“I often stood in front of the mirror alone,” wrote the acne-scarred writer Charles Bukowski in his semi-autobiographical novel Ham on Rye. “I would look at my face in disbelief… I felt singled out. It was as if I had been selected to be this way.”
Acne affects approximately 10% of the world’s population, but it’s probably cold comfort to the acne sufferer to learn that that life hasn’t really singled them out after all. Although most common in pre-pubescent teens (as if the cruelty of that phase of our lives isn’t brutal enough already), acne often persists into adulthood, sometimes leaving permanent scars.
Our emotional struggles with skin conditions have been documented for centuries. Writing in 1745, William Thompson likened the transformation of his skin to the turmoil of a raging battlefield:
“The forehead roughens to the wondering hand
Wide o’er the Human-field, the Body, spreads
Contagious War, and lays its Beauties waste.”
For the acne sufferer, it can indeed feel like a lonely, endless, lifelong conflict is being fought across the complex terrains of our faces and backs.
We now know of course that acne is not contagious, but congenital. Acne sufferers overproduce certain hormones which trigger an excess of sebum, our body’s natural moisturizer. This excess can lead to bacteria being trapped in the hair follicles, triggering our immune response into forming pimples on our skin. In other words, our bodies are doing what they are supposed to do – just in overdrive. Thanks but no thanks, immune response!
Commercial soaps and skin care products often contain chemicals which dry and irritate the skin, leading to further sebum production and more acne breakouts. Natural essential oils are often an effective alternative to over-the-counter acne treatments, as many are believed to have antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties that can remove harmful bacteria, keep skin pores clear and promote healing. As with all topical uses of essential oils, you should always test for allergic reactions first by applying a few drops of oil to the wrist, and waiting 24 hours to ensure your skin remains reaction-free.
You’re not alone in the fight against acne. Our 10 essential oils for acne recipes are now reporting for duty!
N.B. Vegans can swap out the honey for pure vegetable glycerin.
Tea Tree Oil is a general on the acne battlefield – it has both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties and is central to many anti-acne skin care regimens. However, it can also cause reactions on sensitive skin, so be sure to carry out the wrist test first.
Use a carrier oil such as jojoba to create a moisture-replenishing serum. Use just a few drops on washed, dry skin.
Frankincense essential oil is known to have various healing properties, and may be of great help in scar healing and prevention. Leave this mixture on the face for several minutes daily, and rinse off.
For acne-probe skin, you can manage breakouts by applying just a few drops of this recipe to troublesome areas, twice daily. The vitamin E oil and Jasmine essential oil provide additional healing properties.
Out, out, damn spot! Plagued by rogue pimples on otherwise clear skin? Apply a few drops of this recipe where and when needed. The anti-bacterial punch of Clary Sage essential oil will stop those pimply infections in their tracks.
To reduce facial redness (rosacea), try applying a few drops of this anti-inflammatory Helichrysum essential oil recipe in the morning and evening before moisturizing.
You can create your own easy-to-apply acne gel by mixing the ingredients below and funneling them into a lip gloss tube. Have acne, will travel!
When your skin is feeling dried out but still needs an acne-preventing cleanse, try this gentle recipe with the soothing, balancing and calming properties of Patchouli, Ylang Ylang and Chamomile essential oils. Remove with a warm, damp towel.
‘Bacne’ is extremely common, but also readily treatable. Just dilute Tea Tree essential oil in your preferred carrier oil, and apply directly after you shower with a cotton ball.
Not expecting any visitors for a bit? Then leave on this astringent impurity-removing clay mask for 15 minutes before rinsing off and moisturizing liberally. Simply mix all ingredients in a bowl and apply.
Would you like to know more about how commercial skincare and cosmetic products can trigger adverse reactions? Read all about it here.