8 Best Essential Oils for Acne: A Natural Skin Treatment - Public Goods Blog

8 Best Essential Oils for Acne: A Natural Skin Treatment

Many acne treatment solutions on the market are hard on your skin, use harsh chemicals and sometimes leave you worse off (like with acne scars) than where you started.

Many acne treatment solutions on the market are hard on your skin, use harsh chemicals and sometimes leave you worse off (like with acne scars) than where you started.

Your skin needs a solution that not only successfully combats your acne breakouts and pimples, but is good for you. Instead of rubbing those chemical-laden solutions onto your skin, it’s time for you to consider using essential oils for acne treatment.

woman face acne

Treat Acne With Essential Oils

One over-the-counter product dermatologists typically recommend to treat acne is benzoyl peroxide. While it successfully kills bacteria, it also contains harsh chemicals that can leave your skin dry, itchy, or cause it to peel. Essential oils, on the other hand, work at replenishing and balancing your skin.

Essential oils, made by distilling raw plant material that includes bark, flowers, leaves, rinds, roots and seeds of fruits and plants, are a natural remedy that works and won’t leave acne scars. 

Because of their unique chemical composition, many essential oils contain anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties that leave your skin clear and smooth. Because they are available over-the-counter, they are an accessible remedy that can be employed in various ways, depending on which oils you apply and blend with one another. Even acne-prone skin and sensitive skin can benefit from certain essential oils.

Though there are plenty of tools and utensils available on the market that poke and prod your skin to excavate those unsightly blackheads that typically crop up in oily areas, they can either be expensive or painful.

Are Essential Oils Bad For Acne? Clearing Up Some Misconceptions (And Your Face)

One misconception is that treating oily skin with an oil-based product is contradictory.

Essential oils actually replace and remove the greasy and oily acne-causing compounds in your skin. Your skin no longer has to take excessive measures to produce oil. That unsightly, oily shine that develops on your face throughout the day becomes diminished thanks to essential oils.

Best of all is you don’t need a prescription, and you don’t need to visit a pharmacist to get something over the counter. Check out the health section of your grocery store, or shop online at Public Goods for essential oils.

What Are The Best Essential Oils for Acne Treatment?

Any essential oil, when applied safely and properly, will aid your skin. Nonetheless, some types are particularly effective. There are also supplementary benefits you should be aware of.

But which essential oil is best for acne? Below we break down the benefits of each oil, as well as how to use them. Remember to always keep carrier oils nearby!

Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca Alternifolia)

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Tea tree oil contains terpineol, an antimicrobial agent that fights a wide range of bacteria linked to acne. Applied topically, it is a natural way to soothe itchy, irritated skin for a smooth complexion. Tea tree essential oil also reduces blemishes and keeps acne at bay.

In fact, one study with 124 participants found tea tree oil to be just as effective in treating acne as benzoyl peroxide, noting those treated with tea tree experienced “fewer side effects.”

One recent study led by Chao Juan, who serves as Principal Investigator of the clinical trials in the Skin and Cosmetic Research Department in Shanghai Skin Disease Hospital, tested 30 acne volunteers and 30 healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 30. The acne volunteers were instructed to use a facial cleanser containing terpineol to apply twice a day over a four-week span. The healthy volunteers, conversely, were given a mild facial cleanser.

At the end of the trial, results showed acne subjects who used the terpineol-based facial cleanser “demonstrated a reduction in P. acnes and S epidermidis levels and a concurrent reduction in acne counts.” The outcome also revealed terpineol to “normalize the level of P. acnes and S epidermidis in acne to a state that is closer to health, leading to a reduction in acne symptoms.”

How to Use

Add 1-2 drops of tea tree oil to a cotton ball and spot treat blemishes. Those with more sensitive skin can dilute it with a carrier oil like avocado, jojoba or grapeseed or coconut. Those with oily skin, however, should avoid using coconut oil because it can clog pores. 

Tea tree oil can also be mixed into face lotions, but be careful around the eye area because the menthol can irritate it.

Dilution Ratio (applies to all oils): Dilute 1-2 drops of essential oil for every teaspoon of a carrier oil.

Lavender Oil (Lavandula Angustifolia)

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Lavender essential oil, known for its calming scent, contains linalyl acetate that reduces inflammation, treats rashes and stabilizes your skin’s natural oil levels. The oil also contains linalool that relaxes upset skin and deters bacteria growth through its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, respectively. This compound is also known to relieve stress, a factor that can trigger breakouts.

Because it also contains camphor, a topical analgesic agent found in Vick’s Vapor Rub, lavender oil relieves skin irritation.

Dr. Gamliel, licenced in Naturopathy and Acupuncture, recommends applying a few drops of lavender oil (or eucalyptus or tea tree oil) directly to blackheads or inflamed areas with a cotton swab. The oil’s natural antioxidants will remove toxins and dead skin cells from your skin to unclog pores and allow your skin to breathe.

Lavender oil also regulates blood circulation underneath your skin, aiding to promote oxygen and nutrients within skin cells. This result can ultimately diminish the appearance of acne scars.

How to Use Lavender Oil For Acne

Stubborn blemishes can be treated by blending one drop each of lavender and argan oils together and applying directly to skin. For a refreshing DIY toner, add 10 drops of lavender oil, 4 drops of vitamin-E to and 4 ounces of witch hazel to a spray bottle. 

Avoid using a clear-colored spray bottle, as the essential oils tend to oxidize from light and sun. Shake well and spritz all over the face. Store in a cool, dark place. 

Rosemary Oil (Rosmarinus Officinalis)

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Use rosemary oil for a wide range of skin-related issues, such as oily or inflamed skin, acne breakouts and eczema. One of rosemary oil’s chief compounds, p-Cymene, exists in over 100 plant species and is employed for medicinal purposes due to its antioxidant (an anti-aging godsend), anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. 

Like lavender oil, it reduces anxiety to stave off triggering acne breakouts. It also minimizes pores. 

With its stimulating features, rosemary oil can also promote blood circulation in your skin to generate a radiant complexion. 

How To Use

Add 1-2 drops to a cotton swab and use as a spot treatment, applying directly to skin or dilute with a 1 teaspoon of carrier oil. 

To combat dry, irritated skin, mix 6 drops of rosemary essential oil with 1 teaspoon of aloe vera in a bowl. Apply a thin layer to a clean face, let sit for 10 minutes and rinse. 

Oregano Oil (Origanum Vulgare)


Oregano originated in the Mediterranean, where ancient Greeks cultivated the leafy plant to treat an array of symptoms, including skin irritations and infections. Oregano essential oil is an antibacterial, an agent that either kills or reduces the spread of bacteria.

Because of its high levels of carvacrol, a compound responsible for inhibiting bacteria growth, as well as thymol, which contains strong antiseptic properties, oregano essential oil is ideal for inhibiting bacteria growth and reducing inflammation.

A 2018 study found that, of the seven essential oils tested, oregano exemplified the strongest antimicrobial activity against P. acnes and Staphylococcus epidermidis, the two most egregious forms of acne-associated bacteria.

How to Use

Make a DIY spot treatment by adding 1/3 oregano oil to 2/3 carrier oil into an amber-colored rollerball, and use daily. Store in a cool, dark place. 

If you do not have a rollerball, add 1 drop of oregano essential oil to 1 teaspoon of carrier oil and apply directly to skin.

Frankincense Oil (Boswellia Sacra)


Originating from the Middle East, frankincense oil is both an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial, ideal for alleviating irritated skin with its cooling properties and fighting bacteria growth. It also improves tissue remodeling in the skin, helping to treat scarring, burns and aging skin.

With high levels of alpha-pinene, an organic compound found in many coniferous trees, frankincense oil is great for fighting the acne strains Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus pneumoniae.

The ancient Egyptians used frankincense not only as a gift to their gods, but as a revitalizing face mask.

A study published in Biochimica, a peer-reviewed scientific journal in the field of biochemistry and biophysics, indicated that frankincense oil “showed significant anti-proliferative activity in dermal fibroblasts.” Dermal fibroblasts are cells within the skin that produce and bind connective tissue and are responsible for repairing your skin from injury.

How to Use

Spot treat stubborn blemishes by directly applying 1-2 drops of frankincense oil to the skin with a cotton ball. 

Or make a DIY face serum by mixing 2 drops of frankincense oil, 2 drops of vitamin-E and 2 teaspoons of a carrier oil in a bowl. Apply a thin layer to face and neck, morning and night. 

Peppermint Oil

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Another popular essential oil that has antibacterial and antiseptic properties is peppermint oil. You can incorporate peppermint oil into your skincare routine to cleanse the face, while the cooling effect of menthol relieves inflammation and irritation caused by acne. 

Peppermint essential oil should be diluted in water or a carrier oil like jojoba oil before being applied directly to the skin. You can dab it directly onto acne before bed and leave it on overnight. 

You’ll find that several anti-acne creams include peppermint essential oil to provide soothing relief while rejuvenating the skin. One 2016 study found that topical application of peppermint oil could reduce severe itching of the skin. And guess what, it’s not too hard to make your own DIY peppermint oil

How to Use

Mix 1-2 drops of peppermint oil, 1 teaspoon of a carrier oil and 1 teaspoon of vitamin-E in a bowl and apply to combative blemishes. Avoid the eye area. 

For an exfoliating DIY facial scrub, mix 2-3 drops of peppermint oil with three tablespoons of a carrier oil and two teaspoons of salt. Gently massage into skin — avoiding the eye area — then rinse. 

Rosehip Oil

rosehip fruits on plant

Pressed from the fruit and seeds of the rose plant, rosehip oil contains an assortment of acne-fighting vitamins and essential fatty acids. Rosehip is a natural source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that reduces inflammation caused by acne while increasing collagen and elastin production that can boost skin regeneration.

This essential oil also contains a plethora of linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid that has been shown to modify the skin’s natural oil production. An older study from 1986 found that acne-prone skin typically has lower levels of linoleic acid production. 

In addition to preventing whiteheads and blackheads, evidence also suggests that linoleic acid could help reduce the appearance of acne scarring. In a 1998 study, researchers discovered that the topical application of linoleic acid could reduce hyperpigmentation in flat, dark-colored scars that are left behind from acne. 

How to Use 

To treat acne, add 1 drop of rosehip oil, one drop of tea tree oil and 1 teaspoon of a carrier oil and apply to clean skin.

Or add 1 drop to your daily face lotion and apply to face and neck; add 3-4 drops to your daily body lotion regime. 

Cinnamon Oil

rolled cinnamon

Thanks to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, cinnamon oil is another popular option of acne treatment. In fact, a 2013 study found that cinnamon oil was more effective in preventing breakouts than tea tree and rosemary oil.  

Cinnamon oil has also demonstrated the ability to limit the appearance of acne scars and reduce excess oil. You’ll find that this oil is an ingredient in many face washes that aim to improve skin health. Cinnamon oil is sometimes mixed with honey and used to create a face mask or apply it as a spot treatment to pimples and acne blemishes. 

How To Use

Add 1 drop of cinnamon oil to 1 teaspoon of a carrier oil and apply to acne-prone areas.  

To make a DIY acne-fighting face mask, combine 1 drop of cinnamon oil with 2 teaspoons of honey. Apply to the face for 5-10 minutes and rinse. 

Or make an exfoliating body scrub to slough off dead skin in the shower. Mix 3 drops of cinnamon oil, 6 teaspoons of vanilla extract and 1 cup of packed brown sugar together in a bowl. Then slowly fold in 12 teaspoons of solid coconut oil. Exfoliate onto clean skin and rinse. 

If You Have Sensitive Skin, Use a Carrier Oil

Because of their high concentration levels, some essential oils are highly volatile and should be mixed with a carrier oil, especially if you have sensitive skin. Diluting essential oils helps to tone down the potency. 

You can compare this dynamic to a can of Minute Maid frozen concentrated orange juice. Failing to mix the juice concentrate with three cans of water like the directions indicate leaves you with an overly tart drink that shocks your taste buds.

Almond, avocado, coconut oils, or jojoba oils work well as carrier oils. The added bonus is that their nut and vegetable-based formulas mirror your skin’s natural lipids. These structural similarities can help both restore and balance your skin’s moisture barrier. Check out our helpful guide on how to dilute essential oils with coconut oil

You can dilute essential oils in a carrier oil to make them safer on your skin, and you may want to try a test swab on your skin in a small area before applying topically all over. A rule of thumb: it is best to contact your dermatologist if you have any reservations.

What Causes Acne and Pimples, Anyways?

Acne is an inflammatory skin disease brought on by dead skin cells and trapped oils that get clogged inside hair follicles. Pimples, also known as zits or spots, are symptoms of acne.

While acne typically surfaces during puberty, it can occur at any stage in life.

The American Academy of Dermatology noted acne as the “most common skin condition in the United States, affecting up to 50 million Americans annually.” Perhaps a better understanding of its causes and solutions, as far as essential oils are concerned, may keep you out of this statistic.

Our skin is made up of three structures:

  1. Epidermis (outer layer)
  2. Dermis (thick middle layer)
  3. Subcutis (deepest layer)

Oil that is produced in the skin is called sebum, and it is made in oil glands called sebaceous glands located in the dermis. The function of sebum acts as a shield, locking in moisture to keep your skin balanced and radiant.

When dead cells and skin flakes accumulate at the opening of pores, the sebum has no way of escaping. Here, in these clogged pores, oil builds up in the sebaceous gland, acting as a breeding ground for bacteria, especially Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) bacteria, giving way to blackhead and whitehead eruptions, which eventually become pimples.

Applying a topical bacteria-killing agent like the ones found in essential oils to the surface of your skin in these areas is one way to treat acne.

Essential Oils Could Be the Essential Treatment for Your Acne

Thanks to their accessibility, functionality and economical price point, essential oils boast both a safe and efficacious means of treating your skin as far as natural remedies are concerned. You can also use essential oils to treat cold and flu symptoms, to soothe your cough, and even for weight loss

When shopping for essential oils, make sure the ingredients read 100% essential oil. You can find solace in that every Public Goods’ bottle of essential oil is 100% pure, organic and carefully sourced for the highest quality. Because your skin is the largest organ in your body, tending to it should be a top priority.

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Comments (4)

    • Thanks so much for your feedback! If you haven’t ordered from us yet, you can use code BLOG15 for $15 off of your first order 🙌😊

  • Hi, can you use both frankincense oil and cinnamon oil simultaneously or should you stick to one method of treatment for acne ?

    • Hi Ashley! You totally could use both, but I would recommend using one at a time so you can see how they affect your skin. You might find that one works better for you than the other, or that one produces an adverse reaction. If you combine them, it’ll be more difficult to tell what’s actually working for your skin.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read our blog! If you’d like to give our essential oils a try, feel free to grab some on us. Use code BLOG15 at checkout for $15 off of your first order! 🌱🤍

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