Essential oils for acne | 5 brilliant blends to clear and soothe

by Alison Angold CIDESCO ITEC

The best essential oils for acne

  • Basil
  • Bergamot
  • Chamomile
  • Eucalyptus
  • Frankincense
  • Grapefruit
  • Juniper
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Orange
  • Tea Tree
  • Ylang ylang

In this article, we are going to learn how to use essential oils for acne, and how to look after your skin while you have the symptoms of acne. We are also going to find out which are the essential skincare products you need to use during this time, to ensure your skin keeps healthy.

Often, the tendency with acne – any type of acne, is to treat it quite harshly – trying to strip the excess oil and scrub the spots away. However, this is not the case! By doing this you will be stripping the skin of its protective layer, the acid mantle, leaving your skin open to more adverse issues.

Acne needs to be treated gently and the skincare products you need to use – might surprise you – but can calm the skin so that it remains protected and the acne looks more soothed and less obvious.

Essential oils can add to this process by treating the cause of the acne and by their ability to penetrate the skin to the lower layers and treat the symptoms of the acne.

(This article may contain affiliate links, and as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases)

2 faces facing each other.  Essential oils for acne

What causes acne?

Acne is usually due to hormones.  During puberty, pregnancy, or menopause, the hormones in our body fluctuate and this can result in spots, appearing on the skin.

In puberty the oestrogen and testosterone increase and cause spots and or acne on the skin. Excessive oil is usually common during the teenage years, and this can cause blocked pores, which often lead to spots.

During menopause, oestrogen is depleting while hormones such as androgens and testosterone are likely to increase.  These are the hormones that can give us spots, acne, and unfortunately excess hair growth on the face.

Severe hormonal acne needs a doctor’s attention and possibly prescribed medication. The acne should calm down by treating your skin correctly, however, you may not be ‘rid’ of it until your hormones are more balanced. There are also essential oils that help to balance and regulate hormones.

When choosing skincare for acne, we need to look more at the ingredients of a skincare product, rather than just the brand of a specific product, but more about that later. Firstly let’s look at what we are dealing with.

Characteristics of acne include;

  • Cysts – hard, lumpy, sore spots
  • Excess oil on the skin’s surface
  • An increase in blackheads
  • Red, sensitive skin

Acne – How to treat it.


  • Treat the skin gently
  • Use a good routine
  • Use a moisturiser
  • Try essential oils as these can have a positive effect on the acne
  • Consult your doctor if the acne is widespread and sore.


  • Use harsh products
  • Apply ‘acne’ products
  • Use alcohol on the skin
  • Touch your skin too often
  • Squeeze your spots!!!

Essential oils for acne


Basil has a toning and antiseptic effect on the skin, meaning that it can prevent and remove the infection. In severe acne, an infection can be present in the form of whiteheads. The toning effect means that basil is a cleansing oil and will help remove impurities from the skin.

(Do not use during pregnancy)


This antiseptic and anti-inflammatory oil, will prevent any infection that might occur, and soothe any inflamed skin that might be present. Bergamot is very useful for acne that is sore and ‘angry’.

(Avoid direct sunlight to the area of application)


Soothing and calming on inflamed acne.

(Avoid during pregnancy)


Effective for use on outbreaks of spots due to its antiseptic and detoxifying properties.

(Incompatible with homeopathic treatments)


Balances sebum production in the skin, so good for use on excessively oily skin, without stripping the skin.


Grapefruit is an astringent oil, so it will help remove excess oil on the skin and can gently cleanse the surface of the skin.

(Avoid direct sunlight on the area of application)


A detoxifying oil that is effective in deep cleansing the pores of the skin, so useful for blackheads. Also effective at clearing acne.

(Do not use during pregnancy, or with kidney disease)


An all-round healing oil so very effective at reducing the possibility of scarring from the acne


An astringent oil that detoxifies oily skin conditions, so very good at clearing excess oil.

(Avoid direct sunlight on the area of application)


Brightens dull and oily skin, so reviving the look of oily or acne skin.

(Avoid direct sunlight on the area of application)

Tea Tree

Tea tree is antiseptic and anti-inflammatory and is the only essential oil that can be used neat on the skin. Dab a very small amount (on the tip of a cotton bud) directly onto a spot, to reduce the redness, while at the same time, reducing any infection that might be present.

Ylang Ylang

This oil has very good drawing properties, meaning that it can bring out spots and congestion that are underneath the skin. This will make the skin condition worse before it gets better, but often the congestion needs to come to the surface so it can be cleared.


Facial oil blends for acne

Blend these combinations of essential oils with a carrier oil, such as Jojoba oil or Avocado oil. Both are very beneficial to the skin and contrary to what you might imagine – will NOT make the skin more oily!

Bergamot & Chamomile – to soothe angry and sore acne

Basil, Lemon & Juniper – to clear & clean the skin of excess oil and spots

Ylang Ylang & Juniper – to detoxify and draw out congested skin and blackheads

Lavender & Orange – to heal & brighten dull, oily skin, and keep spots at bay

Frankincense & Orange – to use when acne has subsided to brighten and balance

Essential oil toner

Another effective way to use essential oils is in a toner. Take plain orange flower water and add a few drops of Grapefruit essential oil. Shake to combine and use as your daily toner. Remember to store it in a tinted bottle to protect the essential oil.

My recommended skincare products for acne

A cleansing balm or oil

Acne or breakouts can make your skin red and sensitive, which can then make the skin feel tight and dehydrated.  A cleansing balm will not only hydrate your skin but make it feel softer, smoother, and less angry.  Only cleanse in the evening. 

See my instructions and advice on CLEANSING HERE 

Evolve Gentle Cleansing Melt

Evolve Gentle Cleansing Melt

Ren Skincare Gelly Oil Cleasner


A toner is an essential part of your routine for acne. Not only does it remove any excess cleanser – which could build up congestion on the skin but it has an astringent effect on the skin, which helps to remove excess oil. An acid toner will gently ‘melt’ through the surface skin cells, and begin to dislodge the blockages in the skin’s pores, acting as your exfoliator. Tone morning and evening.

See more on the effects of a TONER HERE.

Pixi Glow Tonic  – for drier skin

La Roche Possay Clarifying Lotion – for oily skin

A facial oil

So you can either choose to blend your own essential oil, facial oil, as detailed above, or choose an aromatherapy-based product like these. The right oil will have a good effect on the skin.  The carrier oil Jojoba is ideal for oily skin as its structure is similar to the skin’s sebum and also stops the skin from over-producing oil.  Add some specific essential oils that treat acne, and it makes a really effective acne skin treatment.  

Decleor Aromessence Ylang Ylang

E’spa Balancing Face Oil


Retinol is used on acne as it helps to exfoliate the skin at a deeper level, so therefore will have the effect of unclogging pores, and reducing the size of acne breakouts.  New users to retinol need to be very careful, using it once or twice a week only to begin with and increasing slowly. Use retinol in the evening on cleansed and toned skin, allow to absorb, and follow with your facial oil.

Medik8 Retinol 6TR Serum

La Roche Possay 0.3% Vitamin B serum

A Spot Treatment

This is a product to use specifically on the spot to reduce size, redness, and inflammation.  And yes, this is a photo of a teen skin range product.  This is the only ‘teen’ product that I am recommending for adult acne! SHOP HERE for Eve Taylors Teen Active Clearing Gel.  Or my other recommendation is to use pure Tea Tree essential oil directly on the spot only. 


Whatever you do you MUST keep your skin hydrated.  The more hydrated your skin is the better it will look.  DON’T try and strip away all the oil! Your skin will only look parched, sore, sensitive, and angry AND you will lose your skin’s natural protection THE ACID MANTLE, and your skin will develop more spots and acne. 

About the Author
Alison Angold is a fully qualified (certified) beauty therapist, massage therapist, and aromatherapist from the UK. She has over 25 years of experience in this industry and has worked in a variety of beauty salons, spa’s as well as running her own successful beauty and massage business. Her career has allowed her to treat many, many clients, with skincare concerns, medical conditions, and a whole variety of other ailments and issues, which has enabled her to work closely with essential oils, prescribing specific blends for these clients to help with these conditions. Her qualifications in the use of essential oils and aromatherapy, allow her to share this knowledge with others, in a safe, reliable way.