Have Oils Helped Your Acne? Here Are Six That Might

In these parts we’ve long known that natural oils feed the skin—and they’ve even helped some of us with our breakouts, right? But a new group of natural oils have focused in on blemishes by including acne-fighting actives in the mix now too. Well+Good has reviewed some of their faves below. Has oil helped your acne?

It might sound contradictory (and maybe downright scary!), but one of the best things you can do for a bout of blemishes is to slick your skin with oils. Not with pore-clogging mineral oils, but with plant-based ones that can help balance and calm your adult skin.Crayon Playland 4 en 1 Combo

“Treating oil with oil balances skin,” says Vered Back, an herbalist, facialist, and beauty-product formulator. “Drying it out with harsh ingredients just engages it in a battle.”

Back, who’s the founder of Vered Organic Botanicals, says her top seller is an acne treatment oil blend. “There are so many people with problem skin, and nobody really dared to think about making an oil for them.” But now, they are. Here are six oil blends for acne-prone skin we love…

1. Vered Therapeutic Balancing Face Oil

This handcrafted line is all about the love of oils. They’re handmade by organic-obsessed master herbologist and facialist, Vered Beck, who uses anti-inflammatory and anti-viral herbs (including rare ones like niaouli, chickweed, and speedwell) that vary with the available crops and promote deep healing.

$68, veredbotanicals.com

2. Marie Veronique Organics Treatment Oil

This is a perfectly balanced acne-fighting cocktail. Argan oil controls surface sebum, borage oil fights inflammation (thanks to its gamma-linolenic acid), and tea tree oil helps banish acne-causing bacteria. Use it alone or as part of the company’s Acne Relief Kit for even clearer skin.

$80, mvorganics.com

3. Susan Ciminelli Oil Control Formula

This word-of-mouth wonder helps clear pimples and blackheads. It contains thyme, which you want because it was found to be more effective against acne than benzoyl peroxide (the controversial main ingredient in Proactiv). And a trio of anti-bacterial extracts—lemongrass, lavender, and cajeput bark—gives it a sinus-clearing scent.  This simple blend of oils is actually super active, so it’s probably not a fit for super sensitive, inflamed skin.

$105, susanciminelli.com

4. In Fiore Pur Face Oil Concentré

Sometimes the best solution comes from old-world practices. Like this apothecary-style blend of wild-crafted oils. It’s a beautiful skin-balancer powered by neroli, nature’s stress-buster. On breakout-prone skin it brings down redness, eases congestion, and slows the pimple-making process to a halt. And a dash of rosehip-seed oil helps give skin back it’s healthy, even glow.

$30-$60, infiore.net

Keep reading about the last two here.

39 Responses to “Have Oils Helped Your Acne? Here Are Six That Might”
  1. Ny says:

    Oil blends are great, I’ve had the Vared on my list to try. I think plain oils are also good, nigella oil works well to balance oily/acneic skin too.

  2. Caroline says:

    My current DIY is tamanu and argan oil with lavender, thyme and rosemary EOs. Super healing.

  3. C says:

    It was only when I was finally ready to turn to oils that my acne and bumps cleared completely. Oil cleansing with a d.i.y. blend of castor oil and jojoba got rid of the little and large bumps of keratosis pilaris (my face had a Braille encyclopedia’s worth of bumps on it before) and has put the kabosh on new acne from forming. Now my skin is as smooth as the skin on a babies bum. I use organic jojoba oil d.i.y. blended with a bit of lavendar, tea tree, eucalyptus, geranium, and helichrysm to moisturize, smells awesome! This routine has cleared me, as well as taking Calcium d-glucarate and DIM to get rid of excess estrogen in my body to prevent the rogue hormonal breakouts during my menstrual cycle and ovulation. I also love probiotics, fish oil, multivitamins, green drinks, and being mindful to not pick at my skin. After 17 years of battling moderately severe acne and bumps I am glad I never totally lost the faith that I could come clean and clear.

  4. Rebecca says:

    I’m most likely to use a single oil or my own blend, so I can control how much of each oil I’m getting. I choose based on needs that may change with my cycle or the seasons. My favorites are great for keeping skin healthy and avoiding acne, as well as healing from acne. Among them are Kahina’s argan, La Bella Figura’s Barbary Fig, and raw coconut oil. Of those, I’d say the coconut oil (mixed with a little lavender) is best on the acne treatment front. A brand blend I really like is Stark’s Cypress – feels very detoxing, calming and healing. That’s the one my son uses for his pre-teen acne and it really makes a major difference in his skin.

  5. Liz says:

    Unrelated, but this just in: Huge sale at Nubonau!! 30% off a bunch of brands for the next week using the promocode SAVE30. Enjoy!

  6. Moksha says:

    I had very sensitive and acne prone skin for a long time. I was using external prescription medications to fight it. I have tried multiple blends of oils but it has caused too much blocking of pores for me. The huge shift for me was acknowledging the hormonal link between what I was eating and my acne. I cut out dairy completely from my diet and started taking omega-3s every day. After three months the acne had cleared completely. My skin was still somewhat sensitive to what I put on it. For the last several months I have simply been using different gentle organic cleansers, and then smearing aloe all over my face. I also use a Dr Haushka eye cream and face cream (the face cream is very rarely used…only if I have a dry patch). The difference is astonishing. My skin is totally clear. Aloe is amazing (it is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, hydrating, etc….and is really cheap)!

  7. Jaime says:

    I love the Stark oil as well!
    I have had amazing results cleansing my face with almond oil in a dropper bottle that I add a few drops of lavender and rosemary to.

  8. Anya says:

    I have to admit – I’m too scared to really investigate oil on my face! I’ve tried jojoba oil mixed in my face cream, and an oil-based serum for acne/sensitive skin, but this left me worse off. I get cystic acne when I try to use oil. Currently my acne is low-level, although I’d love my skin to be clearer and to even out my skin tone.
    Has anyone had luck with cystic acne and oil serums? I’m not sure if I would be brave enough to try again though.

  9. Katrina says:

    I’m also in the pure oil camp, and my skin is never looking back! Kahina Argan for day, Sibu Sea Buckthorn Seed at night, and sunflower oil for oil cleansing have completely transformed my skin. The sunflower oil seems to be the biggest influence, as it actually cleans my pores. It leaves my skin glowing and I can feel the bead-like would-be pimples rolling out of my pores while I massage the oil in. It’s pretty exciting! :D

    Thank you NMDL and all you awesome commenters for convincing me to believe in oil! Now I cringe when I overhear someone touting a product as “oil free.” ;)

  10. Nicole says:

    Oils were a godsend to me when I was battling a bout of stubborn acne that came from a super-chemicalled-up sunscreen I wore for one day while desperate in the Vegas sun. Kahina Serum was my stepping stone into many others, which now include Suti’s oils, Vered’s and Dr. Alkaitis’. I love, love, love oils, and top it all off with Tammy Fender’s Intensive Repair Balm. My skin has never been happier, healthier!

  11. Victoria says:

    Thank you Melisse and Well+GoodNYC for including our Tesoro Mediterranean Blend as one of you favorite oils for acne treatment. It also works well to prevent ingrown hair according to our male customers that use it after shaving!

    @Anya, sometimes when you’re experiencing cystic acne and you’ve made all the connections with makeup, toxic product buildup, environmental stressors, food allergies, etc. and you’re ready to tackle your skin issues, you have to be willing to get worse before you get better. Which means your skin will begin a natural detox process and bacteria and yeast will begin to die off and cause a ruckus that will make you crazy and want to stop new treatments. As a matter of fact, when I speak to people who have tried oils and have chronic acne this is the explanation I always hear, that they tried, but the problem grew worse and they gave up. If you can and are willing to try for a period of time allow a good oil based treatment to help detox until your sebum production begins to balance and bacteria and yeast begins to die off and your skin clears. I never would have believed this if I hadn’t tried it myself! I don’t want you to believe you’ll never have another pimple again, but I’m hoping you’ll try a different remedy as it seems you’ve probably tried many options. I’m also not trying to sell you my product line per se, but encourage you to find good plant based oils with nutritive vitamins like Vitamins C and E and minerals like zinc, etc. I could go on and on because they really work and the reason so many people are turning to pure oils as moisturizers and skin remedies for difficult skin is the benefits and effects are outstanding.

    Give oils a chance and try them pure not mixed into a water based product like a lotion or cream, which may contain preservatives and chemicals to keep it emulsified. Only natural creams use natural emulsifiers and some contain beeswax which may be clogging when you’re trying to detox and heal your skin. Also, clean your skin with honey and allow the therapeutic enzymes to help kill off bacteria that may be contributing to your acne. I hope this long explanation helps a little.

    Good luck to you!

  12. Shentel says:

    I’ve been using a concoction of neem oil and coconut oil. I’m breaking out like crazy because I just started using it, but I know it’s clearing my skin. I’m so excited to see the end results.

  13. Sara says:

    Thanks for a great post, especially as it includes a few lesser-known brands that I don’t typically read about on other blogs or see on most of the natural/organic online boutiques. I would love to hear any impressions on which of these tends to be most effective, as well as whether they are really more effective than most do-it-yourself concoctions (such as the fantastic ones mentioned here). I’m a grad student who prioritizes high quality products where possible, but over $50 for a single product is way out of my price range… especially considering that I don’t skimp on organic produce, hormone-balancing herbs, and other “wellness” items that are just as critical to my inner and outer beauty. I realize that everyone is different, but considering the lofty price tags on these particular items, I’d love to hear thoughts on whether it’s actually worth it for someone on a budget (read: it’s worth it if they work circles around other products!). Thanks to anyone who shares their experience!

  14. Stephanie says:

    Love this post and everyone’s comments on oil! Anyone tried Evan Healy’s Neem Immortelle Purifying Infusion? The product description, like those mentioned here, says it is healing for acne. Curious if anyone has tried?

  15. Stephanie says:

    Caroline, your moisturizer sounds incredible! Will you give away your secret recipe – how much of each oil and EO do you mix together? Also, question for “C” – I am not familiar with DIM? Thanks!!!

  16. Joy says:

    @Anya I had horrendous cystic acne from the moment I hit puberty until about 4 months ago. That’s 12 years! The only thing that had ever cleared my skin was the horrible, evil drug Roaccutane that I would never recommend to anybody ever. And then I discovered this site and heard about honey and oils and all sorts. So now I have a pretty simple routine: take off make up with coconut oil, if I’m wearing any (and that ‘if’ is a really big deal for someone who spent 12 years wearing about four layers of foundation every day!), wash face with honey, moisturise with jojoba oil. Whereas before I was constantly trying to dry my skin out (and I have yet to meet a doctor or beautician who doesn’t still recommend this as the best course of action), now I am all about my skin feeling happy and moisturised. I had a nasty couple of months at the start, I won’t lie about that. And it was so tempting every time another cyst popped up right in the middle of my face to slather it in prescription creams. But I didn’t, I just rode it out. And now I have entirely cyst free skin and just get the occasional tiny spot when I’ve been eating or sleeping badly, just like a ‘normal’ person.

    I really think when you have a problem like cystic acne, the less you do with it, the better. I hope you find some combination of stuff that works for you!

  17. Rebecca says:

    @Sara, my opinion is you are better off spending big on good nutrition, especially in the grad school stress days. I like to buy my fancy oils, but I wouldn’t do that at the expense of fresh organic food, for example. Especially if you like a single oil or simple blend, you can get good quality oils like coconut at the grocery store, or many others at Mountain Rose Herbs. There are companies that I think just have a talent for blends, like Evan Healy and Stark, that you can get for under $50. Once you find the right oil for your particular skin, I think you can easily do a nice hydrosol (important, in my opinion) plus a nice oil or two all for under $50.

  18. Kate says:


    I’m not really affected by acne — a pimple around my period, and that’s it — but I DO have those Keratosis pilaris bumps on my jaw line and arms. It used to be all over my face, but I was able to clear up most of it by eating gluten-free and dairy-free. BUT after reading these comments, I added some Rosemary and Lavender EOs to my coconut oil and used it to clean my face. After two. days. the bumps were gone. TWO DAYS!

    Thank you, wonderful commenters!

  19. Emma B says:

    I don’t use fancy oil blends or cleansers. I have come to accept that my skin is too sensitive, so they do more damage than good. I don’t cleanse my face anymore. I use a gentle makeup remover at night, and I use vitamin e oil as well as coconut oil with a bit of tea tree oil. With this very simple routine my rosacea pimples have been very much under control.
    I’ve been getting a lot of bumps on my hairline and neck though (back of the neck too, which is weird). I think my shampoo may not agree with me… I’m using Acure and Aubrey’s…

  20. Caroline says:

    @Stephanie its really simple. I really hate the smell of tamanu, but my skin loves it so I have to dilute it. I take 1/2- 2/3 oz tamanu, then make up the difference with Argan oil and/or rice bran oil. Then I add the rosemary and laveder, 10-20 drops each and a few drops of Thyme for its super acne fighting powers.

  21. Chloe says:

    @Sara I tried a couple of Kahina products and they made me break out horribly, and I’m not even prone to acne. So I don’t believe that more expensive products are better. Acure Organics have an argan oil for $15 that I use, I healed up nicely after the breakout as soon as I switched to this. Evan Healy also has some great products, moderately priced.

  22. Renee says:

    @Emma B

    I know that Acure works for a lot of people, but when I was using it I noticed that the top of my forehead and all around my hairline started to break out a lot more than normal. Something in the conditioner (because I never tried the shampoo) was just too much for my skin. When I switched to Intelligent Nutrients all of those problems went away.

    Speaking of, oil clensing has never really worked for me. I find that coconut oil breaks me out more than it helps me and olive oil always left my even dry skin feeling greasy. However, I got a pai clenser and all of these pesky bumps on my forehead are FINALLY going away! Its great! I have been struggling with random break outs ALL over my forehead for a couple of years not and it is the one thing that seems to have gotten my skin at least mildly under control and I hope it stays that way!

  23. Elin says:

    I remove my makeup with organic extra virgin olive oil on cotton pads every evening and it has done wonders for my acne!

  24. Erika says:

    I love oils for my face, but you can find very effective ones that aren’t crazy expensive like the products mentioned here (unless you’re just buying them for the packaging). I love straight jojoba, rose hip seed & argan.

  25. Beth says:

    I love oils as well and for acne I definitely recommend tamanu oil. I also have to say that I agree with others here, you don’t have to go expensive to get results.

  26. GG says:

    I have normal/combo skin, with a rare bump appearing 1x month. These used to fester for days beneath the surface until finally coming to a head that I would extract and then scab/scar and remedy w/vitamin e (straight out of the vitamin capsule). Obviously, this resulted in constantly having a red mark on my face that I needed cover-up… Several years ago I tried Mario Badescu and this seemed to help heal those bumps faster. But, being interested in cleaner products, about a year ago I discovered emu oil. For the past year, whenever a bump starts forming, even if it is wayyy beneath the surface, I just cleanse (veg. glycerin soap from the grocery store), tone (witch hazel) and apply emu oil on the area. It’s magical – not drying, although I wouldn’t use it under my eyes or on dry skin specifically. I concentrate on the bumps with it and then use argan or stark’s cypress oil on the rest of my face and I have a subtle glow. The emu oil erases the bumps before they even surface/become a problem. The argan oil has been healing old scars (so does vitamin e from the capsule, but it seems to take longer). All this to say, if nothing else works give emu a try!

  27. Lisa says:

    Hi all,
    I have a question I hope someone can answer. Is there actual research to back up the claim that if an oil is making your skin break out even more, this is a good thing because it is detoxing? I see this claim repeatedly, and it sounds gimmicky to me, as in keep using our product, even if your skin is screaming no. I have used different oil blends, mostly with success. There are some brands and oils that make me break out, and I stay away. I know that RetinA (yes, I know, not at all green but bear with me) has been proven to work within 4 months, but the first 4 months there is a detox process where your skin can get worse. RetinA has been studied and researched and this is how it works. Is there really such research for oils? Thanks for any input on this!

  28. Rebecca says:

    @Lisa, I’ve wondered about that for a long while, but have not looked into it deeply yet. I did a quick internet search on a couple different occasions, and it revealed no actual evidence. What’s the evidence for detox with oil cleansing? And, if there is such a thing as a “detox” period, how would one tell the difference between that and a reaction to a product? Interesting questions, anyone know??

  29. Chloe says:

    @Lisa, great point. Are we all being tricked by false advertising? Before going clean, I used Paula Begoun products. My skin never looked better, but once I started looking into the ingredients (all dirty) I worried about long term effects and I got off all of her stuff. She is very research based, but she apparently does not believe in clean vs. dirty products. So take this for what it’s worth, she thinks emu oil and the oil cleaning method are crap. I also added an interesting post she did on false claims by companies. I think this is definitely worth more research, and a separate post! NMDL, do you have any info on Paula Begoun, and how she does her research?


  30. Holly says:

    Does anyone have any recommendations for oils to use on acne scars, which won’t lead to more spots? I have tried bio oil but I am a bit wary of it, was thinking of trying rosehip oil – has anyone tried this? I don’t cleanse with oil but should maybe give it a go. However I do use a little lavender oil on spots and it really helps (plus cleansing with a honey and lemon juice mask in the mornings, and moisturising with aloe vera).

  31. fern says:

    @Holly: Rosehip oil really, really helps. It takes a while, but it does the job. Pai’s is my favorite. Yuli Cell Perfecto PM also works really well – my extensive acne scars are very reduced after 3/4 of a bottle – I don’t think I’ll repurchase it because it’s expensive but it was definitely worth the one bottle.

  32. Beth says:

    @ Holly-Rosehip seed oil can exacerbate acne and while it can and does help with scaring if I start putting it on a pimple that in not 100% done (no more inflammation) it can re-fester. Some people are fine using it on acne prone skin and Fern is right, the one from Pai is lovely and much stronger than lower grade Rosehip seed oils but if you check out the Mountain Rose Herbs website you will see that they do not recommend it for acne prone skin. I only use it on the tops of my cheeks and brow bones where I never break out.

    I know I’ve said it before but Tamanu oil is my acne go to and again, if you read the write up on Mountain Rose Herbs there is some promising research into it’s effectiveness in treating scars. I am very lucky in that I don’t scar much at all but I will say that since I started using it my acne heals quickly and the residual marks fade fast.

  33. Beth says:

    Oh! and I meant to say I am also curious about the skin purging thing. In the past i have always stopped using a product if I started t break out.

  34. Daria says:

    Holly – I too tried bio oil! Meh! I read BeUty Huile and they said it has mineral oil in it!!! I dunno why it’s so popular?!
    I like Yuli cos its really light. I’m going to try Labellafigura next, too.

  35. Carla says:

    Great post. I love reading what other women are using. Oddly enough, I broke out badly with Stark, but have had wonderful results with Jurlique Balancing Facial oil. It smells wonderful too. I wish they would make a perfume out of the scent.

  36. Cassie says:

    I was wondering if anyone’s used Aesop’s facial oil and if they are as clean as rms or any of the other oils in this post?

  37. Paul says:

    I found using tea tree oil is quite effective for your skin as this does not contain benzoyl peroxide, which can have some side effects when trying to clear acne. Although this does clear it up it can leave skin very dry. This is when using a oil based cream like tea tree can help.

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  39. PatC says:

    I have struggled with cystic acne since turning forty. At first I tried the toxic cocktail of BP and all those nasty things, resulting in a horribly red and peeling face with cystic acne. Then I went to the dermatologist, who put me on Obagi, which was like applying toxic waste on my face!

    I’m so glad I found your blog! I have been trying various oils with great results (Sea Buckthorn cleared up an excema outbreak overnight!), but I was still getting the occasional cyst. I tried Enessa Clove Oil and have had great success with that. Not only does it clear those little undergrounders almost overnight, but it has reduced the size of an imbedded cyst that no dermatologist was able to clear with topical treatments. lasers, or IPL.

    And since changing to oils, I have stopped using those ridiculously expensive products like Obagi, Skin Medica, La Mer, etc. I love the glow I get from the Sea Buckthorn, I tried the Marula Oil which I thought was a little rich for me, and I love camellia oil on my hair for a treatment.

    And, unrelated, but wow has my scalp ever appreciated the apple cider vinegar rinse! No more itchy patches, nice shiny hair — love it! Still trying to go 100% clean by eliminating products one at a time. Thank you!!

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