Using essential oils for acne and skin healing

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.

Sniffing essential oils
Basically me all the time now

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.

Lavender essential oil for acneFrankincense for acneIf 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.

Citrus based essential oils can make the skin more photosensitiveSomething 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.

Aura Cacia essential oils for acne
DoTerra Essential Oils for Acne

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.