Acne is one of the most common skin conditions. It can affect teenagers and adults as well. Unhealthy diet, hormonal problems, genetics, and even stress can cause acne breakouts.

Conventional acne treatments contain harsh chemicals which can make the skin worse. A growing number of skincare experts are turning to essential oils as an effective treatment in managing and preventing acne.

Essential oils help clear acne and also fight blemishes. Some of the best essential oils for acne treatment are tea tree, clary sage, rose oil, thyme oil, rosemary oil, etc.

Let us learn more about the best essential oils for treating acne.

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are a natural product that is extracted from a single plant species. Essential oils are obtained through distillation by steam or water. These essential oils are derived from roots, stems, leaves, seeds, and flowers of various plants.

These oils have been used to treat various ailments traditionally. They are also helpful in keeping your skin healthy and blemish free.

Benefits of using essential oils for acne

Essential oils are an excellent remedy for acne as not only do they help in treating acne, they also help in lowering stress which can trigger a breakout. These are some of the benefits of using essential oils for acne treatment.

  • Essential oils have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiseptic properties which kill acne-causing bacteria.
  • Essential oils have anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the redness and swelling around the pores.
  • Essential oils prevent the skin from producing too much oil, which is the leading cause of acne.
  • They exfoliate dead skin cells and help unclog the pores of the skin.
  • They nourish the skin and prevent further breakouts.
  • Essential oils help balance hormone levels which are one of the common causes of acne breakouts.

Best essential oils for acne

According to skincare experts, essential oils help treat skin conditions like acne without being overly aggressive and stripping the skin. Use these powerful essential oils to clear your skin naturally –

1. Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is extracted from the Melaleuca alternifolia tree leaves.

The antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties of tea tree oil make it an effective treatment for acne (1).

It kills acne-causing bacteria and also helps unclog pores by exfoliating dead skin cells. According to a 2007 study, topical 5% tea tree oil is an effective treatment for mild to moderate acne vulgaris (2).

Studies have shown that though tea tree oil is not as quick as benzoyl peroxide, it can significantly improve acne after three months of use (3).

Tea tree oil has cooling and calming properties that help in reducing inflammation.

How to use it

  • Add two drops of tea tree oil to 18 drops of water. Apply the mixture to the affected area with a cotton swab twice a day.
  • You can also add a few drops of this oil to your face or body wash.

2. Clary sage essential oil

Clary sage essential oil is sourced from the clary sage plant which primarily grows in Europe and parts of Asia. This oil contains a chemical called linalyl acetate, which helps reduce inflammation and prevents acne scarring.

Regular use of clary sage oil regulates oil production of the skin which helps prevent breakouts. Its antibacterial properties prevent breakouts from spreading.

Clary sage supports hormonal balance and also alleviates the feeling of stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety can lead to an increase in cortisol levels in the body and is one of the major causes of acne in adult women.

According to a 2014 study, inhalation of clary sage oil can reduce cortisol levels in post-menopausal women by 36 percent (4).

Another study found that the antimicrobial properties of clary sage are helpful in treating wounds and skin infections (5). Skin infection can lead to acne breakout.

How to use it

  • Add five to six drops of clary sage oil to a diffuser. This helps alleviate stress and restlessness.
  • Dilute three drops of clary sage oil with coconut oil and apply it on to the skin with a cotton ball.

3. Lavender essential oil

Lavender essential oil helps to calm the skin and reduces blemishes as well. These beneficial effects of lavender oil are due to its antibacterial and antioxidant characteristics.

Lavender oil also has mild astringent like properties, which helps in cleaning up clogged pores. Lavender oil increases the blood flow to the skin tissues, which helps in making the skin healthy and glowing.

According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Association of Thailand, lavender oil provides a relaxing effect when inhaled. The study showed that lavender oil decreases blood pressure, heart rate and skin temperature (6).

Stress and acne are linked, which is why increased stress can cause flare-ups. Lavender oil can play an essential role in reducing stress and acne breakouts.

How to use it

  • Mix 3 or 4 drops of lavender oil with a base oil like almond or olive oil. Apply this diluted oil directly on the acne with a cotton swab.
  • Diffuse a few drops of lavender oil or apply it directly to your wrists, back of the neck, or temples.

4. Rosemary essential oil

Rosemary is a wooded evergreen herb that has been used for thousands of years in folk medicine. Rosemary has recently become a favorite ingredient for many skin and hair care products thanks to its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Scientific studies have shown that inflammatory damage to sebum leads to acne. According to a study done at the Taipei Medical University in Taiwan, extracts of rosemary can counter bacterially aggravated inflammation (7).

Rosemary oil helps in reducing excess oil on the skin, and it also helps lessen the redness and puffiness caused by acne. Its antiseptic properties help kill any acne causing germs that may reinfect a popped pimple.

How to use it

Mix 7 drops of rosemary oil in 15 drops of jojoba oil and store in a glass bottle. Apply this mixture to cleansed skin twice a day.

5. Thyme oil

Topical treatment with thyme oil is extremely useful in treating acne. Thyme oil is known for its anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antiseptic, anti-microbial, and astringent properties.

According to a study, thyme oil is extremely helpful in killing acne bacteria. During this research, scientists found that a solution of .25% thyme oil killed all the p.acnes in five minutes (8).

How to use it

Mix thyme oil with rose hydrosol and apply it on your skin two to three times a day.

6. Juniper berry oil

Juniper berry oil is extracted from the black and blueberries of the Juniper plant. The antibacterial and antimicrobial properties of this oil make it an effective treatment for acne. It also helps fight skin infections and irritations.

According to a 2005 study, juniper berry oil is effective in treating acne vulgare. Even diluting it with carrier oils does not lessen its effectiveness (9).

Juniper berry oil contains antimicrobial compounds like alpha-pinene, p-cymene, and beta-pinene, which help in fighting acne (10).

How to use it

  • Apply two or three drops of this oil directly on the affected area.
  • If you have sensitive skin, you can dilute this oil with coconut oil before topical application.

7. Oregano essential oil

The antiseptic and antibacterial properties of oregano essential oil can work wonders for people who suffer from acne.

Oregano contains carvacrol, an organic compound with antimicrobial properties that kill acne-causing bacteria, dry out lesions and reduce inflammation. It also helps to get rid of infections, irritations, and itches.

How to use it

Dilute two or three drops of oregano oil in a little water. Soak a cotton swab in this mixture and apply it on the affected skin.

8. Bergamot essential oil

Bergamot essential oil is made through cold pressing of almost ripe bergamot oranges. This fresh citrus oil can help in reducing acne and inflammation.

Its antiseptic properties clear existing acne and keep future breakouts at bay. It regulates sebum secretion and promotes wound healing.

Bergamot oil is also a great natural cleanser. It helps remove excess dirt and oil and helps exfoliate dead skin cells.

How to use it

Put one drop of this oil on a q-tip and apply it directly on the acne. If you have sensitive skin, you must dilute this oil before you use it.

Mix a few drops of bergamot oil with olive, jojoba and grapeseed oil and apply it on the affected area.

9. Cinnamon essential oil

Cinnamon essential oil is extracted from the bark of Laurus Cinnamomum plant. It has anti-inflammatory properties which help treat rashes and acne.

According to a 2017 study, cinnamon essential oil can stop the creation of many protein biomarkers that are involved in tissue remodeling and skin inflammation (11).

This oil can also be used for scalp treatment and for boosting circulation.

How to use it

Mix a few drops of this oil with a carrier oil and apply it on the skin.

10. Rose essential oil

Rose essential oil is highly effective in treating stress and anxiety, which is one of the leading causes of acne. Its antioxidant property help in reducing acne and its scars. It also helps to keep the skin moist. Rose essential oil also helps treat redness and inflammation of the skin.

How to use it

Mix rose oil with witch hazel and apply it on to the skin.

Side effects of using essential oils for acne

Essential oils are generally considered safe and effective treatment for acne. However, you must always dilute them with a carrier oil before you use them.

  • If you have sensitive skin, you must do a patch test before you start using any of these essential oils.
  • Avoid direct exposure to sunlight when you are treating your skin with essential oils. The UV rays of the sun can make your skin more sensitive, and this can lead to redness and skin irritation.
  • Never use essential oils near your eyes, as this can lead to irritation.

Final thoughts

Essential oils are a safer and more effective treatment for acne as compared to over the counter creams. They have antimicrobial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties that help treat acne, acne lesions, inflammation, and redness.

Some of the best essential oils for acne treatment are tea tree, clary sage, rose oil, thyme oil, rosemary oil, cinnamon oil, etc.