The Top 10 Essential Oils for Skincare

Let's take a look at the best essential oils for skincare, how to safely use essential oils on your skin, and which essential oils are best for your specific skin needs.

Looking to add essential oils to your skincare routine? Wondering which ones and how!? Let’s take a closer look at which are best for your unique skin needs, how to safely use essential oils on skin, and some fun, simple ways to start adding them to your routine!

Originally Published on February 16, 2014 | Updated on April 26, 2020

Are essential oils part of your skincare routine yet?

Essential oils can help keep skin clear, fight the signs of aging, increase skin elasticity, and so much more.

I’ve already blabbed on and on to you about my obsession with face oils and how they have helped me attain and maintain a clear, (as-close-to-)flawless(-as-I’ve-come-since-infancy) complexion. Well consider this part 2…

P.S. I recently took my obsession for face oils and bottled it up! The Body Unburdened Beauty Blends are made with the highest quality organic ingredients… and so much love by yours truly just for you.


First things first, what are essential oils?

Studies ave found that geranium essential oil is anti-inflammatory. Learn which other essential oils are best for skin.

Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts.

They capture the plant’s scent and flavor, or “essence,” plus its unique chemical properties.

Because of these unique chemical properties and their benefits, essential oils have long been used in herbal and natural medicine, as well as aromatherapy.


The BIG difference between essential oils and carrier oils you must know

If you want to learn about essential oils, you’ll also need to learn about carrier oils. This is especially true if you plan to apply essential oils to your skin!

There is a big difference between the two, though they’re most typically used hand-in-hand, blended together.

Carrier oils are vegetable oils that are derived from the fatty portion of plants, usually from the seeds, kernels or the nuts.

Examples of carrier oils: coconut oil, jojoba oil, argan oil, sunflower seed oil, rosehip seed oil, evening primrose oil, and many more.


Can essential oils be used on your skin?

The answer: yes and no.

Only some essential oils are safe to use on your skin, and even those essential oils must be properly diluted in a carrier oil. You can also dilute them in butters (like shea, cocoa, or mango) or aloe vera.

Remember: essential oils are very concentrated herbal extracts and very strong!

So if applied undiluted, essential oils can cause skin irritation and burning, which we of course don’t want.


How to safely use essential oils on your skin: 3 must-know rules

Rule #1: Essential oils should’t be applied to the skin “neat” or undiluted

They should always be diluted in a carrier oil like argan oil, jojoba oil, pumpkin seed oil, grapeseed oil, etc.

You can find the best carrier option for your skin type here: The Best Face Oils By Skin Type

Opinions on proper dilution ratios vary, though most recommendations are between 1% and 2% of the final product.

Since there are 20 drops in 1 ml and 29 mL in 1 oz, for every 1 oz of carrier oil:

  • 2% dillution = no more than 12 drops of essential oils
  • 1% dillution = no more than 6 drops of essential oils

Rule #2: Be sure to do a patch test

This is to make sure your skin does not have an adverse reaction to the essential oils.

The inner forearm is a great place to do a test since the skin is delicate, similar to facial skin.

Rule #3: Some essential oils cause photosensitivity and so should not be used on the skin

In other words, these essential oils make your skin more vulnerable to UV rays. This in turn makes skin more vulnerable to uncomfortable sunburn as well as premature aging.

Essential oils that are known to cause photosensitivity:

  • Angelica root Angelica archangelica 
  • Bergamot peel Citrus aurantium 
  • Bitter orange peel Citrus sinensis
  • Cumin seed Cuminum cyminum
  • Grapefruit peel Citrus paradisi 
  • Lemon peel Citrus limonum
  • Lime peel Citrus aurantifolia
  • Mandarin leaf Citrus reticulata
  • Rue leaf Ruta graveolens

You may see varying safe dilution amounts for these essential oils. But my thought process is is: why take the risk when there are SO many other essential oils with wonderful skin benefits and no risk of photosensitivity? It’s just not worth it.


The top 10 essential oils for skincare

The following ten essential oils help remedy a number of skin conditions — from acne to aging, dryness to oiliness.

And when combined with the right carrier oils — see the best face oils by skin type — you’ll see absolutely amazing results!

Lavender essential oil has so many skin benefits! Learn more, plus how to safely use essential oils in your skincare routine.

Carrot Seed Essential Oil — aging skin, reducing scarring

Carrot seed essential oil is rich in antioxidants, helping to neutralize inflammation and wrinkle-causing free radicals (source).

It has a rejuvenating effect on the skin, helping to keep skin smooth skin and aid cell regeneration. For this reason, it’s prized as one of the best essential oils for aging skin.


Frankincense Essential Oil— acne and blemish-prone skin, aging skin, reducing scarring, dry skin

Ah, the go-to essential oil for all skin needs!

Frankincense essential oil works wonders for all skin types. It has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits to the skin, making it great for acne-prone skin. It is also a natural toner, decreasing the appearance of pores and evening skin-tone. It encourages new cell growth, helping to tighten skin and reduce wrinkles and the appearance of scars. It also helps soothe chapped, dry skin. (source)


Geranium Essential Oil — acne and blemish-prone skin, aging skin, reducing scarring, dry skin, dermatitis, eczema

This sweet-smelling essential oil also does it all.

Geranium essential oil is a powerful anti-inflammatory (source). It helps improve skin elasticity and smooth the skin. It also promotes blood circulation to the skin, helping to heal bruises, broken capillaries, burns, cuts, dermatitis, eczema, ringworm, and other skin conditions.

Lavender Essential Oil — acne and blemish-prone skin, aging skin, reducing scarring, dry skin

Lavender essential oil is one I suggest no one goes without! It smells amazing, helps you relax and your body adapt to stress, and (of course!) has great benefits for the skin.

Lavender essential oil is a powder anti-inflammatory (source), helps speed the healing of wounds, and increase collagen production (source). This is why it’s so is great for aging, mature skin, as well as blemish-prone skin.


Myrrh Essential Oil — acne and blemish-prone skin, aging skin, reducing scarring, dry skin

Myrrh essential oil is especially great for aging and chapped, irritated skin.

It has strong antioxidant properties (source) that help improve skin tone, firmness, and skin elasticity, helping to reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Myrrh is also one of the best essential oils for healing skin irritations and chapped skin (source).


Neroli Essential Oil — acne and blemish-prone skin, aging skin, reducing scarring, dry skin

Neroli essential oil is wonderful for oily, sensitive, and mature skin. Yes, another great essential oil for all skin types!

This antioxidant, anti-inflammatory essential oil contains a natural chemical called citral, which helps regenerate cells. For this reason, it’s said to be very good at preventing and healing stretch marks, as well as smoothing fine lines. Its antibacterial properties also aid blemish-prone skin. (source)


Patchouli Essential Oil — aging skin, reducing scarring, dermatitis, eczema

Patchouli essential oil promotes new cell growth and smooths the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Because it also has antiseptic, anti-fungal, and antibacterial properties, patchouli EO is also great for skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, and acne.


Rose Essential Oil — aging skin, reducing scarring, dermatitis, dry skin

Rose EO is one of the best essential oils for dry skin as well as aging, mature skin.

Researchers have found that it contains several therapeutic compounds known to promote healing, especially antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory compounds. As a result, rose essential oil helps refine skin texture and tone, and can be helpful with managing skin conditions such as psoriasis and dermatitis. Interestingly, one study even found that just inhaling rose essential oil inhibits water loss in the skin!

Studies also indicate that rose essential oil also helps alleviate stress and anxiety, which raise cortisol levels and so accelerate skin aging and can trigger breakouts! In this more holistic way, rose essential oil also benefits the skin.


Tea Tree Essential Oil — acne and blemish-prone skin

Tea tree essential oil is one of the more well-known essential oils for acne and blemish-prone skin.

Its antibacterial properties help ward off acne-causing bacteria and assist wound healing. It also helps to regulate oil production, helping fight breakouts before they even start. (source)


Ylang Ylang Essential Oil — acne and blemish-prone skin, aging skin, reducing scarring

Ylang ylang essential oil is one of my favorite essential oils because of its rich, floral fragrance. It smells amazing!

But ylang ylang is so much more than its scent: this essential oil helps control oil production and minimize breakouts. It also helps regenerate skin cells, smoothing fine lines and improving skin elasticity. (source) Another great essential oil for every skin type!

Certain essential oils have wonderful skincare benefits. Learn how to use them safely on your skin, plus the top 10 essential oils for skin.

How to use essential oils in your skincare routine: 2 fun ways to get started

How to use essential oils in your skincare routine + the best essential oils for skin

Essential oils play a big role in many natural skincare DIYs, to add both a natural scent and their beneficial properties.

Here are 2 fun ways to get get started:

1. Customized face oil blend

Read through How to Make A Custom Face Oil Blend (Perfect for YOUR Skin) to learn everything you need to know about selecting the right carrier and essential oils to make a face oil bend that’s perfectly suited to your skin.

And if you have blemish-prone skin, check out my DIY All-Natural Face Oil for Acne-Prone & Oily Skin.

2. Body scrub

An all-natural body scrub that exfoliates, moisturizes, and provides the aromatherapeutic and skin-loving benefits of essential oils? Yes, please! Plus, they’re SO simple to make.


Do you use essential oils in your skincare routine?

I’ve had amazing results with essential oils and carrier oils — my skin is clearer and brighter than it has ever been, and my acne scars and sun spots are slowly but surely fading.

Do you already incorporate essential oils in your skincare routine?

Which ones?

If not and you decide to try one or two (or more!), please give us an update on how they are working for you!

Essential oils for skincare? Yes! Essential oils help keep skin clear, fight the signs of aging, increase skin elasticity, and so much more.

MY NEW BOOK "GLOW: THE NUTRITIONAL APPROACH TO NATURALLY GORGEOUS SKIN" IS FINALLY HERE!

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  1. I have started using tea tree oil and lavender oil in a base of witch hazel. I also use coconut oil on my face as a moisturizer. Great results for my oily acne prone skin. Black heads gone. Pop up pimples just disappear using this. Best stuff ever. Why didn’t I have this knowledge in my 20’s? Oh right no internet back then. Lol.

  2. i bought lemon oil. orange oil, coconut oil, i mixed to lighten my skin, it doesn work, what was wrong, did i use too much, how much is enough

  3. My husband suffers with sinus issues, which EO would u recommend? Also
    My daughter gets really bad menstrul cramps is there an EO to help her?

  4. I have very dry, sensitive, acne prone skin. I hate the feeling of my skin being tight. I’ve been using vain cream soap to wash my face and coconut oil but I think it has been making my skin worse. What do you suggest I use to moisturizer and clear up my skin?

  5. I don’t think any list is complete without helichrysum italicum. Would never go without it for my skin!

  6. Thank you for this! I recently started using the OCM, and like you I’m not sure I think the oils clean my skin. I started with 1/2 and 1/2 of Castor and Grapeseed, now Castor and Tamanu. I mixed up 2 serums for spot treatment-1 has Tea Tree, Lemongrass, Lavender and Ylang Ylang to 2Tbsp Jojoba and the other is Lemon, Ylang Ylang and Frankincense to 2 Tbsp Jojoba. I have the worst pre-menopausal acne and have tried just about everything. What do you recommend for a cleanser since you don’t prefer the OCM? Thanks again! Lisa

  7. At night what are your exact steps on cleaning your face with these oils I’m 27 and literally just started getting acne on my chin.

  8. Thanks, Linda! I’ll definitely edit the post to include a warning about lemon EO and sun protection.

  9. I don’t think I saw it mentioned that lemon essential oil is phototoxic and should not be used on the skin if one will be exposed to sunlight, as it can alter skin pigmentation. Most citrus oils as well as Bergamot, which ironically used to be added to sun screen products, are also phototoxic. Just as an aside, having been working with essential oils for 30 years now, my personal recommendation is to limit face oils to 3% (3 drops to every 100 drops of carrier oil, which is 1 tsp) which is a better ratio for more sensitive skins…and with essential oils, unlike how we are conditioned to think with mass market consumer goods, less is more! Can’t sat enough about buyingvquality oils, and organic where possible.

  10. I keep seeing more and more articles about the use of EO’s for acne but I must say I am very nervous. The idea of putting oil my face makes me think it will cause me to break out. What would be the best oil to start with?

  11. How do you use these oils? Do you wash your face with them like in an oil cleansing method or do you mositurizer after cleansing with them?

  12. Great post! How do you measure the 5%? What is your typical ratio of carrier oil to essential oil (i.e. – how many drops of EO). I started using rose hip oil after I read it on your blog. Could I add essential oils to that?

    Thanks.

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