Oil for acne? Yep, you read right. You’re probably thinking adding more oil to acne or oily skin seems a little counter-intuitive but it’s exactly what problem skin needs. Finding the best facial oil for oily acne prone skin is actually quite simple and comes down to the levels of essential fatty acids within each oil.
Oil is so essential to ALL skin. Oil helps balance your skin, keep it healthy and protected from the elements. However excess oil leads to clogged pores, blemishes and acne flare ups. Knowing what oils will help keep your skin healthy though, and what oils will make your skin even worse is absolutely essential knowledge. Don’t worry, I’ve done the hard work for you and here’s what I’ve discovered:
Not all oils are good for acne & oily skin
Coconut oil, for example, is touted as being a miracle oil. “Use it in cooking, a little on your hair and slather your skin generously with it”… We’ve all heard it. As delicious and nutritious as coconut is, if you’ve got oily skin or acne, DON’T APPLY IT TO YOUR FACE!
I’ve had average results with olive oil (super moisturising but acne remained), ok results with macadamia oil (acne a little better but not great), and then brilliant results with hemp oil.
After a a long process of trial and error and a healthy dose of research, I’ve discovered that not all oils are created equal!
What makes one oil good and another bad for oily/acne prone skin?
Whilst olive oil was super nourishing, it wreaked havoc on my my face. Hemp oil had the exact opposite result -light, moisturising and finally healthy skin. What’s the difference between these two oils? They’re both plant-based oils, both organic and both delicious (important in facial care ;-)). Well it actually doesn’t have anything to do with this at all. What’s really important is the levels/ratios of essential fatty acids.
I stumbled across this fabulous article from Dawn Michelle’s blog, Minimalist Beauty, about oil for acne skin which explains it so perfectly.
One key factor that makes some oils work for some but not for others is the ratio of Linoleic Acid to Oleic Acid in the chemical composition in each oil…. “Acne patients have also been shown to have low levels of linoleic acid in their skin surface lipids.”
Turns out hemp oil is super high in linoleic acid – the stuff missing from unhealthy, acne skin.
If, like me, you’ve never heard of Linoleic Acid and Oleic Acid before, I’ve done a little more research:
Oleic Acid is an omega-9 fatty acid – a monounsaturated fat. Omega-9 fatty acids differ from omega-6 fatty acids, because the body can produce them.
Oleic acid makes makes oils richer and heavier, so they are extra-occlusive and can seal in moisture really effectively. High-oleic oils include olive oil (!!!), safflower oil, almond oil, and avocado oil among many others. These oils are especially suitable for very dry skin, as they can deliver heavier moisture than even your most potent night cream.
Linoleic acid makes for a lighter oil with a thinner consistency. These oils will still nourish and protect skin without being too heavy, but may not provide enough moisture for a more dry, delicate skin type.
I now use hemp oil as my daily moisteriser. Because it’s lighter than the high oelic acid oils, it absorbs quite quickly and doesn’t leave my skin feeling oily. This is important as I don’t want my foundation sliding off!
It’s all about balance
Dawn Michelle, from Minimalist Beauty, goes on to explain how the balance works:
Usually oily congested and acne prone skin’s sebum is predominately composed of oleic acid. We can create the linoleic acid versus oleic acid balance needed by applying oils high in linoleic acid directly to our skin. When our skin’s natural sebum is predominately composed of lipids high in linoleic acid we have little to no break outs.
- Your body produces oleic acid, but it can’t make linoleic acid.
- Unhealthy skin (as evidenced by acne and excess oil) is high in oleic acid.
- Applying high linoleic acid oils to your skin will help balance out the ratio of these EFA’s.
The best facial oil for oily & acne prone skin
The best facial oils for acne prone and oily skin comes down to their linoleic acid content. You want more linoleic acid than oleic acid in your oil. It’s that simple. I bet you’re kicking yourself for not knowing about it earlier!
Here’s some of the highest linoleic acid oils (% content) to get you started:
- Safflower Oil– 78%
- Evening primrose oil– 73%
- Grape Seed Oil– 70%
- Sunflower Oil– 65.7%
- Hemp oil– 60%
- Pumpkin Seed Oil – 57%
- Rosehip Seed Oil – 44.1%
Use one or more of these oils daily for a month and observe the changes. Please share your results with me!
I’ve settled on hemp oil and I’m loving it. I’m using it blended with castor oil (also high in linoleic acid) for oil cleansing, and straight up as a daily moisteriser. It’s been a little under a month now and there’s no looking back. My skin is improving significantly. It’s always good to mix up your skin care regime though, so I might try one of the others when I run out.
Tip: Store oils high in linoleic acid in the fridge for best results. It keeps them fresher and more potent for longer.
Please share your tips or questions below. Any further understanding we can all gain about acne is always appreciated.