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Parts of this were taken with permission from Essential Oils Overview and Reference Guide, published by: The Family Tree, 2008


see also Athlete's foot, Boils, Chapped Lips, Dermatitis, Eczema, Impetigo, Jock Itch, Melanoma, Psoriasis, Rashes, Ring worm, Scabies, Scar Reduction, Skin cancer, Skin cosmetic problems

The outer layers of the skin include the pores and the channels that house the hair follicles.  This channel also serves as the conduit from which sebum and other lipids are secreted to lubricate the skin and hair.  The area of the hair follicle also naturally includes some types of bacteria.  A number of different problems in this area can result in acne or the other skin blemishes that lead to acne.

The first step is the pore or channel of the hair follicle becomes clogged.  This may be caused by an external source (dirt or products applied to the skin) but more commonly is from excess sebum being produced in combination with the naturally occurring dead cells of the epidermis.  The lining of the channel housing the hair follicle is a part of the epidermis that continually moves cells from its inner layers to the surface where the dead cells are discarded.  These dead cells and the sebum can then plug the pore and entrap bacteria in the channel. 

Smaller pores that are plugged are first seen as whiteheads and the larger pores form blackheads.  If the bacteria cause an infection these may become pimples.  If the bacterial infection continues the hair follicle channel can rupture and the infection spread with the resulting inflammatory response of the body forming larger areas of irritation.

The reason for excess sebum or other clogging of the hair follicle channels are varied.  The types of skin, that is heredity, is definitely a factor.  Other factors include:

 Hormonal levels (teenage years) and changes related to menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or stress

 Medications that may affect hormones such as birth control, etc.

 Cosmetics or hair care products

 Excess moisture from perspiration or a high humidity climate may compound the problem

Many now suggest that diet (chocolate, nuts, etc.) are not a cause of acne.


[search helps: whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, zits, cystic acne, acne vulgaris]

Oils, blends & products recommended:

Oils & Blends: ClearSkinC, CypressC, FrankincenseC, GeraniumC, LavenderEC, MelaleucaEC, Protective Blend, Cleansing Blend, RosemaryEC

Essential oils based products: Basic Vitality Supplements (LLV)

Also consider: Cedarwood, Juniper, LemonC, LemongrassC, SandalwoodEC, ThymeC

Note: to understand the E and C superscript go to Home and scroll to New Helps.

Suggested protocols:

Daily treatment: After cleansing the skin put 3-5 drops of Fractionated Coconut Oil in the palm of the hand with 3-4 drops of the essential oil or blend. Pat this on the affected area and let it soak in. Repeat this at night as well.  The oils found most effective are:

 Cleansing Blend



 ClearSkin blend (diluted)

Adding 1-2 drops of Lemon essential oil to a glass of water (multiple times per day) is an excellent natural cleanse. 

The need to experiment - From the experiences of others it is noted that different folks will have more positive results with different oils so it may be necessary to experiment to find the best protocol. 

Sensitive skin - Those with acne often have sensitive skin so should consider the following that cleanses like GI Cleansing Formula and even the Basic Vitality Supplements (LLV) will help the body to rid itself of toxins that are eliminated through the skin.  While it is good to rid the body of the toxins they may cause further irritation to the skin as they are eliminated.  Therefore it may be necessary to reduce the amount or frequency of these types of products.

Virgin Coconut Oil - There are strong healing properties in Extra Virgin Coconut Oil for the skin.  It is recommended to use this with the essential oils.

Scarring - Topical application of Helichrysum, Frankincense, or Rosemary will aid if there is scarring to the skin.

Experiences and Testimonials of others

Cynthia - I have a friend that is interested in using oils for her acne. Do you have any recommendations? Is ClearSkin recommended for acne?

Pat –The (...) product ClearSkin is recommended for acne.

ReNAY - can the ClearSkin be diluted with FCO in a roller bottle ?  My friend's daughter says "it burns".

Pat – Yes, some have found the need for a carrier oil with ClearSkin.

Lauri - ClearSkin is too strong for my acne. I use Melaleuca for it. For some people Geranium works better for their acne. I have seborheaic dermatitis on my forehead and hairline and ClearSkin is great for this... I would try Melaleuca or Geranium for those with sensitive skin.

Cristi - I am 32 and have had acne since I was a teenager.  I have tried EVERYTHING.  I have seen a dermatologist for close to 20 years and have been on antibiotics, accutane, had laser treatments, the whole nine yards.  I know that different things work for different people, so I would suggest trying different oils until you find what's right for your own skin. I tried Melaleuca for years for my acne and it worked "okay."  I did a combination of Melaleuca and Lavender.  Then I went to Geranium.  And it was a little better.  Now I use Cleansing Blend and it works like a DREAM!!  I still use Melaleuca and Lavender as an all over facial treatment.  But when I have bad pimples coming on, I use Cleansing Blend as a "spot treatment" and it's AMAZING!  So I would suggest it as another one to try.  And for my acne scars, Frankincense and helichrysm are fantastic!


Kendra - I know a young woman that has fought with horrible acne for the last several years.  She has been on Accutane 2 times and does not want to do that again. She is currently off of sugar, for the last couple of months.  She has tried so many things, changing her diet, cleanses, different products for her face, etc.  Any suggestions?

Pat - Dietary supplements are good and have her do the GI Cleansing Formula for the required days, then a Probiotic immediately following.  After the Probiotic wait 10 days and repeat the whole procedure, wait 10 days and do it the third time.

In the meantime, each morning after she cleanses her skin have her put 3 drops of Fractionated Coconut Oil in the palm of her hand, then 3-4 drops of Geranium. Pat it gently on the face, under the jaw and the neckline. Let it dry sit for 60 seconds. Repeat this at night before going to bed.

Put 2 drops of Frankincense under the tongue twice a day.

Jessica - I would be careful with the LLW supplements and acne.  I have extremely sensitive skin and taking the LLW as directed made my skin break out 10X's worse!  I was shocked because I believe in (...) products.  It just didn't work with my skin.  I went off of the LLW after being on them for about a year (I kept thinking - it takes time to heal from the inside out) and immediately my skin started clearing up.  I knew there was a link.  I felt bad because I knew in every other way, my body was reacting well to LLW, but I couldn't compete with the skin issues. I eventually decided to get back on LLW after my skin had cleared up, but decided to just take half a dose - that worked! My skin doesn't react to the half dosage - good news!  Just be careful for others that may have super sensitive skin - if she/he has a reaction, cut the dosage in half and see what happens.


Momof3 - My teenage daughter has a nice clear face but her upper back is a mess of black heads and acne. The ClearSkin works a little bit but I thought I'd ask if anyone has had any success with anything else?

ReNAY - My daughter had the same problem.  We cut her hair shorter and found that was the problem, her hair ends were rubbing oil on her neck.

Laura - The other things I like to use for my skin are Melaleuca and Geranium.  You might try a Melaleuca wash and then layering with Geranium.

Tanya - My brother has the same problem on his chest and back, and the dermatologist said it was actually hair follicles which were plugged. One thing that makes a huge difference for him is modifying his diet, get off the dairy!! It works wonders for him ,if he can stay away from the pizza! And the oils help to clear it up and keep it clear.

Melissa - I don't remember where I heard to do this but it worked pretty good for me. I put even amounts of fractionated coconut oil, Melaleuca, and Cleansing Blend in a roll on bottle. I give it a little shake before applying.



Pat - I ran into a girl at a show I was doing and she had some serious acne going on. We talked for a while and I gave her a sample of Geranium and told her to try it. I ran into her again a couple of months later and she had lost my card but had used all the oil I had given her and it had started to really clear her up. The Geranium plus adding just a little coconut oil to help distribute it evenly. Also take a capsule every day with 5 drops each of Lemon and Melaleuca and 4 drops of Oregano. This will heal from the inside while the Geranium is working on the outside.


Luke - I have personally suffered from acne since I reached puberty.  Now at 19 years of age it is still an issue, both as a cause of discomfort and a source of embarrassment. Recently (since I went to the launch of (...) in October) I've been attempting to use only (...)’s essential oils to treat my skin.  As of this moment I've tried several combinations, admittedly none with very much consistency, I'll list the most effective combination I've used thus. 1-3 drops each of Protective Blend, Lemon and Peppermint applied after washing my face with warm water. It has been the most effective thus far but I also attribute that to watching what I was eating, and making sure to cleanse my face and apply the oils regularly every morning and night.  I am trying other alternative and will post my results.  I am also open to suggestions on different oils to try should these not do the trick.  My best regards to anyone and everyone suffering from acne and wishing to avoid the harsh chemicals in most acne products.


Wendy - Our experience is that essential oils are much more effective at preventing breakouts of acne, than clearing up existing acne, especially if it is acute acne.  Our further experience is that coconut oil (virgin coconut oil, medium chain, not the fractionated type) can be very effective in balancing the body and aiding quality anti-bacterial essential oils such as Frankincense, Melaleuca, Lavender, Lemongrass, Geranium, and Sandalwood be effective with acne.

If it were me fighting serious acne, I would do a 1 teaspoon of VCO (melted) and 3 drops each of Frankincense and Geranium, just because those are oils that are most compatible with me.  I would apply 3 times per day if possible.  The VCO does not absorb easily, so night time before bed is most effective and using a generous application at that time would be easy.  During the day, a lot of time would need to be spent rubbing the oil blend into the skin, and it still might not be totally absorbed.  I would wash my face well prior to applications.

There will be a few days where there may be an increase in breakouts as the mixture begins to release toxins.  But clearing should follow. You can experiment with the essential oils that you want to add, to find the best oil or blend for you. Serious acne takes some time, but we've seen VCO and essential oils work. Have faith and let us now how it goes!


JJ - Use Organic Virgin Coconut Oil as a base, then try one or a blend of the following:




Lemongrass (hot - watch eyes)


Protective Blend (hot - watch eyes)

Cleansing Blend


Everybody is different and what works for one might not be the best for another.  But use your intuition, pay attention to the energy you feel from individual oils and be consistent and patient.

Other Tips : Wash your face morning and night, before applications. Use Organic virgin coconut oil as a base or carrier to the oils you use. (OVCO). Apply morning and night. I would also apply Grounding Blend to my back or feet every night and take a capsule every day with 5 drops each of Lemon and Melaleuca and 4 drops of Oregano.

Protocols folks recommend for children



Diet and Nutritional complements to essential oils


What Science & Research are saying

A comparative study of tea-tree oil versus benzoylperoxide in the treatment of acne. 

15 October 1990.  Bassett IB, Pannowitz DL, Barnetson RS. Department of Dermatology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown, NSW.


Tea-tree oil (an essential oil of the Australian native tree Melaleuca alternifolia) has long been regarded as a useful topical antiseptic agent in Australia and has been shown to have a variety of antimicrobial activities; however, only anecdotal evidence exists for its efficacy in the treatment of various skin conditions. We have performed a single-blind, randomised clinical trial on 124 patients to evaluate the efficacy and skin tolerance of 5% tea-tree oil gel in the treatment of mild to moderate acne when compared with 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion. The results of this study showed that both 5% tea-tree oil and 5% benzoyl peroxide had a significant effect in ameliorating the patients' acne by reducing the number of inflamed and non-inflamed lesions (open and closed comedones), although the onset of action in the case of tea-tree oil was slower. Encouragingly, fewer side effects were experienced by patients treated with tea-tree oil.


Biological activities of Korean Citrus obovoides and Citrus natsudaidai essential oils against acne-inducing bacteria.

Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2008 Oct;72(10):2507-13. Epub 2008 Oct 7;   Kim SS, Baik JS, Oh TH, Yoon WJ, Lee NH, Hyun CG.   Department of Chemistry, Cheju National University, Jeju, Republic of Korea.


This study was designed to analyze the chemical composition of Citrus obovoides (Geumgamja) and Citrus natsudaidai (Cheonyahagyul) oils and to test their biological activities. These citrus essential oils were obtained by steam distillation of fruits collected from Jeju Island, Korea, and were analyzed using gas chromatograph (GC)-flame ionization detectors (FID) and GC-MS. Limonene and gamma-terpinene were the major components of the two citrus species. To evaluate in vitro anti-acne activity, they were tested against Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus epidermidis, which are involved in acne. The Geumgamja and Cheonyahagyul oils exhibited antibacterial activity against both P. acnes and S. epidermidis. Their effects on DPPH radical scavenging, superoxide anion radical scavenging, and nitric oxide radical were also assessed. Cheonyahagyul and Geumgamja exhibited only superoxide anion radical-scavenging activity. To assess their potential usefulness in future cosmetic product applications, the cytotoxic effects of the two oils were determined by colorimetric MTT assays using two animal cell lines: normal human fibroblasts and HaCaT cells. They exhibited low cytotoxicity at 0.1 microl/ml in both cell lines. In addition, they reduced P. acnes-induced secretion of interleukin-8 (IL-8) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) in THP-1 cells, an indication of anti-inflammatory effects. Therefore, based on these results, we suggest that Geumgamja and Cheonyahagyul essential oils are attractive acne-mitigating candidates for topical application.



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NOTE: The advice shared in this site has not been evaluated by the FDA. The products and methods recommended are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease, nor is it intended to replace proper medical help. As members offer or look for answers, kindly understand that essential oils work to help to bring the body into balance - thus helping the body's natural defenses to restore homeostasis. Essential oils are not used to "treat" medical problems.