Flower Extracts and Essential Oils for Oily Skin and Acne

Oily skin and acne often worsens in response to seasonal changes. Sebaceous glands are stimulated by humid conditions; while air conditioning and heating systems can dry out the skin, causing the oil glands to kick into overdrive in an attempt to compensate for a dehydrated epidermis. Powders, mattifiers, and blotting papers only treat the surface problem; and benzoyl peroxide may be too irritating to tolerate. The natural skincare answer is a paradoxical one: add more oil!

Most consumers with oily skin are horrified by the suggestion that applying certain types of oil to a complexion that already feels like an grease slick may actually be helpful. Yet there is a theory that only oil can really cut through and dissolve oil, and that two types of natural essential oils are particularly useful in treating mild to moderate acne and facial shine.

Lavender Essential Oil: Natural Relief for Oily Skin

Lavender is usually associated with perfume, but it has traditionally been used to keep skin clean and clear; its very name may be derived from the Latin “to wash.” Lavender is said to normalize facial and scalp oils and kill acne bacteria. It is also mildly antiseptic, and is the only essential oil that may be used undiluted.

Recommended recipes include the following:

  • 3-8 drops of lavender oil in 1 ounce of carrier oil (jojoba oil resists rancidity, so is often suggested); massage gently into the affected areas once a day.
  • 1-3 drops of lavender oil in 8 ounces distilled water; use as a toner.
  • 1 tablespoon dried lavender petals in 1 pint boiling water; steep for 20 minutes, strain, and use to rinse the face. Great for those who refuse to apply any oil to their skin.

For blemished skin, a few drops of tea tree oil may be added to the above mixtures.

Lavender’s main drawback is that it is a photosensitizer, so sunscreen must be used religiously if skin treatment with lavender is attempted. Some studies indicate that the component linalool may kill live skin cells as well as bacteria; nonetheless, lavender remains a popular spa treatment for oily and blemished skin.

Jasmine Essential Oil May Balance Overactive Oil Glands

Jasmine is another flower oil that is highly recommended for oily and sensitive skin; it is especially effective for mature skin that remains oil-plagued and for complexions that are prone to developing whiteheads and blackheads.

It is believed to balance oil production without promoting excessive dryness. Anecdotal evidence claims it has amazing skin-softening properties. It also increases blood circulation to the skin, bringing oxygen and nutrients to cells.

However, jasmine has two drawbacks: It should not be used by pregnant women, and it is extremely expensive (1000 pounds of flowers are used to produce only 1 pound of pure essence!). “Bargain” jasmine products often contain less expensive, possibly less effective jasmine wax rather than pure extract or oil. Expect to pay $100 per ounce or more for the purest products.

Always make sure to dilute jasmine essential oil before applying it to the skin. The recipes listed for lavender may be used with jasmine as well. Note that jasmine essence is technically named jasmine enfleurage or jasmine absolute, and may be advertised under those names.

Jasmine and Lavender Reduce Stress and Calm Anxiety

Dermatologists and skincare experts have long noticed that anxiety, sleeplessness, and stress seem to cause or worsen many skin problems. Both lavender and jasmine are well-known in aromatherapy circles as promoting relaxation, calming the nerves, and helping insomniacs sleep better. It may be these calmative properties that prove so beneficial to oily and blemished skin types.

Perform a Patch Test Before Using Essential Oils

Always test for allergies before trying flower extracts or oils:

Mix two drops of the oil with one teaspoon almond oil and apply the mixture to the inner arm or wrist. If the area becomes irritated or inflamed after 24 hours, the oil should not be used. Individuals with hay fever or asthma should always seek medical advice before using any flower-based skin treatments.


- “The Healing Power of Flowers,” New Beauty, Vol. 6, Issue 3, p. 50.
- Houdret, Jessica, The Practical Illustrated Home Herbal Doctor, London: Hermes House.
- Wilson, Roberta, Aromatherapy: Essential Oils for Vibrant Health and Beauty, New York: Avery

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