7 Essential Oils for Oily Skin & Acne (Cleanse Your Pores)


Oily skin is not only visually unappealing, but also gives rise to other skin problems such as acne and inflammation. Although certain quantities of moisture are absolutely vital for the skin and its environment interactions, too much can prove harmful to its appearance and health. The overproduction and secretion of oils is visible in the face and clogs pores to form blemishes such as acne, whiteheads, blackheads, and dermatitis. If regular cleansing does not work in removing excess oil and your skin still appears shiny and unclean after washing, it may be time to refer to natural remedies that are easy to find and effective on the skin.

People with oily skin may have a shiny visage, enlarged pores, or blemishes such as pimples. Oily skin is caused by the release of excessive sebum, or facial oils, through the skin’s sebaceous pores. They meant to produce oils in order to prevent skin cells from drying out and maintain the external environment, which includes a plethora of symbiotic bacteria and other useful microorganisms. However, this is a delicate system that is easily overwrought by changes in internal regulation factors. Too little oil production leads to dry skin, whereas too much results in oily skin. The main reasons for alterations in oil production are hormones and genes.

Hormones, specifically androgens and cortisol, are among the most common causes, especially when it comes to sudden changes in oil production. Teens are especially susceptible to such skin disorders due to the hormone fluctuations they experience. This is also true for individuals experiencing stress or anxiety. The hormone release by any of these factors causes the sebaceous glands to mature, leading to heightened oil production. Such reactions in the sebaceous glands can also be attributed to genetics, as these will dictate the skin’s response to the hormones. Due to a person’s genes, he or she may be more susceptible to experiencing effects of hormonal changes.

The overproduction of oil consequently causes numerous issues with the skin that are difficult to fix. Excessive oil production can cause a malfunction of Propionibacterium acnes, a bacteria that normally lives on our skin by means of commensalism. This means that it is usually harmless and is simply a normal component of the many living microorganisms that are a part of the skin community.

However, when afflicted by environmental changes such as the fluctuation of oils present, this bacteria tends to engage in inflammatory activity which proves harmful to the skin. Although these factors are out of anyone’s control, some measures can be taken to counteract the effects.

Natural remedies are recommendable because they often have a wide range of helpful components which benefit not only the skin, but the body as a whole. Essential oils especially, with their purely natural origins and highly concentrated medicinal properties, are the perfect combatants for oily skin.

Top Recommended Essential Oils for Oily Skin

Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has long been revered in Australia for its healing capabilities, but only fairly recently have studies been conducted to pinpoint its exact benefits. The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties are best attributed to its compound terpinen-4-ol. Studies show that, in terms of topical usage, this oil is comparable with benzoyl peroxide, found in Oxy-5 and Benzac AC, which are typical doctor’s prescriptions for acne. However, tea tree oil does not exhibit the same side effects of redness and scaling, and is therefore more beneficial overall. Due to the fact that it is extremely strong, dilution is necessary to prevent drying out the skin completely.(1)

Clary Sage
Clary sage oil is extracted from the originally European and Middle Eastern herb of the same name. This essential oil is highly effective in sebum regulation if applied topically. It is contrived of many ester components, most notably that known as linalyl acetate, which contribute to this function. It is also anti-inflammatory and antibacterial in terms of microscopic activity.

When inhaled through a diffuser, it may also reduce stress and anxiety levels which impact levels of the hormone cortisol, which is a contributor of adult acne. Thus it can be used in multiple ways to generally improve skin conditions in addition to overall health.

Juniper Berry
Juniper berry oil exhibits many beneficial properties both through topical application and ingestion. It is derived of the berry of a coniferous tree native predominantly to Europe, as well as to Southwest Asia and North America. Its important pinene and cymene components render it antimicrobial and antibacterial. Multiple studies disclose this essential oil’s combative force against oil production and, by extension, acne and inflammation. Its cleansing and antioxidant properties make it a great toner.

It is also known to be a rubefacient, meaning it promotes blood circulation just beneath the skin, keeping the skin oxygenated. It is best to dilute the essential oil with coconut oil or a similar carrier oil, as high concentrations may be too strong. It is also considered a powerful stress-reducer when inhaled through the use of a diffuser, which is helpful to the skin too. This oil also happens to blend well with other essential oils such as geranium, lavender, and lemon. (2)

Rosemary Oil
Rosemary essential oil is counted among the greatest in balancing sebum levels of oily skin. The oil is extracted from the perennial flowers of an evergreen shrub of the mint family and is particularly found around the Mediterranean area. It possesses antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, and many other properties that are advantageous to the skin. The carnosols, carbonic acids, and rosmarinic acids of which the oil is composed are credited with these benefits.

It is a potent antibacterial and antiseptic oil that fights acne and other oily skin-related effects. The antioxidant properties also reduce cortisol levels related to stress. Blends such as with lavender, germanium, or lemon are easy to make at home as desired. It is recommended to dilute the rosemary oil with olive oil or another less active oil prior to topical application.(3)

Jojoba Oil
Jojoba oil is incredibly effective in reducing the skin’s oil production. It is taken from the seed of the jojoba plant, which is frequently found in the southwestern parts of the United States. It was often harvested and used by Native Americans for its incredible healing powers. When applied, this carrier oil mixes with our own skin-produced oils perfectly.

The structure of this oil’s molecules is so similar to that of our own sebum that the skin is tricked into thinking that it does not need to produce more oil. Therefore, it is successful in directly combatting the problem of oily skin, which in turn reduces associated issues such as acne and dermatitis. It can enter the pores and dissolve the clogging sebum and dirt, as well as provide valuable amounts of vitamins E and C. It may also be used as a carrier oil for other essential oils.

Geranium Oil
Geranium essential oil is extracted from the flowers and leaves of the South African plant of the same name. It undergoes a similar sebum regulation process as jojoba oil. It is said to reduce oil production through its molecular structure, which resembles our self-produced sebum. Furthermore, it is antibacterial and antiseptic. Quercetin, one of geranium oil’s most well-known flavonoid components, lends this oil its anti-inflammatory capability. It can also aid in hormone control through diffusion, which results in improved skin. Dilution of this oil is not necessary, except in the case of sensitive skin, and it can be easily combined with a number of other essential oils due to its neutrality.

Lemon Oil
Lemon essential oil exhibits a great range of healing power. Lemons are of Egyptian, Roman, and Asian origin and have long been used for their flavor and health benefits. Their beneficial qualities include antiseptic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and astringent properties. The vitamin C and citric acids, more prevalent in this than any other citrus, are known to be very healthy for the body and skin.

Lemon essential oil is highly recommended for combatting oily skin as a tonic. As it is very strong, dilution before topical application is recommended. It can be mixed with coconut, olive, or another less powerful oil for dilution purposes, or with lavender, geranium, or tea tree oil for added effect in diffusion.

Natural Remedies for Oily Skin and Acne

In addition to the use of these essential oils, there are other natural means of reducing the effects of oily skin. Homemade toners that contain the herbs with astringent properties listed above, as well as others such as sage or peppermint, wick away excess moisture. There are multitudes of foods that exhibit cooling, anti-inflammatory and astringent properties that work against oily skin and its consequences when applied topically, including egg whites, tomatoes, yoghurt, and cucumbers. Natural powders and face masks, such as those composed of clay or charcoal, remove sebum as well due to the fact that they soak up moisture. Simply apply the mask or powder and let sit for some time before washing off gently.

Peels and scrubs may also be useful in reducing oils, although should be used in moderation to prevent drying out the skin or irritating it. African black soap also is very healthy for the skin as a cleanser. The ingestion of flaxseed oil as a preventative measure contributes fatty acids which are great for the internal regulation of the skin’s activity.

These essential oils and additional practices are particularly useful in counteracting oily skin. Although quite expensive, especially in pure form (a 15-milliliter bottle tends to cost around $20), they are definitely worth their price. They are purely natural and obtained through natural means, which is most beneficial to the delicate environment of our bodies. Due to their phytochemistry, they are organically effective and thus avoid adverse side effects by working more closely with our own natural systems. When applied topically, they have a number of properties that reduce oil production by the sebaceous pores, often due to their astringent or tonic abilities as well as molecular structures. As an added bonus, they exhibit many helpful properties that counteract the unsightly consequences of oily skin such as acne and dermatitis. This is due to their many attributes including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-fungal qualities.

Inhalation of the oils through means of diffusion can reduce stress, which is one of the greatest culprits in creating hormonal imbalance, thereby inducing the overproduction of oils and subsequent acne issues. Any cautions that concern high concentrations should be carefully heeded, as some of the strong oils may be harmful to the skin if not used in moderation and dilution. Also, overuse of any of the above methods may irritate the skin and destroy the important oils and bacteria that sit on the surface and are vital to its health. The proper and regular use of these natural methods can lead to overall improved health and appearance of oily skin.


1. Carson, C. F., and K. A. Hammer. “Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties.” PMC, US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1360273/#r35.

2. Gavin, E., et al. “Solid Lipid Microparticles (SLM) Containing Juniper Oil as Anti-Acne Topical Carriers: Preliminary Studies.” NCBI PubMed.Gov, US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.

3. Thai, Tsung-Hsien, et al. “Rosmarinus Officinalis Extract Suppresses Propionibacterium Acnes–Induced Inflammatory Responses.” NCBI, US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.