Which oil is best for acne prone skin?
Which oils are best for acne prone skin?

Last week we talked about how to properly moisturize for beautiful acne free skin.

And there was one baseline in the equation… and that was to use oils to balance your skin’s oil production and lock in moisture. This will all around lead to healthier skin that breaks out less!

Go read it if you haven’t yet!

But there are many, many different types of oils out there that could be used in your skin care, each one with their own unique fatty acid profile.

(Note that we’re talking about what they call carrier oils here. Essential oils are different and should never be used straight as a moisturizer, although they can be added to carrier oils in small amounts for added benefit. More on that in future posts!)

It indeed makes it confusing which one is best for you. Because depending on your own unique skin, there will be ones that work better for you than others.

Trial and error often ends up being the only true way to know for sure, but here are some ways we can take a more informed guess about what’s best for your acne prone skin.

Choose an Oil Low on the Comedogenic Scale

The first place I look is the comedogenic scale. Comedogenic means that it has been shown in studies to clog pores.

Oils are rated from 0 to 5. Zero meaning it won’t clog pores, five meaning it probably definitely will.

So the lower the better, but generally ones rated 0 to 2 are fine.

0 Rated Oils

  • Argan Oil
  • Hemp Seed Oil
  • Mango butter
  • Shea butter
  • Sunflower oil
  • Safflower oil

1 Rated Oils

  • Rosehip oil
  • Calendula oil
  • Seabuckthorn oil
  • Castor oil
  • Emu oil
  • Neem oil
  • Pomegranate oil

2 Rated Oils

  • Jojoba oil
  • Tamanu oil
  • Almond oil
  • Apricot kernel oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Baobob oil
  • Borage oil
  • Camphor oil
  • Evening primrose oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Hazelnut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Peach kernel oil
  • Pumpkin seed oil
  • Sandalwood seed oil
  • Sesame oil

So obviously there are plenty to choose from… buuuut…

Linoleic vs Oleic Acid in the Acne Prone Peeps

hemp seed oil high in linoleic acid good for acne
Hemp seeds

So there was a study once that suggested that acne prone skin is low in linoleic acid.

The theory is that sebum that is high in oleic acid without the presence of linoleic acid becomes more hard and sticky. And you know what that means.

So basically, if you’re acne prone, you probs want to get some linoleic acid in yo’ skin.

But then which oil to choose diverges if you have dry or oily skin.

Oleic acid is quite moisturizing, and can seal in moisture very effectively.

But if you have oily skin, an oil with too much oleic acid might end up making your skin feel too greasy, or not allow the oil to absorb fully into the skin.

If you have dry skin though, an oil without much oleic acid probably won’t feel moisturizing enough.

So for oily skin, you want to verge more towards what they call “dry” oils. High in linoleic acid and low in oleic acid.

Examples are hemp seed oil, rosehip seed oil, grapeseed oil, and evening primrose oil.

Jojoba oil is also good for oily skin as it is very low in oleic acid, but it is also rather low in linoleic acid. However, it is a special oil that is close in structure to our skin’s natural sebum, making it quite good at unclogging pores. So I do still recommend it as a decent option.

If your skin verges to the dry side, you want to go for a more balanced oil that has both linoleic and oleic acid.

Argan, tamanu, or apricot kernel oils are examples. Shea butter is very high in oleic, so people with very, very dry skin get good results with it.

And the Winner Is…

Champion oilIf you combine the above oleic/linoleic info, with choosing the lowest options on the comedogenic scale, you get two clear winners (well out of the oils I’m quite familiar with anyway):

Hemp seed oil for oily skin.

Argan for dry skin.

If your skin is combination – some oily parts, some dry parts, I’d probably go for argan since it’s a good all around balanced oil.

That doesn’t mean you only have to stick to those two, or that you can’t experiment. Everyone’s skin is different… this is just a starting point. Those two are a good bet on what to try first.

You can also make combinations of oils to get a broader benefit… my skin verges dry, and I like to add smaller amounts of tamanu and hemp to my base of argan.

Always Buy High Quality Oils

Remember that you want to shell out a few extra bucks for something that is a good quality oil, otherwise you might not be doing your skin any favours.

Always look for words like virgin, unrefined, cold pressed, organic. Argan and hemp should both have a very faint nutty smell to them.

There are a lot of options. Here are some suggestions:

hemp seed oil for acne prone skin

Argan oil for acne prone skin

Keeping Your Hemp Oil From Going Bad

There is a bit of a problem with hemp in that it does go off very easily (as well as all the other oils that are very high in linoleic acid). Argan and others with more oleic acid are much more stable.

Hemp should always be in a dark glass container and it should be kept refrigerated.

But if you don’t want to be running back and forth to the fridge (or want to take it traveling or overnight somewhere), I recommend adding some vitamin E oil, and/or rosemary extract.

These are antioxidants that will greatly extend the shelf life of your hemp oil and make it much more convenient to use. Add these to your oil so that they make up no more than 1% of the total.

Antioxidants are also great for the skin and reducing acne and skin damage! So, bonus!

Possible Purging When Starting Oils… Don’t Panic

This isn’t guaranteed to happen or anything, but a warning is prudent so you don’t freak out.

Some people refuse to use oils because the one time they used oil, they ended up getting more whiteheads or a few more breakouts than usual.

Once you start properly moisturizing your skin and giving it the nourishing hydration that it needs, it can start exfoliating itself properly.

Which means that when the dead skin cells in the pore die, the skin naturally pushes them up and out of the pore. This is the healthy thing that it’s supposed to do.

When your skin is not hydrated properly, it instead starts trapping old oil and dead skin cells and junk from cosmetics and chemicals and creams.

It’s no longer exfoliating and renewing itself on it’s own. Inflammation can then stagnate in the pore and lead to acne and redness.

Once you start moisturizing it properly with water and oils (and kick damaging ingredients in cosmetics and other products to the curb), your skin will start pushing all the compacted junk up and out. Which is a good thing, but it can lead to some whiteheads as those clogs start to surface.

Keep up with it, and any whiteheads or breakouts should clear within a couple of weeks, with better skin on the other side.

I would also suggest combining your new moisturizing routine with papaya enzyme masks a couple times a week to help digest the old junk and speed up the renewal process.

See you next week for my lesson on making your own moisturizer!