Your Facebook friends swearing by the life-transforming powers of essential oils might be on to something. They can help ease your anxiety, calm a stomachache, and probably most exciting for anyone currently dealing with a massive zit in-between her brows (me), they can even help your acne breakouts.
While not all the oils in your diffuser palette can be beneficial for pimples, pros agree that a few, when applied topically, can help clear out bacteria. According to Dr. Rachel Nazarian of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City, these include Clary sage, juniper oil, and most popular, tea tree oil.
"Studies have shown tea tree oil to be effective in treating mild to moderate acne," she notes. "Tea tree oil is naturally anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial, decreasing skin surface bacteria, fungus, and viruses."
Dr. Josh Axe, a certified doctor of natural medicine and clinical nutritionist and founder of DrAxe.com, agrees, stating that tea tree oil has gentle anti-microbial benefits to kill off the acne-causing bacteria, staph aureus. In addition to tea tree oil, he adds that rosemary oil has anti-inflammatory benefits that could help acne.
As far as how to use the powerhouse tea tree in your routine?
Dr. Nazarian recommends using it in diluted forms, or using products that have a small amount in the formula like the Dr. Schweiger Solutions Botanical Clarifying Cleanser, rather than using the direct concentrated oil on the skin, as some of the side effects include dryness, peeling, and scaling of the skin.
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But remember, some essential oils can definitely make your zits worse. "Not all essential oils are created equal—some are safe and less likely to irritate, and have evidence that supports their anti-acne abilities," says Dr. Nazarian. "But others may be irritating to skin, and possibly even 'comedogenic,' meaning they may trigger more acne pimples with use!"
Play it safe and always ask your derm before you try a DIY approach.