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10 Essential Oils for Acne Treatment

Essential Oils for Acne Treatment

Essential oils offer a helpful option for those suffering from acne as they are packed with a variety of vitamins and nutrients that can help to nourish your skin. Take a look at some popular and potentially effective essential oils for acne treatment below.

10 Essential Oils for Acne Treatment

1. Thyme

Most commonly used as a spice, thyme in its essential oil form may help to ease your acne. Studies found that thyme exhibited the most effective antibacterial activity against Propionibacterium acnes, the bacterial strain responsible for causing acne. These studies found that a concentration of 0.25 percent showed the strongest antibacterial properties, killing P. acnes bacteria after five minutes.1

In a separate study, researchers looked at the effects of rhyme essential oil, along with thymol and cavacrol (two constituents of thyme), on a variety of experimental models, including ear edema, pleurisy, and edema. These models showed that thyme essential oil, as well as its active constituents, has an anti-inflammatory effect. Inflammation is one of the main contributors to acne as it can cause pores to clog and result in irritation. These studies on thyme essential oil suggest that it may help to regulate the inflammatory response.2

2. Cinnamon

A common baking spice, cinnamon is actually a type of tree bark that is known to help with digestion, inflammation, and other health issues. Studies have also found that cinnamon extracts and essential oils exhibit powerful antibacterial properties due to a variety of phytochemicals, including eugenol and cinnamaldehyde. These phytochemicals were found to inhibit the acne-causing bacteria P. acnes.3

In another study comparing cinnamon bark extract and honey, researchers found that the two worked in combination to effectively inhibit both P. acnes and Staphylococcus epidermis, two of the major skin bacteria known to cause acne.4

3. Rose

Rose essential oils can be made from the petals of various flowers in the rose species, most commonly Rosa centifolia and Rosa damascene.5 While rose essential oil is most often use in aromatherapy, it can be applied directly to the skin to provide moisture, reduce signs of aging, minimize scars, and clear up acne and blemishes. Studies have found that rose essential oil exhibits powerful antibacterial properties as well as antioxidant potential, allowing it to combat free radicals and prevent oxidative stress, which may contribute to inflammation and acne formation. These effects may come from the carotene, tocopherol (a form of vitamin E), and phenols found in rose essential oils.6

4. Rosemary

Rosmarinus officinalis, better known as rosemary, is a common herb that has shown high potential for antibacterial activity. In terms of acne in particular, studies have found that rosemary essential oil and extract shows a powerful inhibitory effect on the P. acnes bacteria. These studies suggest that certain bioactive compounds effectively suppressed the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines in cells stimulated by P. acnes, essentially preventing the inflammation that contributes to the formation of acne. However, further research is necessary to determine the constituents in rosemary essential oil that actually combat and suppress P. acnes.7

5. Tea tree

Tea tree oil, which comes from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia plant, has become a common addition to modern skin and hair care products thanks mainly to its natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, along with its ability to fight off bacteria, viruses, and fungi.8 This comes from the numerous active compounds found within tea tree oil, particularly terpinen-4-ol, which has been shown to increase the activity of white blood cells to not only fight off germs, but also aid in the healing of damaged or inflamed skin.9

These properties carry over to acne and skincare. Numerous studies have found that tea tree oil can help to reduce the severity and amount of acne. In one randomized, double-blind clinical trial, 60 patients with mild to moderate acne were divided into two groups that either received a topical placebo or a tea tree oil gel. Results were measured every 15 days for 45 days based on the total acne lesion count and a standardized acne severity index. By the end of the study, results showed that the tea tree oil was 3.55 times more effective than the placebo at reducing acne lesion count and 6.75 times more effective than the placebo at reducing acne severity.10

In a single-blind, randomized clinical trial, 124 patients with mild to moderate acne were given either a 5% concentration of tea tree essential oil or a 5% concentration of benzoyl peroxide lotion. Benzoyl peroxide is one of the most common and effective topical treatments for acne. Results of the study showed that tea tree oil was just as effective as benzoyl peroxide in reduced both inflamed and non-inflamed acne lesions while also exhibiting fewer side effects.11

6. Oregano

Oregano is a spice rack staple, but it may also be the acne solution that you’ve been looking for. Oregano on its own is known to possess powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties, but studies have found that oregano essential oil showed the strongest antimicrobial activity among seven essential oils and effectively inhibited both P. acnes and S. epidermis. Compared to a reference antibiotic, oregano essential oil also showed significantly greater healing effects. This suggests that oregano essential oil may be an effective acne treatment that can also prevent antibiotic resistance.12

7. Lavender

Studies have found that lavender naturally possesses antioxidant and antimicrobial activities to help eliminate surface bacteria that may contribute to acne. Topical application of lavender essential oil was found to regulate acute inflammatory response through prostanoids, nitric oxide, and inhibiting pro-inflammatory cytokines.13 Anecdotal evidence also shows that lavender essential oil has a natural sedative effect that can promote healthier sleep. Sleep plays an active role in balancing hormone levels and reducing stress, both of which can contribute to acne.14

8. Bergamot

Bergamot is a type of citrus fruit that has a distinct fragrance and flavor that sets it apart from your typical oranges and limes. Research shows that bergamot essential oil is effective as an antifungal and antimicrobial.15 Bergamot extracts have also exhibited anti-inflammatory properties, which may help to reduce redness, swelling, and clogged pores.16

9. Clary sage

Clary sage has been found to show prominent antimicrobial activity, allowing it to potentially combat acne-causing bacteria. Clary sage essential oil may also help to control sebum production. Sebum is a type of oil produced by the skin. Overproduction of sebum is one of the main contributors to clogged pores resulting in acne. By controlling sebum production, clary sage essential oil may help to prevent acne and signs of aging in both dry and oily skin.17

10. Lemongrass

Lemongrass essential oil exhibits strong antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Analyses of lemongrass extracts showed two major components, neral and geranial, that may contribute to these activities. Results show promise for lemongrass essential oil in preventing skin inflammation.18

Essential oils offer natural remedies for acne that do away with many of the side effects and drawbacks of benzoyl peroxide and other chemical treatments that may be too harsh on sensitive skin. Treating your skin gently with the right products and healthy diet as well as a regular skincare regimen is the best way to clear up acne and reduce inflammation.

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