Aromatherapy, Beauty / Skin Care

6 Best Skin Oils for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin

6 Best Skin Oils for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin_essential oils

Although great skin starts within,  we should never underestimate the benefits of good external care.  This is especially important for oily, acne-prone skin. There are many natural and highly effective ways to treat and prevent acne; one of the simplest and least expensive is the use of skin oils. It may sound like a contradiction, but the right natural oils can quickly rein in oily skin and keep acne under control.

The following skin oils have been proven especially effective for killing bacteria, controlling oil production, thereby preventing and treating mild and moderate acne. One of these essential oils can even soothe the nervous system and balance hormones, making it an effective preventative for adult acne.

Best Oils for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin

  • Tea tree essential oil
  • juniper essential oil
  • myrrh essential oil
  • clary sage essential oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • coconut oil

Tea Tree Essential Oil Acne Benefits

6 Best Skin Oils for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin_tea tree oil

The oil of the Melaleuca alternifolia tree of Australia has been used as a disinfectant and wound healer by its native Aboriginal tribes for thousands of years. Modern scientists have been able to prove what Australians already knew, tea tree oil can effectively kill bacteria, viruses, and fungus, thus preventing potentially deadly infections.

Tea tree oil is so effective at destroying foreign microbes that it can be used to treat a variety of common and uncommon skin issues. One common skin issue tea tree oil is used to treat is acne. And it is not just the large number of anecdotal accounts that prove tea tree oil’s effectiveness, there have been a number of clinical studies to back up the claim as well.

“A 2007 study suggests that tea tree oil is an effective treatment for mild to moderate acne vulgaris. Sixty patients were divided into two groups — one group was treated with tea tree oil and one was the placebo. The participants were followed every 15 days for a period of 45 days. The response to treatment was evaluated by the total acne lesions counting and acne severity index. … The results of the study showed a significant difference between tea tree oil gel and placebo in the improvement of the total acne lesions count, as tea tree oil was 3.6 times more effective than the placebo. In regard to overall acne severity, tea tree oil was 5.8 times more effective, proving that tea tree oil serves as an effective and natural treatment for mild to moderate acne.”1

Tea tree oil doesn’t just kill acne-causing bacteria, it dries out already formed whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples as it destroys the bacterium inside. Tea tree oil can even reduce the occurrence of sebaceous cysts by controlling sebum production and preventing the pores from becoming blocked and infected.

For all of these reasons, you’ll find tea tree oil readily available in a variety of over-the-counter acne treatment products; but it’s also available as 100% pure oil. As a spot treatment, pure tea tree oil is excellent for drying out and healing acne.

Tea Tree Essential Oil Warnings

Even the best natural treatments have their disadvantages. In the case of tea tree oil, its strong disinfectant qualities make it capable of drying out healthy unaffected skin in the same way it does sebum-filled acne bumps. So, if you have normal or dry skin, apply tea tree oil only where needed and/or dilute it in a base oil. Even if you have oily skin it may be wise to dilute tea tree oil for all-over oil-control and acne prevention, while spot-treating individual pimples with pure oil.

Juniper Essential Oil Acne Benefits

6 Best Skin Oils for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin_juniper essential oil

Juniper (Juniperus virginiana) essential oil has natural antibacterial and antimicrobial abilities, making it a popular home remedy for curing skin rashes and other irritations, as well as infections and acne.

“A 2005 study published in Pharmaceutical Development and Technology states that juniper berry oil has antibacterial activity that serves as an anti-acne topical solution. The antimicrobial activity of juniper berry oil was studied as it made contact with acne vulgare. When used with neat application or after dilution with carrier oils, juniper berry essential oil showed promising anti-acne activity; the modifications did not decrease the antibacterial activity of the oil.”1

So, whether the oil was used straight from the bottle or diluted in a base oil it remained just as effective.

Multiple studies have demonstrated that specific compounds in juniper – among them, alpha-pinene, p-cymene, and beta-pinene – are what make juniper berry essential oil such a powerful antibacterial agent capable of preventing and reversing acne. These compounds and others found in antiseptic essential oils are currently being studied around the world.

It appears that scientists are beginning to accept that natural remedies, like essential oils, maybe the answer to the increase in drug-resistant strains of microorganisms. A number of essential oils have already proven to be capable of destroying microorganisms that have become resistant to most pharmaceutical antibiotics.

“In nature, essential oils play an important role in the protection of plants. Essential oils contain a wide variety of secondary metabolites that are capable of inhibiting or slowing the growth of bacteria, yeasts and [molds]. Essential oils and their components have activity against a variety of targets, particularly the membrane and cytoplasm, and in some cases, they completely change the morphology of the cells. … The study of the synergistic effects among EOs and/or their components could be utilized both to make best use of their antibacterial activity and to reduce their concentrations required to achieve a particular antibacterial effect for food safety and for health purposes.”2

And it’s not just juniper’s ability to kill bacteria and microbes that make it useful for treating acne. Juniper essential oil’s soothing and antiseptic properties make it capable of unblocking pores, controlling oily skin, relieving irritation, curing general skin infections, and even various forms of dermatitis.

Myrrh Essential Oil Acne Benefits

6 Best Skin Oils for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin_myrrh essential oil

Most famous for being one of the world’s first Christmas gifts, myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) has been used as a medicine for thousands of years. It’s an excellent choice for cleaning and treating wounds, and preventing infections. Today, the most common use of myrrh oil is as a fungicide and antiseptic. Myrrh is more than capable of killing the bacteria that causes most types of acne.

“Myrrh oil can help fight certain types of bacteria. For example, it seems in lab studies to be potent against S. aureus infections (staph). The antibacterial properties of myrrh oil seem to be amplified when it’s used along with frankincense oil, another popular biblical oil.”3

And, unlike most other antiseptic essential oils, myrrh will not dry out the skin. It can actually help maintain healthy skin by soothing chapped and cracked patches. Myrrh is commonly added to natural skincare products to improve moisture retention. Myrrh is said to be one of the world’s oldest anti-aging treatments, allegedly used by the ancient Egyptians to slow the aging of the skin and maintain its health. This is not impossible. After all, the ancient Egyptians did use myrrh for embalming the dead. Also, myrrh’s ability to hasten the healing of skin has been scientifically proven.

“A research study in 2010 discovered that topical application of myrrh oil helped elevate white blood cells around skin wounds, leading to faster healing.”3

Clary Sage Essential Oil Acne Benefits

6 Best Skin Oils for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin_clary sage essential oil

The effects of clary sage (Salvia sclarea) on acne are multifaceted. The oil reduces skin inflammation, regulates the production of oil in the skin, curbs the growth and spread of bacteria, supports hormonal balance, and alleviates feelings of stress and anxiety. Clary sage’s benefits can be accessed both through topical use and the olfactory system (our sense of smell).

Since stress and hormonal changes are the most common causes of acne in adult women, clary sage is a particularly great choice for women with PMS but may work for men who experience stress outbreaks as well.

“A 2014 study published in the Journal of Phytotherapy Research found that the inhalation of clary sage oil has the ability to reduce these cortisol levels by 36 percent. Researchers concluded that clary sage has a statistically significant effect on lowering cortisol levels, and it has an antidepressant effect, improving mood and fighting anxiety. … A recent study published in Advances in Dermatology and Allergology found that clary sage essential oil is an active natural antimicrobial agent. After testing the efficacy of clary sage on multiple drug-resistant bacterial stains, clary sage oil was active against bacteria that leads to skin infections that can lead to acne breakouts or skin irritation.”1

Jojoba Oil Acne Benefits

6 Best Skin Oils for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin-Jojoba oil

Jojoba oil (which is actually a liquid wax) is the perfect base for any of the aforementioned essential oils. Jojoba is very similar to the sebum produced by our skin and on its own can help to prevent and treat acne breakouts.

Jojoba boosts skin health by working as a protectant and cleanser. It is rich in iodine (82%) and fights harmful bacteria growth that leads to acne breakouts. Jojoba can speed up skin healing, reduce skin lesions, unclog both pores and hair follicles. And because jojoba also contains vitamin E it helps to reduce scarring and may fade old scars.

“[Jojoba is] commonly used to treat acne, psoriasis, sunburn and chapped skin. It’s also used by people who are balding because it encourages hair regrowth. Because jojoba is an emollient, it soothes the skin and unclogs hair follicles. … When using jojoba oil containing vitamin E, it’s absorbed by the epidermis layer of the skin and can be used to treat sunburn, which is one of the leading causes of skin cancer. Because it speeds up cell regeneration, it can also be used to treat scars, acne and wrinkles.”4

Coconut Oil Acne Benefits

6 Best Skin Oils for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin_coconut oil

Coconut oil is another excellent base for acne-prone skin. It contains high amounts of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). Almost 50% of those MCFAs are lauric acid, which can kill the bacteria that causes acne; but lauric acid is not the only MCFA in coconut oil that has established its effectiveness against bacteria.

“Lauric acid may help kill harmful bacteria, fungi and viruses in the body. On its own, lauric acid has been shown to kill P. acnes. … In one study, lauric acid was more effective at killing these bacteria than benzoyl peroxide — a popular acne treatment. It also showed therapeutic potential against inflammation caused by the bacteria. … In another study, lauric acid was combined with retinoic acid. Together, they inhibited the growth of the acne-causing skin bacteria. … Coconut oil also contains capric, caproic and caprylic medium-chain fatty acids. While not as powerful as lauric acid, some of these are also effective against the bacteria that cause acne.”5

Coconut oil only kills bacteria when applied directly to the skin. So, skin care products – such as creams and lotions – that contain coconut oil among their many other ingredients will probably be ineffective against the bacteria that causes acne. This is also why only pure coconut oil should be used for oil pulling.

Coconut oil appears to be an effective moisturizer for all skin types, not just oily acne-prone skin. Coconut oil is very hydrating to the skin and is able to penetrate to a deeper level than the average product because of its low molecular weight and the way it bonds with proteins. And although coconut oil has only recently been promoted for its acne-fighting abilities, it has been used as an all-over body moisturizer by those in the know for many years.

How Much Oil Should You Use?

Considering the cost of some of these oils, you will probably be pleased to know that you will only need a few small drops to treat your acne. And if you use a base oil, you can stretch your essential oils even further. You can also combine the essential and base oils however you please, so long as the proportions (ratios) remain the same.

I believe the guidelines provided by famed aromatherapist ValerieAnn Worwood are the most useful for using essential oils, regardless of the purpose.

Min-Max drops of Essential Oil Added to Measurement of Base Oil
0-1 drops 1/5 teaspoon
2-5 drops 1 teaspoon
4-10 drops 2 teaspoons
6-15 drops 1 tablespoon
8-20 drops 4 tablespoons

amber and cobalt bottles

If you mix more oil than you can use in one day, I strongly suggest you store it in an amber or cobalt glass bottle. You will be able to use the blend for days, if not weeks, and the dark glass will protect the essential oils from light. Exposure to light will weaken and eventually destroy the medicinal properties of essential oils.

If you have any questions or comments on any of these acne-fighting skin oils or you wish to share your personal experiences with any of them, comment below or tweet me on Twitter.


1Ruggeri, Christine, CHHC. “Top 4 Essential Oils for Acne”. Dr. Axe, November 5, 2015. Web. October 2018

2 F. Nazzaro, F. Fratianni, L. De Martino, et al. “Effects of Essential Oils on Pathogenic Bacteria”. Pharmaceuticals / MDPI, December 2013. Web. October 2018

3Boldt, Ethan. “10 Proven Myrrh Oil Benefits & Uses”. Dr. Axe, December 22, 2014. Web. October 2018

4Ruggeri, Christine, CHHC. “Jojoba Oil – Skin & Hair Healer and Moisturizer”. Dr. Axe, July 12, 2015. Web. October 2018

5McDonnell, Kayla, RD. “Does Coconut Oil Treat Acne or Make It Worse?” Healthline, September 18, 2016. Web. October 2018

UpNature. “Top 29 Amazing Tea Tree Oil Uses and Benefits Uncovered”. UpNature, March 12, 2018. Web. October 2018

CF Carson, KA Hammer, and TV Riley. “Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties”. Clinical Microbiology Reviews, January 2006. Web. October 2018

Henderson, Laura Wallace. “Tea Tree Oil for Sebaceous Cysts”. Livestrong, August 14, 2017. Web. October 2018

Smith, Lori. “Can Jojoba Oil Treat Acne”. Medical News Today, April 30, 2018. Web. October 2018

Worwood, Valerie Ann. “The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy”. New World Library, 1991. Print.

Andrea Lewis
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