Caring For Oily Skin With Essential Oils

There are thousands of tiny glands under your skin that produce sebum. This waxy substance is extremely important as it helps to protect your skin. However, when these glands overproduce sebum the result is oily or greasy skin. This type of skin is usually shiny in appearance often with large, visible pores. It is also prone to blackheads and spots especially around the forehead, nose and chin – also known as the T-zone. In some cases those with an oily complexion may suffer from severe acne, which can be quite distressing. Although it tends to be more common in teenagers, due to hormonal fluctuations, oily skin can affect anyone at any age.


Many commercially prepared solutions for oily skin contain alcohol. This is because alcohol is a well-known astringent. It tightens tissues and removes excess oil from the skin. While the immediate after-effects may seem positive, alcohol is one of the worst things you can put on oil-prone skin. It dries the skin out and strips away all of the natural, and important, oils. This causes the sebaceous glands to go into overdrive and produce even more sebum, which is exactly what you were trying to avoid in the first place! The more you use these commercially based products, the more you’ll have to.


Aromatherapy is one of the best and most natural ways to protect and care for your skin. There are several essential oils with astringent properties such as cedarwood, cypress, frankincense, myrrh, rose and sandalwood that won’t dry out your skin. Both cedarwood and ylang ylang are anti-seborrhoeic, which means they help balance sebum production, and geranium is an excellent choice where hormonal causes may be at the root of oily skin, for example teenagers and women on the contraceptive pill. Oily complexions are also more prone to spots and pimples because bacteria on the surface of the skin, is more easily trapped in the pores. Oils like lavender and juniper are powerful anti-bacterial oils and can help prevent outbreaks.

All of these oils are wonderfully nourishing and calming for the skin. Instead of working against your body, they work with it and redress any imbalances. This approach is kinder and gentler on your skin, and the results are more beneficial in the long run. One thing to remember with essential oils is not to use any oil for more than 2-weeks, especially if you are using them on a daily basis. This will avoid the risk of becoming over-sensitized to any specific essential oil. Of course essential oils should always be diluted before being applied to the skin. While it may seem strange to add oil to already ‘oily’ skin, carrier oil does not make the skin greasier; in fact it has the opposite effect! My personal choice is using a mix of jojoba oil and grapeseed oil. Excess sebum actually dissolves in jojoba oil, while grapeseed is light and slightly drying.

Try adding 3-drops lavender, 3-drops geranium and 3-drops grapefruit to a blend of 20 ml grapeseed and 10 ml jojoba carrier oil for a nighttime facial massage blend. Another lovely blend, which may appeal more to men, is 5-drops sandalwood, 2-drops cypress and 2-drops lavender in the same carrier oil dilution. Exfoliating the skin can also help to cleanse the pores and reduce the appearance of spots, however most over-the-counter exfoliants are too strong and simply irritate the skin further. A great, natural exfoliator that can be used daily is 3-drops ylang ylang, 3-drops frankincense, 3-drops grapefruit and 1-Tablespoon of grapeseed oil or natural honey mixed with 2-3 Tablespoons of natural porridge oats. Both oats and honey are renowned for their soothing and healing properties so are a great addition to your beauty regime.

Toners and astringents don’t have to be harsh. You can easily make your own version using a combination of essential oils and distilled water and either rosewater or witch hazel. Witch hazel is an age-old remedy for oily, spot-prone skin, but some people find it can be too drying. If that’s the case for you simply use rosewater or orange floral water instead. In a 100 ml spray bottle add 80 ml distilled water and 15 ml rosewater, orange water or witch hazel and 25 drops of the essential oils of your choice. Personally I like the combination of 9-drops frankincense, 6-drops lavender, 6-drops grapefruit and 4-drops ylang ylang, but 12-drops sandalwood, 6-drops cypress, 3-drops juniper and 3-drops lavender is also a great choice.

If you have oily skin don’t despair. Using essential oils, as part of your skin care regime will help keep your skin looking it’s best.