The Best 17 Essential Oils for Acne (Backed by Scientific Research)

Using essential oils to treat outbreaks of acne is an effective way to treat this unsightly skin condition. Acne can affect people of all ages and its obvious symptoms are bumps, zits, and pimples on the face, neck, chest, and back. Bacteria, sebum (the oil the skin produces), and dead skin cells block pores on the skin, making them become inflamed, swollen, and fill with pus. Getting rid of spots, pimples, and pustules can be tricky, especially if the acne is moderate to severe.

The reason that many essential oils are great for treating acne is that they contain antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. For example, research into essential oils like tea tree oil, rosemary oil, lavender oil, and lemon oil have shown that they possess antimicrobial activity and are effective against acne-causing bacteria.

Some of these essential oils also help to relieve stress, which can sometimes aggravate or exacerbate acne.

You should also remember that when treating acne breakouts at home with essential oils, you need to eat healthily to help get rid of your acne faster. Although the relationship between diet and acne has been controversial and difficult to prove, as it’s hard to isolate the individual factors that could cause breakouts, some studies suggest a link between the two. 21, 22

Tea tree oil is one of the best essential oils for clearing up many types of skin infection. Tea tree oil contains antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties which make it an excellent oil for fighting acne. Tea tree essential oil is especially good for acne because it also helps to reduce inflammation from blocked pores as well. The power of tea tree oil to fight bacteria will help to get rid of blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples.

A study published in the journal Clinical Microbiology Reviews found that tea tree oil contains a compound called terpinen-4-ol which is effective against a number of bacteria strains. In fact, using 5% tea tree oil in a topical treatment helped to reduce the number of pimples on acne-infected skin. The tea tree oil remedy helped to reduce itching and dryness and had fewer side effects than prescription acne medication. 1

Hi Marlena, the experiment you refer to was done in vitro and not in vivo (see here). I have read an opinion by Robert Tisserand in his article, and he said that in this type of assay, the test substance is in direct contact with isolated cells in a petri dish. Without that direct contact, cell membrane damage will not take place at those low dilutions. He says that it’s an in vitro test, and you can’t assume that the same effect will happen when you apply lavender oil to the skin, because the skin has a protective barrier: the stratum corneum. However, even if you applied lavender oil to broken skin, it would still not be equivalent to the test using isolated cells, because the dermis is a complex matrix of tissue that contains those cells.

He says that any type of in vitro test is only suggestive of a possible effect. You can never assume that the same effect will take place in the living body. It might, it might not. Either the cytotoxicity described above will manifest as irritation, or it will be so negligible as to have no importance. The most telling evidence is the fact that lavender oil has been successfully used in wound healing at 4%, with no adverse effects.