Useful Essential Oils
Which essential oils are effective in treating acne?
The following essential oils have traditionally been used for acne:
- Helichrysum (to heal scars and help with inflammation) – If your acne has caused red spots, this is the oil of choice. Dilute it to a maximum of 2% in flax or rose hip seed oil (10 drops per tablespoon) and apply to affected areas.
- Spike Lavender (this has a higher camphor content than other lavenders and thus helps eliminate toxins) – This is good for most types of acne, but it must not be used on open wounds. Dilute it to a maximum of 2% in any carrier oil (10 drops per tablespoon) and apply to the affected area. It is particularly good for blackheads.
- Rose (antibacterial and somewhat anti-inflammatory) – This is a good choice if your acne is mild and you just have a few red spots. Dilute it to a maximum of 2% in any carrier oil (10 drops per tablespoon) and apply to the affected area. Note: Do not use during the first three months of pregnancy.
- Mint Forest (antibacterial and energizing so it can help reduce the accumulation of oil and sebum) – A good choice for most types of acne, as it addresses two problems associated with it. Dilute it 2% in any carrier oil (10 drops per tablespoon) and apply to the affected area.
- Mint Forest, Tea Tree, or Manuka (the best choice) – These are good if your acne is dominated by an infection. Dilute it to a maximum of 2% in any carrier oil (10 drops per tablespoon) and apply to the affected area.
To create your own natural acne remedy, mix 1 drop each of Mint Forest, Spike Lavender and/or Helichrysum with 20 ml (4 tsp) water. Use as a compress on your acne by dipping into it with a natural cloth. Or, you can add a maximum of 5-6 drops of the combination of these oils to 10 ml (2 tsp) of any carrier oil and massage them in. You may like to mix more of the mixture and store it in a jar so you can use it more than once.
The following formulations may also be useful to temporarily alleviate the symptoms of acne:
You may also find the Can You Use Essential Oils To Overcome Acne? blog useful.
About the Condition
What is acne?
Acne is a condition characterized by inflamed or infected sebaceous glands. These often erupt as red pimples (also called zits) on the skin. It is very common in teenagers, but some also continue to experience it later in life.
What causes acne?
A slow-growing bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) (Kirschbaum and Kligman 1) has been shown to be involved in the development of acne.
Removing the infection using anti-bacterial agents is thought to be an important part of acne treatment.
Some feel that the main cause of acne is the accumulation of oil and sebum, and that the skin finds it difficult to metabolize the toxins produced in association with the increased production of sebum and oil. This inability to remove the serum and oils helps cause the bacterial infections, which in turn lead to inflammation.
What are conventional medical treatments for acne?
Generally, the approach of Western medicine is to reduce the following symptoms:
- Kill the bacteria (using antibiotics)
- Clean the skins pores of oil accumulations and reduce how much oil the skin produces (e.g. using tretinoin and isotretinoin)
- Reduce the hormones involved in causing acne (e.g. by giving women certain oral contraceptive pills).
Sometimes, a combination of these treatments are prescribed. Of course, all of these medications have side effects associated with them. For example, isotretinoin can cause serious birth defects if used by a pregnant woman.
What are alternative treatments for acne?
Generally alternative treatments involve purifying the skin by improving the diet. Sometimes supplements are given. Unfortunately there has not yet been enough research on the effectiveness of these treatments. However, there has been research(1) showing the antibacterial effects of ten essential oils on acne. See Can You Use Essential Oils To Overcome Acne? blog for more details. Also see the Useful Essential Oils tab for more information.