Acne isn’t a subject most people like to talk about. It’s unattractive, embarrassing and sometimes painful. Unfortunately, breakouts can affect a person regardless of their age, gender or lifestyle.
Contrary to popular belief, acne isn’t always indicative of adolescence or puberty. In fact, it’s reported that between 25% and 50% of all adults suffer from some form of acne at least once in their life. Of that percentage, more than 1/3 experience acne on their face, back and body. As a result, dermatologists are now seeing more adult patients than ever before.
Finding effective treatments for acne, whether as an adult or adolescent, is important. Unmanaged breakouts can cause damage to a person’s self-esteem, which may lead to depression, anxiety, social exclusion, and/or even suicidal ideation in extreme cases. While it may seem difficult, acne treatment is much easier than you think when the right products are used and right lifestyle changes are made.
What Is Acne?
To understand how acne treatments work, you must first understand what acne is and isn’t. According to dermatological experts, acne is defined as a lesion on the skin that originates from clogged pores and/or bacteria. Although every type of acne is caused by a clogged pore, lesions are typically divided into two subcategories:
This includes whiteheads and blackheads which are sometimes referred to as “comedones.” Whiteheads occur when sebum and bacteria become trapped beneath the surface of the skin. They often appear as small white dots and can be so tiny that they’re invisible to the naked eye.
As for blackheads, they occur when the pore opens, allowing sebum to seep inside. The sebum, which contains small amounts of skin pigment, turns brown or black when it oxidizes. Because it’s not dirt, the blackhead cannot be washed from the surface and must instead be excavated or exfoliated gently. In untreated cases, blackheads stick around for a very long time.
ACNE FACT: Both blackheads and whiteheads can release their contents to the outer dermis or force the follicle wall to rupture, causing an inflammatory breakout to ensue.
This includes cysts, papules, pustules and nodules which are sometimes called “zits” or “pimples” by the casual observer. Usually, a papule occurs when the follicle wall breaks and white blood cells come rushing in to save the day. Pustules, therefore, occur a few days later when those white blood cells make it to the surface of the skin. Both papules and pustules can collapse or explode depending on several factors. In rare cases, the inflamed skin around the pustule/papule becomes so large it completely engulfs the adjacent pore.
When the papule or pustule causes a pore or follicle to prolapse or collapse, the resulting lesion is called a nodule or cyst. Nodules form when a follicle breaks near the bottom causing a large bump to develop. Sensitive to the touch, nodules are not nearly as painful as cysts which are caused by a severe inflammatory reaction and typically result in puss-filled lesions.
According to dermatologists, acne is caused by a wide variety of things, including but not always limited to the following:
What Causes Acne?
- Skin sensitivities
Taking proper care of your body plays a critical role in the development of acne. Interestingly, there have been a few recent studies which suggest a connection between our diet and complexion. So, while many bouts of acne might be caused by poor hygiene, genetic predispositions, age or lifestyle habits, some are due to little more than poor nutrition.
Furthermore, the simple substances that come in contact with your skin on a daily basis can cause breakouts. Pollutants, cosmetic products with harsh chemicals, and potent cleaning agents tend to do more harm than good. For most people, those things only dry out the skin and/or cause irreparable damage to the pores, follicles and epidermis.
How Can Acne Be Treated Safely and Effectively?
Effective acne treatments do exist, though some cases of acne are rather persistent. Treatment options are typically based on the severity and/or cause of the breakout. The sooner the treatment is started, the better the results. While some forms of acne are best managed by a physician, minor to moderate breakouts can be resolved with over-the-counter or holistic remedies.
One such holistic remedy is essential oil. With the right essential oils, you can both treat acne breakouts and stop new breakouts from developing. Meanwhile, your skin will become suppler as it gets nourished by the various skin-friendly nutrients within each mixture. Most essential oils for acne feature labels describing the benefits, although some of the most effective acne treatment oils have yet to be marketed as such.
There is still much to be discovered in terms of essential oil efficacy and safety. Furthermore, there is still much debate about the legitimacy of essential oils for acne. Especially since many people believe that oil overproduction is the primary cause of acne (and in many cases it is), applying essential oils to the face, neck or body seems counterproductive for obvious reasons. However, the best essential oils for acne have quite the opposite effect.
The 8 Best Essential Oils for Acne
So, what essential oils are good for acne? Are there specific essential oils for acne scars? Do you need to use different essential oils for cystic acne? These things are important to know when formulating any all-natural skincare regimen.
Note that not all essential oils are ideal for the treatment of acne. Each one has its own unique properties and some of those properties can be damaging to the skin. So, while essential oils are considered safe and generally innocuous, it’s vital that you learn which ones are best for acne and which ones should be left on the shelf for now.
Below is a concise list of the top 8 best essential oils for acne treatment. As always, consult with a doctor or dermatologist if you’re unsure as to how any of the following substances might affect you. While none of the essential oils for acne prone skin are known to interfere with medication, some may pose a potential hazard for those with allergies.
Lavender Essential Oil
People have long been using lavender essential oil for acne, mostly because of its gentle yet powerful properties. It’s not only an organic antimicrobial substance but it also serves as a potent antioxidant as well. What does that mean for you? It means that lavender essential oil both fights breakouts and soothes and nourishes the skin simultaneously.
BONUS: Lavender oil also helps to reduce the appearance of dark spots and skin discoloration while decreasing stress and anxiety – two factors that are known to contribute to acne breakouts.
Tea tree Essential Oil
According to recent studies, tea tree oil is nearly six times more effective at treating mild to moderate acne than a placebo, plus it’s comparable to over-the-counter acne medications in terms of tolerability. Perhaps that’s all due to its natural antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. In fact, tea tree essential oil for acne is so respected as a holistic treatment that its commonly included in modern-day cosmetics and facial cleansers.
Coconut Essential Oil
As one of the most readily available substances on the modern market, coconut is considered an essential oil that is good for acne and much more. Its antibacterial properties make it an effective zit zapper, while its moisturizing abilities ward off dry skin. Coconut essential oil is also a gentle facial cleanser, removing dirt, sebum and makeup from the skin’s surface without soap or water.
Rosehip Essential Oil
Soothing, fast absorbing and luxurious, rosehip oil has been used to treat a multitude of skin conditions for hundreds of years. Commonly found in cosmetics and moisturizers, rosehip essential oil not only fights acne breakouts, whiteheads and blackheads but it also heals abrasions, lesions and sores, restores elasticity, soothes burns and bug bites, fights the signs of aging and generally improves the appearance of the skin.
Juniper Berry Essential Oil
While using juniper berry essential oil for acne is quite effective, the practice is not as well-known as one might expect. However, the popularity is growing rapidly as more and more people discover that juniper berry is a purification essential oil for acne, not just a topical pimple treatment. With antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, this naturally derived substance fights new and old breakouts without over-drying the skin.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Because eucalyptus is such a gentle complexion cleanser with antibacterial and moisturizing properties, it’s widely considered one of the best essential oils for acne. On top of that, the eucalyptus plant is naturally healing to many parts of the body. The oil extracted thereof can alleviate skin inflammation, reduce pimple pain, decrease redness, and help prevent future breakouts as well.
Oregano Essential Oil
Known in some circles as “oil of oregano,” this herb is used for more than just cooking. In fact, many people use oregano essential oil for acne and the results are delicious. This is one of the only essential oils than can improve your skin’s condition by being used either internally or externally. Plus, it works as a handy spot treatment. Please note, however, that oregano essential oil needs to be diluted before it’s applied to the skin.
Grapefruit Essential Oil
Grapefruit essential oil helps keep the surface of the skin clean while providing an invigorating sensation. Favored by those who like to feel fresh after a face wash, grapefruit oil absorbs excess oil and sebum to reveal a smoother, brighter and more attractive complexion. It may also be beneficial for treating muscle cramps and stiffness as well, making it particularly advantageous for facial health.
The Best Essential Oils for Acne Scars
Out of all the essential oils good for acne, the following are best essential oils for acne scars.
Lemon Essential Oil
Lemon is perhaps the best essential oil for acne marks. The reason: it allows various skin-boosting vitamins to penetrate the epidermal layers. Lemon essential oil for acne scars is fast-acting as well, promoting the rapid fading and/or healing of scars, collagen buildup and inflammation.
As a well-known remedy for breakouts and marks, helichrysum essential oil for acne scars is perhaps the most effective, albeit not the gentlest. It targets scar tissue regardless of its age and helps the wound to heal itself. Commonly used with a carrier oil to fade stretch marks and surgical scars, Young Living helichrysum essential oil is among the purest and most potent.
Frankincense Essential Oil
Used most frequently for daily breakout prevention, frankincense essential oil for acne scars is popular as well. It gently diminishes pimple tracks while providing the skin with a dose of much-needed antibacterial support which, in turn, helps to prevent future breakouts.
Tips for Using Essential Oils for Acne and Scars
Essential oils that help with acne can only do so when they’re used properly. While each substance is unique, there are some general rules everyone should follow (especially when using essential oils for hormonal acne, which may require the use of a more astringent essential oil blend). As such, Young Living essential oils for acne are specially formulated to be safe, effective and compatible with other oils.
Furthermore, it’s important to mind any usage instructions provided by the manufacturer. Not every essential oil for acne recipe is the same. Always be ready with a neutral carrier oil to reduce an oil’s potency and be sure to administer a spot test with any topical substances. Meanwhile, keep your essential oils stashed in a cool, dry place that receives little to no direct sunlight.
Knowing what essential oils help with acne is only half the battle. Understanding how to use them is important too. The positive relationship between essential oils and acne cannot be ignored, and the same could be said about any instructions provided by the manufacturer. Always consult with a physician before starting any new essential oil regimen and monitor yourself closely thereafter to catch any potential side effects in a timely manner.
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If you haven’t already checked out our cornerstone article, please check out The Top 7 Essential Oils Everyone Should Use.