People often ask about the best essential oils for acne.
They want to know which essential oils get rid of pimples.
They’re also concerned about clearing up blackheads and healing acne scars.
Many are looking for a gentle solution that won’t dry out their skin.
Others prefer to use natural products.
But no matter what brought you here today, I hope you find what you’re seeking.
I’ll review the top essential oils that clear up acne. Then I’ll include recipes to zap zits and fade acne scars.
Let’s begin with an explanation of why essential oils are good for treating acne.
- Causes of and Cures for Acne
- Clary Sage
- How to Apply Clary Sage to Pimples:
- Juniper Berry
- How to Treat Acne with Juniper Berry Essential Oil:
- How to Apply Lemongrass Essential Oil for Pimples:
- Tea Tree Oil
- How to Use Tea Tree Oil for Acne:
- Essential Oil Recipes to Fight Acne
Causes of and Cures for Acne
Pimples appear because pores get clogged with oil, skin debris, and bacteria.
Some kinds of acne are linked to hormonal changes. Others may result from certain kinds of food or stress.
In other words, there’s not one single cause, and there’s not a sole solution. But that’s not a problem for essential oils.
Many essential oils are anti-microbial – they kill bacteria and fungi.
Several are anti-inflammatory to reduce swelling and redness.
A number of oils also stimulate the natural healing process in the skin.
Today, I’ll go over the best essential oils for clearing up acne. I’ll also discuss carrier oils for diluting them.
FYI: I chose to list the oils in alphabetical order, not according to efficacy.
Clary sage has positive effects on both the skin and the mind.
This creates an interesting feedback loop: it makes you feel better so that you are less likely to break out, plus it clears up your skin, which may also may give you a more positive outlook.
When you apply it to pimples, it lessens inflammation and regulates oil production. It kills bacteria, and it’s even effective against Staphylococcus aureus (1).
If you inhale clary sage, it may reduce your stress level because it lowers cortisol. This can help you feel more positive and less anxious. (Here’s an article where you can learn more about essential oils that relieve stress.)
How to Apply Clary Sage to Pimples:
Dilute the essential oil with a carrier like jojoba or fractionated coconut oil. You can also use plain water or pure aloe vera.
If you’re using the essential oil as a spot treatment on individual zits, put no more than three drops of clary sage in 1 teaspoon of carrier liquid.
If you’re treating larger areas of skin, limit the concentration to one or two drops per teaspoon.
Keep it away from your eyes, your mouth, and the inside of your nose.
Plant Therapy Clary Sage Essential Oil
Plant Therapy is one of the top essential oil brands. They test each oil extensively and provide results for free to the public.
Their clary sage essential oil has an herbal scent that can help you relax when you diffuse it. It’s also safe to use on the skin when diluted at no more than a 5% concentration.
Frankincense isn’t specifically for clearing up acne, but it works well for healing infection and diminishing scars.
If you ever end up with an inflamed pimple, dab frankincense on it at night. By morning, it should look a lot better.
Regular application of frankincense oil to acne scars can make them fade in a few weeks.
Rocky Mountain Oils – 100% Pure Sacred Frankincense Essential Oil
Rocky Mountain Oils is another company that provides test results for free to their customers. They check for pesticides and avoid GMOs.
The Sacred Frankincense oil is steam-distilled from the resin of the Boswellia Sacra tree in Oman. Not only does it smell fantastic when it’s diffused, but it also takes good care of the skin.
Plant Therapy Frankincense Carteri Essential Oil | 100% Pure, Pre-Diluted Roll-On
If you hate fiddling with carrier oils and figuring out how to dilute things, purchase your essential oil pre-diluted.
Plant Therapy’s Boswellia Carteri frankincense smells a little different than the Boswellia Sacra version. It’s excellent for relaxation and healing.
Juniper berry essential oil is anti-bacterial. It’s been shown effective against common acne bacteria.
If you use juniper berry on your skin, it prevents clogged pores by preventing the bacteria from multiplying and causing inflammation.
How to Treat Acne with Juniper Berry Essential Oil:
Please remember to dilute the oil before you use it. Put no more than three drops per teaspoon of carrier oil when you use it as a spot treatment.
Diluting the oil won’t make it less effective. It also helps the oil to stretch further and save you money.
If you treat a larger area of your skin, use no more than two drops per teaspoon.
Some people like to add a few drops to a fragrance-free face wash. Just be careful to not get it in your eyes or mouth.
Edens Garden Juniper Berry 100% Pure Undiluted Therapeutic Grade Essential Oil
Edens Garden extensively tests the essential oils they receive from the manufacturers. Their storage is carefully maintained cool and dark, and they rotate batches frequently.
They explain that juniper berry comes from an evergreen bush that grows throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Each bottle they sell has a shelf life of two years.
Lavender heals the skin and soothes the mind.
Although diffusing it won’t necessarily clear up acne, it creates a calm ambiance and can help you to get to sleep.
To get the most out of lavender essential oil for acne, you’ll need to apply it to problem areas.
Some will tell you that it’s safe to apply lavender full-strength to the skin. I’ll admit that I’ve done it, but I don’t recommend it. Lavender is unlikely to irritate, but some people become sensitized to it. Just dilute it, and you’ll find that it works quite well at reducing inflammation.
NOW Essential Oils, Lavender Oil, 4 Fl. Oz
NOW Foods sells a variety of essential oils in large bottles like this one. If you use a lot of lavender, this one’s a good deal.
It’s steam-distilled from the flowering tops of the lavender plant. Since NOW Foods has strict testing standards, and they manufacture in North America, I often recommend their products.
Lemongrass essential oil is an astringent that shrinks pores and makes your skin less greasy.
It’s also an antiseptic that kills acne bacteria.
How to Apply Lemongrass Essential Oil for Pimples:
You might see someone recommending that you use lemongrass straight from the bottle on a cotton ball. But this oil is powerful stuff.
To keep your skin safe from irritation, dilute lemongrass with aloe vera, water, fractionated coconut oil, or jojoba oil. They won’t diminish the effectiveness of the essential oil, and they should keep you from developing dry, flaky skin.
Artizen Lemongrass Essential Oil, 1oz Bottle
Artizen explains that essential oil is almost always clear in color and has a thin consistency.
They package the lemongrass essential oil in colored glass to protect against degradation from UV light. Furthermore, they include a glass dropper so that you can control the dose.
Peppermint essential oil is one of the most common kinds people have at home. It’s good news that this inexpensive and easy to find oil can treat acne.
Peppermint is very strong, though, and should be used diluted.
Blend peppermint with your favorite carrier oil or liquid, then dab it on pimples before bed. In the morning, the swelling should’ve gone down, and the redness faded.
Keep it well away from your eyes and wash your hands thoroughly after you apply it.
Should you ever get peppermint oil in your eye, it will burn like nobody’s business. Rinse with cool water and contact your doctor if irritation persists.
If you find that peppermint uncomfortably stings your skin, dilute it more strongly by massaging the spot with a carrier oil then gently washing.
Radha Beauty Peppermint Essential Oil 4 oz
Radha Beauty offers this large bottle of peppermint essential oil with a glass dropper. It’s useful for aromatherapy, soaking sore feet, massages, and treating the skin.
Rose essential oil was studied as a treatment for the P. acnes bacteria (2). It turns out that it was quite effective.
It’s also one of the best anti-aging essential oils.
This is more than a fragrance – this essential oil clears up acne and keeps the skin looking young. Additionally, the next time you have cramps, give yourself a massage with rose oil to find relief.
Plant Therapy Rose Absolute Essential Oil
Plant Therapy presses rose absolute essential oil from the petals of the Rosa centifolia plant. It takes an immense amount of flowers to make just 1 pound of oil. For that reason, this is one of the most expensive essential oils.
Rose blends well with jasmine, chamomile, bergamot, and ylang-ylang for aromatherapy.
Rocky Mountain Oils – Blend of Rose – 15 ml
Save yourself some money and enjoy this pre-diluted essential oil. Rocky Mountain Oils combines a base of 98% fractionated coconut oil with 2% pure rose. It’s immediately ready to use directly on your skin.
A study published in 2007 reported on how well rosemary essential oil worked against Propionibacterium acnes bacteria. Under the microscope, the scientists watched as the rosemary literally destroyed the structure of the bacterial cells (3).
Edens Garden Rosemary Spanish, 30 ml
Spanish rosemary is high in camphor. It soothes muscle aches and can make your hair extra shiny.
But please be sure to dilute this potent essential oil before use on your skin. Also, if you have a seizure disorder, avoid this oil.
Tea Tree Oil
Melaleuca, also known as tea tree oil, comes from Australia. It’s antifungal and antibacterial, which is why it’s frequently used in shampoos, soaps, and creams.
Multiple clinical studies have proven that tea tree oil is effective against pimples. In fact, it’s just as good as benzoyl peroxide and less likely to irritate and cause dryness.
How to Use Tea Tree Oil for Acne:
If you’re treating a few individual pimples, you’re likely to have success dabbing pure tea tree oil on them twice a day (morning and night). Within one to three days, the zits should be gone.
But if you’re using tea tree oil to prevent acne or treat a larger area of skin, please dilute!
Also, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after using tea tree oil. Don’t get it in your mouth, your eyes, or your nose.
Tea Tree Essential Oil by NOW Foods
NOW Foods states that their oil is distilled from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia tree. It has a minimum of 30% Terpinen-4 and no more than 10% Cineole.
Plant Therapy Tea Tree Essential Oil | 100% Pure, Pre-Diluted Roll-On
Plant Therapy makes it easy to use tea tree oil with this pre-diluted roll-on. It’s safe for your skin right out of the bottle.
Essential Oil Recipes to Fight Acne
Sometimes you may want to use all the weapons you have against acne. In that case, use a blend of essential oils and other skincare tools.
To illustrate, here are recipes for an antibacterial face mask and a moisturizer to keep acne at bay.
Antibacterial Face Mask for Acne
Put the following in a container that you can shake well or stir before you use it.
- 5 drops tea tree oil
- 2 drops lavender oil
- 1 teaspoon honey (you might need to warm it up to soften it)
- 2 teaspoons fractionated coconut, rosehip seed, or jojoba oil
Smooth the mask on your face. Be careful to avoid your eyes and mouth. But you can also apply this to your chest and back. (It’s easiest to do this in the shower.)
Let it work for five to ten minutes before you rinse with lukewarm water.
This recipe works wonders overnight. Wash your face, then pat it dry, leaving the skin slightly damp.
- 2 drops frankincense oil
- 2 drops lavender oil
- 2 drops tea tree oil
- 1 drop lemongrass oil
- 1 drop rose oil
- 1 tablespoon of jojoba oil
Jojoba oil is chemically similar to the skin’s natural sebum or oil. It won’t clog pores, but it will moisturize. This batch makes enough for more than one night, so please store the leftover in the refrigerator.
It’s been a long time since I purchased acne medication. I generally rely on essential oils to clear up the occasional pimple.
I hope that you find that the best essential oils for acne work well for you, too.
1. https://www.rd.com/health/beauty/essential-oils-for-acne/ by Alexa Erickson, accessed 24 June 2019
2. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/essentials-oils-for-acne by Elea Carey, published 22 June 2018, accessed 24 June 2020
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17893831 by Fu Y, et al., published 24 September 2007, accessed 24 June 2020