Essential Oils for Acne-Prone Skin

Acne is arguably the most common skin condition, affecting tens of millions of people. In fact, up to 90 of people suffer from acne in their young adult years. There is some evidence suggesting that female acne is becoming increasingly prevalent.

Even though acne is so common, it can be so difficult to treat. Chemical treatments and prescription drugs are typically the first resort for those struggling with acne. Some of these measures end up working for just a short while and then you no longer see the great results you had expected.

The problem with medicated products for treating acne is that they can be too harsh on the skin and actually make the acne worse. A great alternative is home remedies for acne, in particular essential oils that soothe the skin by treating the underlying causes of acne.

Benefits of Essential Oils for Acne

Acne breakouts not only irritate the skin; they can also lead to scarring and blemishes that can be a downer on your self-esteem.

Whether acne appears on the face, back or chest, its primary cause is dead skin, bacteria and excessive oil all of which clog the skin’s pores. External factors such as birth control, hormonal activity, stress and diet can aggravate acne.

Young adults are especially prone to acne due to hormonal activity, excessive sweating, stress and genetics. For women, factors such as sleep deprivation due to stress and hormonal imbalance can aggravate acne.

Whatever the cause of your acne, using over the counter medicines can make your skin condition worse. The great thing about essential oils is that they are gentle but potent enough to eliminate bacteria on the skin and shield the skin from irritation.

Other than directly protecting the skin, essential oils such as sage and lavender have a calming effect and can help to alleviate stress, restore normal hormonal function and aid in balancing your sleep pattern.

Best Essential Oils for Acne

The following are essential oils that are good for your acne prone skin. Watch them heal your skin naturally without any adverse effects.


essential oil from lavender for acne

Lavender oil is, without a doubt, a wonder oil due to its intense antioxidant and antimicrobial properties that help to calm inflamed skin. Applying lavender to your acne prone skin can aid in reducing the appearance of pimples and acne blemishes.

Lavender is also a great stress reliever and in this way can help to minimize the occurrence of stress related acne. This essential oil boasts immense therapeutic benefits, which include improving sleep quality and encouraging holistic health, including that of your skin.

Numerous studies show that inhaling lavender oil can be relaxing. For example, in one study, the effects of lavender oil on the autonomic nervous system, emotional regulation and on the central nervous system were evaluated. 

The findings indicated that breathing in lavender oil resulted in a slight reduction in skin temperature, heart rate and blood pressure. Participants reported feeling relaxed after inhaling lavender oil.

Stress is evidentially a major trigger for acne. It is common for people to experience breakouts when they are exceptionally stressed out.

There is a possibility that sebum-producing cells are also receptive to stress hormones. Therefore, stress could trigger sebum overproduction, which then mixes with dead skin and blocks skin pores. The calming effects of lavender oil can therefore minimize stress and help to mitigate acne breakouts.

For best results, apply lavender oil on the temples, neck and wrists. Alternatively, you may diffuse a few drops of oil and inhale to enjoy the calming effects of lavender as well as its antibacterial properties.

Tea Tree

essential oil from the tee tree for acne

Tea tree oil is a potent essential oil with antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Many acne medicines now contain tea tree oil, which attests to the benefits of tea tree oil for acne.

A study showed that the use of tea tree oil can help minimize lesions for people with acne. Tea tree oil is as tolerable as tropical treatments meaning that its application is unlikely to result in adverse side effects. This essential oil also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe the skin from the worst effects of acne.

Another study found that tea tree oil can treat mild to moderate acne vulgaris. The test group in the study was treated using tea tree oil while the control group was treated with a placebo for a period of 45 days.

The findings showed a significant reduction in acne lesions and severity for the test group that used tea tree oil compared to those who used the placebo. In fact, tea tree oil was 5.8 times more effective at reducing acne severity, proving the benefits of tea tree oil for treatment of mild to moderate acne.

You can apply tea tree essential oil directly to your skin. Simply spritz at least two drops on a clean ball of cotton and apply. Alternatively, you could add a few drops of tea tree essential oil to your body or face wash.

Juniper Berry

essential oil from juniper berries for acne prone skin

The benefits of juniper berry essential oil are numerous. For starters, juniper berry oil has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties that can help to clear out acne prone skin.

Using juniper berry oil at home allows you to have beautiful skin without needing to worry about adverse side effects. Like lavender oil, juniper berry has a soothing effect that can help to minimize stress. Its detoxifying properties also help to get rid of acne-causing toxins.

One study found that juniper berry oil is effective as an anti-acne topical treatment. Its antimicrobial properties have also been found to be potent enough to eliminate acne vulgare. Even when diluted with a carrier oil, the anti-acne effects of juniper do not decrease.

Other studies have found that when applied topically, juniper berry oil acts as an antibacterial agent that can eliminate acne. Juniper berry essential oil contains elements such as beta-pinene, p-cymene and alpha pinene, all of which help to fight acne-causing bacteria.

To get rid of acne with juniper essential oil, apply up to 2 drops of the oil on the affected areas. For best results and to minimize any potential side effects, it is recommended that you dilute juniper berry with carrier oils such as jojoba or coconut oil.

Clary Sage

essential oil from clary sage for acne prone skin

Clary sage essential oil contains linalyl acetate, a vital ester that works to minimize skin inflammation and helps to treat acne naturally. Clary sage is especially useful in controlling oil production by the skin, a process that contributes to the formation of acne breakouts. Additionally, clary sage essential oil acts as a stress reliever and helps to restore hormonal balance.

A recent study found that inhaling clary sage oil could have a 36 percent reduction in cortisol levels. This helps to minimize anxiety, depression and to regulate emotions, factors that can contribute to acne breakouts (Lee, Cho, & Kang, 2014).

Another study showed that clary sage essential oil has antimicrobial properties and acts as a natural agent against acne-causing bacteria and other bacteria that cause skin irritations (Sienkiewicz et al., 2015).

To use clary sage as a natural remedy for stress and anxiety, diffuse at least five drops of this essential oil and inhale. Clary sage oil is also helpful in minimizing insomnia and restlessness, factors that increase chances of acne breakouts.

Applying up to 3 drops of clary sage oil on affected areas can help to fight bacteria that clog the skin’s pores and causes acne. If you have sensitive skin, dilute clary sage with coconut oil or jojoba and then apply to the skin.

Tips for Using Essential Oils for Acne

Use these essential oils if you are prone to acne outbreaks

Topical Application:

To see the best results for your skin, apply essential oils directly to the affected area. For sensitive skin, or to get the most out of essential oils mix these oils with other gentler oils such as jojoba or coconut oil.

Coconut oil for the skin works wonders. Its ability to penetrate the skin much deeper than other moisturizers due its low molecular weight means that your skin remains thoroughly hydrated.

Jojoba oil is also very gentle to the skin, helping to cleanse and protect. Jojoba essential oil is packed with iodine, which is in itself helpful in fighting harmful bacteria that causes acne breakouts and skin irritation.

Using a Face Wash:

Essential oils work perfectly as face wash for clear skin. When mixed together in the right quantities, essential oils can nurture your skin with probiotics to eliminate acne-causing bacteria.

Simply mix a tablespoon of coconut, apple cider vinegar, 3 tablespoons of honey, 20 drops of tea tree oil and 2 capsules of live probiotics and store in a bottle. Apply liberally to the skin. This homemade face wash reinvigorates the skin and kills bacteria, leaving you with clear skin for longer.

Natural Treatment for Acne:

To make your own natural acne scar treatment, have a look at this simple recipe:

  • Mix 3 drops of lavender oil, tea tree oil and frankincense oil with 2 teaspoons of raw honey.
  • Clean and dry your face before applying this mixture.
  • Allow the mixture to sit for an hour then rinse it off.

If you are strapped for time, a hydrating bar soap can give you the same benefits. Just make sure you are keeping it all natural! This Homemade lavender soap will leave your skin hydrated while soothing any skin inflammation. Use this soap to eliminate acne-causing bacteria and to enjoy its therapeutic benefits as a stress reliever.

Essential Oils Side Effects

The above-recommended essential oils for acne have been shown to be effective and safe to use. For best results, use just 2–3 drops of these oils and massage into the skin. For sensitive skin, it is best to dilute essential oils with a carrier oil before applying to the skin.

It is recommended that you avoid exposing your skin directly to sunrays when using essential oils to treat acne. Direct exposure can make your skin more sensitive, increase irritation, inflammation and redness. Try gentler oils such as coconut, jojoba or lavender if other essential oils increase your acne symptoms or cause skin irritation.

If you are still not comfortable with Essential Oils, take a look at Blue Light as another natural alternative to Acne medication! For more content on the use of essential oils, take a look at our post on best essential oils for wrinkles or our roundup of oils for sinus headaches.