Essential oils have been used for centuries as a natural remedy to treat everything from chest congestion to tinnitus and are also very popular in today’s skin care products and cosmetics.
These highly concentrated oils are botanical extracts sourced directly from the leaves, stems and roots of plants and have been used to effectively treat skin inflammation, rosacea, acne, eczema and dry and itchy skin.
If you have sensitive or inflamed skin, essential oils may help provide some relief though it is always important to speak to a dermatologist before attempting a new skin care routine. Here are the top 10 essential oils for skin:
The world’s most popular and most used essential oil, lavender is a calming oil used to reduce redness, soothe inflammation and help clear up eczema, psoriasis, acne and other skin irritations. Lavender is an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory that is good for all skin types and can also be used to treat burns and wounds.
#2: Tea Tree
Tea tree oil has natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties and is used to treat minor cuts and scrapes, acne, eczema and psoriasis. Great for oily skin, tea tree oil is found in a lot of skin care products.
Popular in cosmetics, chamomile oil is used to soothe irritated, itchy, dry and cracked skin and to relieve the symptoms of eczema and rosacea. Because of its natural antiseptic, anti-allergenic and antibiotic properties, chamomile is also used to treat acne and some infections, as well as to diminish scars and spots on the skin.
Geranium oil is used to calm inflammation and stimulate new skin growth and is good for all skin types. This oil, used by the Egyptians to promote healthy skin, is used to treat acne, eczema and dermatitis and can speed up the healing of wounds. As an astringent, geranium oil tightens facial skin and can minimize the appearance of wrinkles.
#5: Juniper Berry
A soothing oil, juniper has healing and anti-inflammatory properties to help clear up itchy skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Juniper also has natural antibiotic and antimicrobial properties and is used to speed healing and help prevent infections. It is used as a home remedy for acne and can help reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
Sandalwood oil moisturizes dry skin and can help clear up acne-prone skin. This oil is used to promote smooth, healthy-looking skin and helps to reduce the appearance of imperfections.
A hydrating oil, rose oil is good for dry and mature skin. A strong antibacterial oil, rose oil can improve inflammation, reduce the symptoms of eczema and rosacea, and help to fight acne. It also smells good and is used in many beauty and skin products.
Frankincense oil has anti-inflammatory compounds and is used to regenerate skin cells and tone and tighten skin. It is also used to reduce pain and inflammation and reduce the appearance of acne, stretch marks, blemishes and scars.
#9: Ylang Ylang
Ylang Ylang oil is used to treat oily and acne-prone skin and is good for soothing skin irritations, treating acne and wounds and fighting the effects of skin aging.
Lemongrass oil is used as an astringent and natural skin toner and is good for treating acne and large pores. Lemongrass has skin healing and strengthening properties and is good for all skin types.
Anti-Cancer Benefits of Essential Oils
Some essential oils — such as frankincense and tea tree oil — are thought to have some anti-skin cancer benefits. In a recent study published in the Journal of Dermatological Sciences, tea tree oil was found to reduce cancerous tumors and boost overall immunity.
The study topically applied tea tree oil on subcutaneous tumors on mice to activate an immune response. The next wave of research will focus on increasing the penetration of the tea tree oil through the skin to achieve higher concentration to even longer-term clearance of tumors. Of course, there is a long way to go before scientists can determine if essential oils have any effect on skin cancer in humans.
Tips for Using Essential Oils for Skin
If you are new to essential oils, there are some things to know about how to safely use them. First, you will want to speak to a dermatologist before applying any new substance to your current skin condition. Second, there are many different brands of essential oils on the market. Make sure to choose oils without artificial fragrances and chemicals. You want the purest oils you can find.
Also, most essential oils are not meant to be applied directly to the skin. Instead, they should be mixed with a carrier oil. There are many different carrier oils, and the one you choose to mix your oils with is totally up to you. Some common carrier oils are fractionated coconut oil (coconut oil in liquid form), avocado oil, sweet almond oil and jojoba oil.
Finding the right dosage for you may take some experimenting, but a general ratio is 1-2 drops of essential oil per tablespoon of carrier oil. You should also store your essential oils in dark glass bottles, as many oils are sensitive to light and will lose their potency after long-term exposure.
"There are many ways to incorporate essential oils into your daily skincare routine," says Dr. Alex Jack of U.S. Dermatology Partners of Kyle, "You can add a few drops to your lotions and creams or make your own moisturizer by adding several drops of oil to some shea butter, water and vegetable glycerin."
You can also create your own moisturizing face mist or toner by adding several drops of oil to distilled water and storing it in a dark glass spray bottle. Add a few drops of oil to your bath water or face wash or even create an at-home spa by filling a large bowl with steaming water. Add a few drops of oil, then cover your head with a towel and place your face over the steaming water for several minutes.
Oils can also be diffused in an oil diffuser or directly inhaled by sniffing them right out of the bottle. You can even apply a few drops to your clothes.
Some oils like rose oil are gentle enough to be applied to the skin directly. Use a sterile cotton swab to dab a drop of pure rose oil on your acne blemishes up to three times a day. You can dilute the oil slightly with a carrier oil for sensitive skin.
"Before using any essential oil on your skin, test the oil on a small patch of skin first to make sure you are not allergic," says Dr. Jack. "If you have a skin condition that you are attempting to treat with essential oils, see your dermatologist first to ensure that you will not cause harm to yourself with the use of topicals."
Do you have a persistent or serious skin condition? Contact one of our board-certified dermatologists today to find the treatment option that works best for you.