I can take a hint: questions about natural help for acne has crossed my path 4 times in the past three days. Time for a blog post.
It is a common problem, and can come at any age. So how do you know if those blotches, bumps, blackheads and blemishes are acne or something else? Only a doctor can tell you that.
The nice thing about the aromatherapy approach to acne (and similar skin problems) is that an exact diagnosis isn't so important. The aromatherapy is all about balancing....the oils moisturize dry skin, dry oily skin and balance combination skin all in one go. Many oils are anti-microbial bacteria killers too. That phrase "it's all good" actually kind of applies here. But unfortunately, so does the phrase "trial and error"...especially if you don't see a practitioner in person. But back to the up side...true aromtherapy oils are generally gentle, inexpensive and multi-purpose, so a little trial and error isn't that risky. The oils that do not work out for your skin have many other applications, not the least of which is that they can make your environment smell nice! Everyone's skin is very individual, so don't be discouraged...keep trying, and work with a pro if the problem is severe.
We'll talk about dry and combination skin in a separate post. Today we'll just take a quick look at common kind of mild, oily, acne prone skin.
Even though they are more gentle than a prescription, essential oils can still pack a punch. Most are too irritating to use full strength, and only a handful of oils can be used directly on the skin as-is (aromtherapists call this "neat"). To be safe, always dilute the essential oils in a "carrier" oil. Carriers have little or no scent, is not irritating, often has little or no aromatherapy effects on its own.
For acne skin, the choice of carrier can be as important as the choice of therapeutic oils. Avoid thick, heavy, overly emollient carriers. My favorite is grape seed oil. It is light, easily absorbed, has a dry, non-greasy feel after you've applied it. Grapeseed has a neutral scent, and as an added bonus is slightly astringent in its own right.
Jojoba oil can help balance sebum, the skin's natural oils, but it is a bit heavy and potentially pore-clogging to use alone. Adding a few drops of jojoba to any essential oil blend can act as a natural preservative. All you need is a few drops added to the base carrier oil.
Some people recommend citrus for oily skin, like orange or lemon oils. I tend to avoid those, especially on the face, since any citrus oil can make skin more sun-sensitive and lead to sunburns. The exception is Neroli, which is from the bitter orange flower, not the fruit. Neroli is one of those oils you can use directly on the skin. It is soothing, beneficial for all skin types, but one of the more expensive oils to use.
Anti-inflammatory oils can help take the redness out of blemishes. German chamomile is one of the most potent, but pricey (and a pretty blue color!) Roman chamomile can be substituted, but isn't as strong. Helichrism is another strong anti-inflammatory but very expensive and sometimes difficult to find. Rose or geranium are also good choices, if you can tolerate the scent, which is too strong for the face in my opinion.
Some excellent germ killers to include in acne care include tea tree, rosemary verbanone, and thyme linalool. The "verbanone" and "linalool" are specific types of rosemary and thyme, not exactly the ones used in cooking. These special types contain less of the irritating components than are found in other varieties. In any rosemary or thyme, always dilute.
Oil balancing choices include lavender, geranium, sandalwood, cedarwood and ylang ylang.
Frankincense is a nice (although pricey) choice for older skin as it is reported to help minimize scarring, and wrinkles too.
Juniper Berry is a "detoxifier" and brings healing blood flow to blemishes.
Most of the oils mix and match fairly well, but it takes some know-how and practice to make combinations that work in "synergy"... a blend that works together better than any one oil alone. For do-it-yourself-ers, you might want to keep it simple. 8 drops of an oil-balancer plus 4 drops of an antiseptic oil in 1 oz of carrier would be a place to start.
Give any blend you use at least 3-4 weeks before you change your skin care routine. Gentle, natural products take time to work, and sometimes there is a little bit of a 'healing crises'...where the skin gets a bit worse before it starts to get better. If you don't see improvement after that time, then changing the oil blend or concentrations might be your next step.
As always, these are just general-purpose ideas. Any doubt - see a pro. Don't use anything if you are pregnant or nursing without consulting an expert. Nothing in a blog can dignose, treat, or prevent disease, much less take the place of professional care. You KNOW that already, don't you?
For more information about aromatherapy, and an example of one natural acne-care regimen, please visit www.RondaSnow.com
Ronda Snow holds a Ph.D in Natural Health and a B.S. Med. Sci. She is a Reiki Master and author of the "Gargie Award" winning Modern Oracle Tarot Blog on amazon.com for Kindle