cyst, you know that pain relief is a seriously underrated aspect of acne treatment. Studies in mice and rats show that eucalyptus oil can help reduce pain, and the same study also demonstrated eucalyptus oil’s anti-inflammatory properties. Together, these properties make eucalyptus oil a particularly good treatment for pimples and cystic acne.
4.Frankincense Acne Solution
No, nothing can “cure” acne, but some products are definitely better than others at treating it, and the frankincense acne solution is unique in its ability to prevent and reduce acne scars.
One of the most frustrating parts of acne is the scarring it can leave behind. Even once you have clear skin, you don’t really have clear skin until all the dark spots and scars are gone too. Oils in general are typically good for scar reduction, but frankincense can be especially effective because it can both prevent and treat acne scars. Acne is technically a very minor wound, and one of frankincense oil’s great properties is that it helps speed up the healing process. The quicker a wound heals, the less likely it is to leave behind a scar, so applying frankincense to your acne could help prevent acne scarring in the first place.
Still, sometimes scars will form anyway, but frankincense can help with that as well. Scars slowly become less noticeable over time as our skin cells regenerate and the scar tissue cells are replaced with new, healthy cells. Frankincense simply speeds up this process by encouraging skin cell regeneration. If scarring is even more of a problem for you than acne itself, frankincense is definitely the way to go.
Some sources claim frankincense oil can kill p. acnes bacteria, but in reality it is much more effective against other kinds of bacteria and is unlikely to show much of a significant difference in p. acnes in particular. The good thing about essential oils, though, is that you can mix and match. You don’t need to find one oil that can do everything, you can add some frankincense for your scars and let other oils do the work in getting rid of acne-causing bacteria.
5. Peppermint Oil for Acne
We are relatively confident when we say that peppermint oil for acne can help in one of the same ways eucalyptus oil can: peppermint is also a natural analgesic, and it can help relieve the pain of especially inflamed or painful pimples and cysts. Peppermint oil contains menthol, which has been proven to provide significant pain relief, so if nothing else, you can definitely use peppermint oil for acne that’s causing you discomfort.
Now onto the more uncertain aspects of peppermint oil for acne. Some sources claim that peppermint oil is antibacterial, and there is substantial research to support that, but very few studies test whether or not peppermint oil can kill p. acnes bacteria specifically. Other sources claim that peppermint oil may be able to suppress testosterone production, like tea tree oil, but we could not locate any studies that support those claims. Peppermint oil may not be the most effective essential oil in treating acne, but it’s still near the top, and we argue it takes the number one spot for best fragrance.
6. What We Do and Don’t Know About Oregano Oil for Acne
Like peppermint oil, oregano oil for acne is still a bit of a mystery. There are plenty of rumors about what oregano oil can do for acne, from reducing inflammation to killing bacteria, to exfoliating the skin.
It looks like oregano is in the same boat as peppermint when it comes to killing p. acnes bacteria. Some studies have found it to be antibacterial, but there is little to no evidence that it can kill p. acnes specifically. There is more evidence to support its anti-inflammatory properties.
We are much more confident in the claim that oregano oil for acne could work because of its ability to exfoliate the skin. If you’ve tried lab-made acne products, you’ve almost definitely heard of salicylic acid. It is a compound typically used to treat blackheads and whiteheads because it can remove them by exfoliating the skin and clearing away the excess oil and dead skin cells clogging the pores. Salicylic acid was originally derived from the meadowsweet plant, but studies have found that oregano, along with other herbs and spices, can also be used as a source of salicylic acid. In its concentrated essential oil form, it is very likely that oregano is also capable of exfoliating the skin and reducing blackheads and whiteheads.