The Ultimate Guide to Essential Oils for Skin Care

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 the best essential oils for skin by skin type, how to use essential oils on skin safely, and some fun, simple ways to start adding them to your natural beauty routine!

Originally Published on February 16, 2014 | Updated on May 28, 2021

Are essential oils part of your natural beauty routine yet?

By the end of this guide, they will be!

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 use essential oils for skin application and health!

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 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 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 10 best essential oils for skin

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.


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  1. Melaluca A (tea tree) is good for acne. I put pre EO on my skin neat (make sure they are quality EOs – not every company is the same. I love OCM – over a year and going strong!

  2. Is it wrong not to dilute the oils that I use on my face ( lavender, geranium, mirth )????
    Thank you

  3. I Love using EO’s for beauty but wanted to remind everyone that what you put into your body is also important. Leave off refined sugars, and wheat for three weeks. The difference will astound you.

  4. Thanks for a great post! I always see products that will ‘tone the skin’, but I realized I’m not actually sure what this mean? What does a toner do?

  5. I’m 14 years old and I complain from acne ; face, back and chest. It makes me fell stressful all the time I used many medication but without benefit. I need your advices for treat acne with natural ingredients.
    With my great thanks.

  6. I have just started using emu oil as its one oil that penetrates through all 7 layers of skin (not just sit on the top like most) im waiting to see some results as i suffer with real oily skin, large pores all over my cheeks nose and chin and got mild acne on my chin, i seen a really good review of a woman who suffered with large pores after using retinol and she only used emu oil and just raw honey everyday to try and heal her skin it seemed to of worked for her but I’m still slightly sceptical of that!! Im hoping it works because im so sick of these pores! Cant even hide them with make-up it just seeps in the pores 🙁 its making me really depressed, i sometimes worry that im making my pores larger with this oil even though it doesn’t clog pores im still getting worried that im making them worse rather than better :/ i try looking at my bare skin in daylight every morning to see if i notice a slight difference and sometimes i think they look quite larger! Urghs im getting so fed up!! What oils would you suggest to help large pores and breakouts?

  7. I always suggest diluting EOs to a maximum of 5% (since 1 ml is 20 drops, for every 1 ml of carrier oil you would add 1 drop of EO). Best of luck!

  8. hi everyone
    suppose if i want to blend lavender, geranium,and patchouli to jojoba oil how oz. and drops do i have to take?

  9. Hi Nadia,
    I’m a lover of anything natural, as a result I use natural Shea butter as moisturizer for myself and my kids but this doesn’t smell well so I decided to drop in some essential oils to enhance the smell but I needed to also know the effect on this on my kids’ skin in the long run. So I googled and found your article on EOs and you mentioned here that pregnant woman, infants and young children should avoid it. Please could you provide more info on why they should?

  10. Hi! Is it ok to mix several of these oils together with the FCO? I have the Frankincense right now but was thinking of adding the Geranium and Lavender with it. What do you recommend? Thanks!