The Ultimate Guide to Oils for Acne

Jeff Hautala
By Jeff Hautala, Co-Founder of Exposed Skincare

If you’re skeptical of using oils for acne, we understand. Oil can definitely contribute to acne, which is why it’s important to be well-informed before applying any oil to your face, but when done right, oil is often one of the best acne treatment options out there. Many popular acne treatments aim to get rid of acne as quickly as possible, but to do it they have to be very harsh, and this almost always causes more problems than it solves. Oils for acne take the opposite approach: they may not work immediately, but they are a gentle, long-term solution. The best-kept skin care secret is that gentle products are almost always better for your acne than “strong,” “powerful” products.

Olive oil in a bowl and in a bottle.
Olive oil might seem like the opposite of what you want on your skin, but trust us, it may be exactly what you need.

The Role of Oil in Acne Formation

Oil production is one of the three key factors in acne formation, along with inflammation and bacteria, but unlike those factors, oil can also be part of the solution. Before we dive into how oil can help, it’s important to understand how exactly acne forms.

All acne from blackheads to cysts starts with inflammation because acne is an inflammatory skin condition. The skin can become inflamed in a variety of ways, including illness, stress, pollution, allergies, and more. When it is inflamed, the pores constrict slightly and that’s where our problems begin. This constriction traps oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria in the pores, and this leads to all kinds of acne. If there is mostly oil and dead skin cells in the pore, a blackhead or whitehead is formed. Whiteheads form when the pore constricts and closes entirely, while blackheads form when the pore is left slightly open, allowing the air to oxidize the oil, turning it a dark color. If a decent number of bacteria get trapped in the pore as well, then a pimple forms, and for some people a cyst may form.

The best acne treatments, then, are those that focus on decreasing inflammation. Without the pores constricting, acne is far less likely to form. Still, it’s not impossible. Oil and bacteria can still contribute in a big enough way to cause acne on their own. If our skin produces too much oil, it can clog pores with its sheer volume, causing primarily blackheads. But excess oil can also cause pimples because acne-causing bacteria, called p. acnes, feed primarily on the oil our skin produces. With more oil comes more p. acnes and more pimples or cysts. However, p. acnes do not consume oils not produced by the body, which is applying oil to your skin can help treat rather than cause acne.

How Oils for Acne Can Help

Oils for acne can help in three main ways: they can reduce inflammation, they can clear away the oil our skin produces, and they can kill p. acnes bacteria. Not all oils can do all of these things, but with the right combination, oils really can help decrease acne.

Because inflammation is where all acne starts, preventing and reducing inflammation is one of the most helpful aspects of oils for acne. Some oils prevent inflammation by boosting the protective layer of oil that should always cover the skin. This helps keep external irritants like pollution, allergens, or the picking and scratching of your own fingers from irritating the skin. When skin is irritated, it tries to protect itself by triggering inflammation and the release of an extra burst of oil production. Combined, this is the perfect recipe for acne. That’s why many oils for acne aim to protect the skin and prevent this acne-causing irritation. Typically, oils do this through their fatty acid composition. Fatty acids are key components to cell structure and are found in most foods we consume in some form or another. Some fatty acids are good for the skin, like linoleic acid or lauric acid, while others, like oleic acid, are less-so. The best oils for acne either have more linoleic acid than oleic, or have a relatively balanced combination of the two.

Other oils try to treat acne by decreasing inflammation that’s already been triggered. Most of the time, they do this through antioxidants. Antioxidants help reduce inflammation by fighting something called free radicals, molecules that cause cell damage which typically generates inflammation. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals to stop their destruction, which allows the skin to heal and inflammation to fade away.

Not All Oils Are Created Equal: Oils to Avoid

You might be surprised at the number of oils that can really help your acne, but just because many of them can help, that doesn’t mean all of them can. There are still several oils you’ll want to avoid if you have acne, primarily because they are comedogenic.

Most substances can be ranked on the comedogenicity scale, which measures how likely it is that a particular substance will clog pores. A ranking of 5 means it will almost definitely clog pores and a ranking of 0 means there’s very little chance it will clog pores. We recommend staying somewhere between 0 and 2. Any higher, and the benefit of the oil may be outweighed by its pore-clogging tendencies. Two popular oils in the skin care world right now are marula oil and coconut oil. Unfortunately, what these two oils have in common is that they are ones you’ll want to avoid.

Marula Oil Acne Treatment Myth

For some reason, marula oil acne treatment has come on the scene as the next big skin care trend, even though it has a comedogenicity rating of 3 to 4, depending on the product. It’s possible that marula oil could make a good skin care product for people who don’t get acne, but some sources are praising it as a great acne treatment, and that is simply incorrect. Any oil that clogs pores is a bad idea for acne.

Coconut Oil: Delicious but Bad for Acne

Coconut oil is one of the latest trends in skin care, hair care, cooking, and more. You name it, there’s definitely a DIY recipe involving coconut oil. Unfortunately, it isn’t quite as versatile as it seems. It has a comedogenicity rating of 4, meaning it is very likely to clog pores. Even though it has high levels of lauric acid, a good fatty acid for the skin’s protective oil barrier, this pore-clogging tendency makes it one of the worst oils for acne. Some people find that their skin can tolerate it, but generally speaking, we don’t recommend it.

Coconut oil in a container with a wooden spatula.
Coconut oil is great for a lot of things, but your skin isn’t one of them.

The Difference Between Regular Oil and Essential Oil for Acne

You can use both regular and essential oil for acne treatment, but they work very differently so it’s important to know which is which. Essential oils are most commonly associated with acne treatment, but regular oils sometimes have healing properties of their own.

Despite their name, essential oils are not like essential vitamins or essential amino acids—you don’t need them to survive. Essential oils get their name because are made from the “essence” of various plants, like lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus. They are very concentrated, making them far to strong to apply directly to the skin. If you don’t dilute essential oils with regular oils, it can cause severe irritation, even burning, and they can make your skin extremely sensitive to the sunlight. Even though they can’t be used alone, essential oils may be able to help with acne when used correctly. Many plants have properties that can help reduce acne, and in this highly concentrated form, those properties can make a real difference.

So are regular oils just a carrier for essential oils? Some might say yes. In fact, non-essential oils, like olive oil or neem oil, are often called carrier oils. It’s vital that essential oils have a carrier oil base to prevent skin irritation and damage, but some carrier oils can help acne in their own right. Many carrier oils can help remove oil and dead skin cell buildup in the pores, and many others strengthen the thin layer of protective oil on our skin.

The research on oils for acne is limited, but some of the more popular essential oils have been studied closely, and the results are promising. If you combine the right carrier oil and essential oil for acne, you could see a significant improvement.

The 6 Best Essential Oils for Acne

There are countless essential oils out there, all with their own unique benefits, but if you are looking for the best essential oils for acne, these are the top six. They all fight acne in more than one way, and they all have at least preliminary research confirming their ability to help improve your skin.

  1. Tea tree oil
  2. Lavender oil
  3. Eucalyptus oil
  4. Frankincense oil
  5. Peppermint oil
  6. Oregano oil

1. Tea Tree Oil: The Best Oil for Acne Prone Skin

Tea tree oil is arguably the best oil for acne prone skin. It fights acne on all three levels: it kills bacteria, it reduces inflammation, and some studies suggest it can reduce how much extra oil the body produces.

The first reason tea tree oil is often used to treat acne is because it can kill p. acnes, even at very low concentrations. Some tea tree oil products contain 10% tea tree oil, but studies show that after 5%, there’s no significant difference in results based on concentration, and many studies show that all you need is 3% to kill p. acnes. The lower the concentration, the lower the chances of irritation and inflammation, so this is a good thing.

The second reason more and more people are using tea tree oil for acne is because it can help reduce inflammation. It’s always good to use products that decrease inflammation, but this can come in especially handy when treating cystic acne. Cysts form when bacteria get trapped in a pore, multiply, and expand downward into the skin rather than up toward the surface. This is often due to excessive inflammation, so with tea tree oil’s ability to both kill bacteria and fight inflammation, it is an ideal treatment for cystic acne.

The last reason tea tree oil is so popular is because it may be able to help with hormonal acne. Hormonal acne turns up whenever our hormones fluctuate because increases in testosterone lead to increased oil production. Some studies show that tea tree oil can help suppress testosterone creation, and thus oil creation, but it may also produce more feminine features, such as less hair growth and enlarged breast tissue.

Click the link to read our blog post dedicated entirely to the pros and cons of using tea tree oil for acne.

2. Use Lavender Oil for Acne Caused by Stress

If you notice increased blemishes when you get stressed, you may want to try lavender oil for acne. Even though all acne is formed through the same general factors of oil production, inflammation, and bacteria, those factors can be triggered in different ways. Researchers believe stress is a common trigger for acne formation, and lavender oil may be able to help.

Purple petal flowers in a garden.
Lavender can help reduce stress, which may be a key step toward reducing acne.

Lavender oil for acne is effective in two main ways, one that helps with stress acne specifically and one that is common in most essential oils. First, let’s explore how stress acne forms and what lavender oil can do about it. Unfortunately, our bodies don’t distinguish very well between physical stressors, like a face-off with a lion, and emotional stressors, like a big presentation at work or school. It reacts the same way in both scenarios: fight, flight, or freeze. No matter which response you tend to have, your body releases large amounts of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. In the moment, cortisol can help reduce inflammation, which should be good for acne, but if you have chronic stress, the opposite is often true. When we’re always stressed out, our bodies release a lot of cortisol which eventually starts to cause inflammation rather than prevent it.

So where does lavender come in? Unlike tea tree oil, which is diluted with a carrier oil and then applied directly to the skin, lavender oil can reduce stress acne through aromatherapy. Lavender oil aromatherapy doesn’t directly reduce acne, but studies show it has a significant impact on stress reduction, which can lower cortisol levels, reduce inflammation, and prevent stress acne.

Lavender oil’s other more traditional use for acne relies on antioxidants, which we mentioned briefly before and which we’ll explore more in the later section on carrier oils.

3. Fight Painful Pimples with Eucalyptus Oil for Acne

Studies show that eucalyptus oil for acne can be helpful in three main ways: it kills p. acnes bacteria, it reduces inflammation, and it relieves pain. If you primarily have pimples or cysts rather than blackheads or whiteheads, eucalyptus oil is a great option for reducing your acne.

Much like tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil has been carefully researched more than most essential oils, and the results indicate that eucalyptus oil could be a great solution for acne. Several studies have found that it is antibacterial, which sounds great but you should always check to see if the research addresses p. acnes specifically. Most antibacterial substances don’t kill every kind of bacteria, so it’s important to know what it can and cannot treat. Luckily, eucalyptus oil does kill p. acnes, and one study even found that a mixture of 2% eucalyptus oil and 4% guava oil was just as effective in killing p. acnes as 5% benzoyl peroxide (a common lab-made acne treatment).

Its antibacterial properties alone would make eucalyptus oil a great essential oil for acne, especially pimples and cysts, but it also has anti-inflammatory and analgesic qualities that can help as well. Analgesic substances can reduce pain, and if you’ve ever had a particularly large pimple or cyst, you know that pain relief is a seriously underrated aspect of acne treatment. Studies in mice and rats show that eucalyptus oil can help reduce pain, and the same study also demonstrated eucalyptus oil’s anti-inflammatory properties. Together, these properties make eucalyptus oil a particularly good treatment for pimples and cystic acne.

4. Yes, We Believe in the Frankincense Acne Solution

No, nothing can “cure” acne, but some products are definitely better than others at treating it, and the frankincense acne solution is unique in its ability to prevent and reduce acne scars.

One of the most frustrating parts of acne is the scarring it can leave behind. Even once you have clear skin, you don’t really have clear skin until all the dark spots and scars are gone too. Oils in general are typically good for scar reduction, but frankincense can be especially effective because it can both prevent and treat acne scars. Acne is technically a very minor wound, and one of frankincense oil’s great properties is that it helps speed up the healing process. The quicker a wound heals, the less likely it is to leave behind a scar, so applying frankincense to your acne could help prevent acne scarring in the first place.

Still, sometimes scars will form anyway, but frankincense can help with that as well. Scars slowly become less noticeable over time as our skin cells regenerate and the scar tissue cells are replaced with new, healthy cells. Frankincense simply speeds up this process by encouraging skin cell regeneration. If scarring is even more of a problem for you than acne itself, frankincense is definitely the way to go.

Some sources claim frankincense oil can kill p. acnes bacteria, but in reality it is much more effective against other kinds of bacteria and is unlikely to show much of a significant difference in p. acnes in particular. The good thing about essential oils, though, is that you can mix and match. You don’t need to find one oil that can do everything, you can add some frankincense for your scars and let other oils do the work in getting rid of acne-causing bacteria.

5. Peppermint Oil for Acne: Possibilities Abound, But More Research is Needed

We’ve found an amazing amount of research on all of the essential oils we’ve discussed so far and feel very confident recommending them as solid acne treatments, but we’re entering into the realm of the uncertain when it comes to peppermint oil for acne. Many people support it and theoretically it could have a lot of good acne-fighting properties, but the research so far is quite limited. Keep this in mind when deciding whether or not to incorporate it into your essential oil skin care routine.

Peppermint oil in a bottle and mint leaf stem cut in a vase.
Peppermint oil for acne is not as scientifically sound as some other essential oils for acne, but there’s still a good chance it can help—and if not, at least it smells amazing!

We are relatively confident when we say that peppermint oil for acne can help in one of the same ways eucalyptus oil can: peppermint is also a natural analgesic, and it can help relieve the pain of especially inflamed or painful pimples and cysts. Peppermint oil contains menthol, which has been proven to provide significant pain relief, so if nothing else, you can definitely use peppermint oil for acne that’s causing you discomfort.

Now onto the more uncertain aspects of peppermint oil for acne. Some sources claim that peppermint oil is antibacterial, and there is substantial research to support that, but very few studies test whether or not peppermint oil can kill p. acnes bacteria specifically. Other sources claim that peppermint oil may be able to suppress testosterone production, like tea tree oil, but we could not locate any studies that support those claims. Peppermint oil may not be the most effective essential oil in treating acne, but it’s still near the top, and we argue it takes the number one spot for best fragrance.

6. What We Do and Don’t Know About Oregano Oil for Acne

Like peppermint oil, oregano oil for acne is still a bit of a mystery. There are plenty of rumors about what oregano oil can do for acne, from reducing inflammation to killing bacteria, to exfoliating the skin, but can any of these claims be proven?

It looks like oregano is in the same boat as peppermint when it comes to killing p. acnes bacteria. Some studies have found it to be antibacterial, but there is little to no evidence that it can kill p. acnes specifically. There is more evidence to support its anti-inflammatory properties, but those studies are primarily focused on ingesting concentrated forms of oregano to relieve internal inflammation, typically in the digestive system. It’s hard to tell if those anti-inflammatory properties would translate to the skin via oregano essential oil.

We are much more confident in the claim that oregano oil for acne could work because of its ability to exfoliate the skin. If you’ve tried lab-made acne products, you’ve almost definitely heard of salicylic acid. It is a compound typically used to treat blackheads and whiteheads because it can remove them by exfoliating the skin and clearing away the excess oil and dead skin cells clogging the pores. Salicylic acid was originally derived from the meadowsweet plant, but studies have found that oregano, along with other herbs and spices, can also be used as a source of salicylic acid. In its concentrated essential oil form, it is very likely that oregano is also capable of exfoliating the skin and reducing blackheads and whiteheads.

How to Find the Best Face Oil for Acne

Oil can be used for acne that appears anywhere, on the face or body, but the best face oil for acne isn’t going to be the same as the best body oil for acne. Face skin is very thin and sensitive, while body skin is thicker and has larger pores.

Close up picture of a woman with a heart ink on her face.

These differences mean that different oils work better for acne on your face and on your body. Body acne often benefits from very strong concentrations of essential oils, but the best face oil for acne usually comes down to the carrier oil. A very low concentration of any of the previously mentioned essential oils can be successfully used on facial acne, but to get the best results, you need to get the right carrier oil. You’re looking for oils with a comedogenicity of 0 to be completely sure you won’t clog pores and make things worse, but it also helps to find oils that can help reduce inflammation. It’s a tall order, but argan oil and hemp seed oil fit the bill exactly.

The 10 Best Carrier Oils for Acne

Carrier oils are often used to dilute essential oils to make them safe for application on the skin, but if you know what you’re doing, you can find carrier oils that contribute their own skin care benefits. We’ve compiled a list of the best 10 carrier oils for acne. They all rank as a 2 or lower on the comedogenicity scale, and they all help prevent acne in at least one major way. Simply take your pick based on your skin care needs!

  1. Olive oil
  2. Argan oil
  3. Hemp seed oil
  4. Jojoba oil
  5. Rosehip oil
  6. Neem oil
  7. Tamanu oil
  8. Evening primrose oil
  9. Grapeseed oil
  10. Maracuja oil

1. The Best Cleansing Oil for Acne is Olive Oil for Acne

The reason we list olive oil first on our list of great carrier oils is because olive oil for acne is one of the best cleansing oils for acne available. It might sound counterintuitive to say oil can be cleansing, but there’s actually a good reason one oil could help get rid of another.

Some dermatologists suggest that the chemistry principle of “like dissolves like” can be applied when it comes to using a cleansing oil for acne. In theory, substances that are chemically similar can dissolve each other. In this particular case, that would mean applying olive oil to your skin in order to dissolve the oils that are already there. Of course, “like dissolves like” is a relatively simplistic principle that only works for certain in a lab. The skin is not simple enough for this principle to be airtight, but if we control for a few other factors, it could definitely still apply. First, we need to consider comedogenicity. If an oil is likely to clog pores, then it won’t matter if it’s able to dissolve the oil in your pores because the “cleansing” oil will simply take your skin oil’s place, and the pores will remain clogged. Second, you definitely want to be aware of fatty acid composition. The oil our skin produces contains fatty acids like linoleic acid, oleic acid, and palmitoleic acid, so the best cleansing oil for acne should contain these acids as well.

Olive oil contains all of these acids, has a relatively low comedogenicity rating of 2, and it is safe for all skin types, from oily to sensitive. The best way to use it as a cleansing oil is to apply a dime- to quarter-sized amount to your skin and rub it in gently using your hands, and then use a very soft cloth to gently wipe it away.

2. Why We Love Argan Oil for Acne

Argan oil for acne is one of the gentlest, most nurturing carrier oils out there, so if you have sensitive skin or if you’ve had trouble with using oils for acne in the past, we recommend giving it another go with argan oil.

Argan oil checks all the boxes: gentle? Check. 0 rating on the comedogenicity scale? Check. Some studies even show that it can make the essential oils it carries more effective. This is perfect for use on the face, where a high concentration of any essential oil can cause irritation, but a low concentration will fail to make an impact on acne. When you mix an essential oil with argan oil, you can use a low concentration and avoid irritation while still getting the benefits of whichever essential oil you choose.

Argan oil is also a great choice for those with adult acne because it has also been shown to reduce signs of aging. Part of this is because, like most oils, argan oil improves the protective layer of oil on the skin and helps our skin retain moisture, but it also improves skin elasticity which can help reduce wrinkles.

3. If You Have Oily Skin, You Need to Try Hemp Seed Oil for Acne

Hemp seed oil for acne is an ideal carrier oil with a comedogenicity rating of 0 and lots of additional benefits. If you have oily skin, you’re probably skeptical of this whole article and the idea that oil could somehow reduce acne. To that we say: try hemp seed oil.

Hemp seed oil can help oily skin in three main ways. First, using the “like dissolves like” principle, it can actually help reduce the amount of oil on your skin. Second, it can moisturize your skin without making it look or feel oily. Finally, hemp seed oil fights inflammation so it can help prevent acne. The first two benefits could apply to any carrier oil, but hemp seed oil accomplishes them particularly well due to its fatty acid makeup. Hemp seed oil has a very high concentration of linoleic acid, one of the best fatty acids for acne. It makes hemp seed oil light, non-greasy, and effective in dissolving excess oil on our skin.

The biggest benefit of hemp seed oil for acne in all skin types is its powerful antioxidants. As we discussed earlier in the section on how oils can help reduce acne, antioxidants are compounds that help stabilize molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are oxygen molecules that have lost an electron, so they go around to various cells trying to replace it. This causes cell damage which can lead to all kind of effects, but when it comes to acne we’re most concerned with the inflammation that often results from cell damage. Antioxidants provide free radicals with the electron they’re looking for, which stabilizes them and stops the cell damage they were causing. According to multiple studies, hemp seed oil contains a high concentration of antioxidant compounds, making it a great carrier oil for reducing inflammation and preventing acne.

4. The Jojoba Oil Acne Treatment Standard

Even though olive oil is great for cleansing the skin, and argan oil and hemp seed oil have the lowest comedogenicity ratings of any carrier oil, the gold standard for acne is the jojoba oil acne treatment.

The jojoba oil acne treatment works best when combined with an essential oil, but jojoba oil can also be used on its own to reduce acne, thanks to its fatty acid composition and wound healing properties. Let’s start with the more typical jojoba oil acne treatment method where it is combined with an essential oil. The whole point of carrier oils is to dilute essential oils so they are safe to apply to the skin, but jojoba, like argan oil, actually increases the effectiveness of any essential oil that is added to it.

If you ran out of your essential oils, or if you just don’t feel like using essential oils today, never fear, because the jojoba oil acne treatment works well all on its own. To moisturize your skin, simply take a dime-sized amount of jojoba oil, rub it between your hands and gently apply it to your skin, then immediately rinse with lukewarm water. Jojoba oil is composed largely of a fatty acid called eicosenoic acid, an acid that makes it closely resemble the oil our skin produces itself. Applying a thin layer can help your skin protect itself better and give you smoother, softer skin.

Finally, some studies show that jojoba oil can actually help heal wounds, making it a great spot treatment for acne as well. Acne is technically a type of minor wound, so applying a drop of jojoba oil to a painful pimple or cyst may actually help it heal faster, which will also decrease the likelihood of acne scarring.

5. Rosehip Oil Acne Scar Treatment

There are a lot of rumors out there about rosehip oil and acne, but there isn’t a lot of actual research that’s been conducted on rosehip oil acne treatment. There are, however, several studies that prove it can have a significant impact on scar reduction, meaning it could be the perfect carrier oil for frankincense.

Rosehips berry branch close-up picture
Rosehip oil is the best carrier out there when it comes to reducing acne scars.

If you remember, frankincense is a great essential oil for both preventing and reducing acne scars, but like all essential oils, it needs to be diluted before being applied to the skin. You could dilute it with any of the skin-friendly carrier oils in this article and be just fine, but we recommend mixing it with rosehip oil, since it has a few scar-reducing powers of its own. Rosehip oil has a high concentration of linoleic acid, meaning it works for all skin types including oily skin, and it contains lots of vitamin C and E, both of which can help revitalize skin and reduce scarring.

That being said, if you have dark skin, you should consult a dermatologist before using rosehip oil to reduce acne scars. Vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid can help reduce acne scars, but it has also been known to cause light or dark spots when used on dark skin.

6. How to Get the Most Benefit Out of Neem Oil for Acne

Neem oil for acne is typically recommended for dry skin types, but if you know what you’re doing, you can use neem oil to prevent inflammation and kill bacteria no matter what skin type you have.

The main reason neem oil is better suited for dry skin is because of its fatty acid composition. Remember when we said some fatty acids were better for acne, like linoleic acid, while others were less helpful, like oleic acid? So far that has proven to be true, but neem oil is one big exception. It contains far more oleic acid than linoleic acid, which makes it heavier and greasier than many of the other oils we’ve discussed so far. Typically high levels of oleic acid make an oil more comedogenic, but neem oil only ranks as a 1 on the comedogenicity scale. This is why neem oil for acne is so great for dry skin. Oleic acid can help moisturize the skin and improve the oil barrier protecting our skin, but it usually isn’t worth it for those of us with acne because it can clog pores. With neem oil, you can get that added moisture and protection without causing any extra acne.

If you have oily skin, neem oil is likely to make your skin feel slightly greasy, but if you combine it with other, lighter carrier oils like hemp seed oil, you can still get the many benefits of neem oil. Like most oils in general, it is packed with antioxidants that can help prevent and treat inflammation, but neem oil is also antibacterial, making it almost as powerful as essential oils like tea tree oil or eucalyptus oil. However, while many studies have found neem oil to be antibacterial, very few have tested whether it can kill p. acnes specifically.

7. Tamanu Oil Acne Spot Treatment

The tamanu oil acne spot treatment differs slightly from the other carrier oil treatments on this list because it is not recommended for all-over application. Like neem oil, tamanu oil has a high concentration of oleic acid, plus it has a thick consistency that doesn’t spread as well as some other oils and often leaves behind a strong shine. Instead, we recommend applying tamanu oil as a spot treatment for pimples, cysts, or acne scars.

The tamanu oil acne spot treatment works because tamanu oil reduces inflammation, kills p. acnes bacteria, and promotes skin regeneration. This is a great combination for all kinds of acne problems, from every day pimples to severe cystic acne to scars acne has left behind, and unlike some natural remedies, there’s a decent amount of research confirming that tamanu oil really can do all of this. Studies show that tamanu oil is antibacterial and it can definitely kill p. acnes bacteria specifically, and other studies have proven that it contains all kinds of antioxidants which help reduce inflammation. Finally, some studies demonstrate tamanu oil’s ability to reduce scar visibility, even for scars that have been around for a while.

If you want to try the tamanu oil acne spot treatment for cystic acne, we recommend adding a few drops of tea tree oil before applying a thin layer of tamanu oil to the cysts. For scar reduction, try adding frankincense, and if you’re treating every day pimples, simply apply the tamanu oil on its own.

8. The Protective Power of Evening Primrose Oil Acne Treatment

So far we’ve seen a lot of carrier oils that fight bacteria, fight inflammation—just generally do a lot of fighting. Evening primrose oil acne treatment takes a more defensive tact that might be perfect for those with sensitive skin.

We know fatty acids keep coming up, but they really are that important when it comes to skin care, and evening primrose oil is no exception. Like most of the best oils for acne, evening primrose oil has a high concentration of linoleic acid and a low concentration of oleic acid, but it also has another important fatty acid: gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). GLA helps create ceramides, the molecules that make up the epidermal barrier. Our epidermal barrier is what protects our skin from external irritants, so keeping it in good shape is a great way to prevent the irritation and inflammation that so often cause acne. Evening primrose oil acne treatment is not necessarily the best choice for getting rid of acne you currently have, but it can help prevent new acne from forming.

Evening primrose plant in a garden.
Evening primrose oil isn’t like other essential oils—instead of fighting your acne, it protects your skin from the factors that cause acne.

9. The Facts and Myths of Grapeseed Oil for Acne

We don’t have much information about the usefulness of grapeseed oil for acne specifically, but we do have a decent amount of research exploring the uses of grapeseed oil in general. Some sources use this research to jump to conclusions about grapeseed oil’s effectiveness in treating acne, and the result is a lot of murky misinformation floating around. But now it’s time to sort the myths from the facts.

Myth: Grapeseed oil can kill acne-causing bacteria. As much as we want this to be true, there just isn’t enough evidence to confirm it yet. That doesn’t mean grapeseed oil can’t kill p. acnes bacteria, but right now we don’t have the proof. A few studies have found that grapeseed oil, when combined with other ingredients like acetic acid or methanol, can kill some types of bacteria, including e. coli, but p. acnes was not among the bacteria tested. Remember, just because something is antibacterial, that doesn’t automatically mean it can kill p. acnes.

Fact: Grapeseed oil is a powerful antioxidant. Studies show that grapeseed oil is an even better antioxidant than some of the most popular antioxidants around, including vitamin E.

Fact: Grapeseed oil works well with all skin types. Its high concentration of linoleic acid makes it a great option for oily skin, but it still has some oleic acid, making it great for dry skin too. Finally, its plentiful antioxidants make it ideal for sensitive skin as well.

Myth: Grapeseed oil never causes irritation. Because it works so well with so many skin types, many people believe that it couldn’t possibly cause irritation, but some studies have found that grapeseed oil has a higher rate of contact dermatitis (a rash caused by contact with a particular substance) than other oils.

10. Passion Flower Power: Maracuja Oil Acne Treatment

You may have heard of maracuja oil acne treatment or passion flower extract acne treatment, but it turns out, they’re the same thing. Maracuja oil is simply oil extracted from the passion flower plant, and it’s a great choice for all skin types.

It has a high concentration of linoleic acid, making it great for oily skin, but it’s also deeply hydrating and great for dry skin. Few studies have been done on maracuja oil acne treatment specifically, but there is strong research that demonstrates its value in treating dry, itchy skin. The main reason maracuja oil is such a great carrier oil for treating acne is because of all its antioxidants. However, there are many ways to refine maracuja oil; to get the most antioxidant benefit, we recommend industrial refined maracuja oil or cold-pressed maracuja oil. If you have sensitive skin, try combining this oil with a few drops of lavender or frankincense to get soft skin with a more even tone.

Close up of a purple flower
Maracuja oil is extracted from the passion flower and has strong antioxidant properties.

How to Find the Right Oil Products for You

Like any acne product, finding the right oils for you specifically can take some trial and error, but that can get time-consuming and expensive, so we want to help take some of the guesswork out of the oil-buying process. We found four of the most popular brands that make use of essential oils, both on their own and incorporated into products.

Young Living Oil for Acne

Young Living Oil is a great essential oils company, but can you use Young Living Oil for acne? Absolutely. Their wide variety of essential oils means you can mix and match them however you want. Do you have pimples and the many scars they leave behind? Simply combine tea tree and frankincense oils, or try something new from Young Living’s vast array of oils that includes options like ylang ylang, fennel, and myrrh. Don’t feel comfortable making combinations of your own? No worries, they have countless pre-blended essential oils. They even offer dietary essential oils. All of the essential oils we discussed are intended for topical application or aromatherapy, but some studies show that certain essential oils can provide more benefits if ingested. Young Living offers a wide variety of oils that are safe for adding to food. Young Living is a trusted brand that offers a variety of products to make your essential oil experience as positive as possible.

Doterra Oils for Acne

Doterra Oils is another company that offers seemingly endless essential oil options, and there are several Doterra oils for acne available. All six of the essential oils we discussed in this post are available through Doterra, often in multiple forms. There are the typical essential oils that come in liquid form with a dropper, but Doterra also has roll-on essential oils. Like Young Living, Doterra has several ingestible essential oils, but they come in a slightly different form. Instead of offering all kinds of essential oils in edible form, Doterra formulated a line of products called DigestZen that contains a blend of different oils. This blend comes in the typical liquid format and a soft gel tablet format, plus a roll-on format. Though the roll-on is obviously not ingested, Doterra claims it can still help with digestion when applied to the stomach or bottoms of the feet. Doterra can offer the basics of acne care, but we especially recommend them if you’re looking to jump into the essential oils game with both feet.

Bio Oil Acne Treatment

The Bio Oil acne, scar, and aging skin remedy is a bit different from Young Living Oils or Doterra Oils because it’s a product containing essential oils rather than pure oils on their own. Bio Oil contains calendula oil, lavender oil, rosemary oil, and chamomile oil along with other natural ingredients like vitamins A and E. However, it also comes with a whole host of extraneous chemicals. Chemicals aren’t inherently bad—after all, everything breaks down into chemicals—but they can cause issues for people with sensitive skin. Bio Oil is not a bad treatment for acne, but if you want to go the essential oil route, we like to recommend using pure oils or trying our products.

Exposed Skin Care

At Exposed Skin Care, we pride ourselves on creating the best combinations of natural and scientific ingredients to treat acne. Since we’ve spent this entire article singing the praises of various oils, it only makes sense that we would include such great ingredients in our own products. Specifically, we use tea tree oil and maracuja oil. Our Clearing Tonic contains maracuja oil (listed as passion flower extract on our website) to reduce free radicals, prevent inflammation, and soothe the skin. We make our products as gentle as possible, but it can never hurt to have a little extra maracuja oil to help avoid any potential irritation. Our Acne Treatment Serum aims to treat acne that you currently have, so of course we included tea tree oil. It’s a powerful natural antibacterial that also helps reduce inflammation and control oil, so we knew it had to be included in our acne treatment step.

Exposed product inside one kit.
Exposed Skin Care products contain tea tree oil and maracuja oil because we understand the power of natural ingredients like oils.

Don’t be scared to try oils for acne—you might be surprised at how well they work, even for oily skin.