Did I just say the best oils for acne-prone skin? Yes, you read that right. I use oils on my combination, acne-prone skin. And I have never been happier. My skin feels clean, properly moisturized with way lesser breakouts. But not all oils are equal, so you have to be careful which ones you use. Here I present the best carrier oils for acne-prone skin and scars.
7 Best Carrier Oils for acne-prone Skin
Here is a list of 7 best carrier oils for acne-prone skin and scars. This is a general guideline and based on my personal experience, remember to do a patch test to find if you are allergic to any of these oils.
1. Argan Oil
Pressed from the fruit of Argan tree (found only in Morocco) this oil is known as liquid gold and for a good reason. With high amounts of Vitamin E, this oil is great for anti-aging. It can help with fine lines, wrinkles and even tightening the skin.
With a balanced profile of oleic and linoleic acid, this oil is amazing for every skin type. It feels moisturizing without being too oily on the skin. This absorbs easily and does not leave oily feeling behind. I love this oil as it absorbs nicely and does not leave any oily residue.
2. Rosehip seed Oil
With linoleic acid being major fatty acid, this oil has high protection against inflammation and oxidation. Due to its properties to combat oxidation, this oil is helpful in treating signs of aging. High anti-inflammatory properties make it suitable to treat scarring, redness, and inflammation.
This oil has a dry consistency and does not feel sticky on the skin.
3. Almond Oil
Extracted from the almonds, this oil is known for its emollient properties. This oil is also known to improve complexion and skin tone.
This oil takes some time to skin in the skin so I generally avoid this one.
4. Grapeseed Oil
Another oil high in linoleic acid and with amazing moisturizing property for skin.
I love using this oil as it is cheap so an excellent option to mix some of the expensive oils. Also, it absorbs nicely in the skin and does not leave oily residue behind.
5. Olive Oil
This is one of the most commonly available oils in our kitchen. This oil mainly consists of oleic acids with smaller quantities of linoleic acid. Due to this, it has strong moisturizing properties and is more suitable for dry skin.
It is a heavy oil and takes some time in drying off. Use only a few drops of this oil to see whether it suits your skin or not.
6. Jojoba Oil
Technically a wax, this oil most resembles the natural oil produced by our skin. It has high anti-inflammatory properties making it suitable for infections, aging, and moisturization. Due to its structure closely resembling sebum, this helps to balance oil secretion in the skin.
Even though this oil is supposedly great for skin, I yet have to have any success with this one. I have used this oil multiple times, and every time it broke me out.
7. Prickly Pear Seed Oil
Extracted from a cactus, this oil has large amounts of linoleic acid, and vitamin E. Prickly pear oil stimulates cell production, provide protection and helps retain skin moisture (source). This oil is moisturizing, helps in cleaning up active acne (personal experience), and is overall amazing for skin.
The only downside is the cost. Quality prickly pear oil is expensive as only a tiny amount of oil is extracted from each seed.
Instead of opting for the cheapest option, go for quality oil here. It will be totally worth it. I love using this oil on my face as it absorbs nicely and even helps clean up any active acne.
Why use oils on the face?
All this time, you would have been told to stay from oils if you have combination skin and tend to break-out easily. Use oil-free face wash, oil-free moisturizer and what not. But, not all oils are scary or would break you out. In fact, oils might be what your skin needs, as they are loaded with beneficial nutrients for the skin.
Plant oils have been used on the skin for cosmetic and medicinal uses due to their physiological benefits. As is demonstrated in this article, different molecular structures of oil benefit different skin problems.
What are carrier oils?
Carrier oils are basically oils derived from nuts and seeds of different plants. Based on the plant they have different properties. They can be used by themselves (as a moisturizer, to treat specific problems) or can be mixed with other carrier oils or essential oils.
They are called carrier oils as they carry essential oils or any other absolute to the skin(Wikipedia). The absorption of essential oil will depend on how thick the carrier oil is and how easily it spreads.
Even though called vegetable oils, not all are derived from vegetables. This name is given to mainly distinguish them from non-plant oils (like emu, mineral oil). and they may or may not be food grade. Always check the quality before consuming your carrier oils in food.
Quality of carrier oils
When it comes to selecting the best quality oils, cheap is not always the best Quality oils are pricey, so buy the highest quality you can afford. Choose cold-pressed and unrefined carrier oils. This means the oil is not heated during extraction and not refined, which is a higher quality oil.
Which carrier oils are good for acne-prone skin
Based on the plant from which it is derived, each oil contains a different chemical structure and its unique properties. It is this structure that defines whether oil will clog pores or not. How to tell whether a particular oil will clog your pores or not? In comes Comedogenic Rating.
Comedogenic rating basically tells what is the likelihood for a specific oil to clog pores. Given on a scale of 0-5, a lower rating means less likelihood of that oil clogging while higher means there is a very high chance of it clogging pores.
0 – Not likely to clog pores
1- Low chances of clogging pores
2- Moderately Low. These oils may or not clog pores
3 – Moderate chances of clogging pores
4- Fairly High.
5- High chances of clogging pores.
For acne-prone skin, you want to use 0-2 comedogenic rating oils. Anything above that increases the chances of breakouts.
Keep in mind, this is more like a guideline, and finally, whether an oil suits you or not will depend on many factors like your skin, genes, your location, health.
Check out the comedogenic rating of most of the oils and butter here.
What is linoleic acid?
Okay, so from above you understood, comedogenic 0-2 oils are good for acne-prone skin. But there is one more factor to keep in mind when deciding to use oils. You want to use oils that are rich in Linoleic Acid. You can ask what is linoleic acid and why is it important in deciding your next oil?
Among other fatty acids, two omega essential fatty acids play an important role in making the chemical structure of the oils. These are oleic acid (omega 9 essential fatty acid) and linoleic acid (omega 6 fatty acid).
In healthy, balanced skin, both these oils are in good balance. But in acne-prone skin, linoleic acid is way lesser than it should be. Result, acne, dryness, or sensitivity. None of the good things.
In short, for acne-prone skin, you want oils that are rich in linoleic acid.
Low comedogenic rating + Rich linoleic acid = happy skin
Other great carrier oils for acne-prone skin
Based on the above criteria, here is a list of carrier oils that are generally great for acne-prone skin and scars.
Since these are mostly nut oils, do a patch test before using it to find if you are allergic to it.
- Comedogenic Rating – 0
- Argan oil
- Hemp oil
- Safflower oil
- Sunflower oil
- Tomato seed oil
- Watermelon seed oil
- Shea butter
- Comedogenic Rating -1
- Grapeseed oil
- Rosehip seed oil
- Prickly Pear oil
- Guava seed oil
- Cucumber seed oil
- Comedogenic Rating -2
- Jojoba oil
- Black cumin seed oil
- Borage oil
- Pumpkin seed oil
- Mango butter
- Olive oil
- Almond oil
I have intentionally left out oils above comedogenic rating 2 as these are more like to cause clog pores and breakout acne-prone skin.
Oil Vs Butter
In the above list, I have shared some beneficial oils as well as butter. In very simple terms, butter is a fat extracted from some part of the plant, typically fruit. Compared to its oil counterpart, butter is thicker and takes more time to absorb in the skin.
Using natural butter like shea is good for the skin. Butters generally have higher oleic acid content, thereby making them more prone to break out. It is better to mix shea/natural butter with another suitable oil before applying on acne-prone skin.
Different oils have different benefits for the skin. Look for a low comedogenic rating oil with high linoleic fatty acid for healthy skin. Combine using oils with healthy skin routine to enjoy glowing skin.
Do you use oils on your face? How was your experience?