Essential Oils for Skin
In the 21st century, essential oils have gained popularity as effective therapeutic, aromatic, and cosmetic agents. Highly concentrated, an increasing amount of research has noted their ability to penetrate the skin’s upper layers to provide topical benefits. Maintaining healthy skin is about finding a balance between internal factors and gentle, external products. While certain skin conditions can be caused by internal factors (such as genetics, diet, or stress), users can help keep skin looking healthy by choosing appropriate skin care products.
Using essential oils for skin care is a natural and effective alternative to harsh skin products that can deteriorate the skin’s sensitive epidermis layer. Below, Essential Oil Experts has compiled a compressive essential oils guide which contains a list of essential oils for specific skin conditions such as wrinkles, skin tags, oily skin and more.
Can you Put Essential Oils on your Skin?
Many users wonder, are essential oils safe for skin?
When properly diluted in a carrier oil, essential oils can be a safe and effective way to treat mild to moderate skin conditions. While there are a number of essential oils good for skin care, never apply undiluted essential oils directly to the skin, as they can cause irritation. Allergic reactions can cause major unforeseen side effects when using essential oils topically. While there are essential oils for sensitive skin types, users should conduct a patch test before widespread use.
Essential Oils for Skin Tags
Skin tags are very common skin growths that typically occur on the neck, inner thighs, underarms, eyelids or in skin folds. While skin tags are mostly harmless and don’t require treatment, they may become irritated from clothing or be removed for visual appearance.1
While users can pursue surgery, cauterization or cryotherapy (freezing) to remove skin tags, simply tying the skin tag with dental floss and covering with an essential oil for skin tags can cut the blood supply so it falls off naturally.1
There are several benefits of frankincense essential oil for skin tags including natural pain-relieving, wound healing, moisturizing, and antimicrobial qualities, which can be useful for irritated skin tags. Frankincense essential oil has also been used to treat minor cuts and blemishes in dermatology, and is often thought to be the best essential oil for skin tags.
To use frankincense essential oil for skin tag removal, add 4 drops of frankincense essential oil to 1 Tbsp. of your usual moisturizer or carrier oil. After wrapping the tag with dental floss or string, apply the mixture to the skin tag and surrounding skin. Cover with a band-aid and re-apply daily. To aid wound healing, apply for several days after the tag has fallen off.
Essential Oils for Wrinkles
While we often consider essential oils as therapeutic or stress-reliving, many contain beneficial compounds such as flavonoids and antioxidants that may help hydrate skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines.2 While research is still preliminary, using the following essential oils for sagging skin may help tighten and moisturize skin.
In a 2002 study, researchers investigated the possibility of using essential oils for firming facial skin. Scientists believe that elastase activity is one of several factors that contributes to wrinkle production and aging, particularly for people over 40. In vitro tests on several essential oils reveal that using lemon essential oil for skin may significantly inhibit elastase activity.2 While many have wondered ‘is lemon essential oil good for skin?’, preliminary research indicates it may be the top essential oil for skin elasticity.
Regarded as one of the best essential oils for skin ageing, rose essential oil’s properties can help moisturize, revitalize and may even help repair the damage to older skin. With antioxidant and antimicrobial qualities, using rose essential oil for skin may help protect the face from potentially damaging free radicals or bacteria.
To get the most out of these essential oils for tightening skin, add 3-4 drops of the above oils to 1 tbsp. of carrier oil. Gently massage onto the desired areas.
Essential Oils for Dry Skin
Dry skin is a common condition that can be caused by environmental factors or chronic skin conditions. While often not serious, dry skin may cause itching, redness, flaking, cracking or a feeling of tightness. Fortunately, home remedies are an easy and effective solution to treating dry skin.3 Incorporating moisturizing essential oils into your daily routine can help soothe dry, irritated skin naturally.
With sandalwood essential oil, benefits for skin include reduced inflammation and increased moisture. Considered one of the best essential oils for dry skin, sandalwood essential oil also contains antiviral and antibacterial properties, which may help protect cracked or irritated skin from becoming infected.
To use sandalwood essential oil for dry skin, simply add 2 drops of sandalwood essential oil to 1 Tbsp. rosehip oil, or any other carrier oil, and apply topically to affected areas.
Traditionally used for natural skin care, the top geranium essential oil benefits for skin include reduced inflammation, increased hydration and reduced risk of infection. Geranium essential oil has been noted to be one of the most effective essential oils for extremely dry skin, and has been used as a natural remedy for eczema and dermatitis.
In recent years, clinical trials have discovered the many benefits of peppermint oil for skin. Known for its cooling sensation, peppermint essential oil can help alleviate dry, cracking or inflamed skin.
Users should be careful when applying essential oils for chapped skin, and avoid applying to any area where the skin is severally broken or there is an open wound.
Essential Oils for Stretch Marks
As we age, our bodies produce an increase in elastase activity which reduces our skin’s elasticity and can contribute to the formation of wrinkles or stretch marks.2 As essential oils have been shown to be absorbed through the skin, using an essential oil for skin repair may be an effective way to naturally reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
Juniper berry essential oil has been shown to significantly reduce elastase activity, along with lemon and grapefruit essential oil. Juniper berry essential oil has been noted for its antioxidant and antimicrobial qualities that make it one of the most useful essential oils for healing skin. With strong wound healing and antibacterial properties, grapefruit essential oil may also help gradually repair skin and reduce visible stretch marks.
Essential Oils for Cellulite
While little is known about what causes cellulite, it’s a common skin condition that causes lumpy or uneven skin to appear around the thighs, buttocks or abdomen. Cellulite tends to affect more women than men, and can develop after puberty and increasingly with age.4 Natural home remedies featuring essential oils for cellulite removal may be useful in reducing the appearance of uneven or bumpy skin and promote circulation to the area.
There are several benefits of rosemary essential oil for skin with cellulite, including natural antioxidant and moisturizing properties. In both in vitro and animal studies, rosemary essential oil has been shown to reduce oxidative stress, a state which can cause damage to cells or DNA.
Essential Oil for Skin Boil
For visible skin boils or bumps, the go-to essential oils for skin blemishes are geranium and bergamot. Both have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help calm boils and reduce blemishes. The benefits of bergamot essential oil for skin boils may be more suitable for individuals with sensitive skin. For a natural spot treatment, add 1-2 drops of geranium essential oil to at least 1 Tbsp. of carrier oil, or into your usual skin lotion and apply to the boil or blemish.
To use geranium or bergamot essential oils for acne prone skin, add 8-10 drops of essential oil to unscented castile or glycerine soap. Use the soap twice daily for the best results.
Essential Oils for Skin Infection
For users wanting to use essential oils for skin fungus or infections, there are several beneficial qualities to look for. The top essential oils for fungus on skin will contain natural antifungal, antimicrobial or wound healing properties.
With lemongrass essential oil, benefits for skin come from its natural antimicrobial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory qualities. A recent study reported that lemongrass essential oil can even inhibit growth for new forms of drug-resistant microbes that have appeared in hospitals world wide. Using lemongrass essential oil for skin may help prevent further infection for small cuts or wounds.
Galbanum essential oil has also been shown to have strong antimicrobial benefits. In a 2011 study, galbanum was one of three essential oils tested for its efficacy against Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium that can cause skin infections. Results showed that galbanum essential oil was the most effective at inhibiting bacteria growth, even against drug-resistant strains.5
Essential Oils for Hives
Hives (urticaria) are itchy welts or patches of skin that form red, raised bumps on the skin. Hives can be caused by an allergic reaction, insect bites, viral infections, pet dander, or certain plants. Approximately 20% of individuals will experience hives at some point in their life.6
When it comes to treating hives, there are a number of essential oils for skin rash outbreaks. To reduce redness, the soothing properties of chamomile essential oil may help calm irritated skin.
While chamomile remains the number essential oil for skin rash outbreaks and hives, using lemon, geranium, peppermint, rosemary, and myrrh essential oil for skin rashes are all effective alternatives. All of these essential oils have anti-inflammatory and moisturizing properties which will help repair the affected skin and soothe any itching or burning sensations being caused by the hives or rash.
Mix 2-4 drops of any of the above essential oils for irritated skin with a carrier oil, and gently apply to the affected area of skin.
Essential Oils for Dark Circles
Dark circles under the eyes can indicate lack of sleep or age. As the skin surrounding the eye is extremely sensitive, only gentle essential oils for the face should be used. As one of the best essential oils for skin, the gentle benefits of lavender essential oil can be used to reduce the appearance of under eye circles. With potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and calming properties, using lavender essential oil for skin that has become dark or puffy may provide natural relief.
To use essential oils for soft skin areas, mix 1-2 drops of lavender essential oil with 1 Tsp. aloe vera gel. Gently pat the mixture to dark eye circles, making sure to avoid getting directly in the eye.
Essential Oils for Age Spots
In recent years, using essential oils for skin discoloration has become one of the most popular uses. When searching for the best essential oil for skin discoloration, users should consider their skin type, cause of skin discoloration and severity.
New clinical trials have identified several notable benefits of patchouli essential oil for skin. With natural anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic and wound healing properties, patchouli essential oil has also been noted to have a soothing aroma.
Frankincense, lavender and myrrh essential oil have also been noted as effective essential oils for sunspots, a form of discoloration. The combination of moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties make these essential oils great natural alternatives to expensive skin correcting creams.
To use essential oils for skin irritation or discoloration, add 1-3 drops of essential oil to 1 Tbsp. of aloe vera or coconut oil and gently apply to the skin directly.
Essential Oils for Oily Skin
Using essential oils for skin problems has become an increasingly popular alternative to expensive acne products. Cosmetic aromatherapy uses different essential oils for skin problems such as oily skin, acne-prone skin, or to simply tone and moisturize.7 Many of the essential oils for clear skin offer natural anti-inflammatory or toning properties that help users achieve healthy-looking skin, naturally.
Clary sage essential oil has been noted to help control sebum (oil that lubricates skin) production, and balance out both oily and dry skin.7 For this reason, clary sage is often considered the best essential oil for combination skin.
Another useful essential oil for oily skin is tea tree. Several clinical trials have examined the benefits of tea tree essential oil for oily or acne-prone skin. In a 12-week study, a tea tree essential oil gel and facewash helped eliminate 54% of acne lesions and even out skin.
Myrrh, geranium, and lavender essential oil are also considered some of the best essential oils for oily skin. They will gently cleanse and help repair and maintain healthy skin.
For readers wondering how to use essential oils for skin care, simply add 1-2 drops with at least 1 Tbsp. of carrier oil, and apply directly to the skin, rinsing clear with warm water. When using essential oils for face skin, avoid applying around the eyes, inner nose or mouth.
Essential Oils for Burns on Skin
If you’re suffering from a minor burn, don’t hesitate to treat it with the soothing properties of lavender, chamomile or peppermint essential oils. With calming, anti-inflammatory or cooling properties, using a combination of these essential oils may help reduce redness, provide relief and help reduce the appearance of scarring. Mix 1-2 drops of each essential oil with 2 Tbsp. aloe vera gel, and gently apply to the burn for immediate relief. Apply the mixture several times daily.
For recent or stinging burns, the antibacterial and pain-relieving properties of eucalyptus essential oil may be a good choice. Scientists have also noted that eucalyptus essential oil is generally beneficial for skin problems such as cuts, or small wounds.7
Patchouli and tea tree have also been recommended as some of the most effective essential oils for sunburn skin.
Essential Oils for Cleansing Skin
Basic cleansing essential oils work to promote healthy blood flow, and take advantage of natural antibacterial, anti-inflammatory or moisturizing properties. By utilizing a mixture of these essential oils, users can help keep skin clean and healthy.
While lesser known, there are two notable benefits of cypress essential oil for skin cleansing. These include strong antibacterial and antifungal properties that help maintain healthy and balanced skin. For those who are looking for a more uplifting, or fruity aroma, there are several orange essential oil benefits for skin cleansing, including strong antimicrobial properties. By using both cypress and orange essential oil for skin, users can benefit from their combined properties.
Apply a drop or two of one of these essential oils to your usual moisturizer, or dilute with carrier oils as an effective way to supplement your skin maintenance routine. Users should note, that using citrus essential oils for clear skin can cause photosensitivity, or increased sensitivity to UV rays. Avoid using before prolonged sun exposure.
Essential Oils Recipes for Skin
Depending on your individual needs, blending essential oils for skin care is an effective and easy way to address individual skin concerns. As a general rule, users should dilute 1-2 drops of essential oil per 1-2 Tbsp. of carrier oil and gently apply to the affected area. Alternatively, users can create a cleaning facial mask using 1 Tsp. of almond oil, three drops of desired essential oil, and 3 Tbsp. of bentonite clay. Apply to the face, let rest for 15 minutes, then rinse off.
Combining essential oils is safe way to harness several benefits. Users should determine which problems they’d like to address before mixing essential oils for skin issues. For dry or sensitive skin, aloe vera gel is a great alternative to a traditional carrier oil, as it is gentle on the skin as well as having its own beneficial properties.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: Medline Plus. (2015, July 23). Cutaneous skin tag. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000848.htm
- Mori, M., Ikeda, N., Kato, Y., Minamino, M., & Watabe, K. (2002). Inhibition of elastase activity by essential oils in vitro. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 1(4), 183-187. doi:1111/j.1473-2165.2002.00059.x
- Mayo Clinic. (2016, October 27). Dry Skin – Symptoms and causes. Retrieved May 26, 2017 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-skin/symptoms-causes/dxc-20248892 – View reference
- Mayo Clinic. (2016, November 8). Cellulite – symptoms and causes. Retrieved May 26, 2017 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cellulite/symptoms-causes/dxc-20265019 – View reference
- Mahoubi, M., Kazempour,N. & Mahboubi, M. (2011). Antimicrobial activity of Rosemary, Fennel and Galbanum essential oils against clinical isolates of Staphylococcus aureus. Biharean Biologist, 5(1),4-7. Retrieved May 26, 2017 from http://www.biozoojournals.ro/bihbiol/cont/v5n1/bb.101102.Mahboubi.pdf
- American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. (2014). Hives (Urticaria). Retrieved May 18, 2017 from http://acaai.org/allergies/types/skin-allergies/hives-urticaria – View reference
- Ali, B., Al-Wabel, N. A., Shams, S., Ahamad, A., Khan, S. A., Anwar, F. (2015). Essential oils used in aromatherapy: A systemic review. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine,5(8), 601-611. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apjtb.2015.05.007