The 5 Best Essential Oils for Acne-Prone Skin

Rachel Krause


If you’re prone to breakouts, we don’t blame you if it took you a while to come around to the idea of using oil to treat and prevent acne rather than cause it. Trust us—it was a game changer for us, too. Now that we’ve gotten more comfortable with using oils on all skin types to help keep blemishes at bay, we’ve tried our fair share of options. These 5 essential oils are among the very best for addressing acne, so if you’re in the market for a more natural approach to obliterating breakouts, look no further.

Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil was one of the first alternative acne treatments we ever experimented with, and for good reason: its antiseptic, antibacterial properties destroy acne-causing bacteria, and a study in the Medical Journal of Australia (where the oil is sourced from) even discovered that a solution of 5% tea tree oil was just as effective in treating breakouts as 5% benzoyl peroxide, without so many of the drying, potentially irritating side effects. Just opt for a diluted formula rather than a pure concentration, as is the case with most essential oils, as tea tree oil on its own is too strong to be applied to the skin.

Neroli Oil
Not only does neroli oil work wonderfully to clarify skin and fend off blemishes, but it also helps to heal dark spots and scarring post-breakout, too. Derived from the flowers of the bitter orange tree, neroli is a gentle oil that’s perfect for those with sensitive, easily irritated acne-prone skin. It controls the skin’s natural oil production while utilizing astringent, bacteria-fighting properties to keep breakouts at bay. Because it’s so gentle and non-drying, you can use it every day or night preventatively rather than just as a spot treatment. Bonus: the scent has been shown to boost serotonin production, so you’ll be improving your mood while you improve your skin.

Oil of Oregano
Oil of oregano is an underrated ingredient with all kinds of benefits and uses, from boosting the immune system and fighting colds and flus to addressing nausea and digestive concerns—and, yes, it functions as a superior natural acne treatment when applied topically, too. Its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory properties help mitigate redness and swelling, particularly in cases of cystic acne, and it helps to eliminate acne-causing bacteria as well as heal existing lesions. Oil of oregano is also rich in antioxidants, so it helps strengthen the skin and protect against environmental stressors as well.

Rosemary Oil
It turns out that one of our favorite herbs for cooking has serious acne-fighting powers, too. Rosemary oil clarifies the skin without causing dryness and discourages the buildup of the bacteria that causes blemishes in the first place. Unlike most essential oils, it can also be used directly on the skin in its pure form rather than with a carrier to reduce its intensity. Rosemary oil also helps to stimulate circulation, so not only will it clear up breakouts, but it’ll give you clearer, smoother, more radiant skin overall.

Lavender Oil
Lavender oil works double duty by reducing the appearances of blemishes while soothing the skin, so you won’t see the dryness, redness, or irritation that often results from acne treatments. Used consistently, it’ll improve the clarity of skin over time, thanks to its astringent properties that help keep pores clean—and it’s even better when accompanied by a thorough facial massage.

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