If you’re just dipping your toes — or rather, fingers — into the magical world of facial oils, there is one thing you should know. Even though it’s tempting to slather on all of the essential oils you have in your possession as soon as you purchase them, you might want to hit the breaks. Some of those tiny bottles hold liquids that are much too potent to be used on their own. Instead of applying them directly to your face, you’ll need to dilute them in water, moisturizing cream, or a carrier oil.
That’s why we’ve decided to find the best carrier oil for acne. These oils won’t irritate or clog your pores, as the ones we’ve found are non-comedogenic. If you don’t know what that means, we’ll get into it right after we talk about why you wouldn’t want to put most essential oils directly onto your face.
The dermatologists at the American Acne Foundation put 27 carrier oils to the test. Below are our top picks for the best carrier oils for acne, available on Amazon.
- Cliganic Jojoba Oil
- Handcraft Blends Grapeseed Oil
- LIFE-FLO Safflower Oil
- Maple Holistics Sunflower Oil
- PURA D’OR Moroccan Argan Oil
#1: Best Carrier Oil for Acne on Oily Skin: Cliganic Jojoba Oil
Really, Jojoba oil works on most skin types — it even works for oily skin.
Why we like it:
- Anti-inflammatory — reduces redness and eczema
- Vitamins E and B help repair skin
- Very nutritious and hydrating
- 2 on the comedogenic scale, won’t clog your pores
- Amber glass bottle with a dropper
You might want to choose Cliganic Jojoba Oil if:
You need something that won’t leave your skin looking greasy. Well, jojoba oil is the perfect thing for you. Its watery consistency will make it easy to spread on your skin without clogging your pores. In fact, jojoba oil is similar enough to the consistency of our natural skin oils that it can help balance sebum production as well.
Jojoba oil is also anti-microbial, which makes it kind of like a natural preservative. It may even extend the shelf life of whichever essential oil you mix it with. You can get this oil in 2 sizes — 4 and 16 ounces.
#2: Best Carrier Oil for Acne on Damaged Skin: Handcraft Blends Grapeseed Oil
Grapeseed oil is great for dealing with imperfections such as acne scars. If you use it as a carrier for tamanu oil, you’ll see sun spots and stretch marks start to fade.
Why we like it:
- Cleanses and repairs skin
- Protects against UV rays
- Non-comedogenic, won’t clog your pores
- Dark 16-ounce bottle with a pump
You might want to choose Handcraft Blends Grapeseed Oil if:
You have a lot of acne scars, or you often pick at your face. Grapeseed oil is very gentle on the skin, but it’s very hydrating as well, so you’ll also be able to use it on its own. It has anti-inflammatory properties, which means that it should clear away any redness you may be experiencing. Due to the presence of vitamins A, E, and K, this oil can be highly rejuvenating as well. Best of all, you can use it all over your face and body — and you’ll smell divine!
#3: Best Carrier Oil for Acne on Sensitive Skin: LIFE-FLO Safflower Oil
Not many people know about safflower oil, but we’re here to change that. This non-greasy, gentle carrier could be just what you’re looking for.
Why we like it:
- Anti-inflammatory and soothing
- Gentle and hydrating
- 0 on the comedogenic scale, high in linoleic acid
- Food grade oil with an easy-pour cap
You might want to choose LIFE-FLO Safflower Oil if:
You have sensitive acne-prone skin. Like all of the best carrier oils, safflower oil has anti-inflammatory properties. Not only is it an ideal carrier for facial oils, but the 16-ounce bottle is also large enough for massages and hair treatments as well. Safflower oil will restore and refresh your skin while preventing your sebum from thickening to the point of blocking your pores and causing acne.
#4: Best Carrier Oil for Acne on Aging Skin: Maple Holistics Sunflower Oil
Sunflower oil has a stellar reputation for moisturizing dry skin and preventing and slowing down signs of aging.
Why we like it:
- Deeply moisturizing, rich in fatty acids
- Vitamins E and B prevent wrinkles and heal stretch marks
- Light texture, high linoleic acid content
- 0–2 on the comedogenic scale
You might want to choose Maple Holistics Sunflower Oil if:
You want to lessen signs of aging. The Maple Holistics Sunflower Oil is rich in both oleic and linoleic acids, which gives it a nice light texture while also making it deeply hydrating. Sunflower oil also has vitamins B1, B3, B6, and E, as well as vitamins A, C, and D. Basically, it’s a surefire way to take care of acne and heal any imperfections. Like many of the other oils on this list, you’ll also be able to put it on your hair and all over your body — especially since it comes in such a huge bottle.
#5: Best Carrier Oil for Acne on Dry Skin: PURA D’OR Moroccan Argan Oil
Everyone knows how nutritious argan oil is for the hair — but did you know that it’s also an ideal carrier oil?
Why we like it:
- Very nutritious, high in oleic and linoleic acid
- 0 on the comedogenic scale
- 4-ounce bottle with a pump
You might want to choose PURA D’OR Moroccan Argan Oil if:
You have acne breakouts despite having very dry skin. Argan oil is perfect for dry skin because it’s so deeply moisturizing. Most people know it as a bit of a miracle ingredient for hair care. However, organic argan oil is also a fantastic carrier for other oils. The PURA D’OR oil comes in a 4-ounce bottle — so you’d get less of it overall. Still, because of its high fatty acid content, just a drop of it will go a long way.
Essential Oils and Acne
Acne-prone skin is usually very sensitive to irritants, which is what many essential oils are. Most of the ones you’d use to treat acne have powerful antibacterial properties, which may cause skin irritations. For example, citrus oils may have a powerful effect when applied directly to the skin.
However, that’s not to say that essential oils are dangerous. In fact, using them is often the best way to stabilize and water down, so to speak, the goopy sebum that’s blocking your pores and causing your breakouts. So essential oils can definitely help clear up your acne — and although some of them can be used directly on the skin, it’s best not to risk negative effects.
Do You Really Need a Carrier Oil?
When it comes to choosing the perfect oil for acne-prone skin, there are certain features you ought to consider. The first is the comedogenic rating of said oil. Every oil is rated on a scale of 0 to 5, with 0 being the least and 5 being the most likely to cause sebum blockages.
Aside from looking at the oil’s rating, you’ll also want to pay attention to the balance of oleic and linoleic acids. The first of those is how you can be sure that the oil of your choice is deeply hydrating, while the second is how you’ll know that it will absorb quickly into the skin. Acne-prone skin is typically lacking in linoleic acid, which is why we often gravitate to those kinds of carrier oils. That way, even if the essential oil you’re using is on the thicker side, your carrier oil will allow it to spread out and penetrate the skin barrier.
Even though some people believe that carrier oils make essential oils lose their potency, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, carrier oils make essential oils more effective.
People who don’t have skin problems other than the occasional dry patch can freely use coconut and olive oil as carriers. However, those of us who have to be a bit more careful with their skin should opt for gentler alternatives. Rosehip oil is already a wildly popular essential oil, but it can also be used as a carrier. People who are acne-prone can also use lightweight oils like the ones we’re about to talk about.
But whatever you do, do not use mineral oils, baby oil, or petroleum jelly as carrier oils if you have acne. Now that we know the basics, let’s talk about application.
How to Apply Your Essential Oil With a Carrier
If you decide to incorporate a carrier oil into your skincare routine, you’ll have to adjust the way you apply your essential oil. Usually, there are several ways to apply your facial oils:
- Put a few drops in a bit of water and apply the mixture with a cotton pad
- Apply the essential oil directly to your acne with a cotton swab
- Put the oil into a diffuser machine
- Add a few drops into a steaming bowl of water and create an enclosure by covering your head with a towel as you hold your face over the bowl
However, if you choose to use a carrier oil, there are a few ways to go about it. The first would be to pour a bit of it directly into your palm and add a few drops of the essential oil, then gently rub or pat into the skin. Of course, you should make sure that both your face and your hands are thoroughly clean before you do your routine.
You can also keep your oils pre-mixed in a separate dish or bottle. We recommend reusing old glass bottles from other essential oils.
Carrier oils can help you apply essential facial oils
Even though we’ve tried to find carrier oils that would suit different acne-prone skin types, the truth is: all of these oils are very gentle. That’s what makes them such great carrier oils. They can penetrate deep into your skin, moisturize, and heal even as they’re carrying other, more potent oils.
In fact, you can always use these oils for their own properties, which is precisely why we chose to feature them. However, if you decide that you’d like a boost, there are plenty of essential oils that can help you combat cystic acne, redness, and oily skin.