If it seems counterintuitive to consider applying a facial oil to treat pimples and blackheads, well, this is actually one of the smartest things you can do to improve the health of your skin.
Turns out, essential oils contain antiseptic, antibacterial and calming properties that work wonders to clear up acne, whether your breakouts are due to hormone imbalances, stress or a diet rich in fatty foods.
But which oils should you choose? Experts suggest looking for botanical oils such as argan oil (to help control surface oil) and borage seed oil (to fight inflammation) and essential oils like tea tree oil (to help rid your skin of acne-causing bacteria), lavender, oregano, clary sage and neroli. And always start slowly, using a drop or two (in a carrier oil to dilute it) to see how your skin reacts.
“What’s great about certain plant-based oils is that they can help balance and calm acne-affected skin without clogging pores,” says Jeanette Jacknin, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, natural skincare expert and author of Smart Medicine for Your Skin.
For Vered Back, a master herbalist and aesthetician, it’s a matter of approach, with drugstore products that include benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid serving as more of an affront to the skin than a healing alternative.“Commercial products may work initially, but they will thin the skin over time,” she says. “It’s a harsh way to approach this problem.”
Here, our three favorite facial oils, custom-blended to reduce redness and control oil production:
Herb Rich Serum for Blemished Skin
With a list of ingredients (like blackberry, burdock, fennel and ginger) that sound as healing as an aromatherapy bath, this lightweight formula from de la terre skincare blends pure organic botanicals, including naturally occurring seed oils, which aid in regulating excess oil production, with a natural source of vitamin C to help shrink large pores and treat blemishes. $50; delaterreskincare.com
Therapeutic Balancing Face Oil
Crafted by Vered Back, the founder of Vered Botanicals, this protective serum is a delicate herb-infused oil that helps balance sebum (oil) production. It contains anti-inflammatory and antibacterial herbs (such as chickweed and speedwell) that work together to heal your skin—gently. $68; veredbotanicals.com
This acne-blaster, from Marie Veronique Organics, uses a blend of oils, including argan oil, borage oil and tea tree oil, to penetrate clogged pores, breaking up congested skin, smoothing rough patches, shrinking large pores and balancing even the oiliest of skin. $80; mvorganics.com