Why do pimples appear on our faces at the most inconvenient times? While one or two can be problematic and sometimes embarrassing, it is nothing like when we experience acne.
Acne can become a chronic condition making us feel unattractive, unworthy, and self-conscious. Thankfully we have essential and carrier oils to help treat and heal our skin. Understanding the best carrier oils for acne is important because we don’t want to worsen the problem.
In our list of best carrier oils for acne, we have listed those that will help balance the body’s natural oil called sebum and will help reduce redness and remove any bacteria and build-up on sebum.
They provide good nutrients and help support the skin to heal, and be very soothing and moisturizing to the skin. All are great for acne-prone skin.
Before jumping into the best carrier oils for acne, let’s look at what acne is.
What is Acne?
Acne is an inflammatory skin condition that occurs when the hair follicles become blocked by the body’s sebum and dead skin cells.
Excess oil production is one of the critical factors in acne formation, along with inflammation, bacteria, hormones, nutrient deficiencies, poor diet, and genetics. However, oil can also be part of the solution. That’s why it’s essential to understand precisely how acne forms are necessary. It may seem counterintuitive to apply oils when your skin is oily and acne filled.
You’d think it’d be better to apply something that dries the skin. However, drying the skin out will signal the body to produce more oil, which is the opposite of what we want. So instead, we can use the best carrier oils for acne to unclog the pores and remove any debris or bacteria contributing to the acne.
It is important to know the difference between carrier and essential oils. Essential oils can dry the skin, but when used with carrier oils can be moisturizing, nourishing, and reduce inflammation. Carrier oils can do this alone but become more effective when some appropriate essential oils are added.
The Comedogenic Scale
The Comedogenic scale is a rating scale that scientists developed to rate how likely ingredients will clog pores when used in a cosmetic product. Anyone susceptible to acne breakouts and blackheads should avoid highly comedogenic oils, as they likely cause recurring acne problems. However, people with drier skin might prefer a more emollient oil toward the middle of the scale.
The scale uses a numbering system of 0 to 5. A zero denotes that the ingredient won’t clog pores at all, all the way to 5, which indicates that it is highly likely to clog the pores. So for acne-prone skin, you want to stick with oils rated between 0 and 2.
The scale is as follows:
Aromatherapy offers many treatment options for acne and pimples, and an excellent place to start is the carrier oils, which are the best carrier oils for acne, and which ones offer the best healing support.
1. Castor Oil
With its richness in ricinoleic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid with antibacterial and cleansing properties, it is no surprise that Castor Oil makes our list of best carrier oils for acne. This type of fatty acid can moisturize the skin and act as a humectant, meaning it helps the skin retain moisture by preventing water loss through the skin.
Castor Oil may cause an allergic reaction in some people when applied to the skin, so try using a small amount on a tiny patch of skin first and see how your body reacts.
On the Comedogenic Scale, Castor Oil has a rating of 1, meaning it has a very low likelihood of clogging the pores.
2. Hemp Seed Oil
Next on our list of best carrier oils for acne is Hemp Seed Oil. Several studies have shown that those with acne often have low levels of the essential fatty acid, linoleic acid, which can lead to skin surface build-up and clogging.
Oils high in linoleic acids, like hemp seed oil, might help. However, the comedogenic scale has a rating of 0, making it perfect for acne treatments as it won’t contribute to blocking the pores.
Apply a few drops after cleansing in the morning or at night to help repair the skin barrier, reduce inflammation, and provide antioxidant effects.
Hempseed Oil is the oil derived from the hemp plant seeds, a cannabis plant cultivated for non-drug use. The oil is legal and used in large quantities for cosmetics, nutritional supplements, and skincare. It is suitable for most skin types, especially oily and acne-prone skin.
3. Argan Oil
Beneficial to both skin and hair, Argan oil is rich in vitamin E, making it moisturizing, rejuvenating damaged skin, and protective of the skin’s barrier. Argan oil is light and silky and quickly absorbs into the skin, making it ideal for oily skin. It has a rating of 0 on the comedogenic scale, which is why it is listed on our best carrier oils for acne.
4. Almond Oil
Sweet Almond oil is one of the most popular carrier oils on the market, and deservedly so; it is versatile and can be used for many different things. On the Comedogenic Scale, Sweet Almond Oil has a rating of 2 which means it has a low chance of clogging the pores.
It is emollient, hydrating, and smoothing and contains Vitamins A and E and omega-3 fatty acids. The fatty acids can help soothe irritated skin and clean out blocked pores—another great addition to our list of best carrier oils for acne.
5. Jojoba Oil
Next on our list of best carrier oils for acne is Jojoba Oil. Jojoba, pronounced ho-ho-ba, is a waxy-like substance similar to our sebum. It can balance the skin’s oil production to reduce acne's effects by removing any excess natural oil in the pores.
Jojoba is helpful for most skin types and has a rating of 2 on the Comedogenic Scale. It comprises Gadoleic Acid (Eicosenoic Acid), Erucic Acid, Oleic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Stearic Acid, Behenic Acid, Vitamin E, and Vitamin B - all of which cleanse, hydrate, and soften the skin.
6. Rosehip Oil
No best carrier oil for acne is complete without adding Rosehip Seed Oil. It is rich in Vitamin C, linoleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid, and oleic acid. In addition, it works as an anti-inflammatory on the skin, which helps reduce the redness of acne. Still, it also has antimicrobial properties, which will help reduce the bacteria contributing to acne.
On the comedogenic scale, it has a rating of 1, making it a great addition to the skin care regimen for clearing acne. It is very unlikely to contribute to the blocking of the pores. A little goes a long way with Rosehip oil. A drop onto the end of your finger and then gently applied to the skin will work well.
Oils to Avoid for Acne
You may want to avoid several carrier oils if you have acne, as they block the pores and cause blackheads. Coconut oil has a rating of 4 on the comedogenic scale. Do not confuse it with Fractionated Coconut Oil, as it has a Rating of 2-3 and could be used. Coconut Oil is best for dry skin and the body, not the face.
Flaxseed Oil is also best for dry skin and the overall body uses and has a rating of 4 on the scale. Soybean Oil is another better for dry skin and overall body use; it has a rating of 5 on the comedogenic scale. Wheatgerm Oil has a rating of 5, and one that would be best avoided for acne treatments. It is helpful for dehydrated and damaged skin and is best used as a spot treatment.
That said, some people find them helpful, so it may be a trial and error to work out what oils are best for your skin type but keep in mind that some could be contributing to your acne issues.
Your Skin Care Regime
A good skincare routine is imperative to healing your acne. You don’t need a lot of expensive products or ingredients, just the quality ingredients, a little time, and some patience.
Before you use the best oils for acne on your skin, we suggest you do a facial steam treatment. This will help open the pores and release the dirt and buildup. To do this, you will need:
- Two towels
- One large bowl (preferably heatproof)
- Hot water
- Essential oil of choice
- Read our blog on the best essential oils for acne.
- Place your bowl on a flat surface with a dry towel underneath. The towel will help keep the bowl stable and prevent it from moving.
- Fill the bowl with hot water.
- Place the second towel around your shoulders, ready to pull over your head once you’ve added the essential oils to your water.
- Add a few drops of your essential oils of choice into the bowl, then hold your face over the steaming water. Next, pull the towel over your head to create a tent.
- Breathe slowly, and allow the steam and essential oils to unblock your pores.
Keep your head under the towel for 5-10 minutes. You may need to work up to this amount of time. We recommend face steaming once a fortnight. Don't add too many drops of essential oil.
Exfoliating the skin can help remove the dead skin cells, leaving the skin feeling smoother. The best place to exfoliate the face is while you're in the shower. Focus mainly on the T zone, which is your forehead, nose, and chin. Be gentle as possible so as not to aggravate or irritate the skin. Many dermatologists recommend exfoliation twice a week for acne-prone skin.
To make your exfoliant, you will need:
- Make only small amounts as we are not using a preservative
- Measure ingredients into a small bowl, and whisk until thoroughly combined.
- Using a small spoon, place it into a small glass jar
How to use the scrub:
- Use on slightly wet skin.
- Gently scrub all over the face with a small amount of the cleanser, making sure to avoid the eye area. Then, massage gently all over for about 30 seconds.
- Wet a clean washcloth and lay the cloth over your face for a few moments, then gently remove the scrub from your face.
- Rinse the cloth and gently work over the face to remove all scrub traces.
- Once you’ve gotten out of the shower, pat your face dry with a towel. Do not rub or scrub harshly.
A clay mask will help draw out and clear any impurities in the skin, as well as help reduce excess sebum on the skin. To make a clay mask, you will need:
- Place ingredients into a bowl and mix into a nice paste.
- Apply the paste to your face, and let it sit for 10 minutes. If irritation occurs, wash off immediately with a warm washcloth.
- After 10 minutes, remove with a warm washcloth.
- Use weekly. Some dermatologists suggest that acne-prone skin can benefit from clay masks up to 3 times a week, but it best starts once a week.
Acne is caused by dirt and bacteria blocking the pores, so we need to cleanse the face to remove debris and help our skin heal. To make your cleanser, you will need:
- 1 oz Castor Oil (Ricinus communis)
- 1 oz Sweet Almond Oil (Prunus dulcis)
- 1 oz Jojoba Oil (Simmondsia chinensis)
- 2 oz Castille soap
- 2 drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil (Melaluca angustafolia)
- 2 drops of Frankincense Essential Oil (Boswellia serrata)
- A small glass bowl
- A stirring spoon
- A glass bottle or jar
- In your clean bowl, add the Castor, Sweet Almond, and Jojoba Oils, then add the Tea Tree and Frankincense essential oils. Stir gently
- Add the Castile soap, and stir all ingredients together
- To use, add a small amount of the mixture into the palm of your hand, and rub lightly over the face. Rub in for 30 to 60 seconds. Avoid the eye and mouth area.
- Use a warm, damp face cloth to remove the mixture, and cleanse your face.
Serums can help heal and repair all skin types and play an essential role in treating acne. To make a simple serum, you will need:
- Place ingredients into a small bowl, and mix gently until all combined. Then pour it into a glass amber bottle with a dropper lid.
- Use AM and PM each day or as needed.
- Apply one drop of serum each to your forehead, cheeks, and chin and gently massage until absorbed.
- Pat any excess oil with a soft washcloth.
Diet Plays a Key Role
A healthy and balanced diet is crucial to healthy skin, as is water. As your largest organ, your skin reflects what’s happening inside. In addition, every cell in your body needs a good amount of vitamins, minerals, and essential amino to function correctly.
Feed it well, and it will serve you well. No, we are not saying give up on all the fun foods; we are saying do it with balance. Your body, mind, and skin will thank you for it.
The Psychological Effects of Acne
When addressing acne, it is essential to consider how the individual feels on a psychological and social level. “Assessing the severity of acne is an important part of managing the condition. The severity is rated not only on how the acne visually appears but also on the psychological and social effects it has for the individual” (Bensouilah and Buck, 2006).
The older the acne sufferer, the greater the distress it can have on the sufferer. So, when looking at an overall acne plan, make sure you add the practice of simple diffusion to help with the psyche. In addition, consider uplifting oils such as Bergamot and Frankincense.
You might adjust some of your acne treatments to include these oils, so you are addressing two things at once - the acne-prone skin and the psychological effects of dealing with the acne skin.
Carrier oils can help reduce the effects of acne by reducing inflammation, nourishing the skin with vitamins and essential fatty acids, and removing excess sebum and bacteria from the skin. These are vital factors when it comes to treating acne-prone skin. Our best carrier oils for acne provide the building blocks to better-looking, healthier skin, free from acne.
The carrier oils can be used individually to spot or treat your acne or in combination with essential oils for maximum benefit. Carrier oils are a vital component of your treatment and should never be underestimated - they have many beautiful qualities and properties.