I have to say… I am LOVING using essential oils! For all kinds of things.
Now that I’ve started getting into them, I am shocked I hadn’t really paid them much attention before.
I’m excited to share with you the wide world of essential oils and how to use them for acne and skin healing. Let’s dive in!
What are Essential Oils? What’s so “Essential” About Them?
The name is actually referring to the “essence” of a plant, not, like, the “essentialness” of them. Not that that really explains much more!
But, basically, all the different things that make a plant what it is – the colour, the smell, the basic properties – are due to a unique blend of aromatic compounds, phytonutrients, and organic molecules.
This is extracted from the plant, usually by steam distillation, into a highly concentrated oily liquid that then contains, well, the “essence” of the plant.
Not only do most of these oils smell great, most of them have powerful health benefits too! And since there are so many different plants, you pretty much can find an essential oil (EO for short) to help you with whatever it is that ails you.
And that includes treating acne, acne scars, and healing the skin! Very neat! 🙂
How Do You Use Them?
Essential oils can be used many different ways.
They can be used topically – meaning applied and absorbed through the skin.
You can also inhale them (either by putting a drop or two on a tissue and smelling it, or by using a diffuser).
And if you get super high quality food grade ones, you can also take certain essential oils internally.
We’re going to be talking in this blog post about how to use them topically for skin care.
You can include them in a DIY moisturizer that you’re making, or just add them right into a formulated moisturizer that you already have.
Dilute Those Babies Down!
Something you really need to know and understand about essential oils before you start using them is that they are VERY concentrated, and very powerful.
So you only need a very little bit to get the benefit.
They must be heavily diluted, ideally into what they call ‘carrier oils‘ (like jojoba, argan, or hemp seed, for example) before they can be applied to the skin.
If you don’t, they can lead to skin irritation, sensitivity, and in some cases toxicity. So you have to be smart and use them in the right dose.
What’s the right dose?
No more than 2% of the total amount of moisturizer or lotion should be an essential oil (or a blend of different essential oils). And absolutely no more than 1% if your skin is sensitive.
So if your moisturizer is in a 1 ounce bottle (1 liquid ounce has 591 drops of liquid in it), you would add about 12 drops of EO’s. Six drops if your skin is sensitive.
I know that doesn’t sound like very much, but they are so powerful that it’s honestly all you need.
I know this is very hard for those with acne. We are so used to wanting to fight acne with fire, and we think that if a little of something is good, then more must be better!
But in this case, it isn’t true 🙂 So just chill, ladies, and remember that more ain’t better here.
Except Those Super Neat Ones…
There are a couple of exceptions though… certain essential oils can be used what they call “neat”, which means undiluted.
Two famous skin care EO’s, lavender and tea tree oil, can actually be used neat. However, I would still only use them at 2% in a moisturizer.
The only way I would consider using them undiluted would be to gently dab on as a spot treatment. But I would never just spread pure lavender EO all over my face.
What Are the Best Essential Oils for Acne?
There are a lot of different essential oils that have benefits for the skin, anti-aging, and acne in particular.
As I mentioned, lavender and tea tree oil are pretty well known ones. There’s also frankincense, myrrh, helichrysum, chamomile, calendula, sandalwood, rose, geranium, rosemary, clary sage, lemongrass, neroli, and numerous others.
Although describing each in detail is beyond the scope of this post, I invite you to google essential oils for skin and acne and have fun reading about each one.
One pitfall though is that after reading all the benefits of each, you may want to incorporate every single one of them into your skin care all at once! It can definitely get out of hand quickly…
Narrow it down based on which ones are best for your skin type and specific conditions you’re trying to address.
If I had to choose just one or two all arounders to recommend it would probably be lavender and frankincense.
It’s not a good idea to start with too many at once anyway – it’s best to incorporate one at a time so you can see how your skin reacts to each one.
You want to go slow with integrating EO’s and if your skin is sensitive, you want to go even slower. Remember, the point of using essential oils is to heal the skin, not make our skin more irritated and sensitive by overdoing things.
Whichever essential oils you decide to use, whether for skin care or otherwise, it’s very important that you research each one individually to find out everything about it before using it, otherwise it could be dangerous.
Some can be taken internally, most can’t. Some can be used during pregnancy, some can’t. Some can be used undiluted, most can’t.
Find out if each oil is safe in the way that you want to use it, and look up any contraindications.
Something to particularly note for skin care: citrus based essential oils such as lemon, lime, grapefruit, bergamot, and sweet orange should not be used in skin care (particularly daytime application) because they can make your skin more photosensitive over time.
Which Brands of Essential Oils are Best?
When you choose essential oils, you do want to choose a brand that is of good quality. There’s no point in paying for something of low quality that isn’t going to work the way you want.
You also want to make sure whatever you’re buying is 100% pure essential oil. If you see words on bottles like “fragrance oil,” “nature identical oil,” or “perfume oil”, it’s not what you want.
You’ll also find that some essential oils are already premixed with a carrier oil like jojoba. Which may or may not be what you want. Just make sure you read the label so you know what you’re buying!
Some brands that have reputations for high quality are DoTerra, Aura Cacia, Young Living, Essential Vitality, and Mountain Rose Herbs.
I’ve mostly used so far DoTerra and Aura Cacia. I like them both. For skin application, Aura Cacia is generally less expensive and more easily available in local health stores, so I’d probably suggest just starting with that.
If you’re going to get into using any internally, DoTerra seems to be the way to go, as they are made in a food safe facility. I do really like everything I’ve used from DoTerra.
Either way, when you start buying essential oils, you will realize quickly…. they are not cheap!
The price does vary a ton depending on which essential oil you’re buying, but keep in mind that it takes a LOT of plant material to make a small amount of essential oil, and well, quality costs money.
Either way, they can seem ridiculously expensive for the small little bottles you get.
But since they are so powerful that you only need such a small amount, they will last you a long, long time.
It’s also a good reason just to start with one or two, and build up your collection over time if desired.
That is all for now! Have fun and be safe!
Next week I promise I will finally share with your my own DIY moisturizer recipe and you can find out exactly which ingredients and EO’s I’ve decided to stick with for myself.
I use doTERRA as well. Frankincense and Immortelle have been amazing for my acne scars! Love EOs!
Awesome! Yes, after playing around quite a lot, I’ve landed on the blend of EO’s that I think I will be sticking with for a while, and it was sort of based on DoTerra’s Immortelle mix… lavender, frankincense, myrrh, helichrysum, and sandalwood. This mix seems to be great for me 🙂
That’s great! Once you find something that works for you, stick with it! Helichrysum is amazing. Helped to heal up a scar from stitches so quickly!
Wow! this is so weird that you just wrote this because I have just started using and selling Young Living Essential Oils. I use Frankincense and I have totally noticed a difference in my acne spots. There are so…. many oil companies that use solvents though I would make sure you look into the oils you are using. Some used to be pure but have just admitted that yes they do use solvents. I really am not trying to put down people who use other oils because some are pure but I just know that the class I just taught my sister-in-law sure noticed that Y. L definitely had a different smell from her oils.(which was a brand that you mentioned above that she uses) Thanks for the information!!!!!
Hi Katie, glad you’ve found frankincense helpful too, I love it!
And yes there does seem to be a bit of a EO war in terms of which brands are best – it was pretty hard to actually decide which ones to recommend. Sounds like there’s been some controversy over Young Living as well, so it’s hard to know!
I like the scent of cedar EO!
Funny, I read that frankincense was used for embalming of mummies. So if the face still looks pretty well preserved after some 3000 years, sounds like very powerful stuff! 😀
Hahah! I hope it works that well for me 😉
I was using tea tree for acne over 20 years ago. I just dabbed it on as a spot treatment. Not only is it effective, I happen to love the smell of it (but I know not everyone does). I noticed if I used it too frequently, or used too much, I would develop an irritation. They definitely are very strong. I also love lavender oil for so many things. It’s great for relaxation.
Hi Elizabeth, I know that tea tree oil has quite a reputation as being a good one for acne, but I have to admit it’s not my favourite because of the smell! I also don’t particularly like the tingliness feel of it. I much prefer lavender for it’s antibacterial qualities, or a new one I’ve discovered, helichrysum
I’ve been in the Caveman regimen for about three years now, and I my face is pretty much clear. Yay! Thank you! 🙂
However, I still have lots of clogged pores and am also beginning to notice fine lines…*sigh* (I was also left with some pitted scars and a bit of hyperpigmentation.)
So I want to start using Argan oil and maybe try the papaya enzyme mask. I’d also like to try either the Frankincense or lavender oil. Which one would you recommend? Should I begin with just the Argan and slowly incorporate the mask and essental oil? I admit that it makes me nervous to put anything on my face again; it’s been so long…
Hi Lorena! Well, I loved the caveman too… it still has a spot in my heart that’s for sure! But yeah, I still had a lot of clogged pores on the caveman particularly on my forehead, but now my forehead is veerrrryy smooth, thanks to my new moisturizing routine. I would start with a 50% 50% mix of argan and a good quality aloe vera (Green Leaf Naturals is what I’ve been using), and massage this into damp skin. I still don’t actually wash my face though. Just get it a bit wet and apply moisturizer and that’s it.
Once your skin is used to that, you can add in other essential oils or ingredients one at a time. And also the papaya masks. Start with straight papaya powder with water, leave on for five minutes. Every three or four days, do another mask. Build yourself up slowly to using apple cider vinegar as the liquid in the mask and leaving on up to 15 minutes.
Just go slow! I understand the nervousness of going un-caveman again. I was rather cautious at first, but now I’m just slathering the moisturizer on! hahah
I have some questions about fading marks from acne. I don’t have indented scars, but I have a lot of little hyperpigmentation marks, ranging from brown spots to red clusters where I’ve had spots.
Is there an essential oil that could help reduce redness and fade these pigmentations? I heard lemon essential oil… but you don’t recommend it?
I know frankincense is good for indented scars, but will it be worth investing in for pigmentation marks?
I also found one website recommending Bergamot or Rose oil, but I don’t know if I trust the source.
Hi Sara! I had the same type of scars and I used (and still use) a blend from doTERRA called immortelle. It is a blend of lavender, helichrysum, rose, myrrh frankincense and sandalwood. Tracy and I mentioned it above. It’s really potent so a little goes a long way. It takes time to go away, but eventually they will! Lemon is good for the skin but you have to be careful because it makes your skin extra sensitive to the sun so I wouldn’t recommend it. Hope this helps!
Hi, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge on all of these oils! I was just wondering for the frankincense oil; if I pump out a quarter size of the moisturizer I use, how many drops would I put in that to put on my face? My moisturizer bottle doesn’t open up so I can’t add 12 drops inside first, I have to just squeeze moisturizer out and then add the drops..
Hi Rachel, hmm I’d probably just add one drop to it in that case!