Before looking at how to use essential oils for blackheads, let’s try to understand what may cause them.
Countless little glands are located in the skin. They produce sebum, as a natural way of lubricating the skin and keeping it supple. Sebum turns dark when it is exposed to light and oxygen, which is why we use the name ‘blackheads’ for the dark colored sebum obstructing pores.
When the skin is perfectly balanced, the glands produce just enough sebum to keep it smooth and healthy. For many different reasons however, the fragile balance can be disrupted. The glands may then produce more sebum than the skin needs. The excess sebum will lead to blackheads and possibly also acne when these get infected.
It is important to clean your skin regularly, especially at night. This doesn’t have much to do with the formation of blackheads though, it is mainly to allow the skin (any type of skin, from oily to dry) to restore itself. Blackheads are not a sign someone doesn’t wash his or her face often enough, and excessive washing will not make blackheads go away either. On the contrary, when the sebum glands are over-producing and creating blackheads, they are a bit “out of sync”, and the last thing they need, is to feel under attack, by harsh skin care products and excessive washing.
Can blackheads be caused by dirt from the outside?
No, dirt is not something that will give you blackheads. That being said, if you don’t clean your face at night and go to sleep with the dirt of the day still on your face, the skin will be disturbed in its natural regeneration process. Skin breathes and restores itself, especially during sleep. So even though dirt doesn’t cause them, skipping the evening cleansing ritual is certainly not going to help the state of your skin in general. Religiously cleansing the face before going to bed, with a gentle natural product is a must for all skin types. Using a natural skin care product with plant extracts and essential oils for blackheads to restore the balance of your ‘facial environment’ should help pave the way to smaller pores.
Possible Causes of Blackheads
The fact that blackheads, teen skin and acne are often mentioned together, is because hormones play an important role in our bodies and often affect the way our skin looks. Everyone responds differently to the changes our body goes through. Where some people never (seem to) have a single pimple, others desperately try all kinds of ways to treat their skin problems for years. It doesn’t seem fair, does it?
The influence of food or our skin seems to be pretty obvious. The entire body benefits from healthy nutrients, and takes a hit when we don’t eat right, so why not the skin, as our largest organ? The effects of an overall healthy diet will certainly improve the condition of the skin, just as poor nutrition and smoking will lead to shabby looking, dull skin.
Unfortunately, there is no magic diet that will help you to get rid of blackheads through food intake. Even the story around chocolate worsening acne is not necessarily true.
That said, as everyone responds differently to food, it could very well be possible for certain food to have a negative effect on your skin. In the same way some people are allergic to for example gluten, nuts, pork or lactosis, you might notice that chocolate does cause you to break out. Or any other nutrient. The key is to get to learn to know your own body and its reactions. Some are lucky enough to have perfect skin while feeding on – ahem – garbage, while others bravely say “no” to chocolate or other mesmerizing treats… and they’re still struggling with blackheads or acne.
Life isn’t fair!
Someone who eats very unhealthy may or may not be facing the consequences of their nasty eating habits at some point in life – I’m thinking of a documentary I saw once, where these male twins had their habits followed by a researcher for a very long time. When one of the two middle-aged men had a stroke, it was the twin who ate junk food every day and never worked out. Initially, this seemed to be expected. However, upon examination of his heart and arteries, it turned out that the other twin wasn’t far behind, even though he had been exercising and eating very healthy!
This study showed the influence of our genes, and we all are more or less lucky or unlucky in certain genetic area’s.
You probably know of a few examples of people with perfect skin or a great figure, who don’t eat healthy at all. Maybe you are constantly struggling with skin problems, no matter how healthy you try to eat. This is a tough one – I can’t immediately think of a scientific study right now, but I’m pretty sure there are some that prove the positive influence of healthy habits on the body. Even if your genes have set you up with certain predispositions, I wouldn’t drop all effort based on that. Science is only just beginning to understand how genetics work too – but that’s a different topic!
If you have tried removing certain foods from your diet and have come to the conclusion your acne and/or blackheads don’t seem to be food related, chances are your skin’s issues are hormonal. Besides using the right essential oils for blackheads and oily skin to maximize healing and restoration of your skin’s balance from the outside, it may be worth seeing a (naturopathic) doctor. He or she may test for hormonal issues and look at which vitamins/supplements can help balance out your hormones.
The Importance of Using “Non-comedogenic” Cosmetics
“Non-comedogenic” skin care products do not contain ingredients known to obstruct pores. As nice as it is to know these products have been formulated especially to not clog pores, please remember that it doesn’t mean they are natural. Synthetic ingredients can be “Non-comedogenic”, that doesn’t make them natural and it doesn’t make them ‘good’. Natural ingredients can be too rich for your skin, and that does’t make them ‘bad’. Personally, I would stay away from regular skin care products, and use only natural skin care with essential oils for blackheads.
There are some great ready-made options, but you can also combined the essential oils for blackheads of your choice to make your own skin care. The skin sometimes needs a little time to heal, after being exposed to harsh, synthetic chemicals for years on end. There are no miracles, but natural (organic) skin care with essential oils may very well be the closest thing to one. Essential oils have proven their miraculous powers many times over the past two decades I’ve been using them. I really wish for you to have the same experience, and for your skin to start clearing up soon!
Essential Oils for Blackheads
Certain plants and essential oils for blackheads can help the skin get rid of them, because they have astringent properties. This means they tone and refine the skin, by having a tightening effect on the pores. All of the essential oils for blackheads mentioned below are astringent, which is why in their short individual description I don’t specifically mention this again. Instead, there’s a little extra information on the additional benefits of each particular essence.
Juniper Essential Oil
Juniper essential oil is made from the branches and berries of a coniferous tree ‘Juniperus communis’. Juniper is an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory oil, which makes it a good choice for oily skin with acne. It helps wounds to heal faster and, by the way, is great for dandruff. I have to admit I would use Juniper essential oil just for its lovely fresh and tingling scent, as it transports me straight to a forest of pine trees.
Cedarwood Essential Oil
Cedarwood essential oil (Atlas or Virginiana) can treat acne, dermatitis, and dandruff. It may also treat seborrhoeic eczema and small wounds as an antiseptic. Cedarwood essential oil’s anti-inflammatory properties make it a great choice for healing acne and other skin infections, all while reducing blackheads through its astringent effect. Cedarwood is usually experienced as grounding, and therefor soothing and calming.
Clary Sage Essential Oil
Clary Sage essential oil is calming and helpful in case of anxiety and depression. It has a soothing effect on a whole panoply of women’s issues, from menstrual issues to menopause. With the focus here being essential oils for blackheads, the anti-inflammatory properties of clary sage essential oil make it a valuable asset for skin with acne and ulcers.
Frankincense Essential Oil
Frankincense essential oil is all about toning, refining and rejuvenating the skin. If you are looking for an astringent essential oils for blackheads, as well as an anti-aging essential oil to treat those wrinkles knocking at the door, this may be your top choice. And that’s not even counting the healing properties of frankincense on scars, small wounds or skin infections. Frankincense is wonderfully healing and soothing for the body in general, including menstrual problems. It is often used in meditation practice, and helps the anxious mind. You may need some of that soothing, after looking at the price-tag – frankincense essential oil isn’t cheap. I recommend looking up the prices of jasmine and rose essential oil to feel a little better about the frankincense, and then also remember that it was brought as a gift by the wise men from the East for good reason. 😉
Lemongrass Essential Oil
Lemongrass is an overall tonic and very good for many kinds of infections. It can help with exhaustion, whether this be due to a physical illness or something stress-related, all while keeping the bugs at a distance from your (recovering) body. Lemongrass essential oil is a powerful antiseptic and anti-fungal. Especially the antiseptic properties may do good to oily skin with acne.
Geranium Essential Oil
Geranium essential oil is antibacterial and antimicrobial. It helps along the healing process of wounds and even scars, which can be a great added benefit if you have old (or less old) acne scars. The scent of geranium is rather strong, and even though it is often compared to the fragrance of rose essential oil, I find geranium to be a bit more abrasive, and lacking some of the softness and delicacy of rose oil.
Myrtle Essential Oil
Myrtle essential oil is made from the entire ‘Myrtus communis‘ plant – flowers, leaves, and stem. It is antiseptic and deodorant, and was very much appreciated by the ancient Greeks for its medicinal properties – including the improvement of one’s libido. The antiseptic properties of myrtle essential oil protect wounds from infection, whereas its tightening and toning effect helps to diminish wrinkles (although this may very well go for all astringent essential oils). Myrtle essential oil is calming and slightly sedative, so it should alleviate some of the stress caused by blackheads, (cystic) acne or infection, while treating these skin conditions at the same time.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil deserves a place in this list as one of the most versatile oils. It can take care of a whole lot of skin problems, besides being a first-aid-kit in a bottle. Skin-wise, lavender can help in case of acne and oily skin, as well as dermatitis, stretch marks and scars, eczema and itching. Lavender oil is antibacterial, and a good choice to treat small cuts, burns, stings and bites. Besides, it smells like the Provence, and most people find it very relaxing. A great healing oil in general, I would combine this one with one of the more astringent essential oils, if you create your own blend of essential oils for blackheads.
Citrus Essential Oils
Citrus essential oils, such as Bergamot and Lemon can be used for their astringent properties, but caution is in order, because most citrus oils are photo-sensitizing. This means in the sunlight, they will cause your skin to develop brown spots or marks. If you must use a citrus oil, and you don’t want to trade in your blackheads for strange marks, perhaps the bergaptene-free Bergamot essential oil is a good choice. The substance causing the sensitizing has been synthetically removed from this oil, but hey, it’s better than developing sun-stains on your face!
Tangerine Essential Oil
Tangerine essential oil has come up in some research as a citrus oil that is not photo-sensitizing, or at least not as much. I’d still be careful, but I do find the smell of tangerine essential oil absolutely delicious, and it has a few other tricks up its sleeve. Tangerine oil is a strong antiseptic, and helps regenerate cells – healing and repairing the damaged ones. It is also generally soothing (again, stress, anyone…?), toning, and helps with many skin conditions, including dandruff.
Make Your Own Skin Care Using Essential Oils for Blackheads
- Add a few drops to the hot water of a steaming bowl, for a facial ‘hammam’.
- Create your own facial oil with jojoba oil or grapeseed oil as a base, and one or more of the essential oils for blackheads mentioned above, at a 1-2 % strength in total. Use once or twice daily.
Where to find essential oils for blackheads?
High-quality, therapeutic grade (organic) essential oils are conveniently available online. Good to know, if your local store doesn’t carry the ones you need, or if you’d just like to compare prices!
You don’t need to become part of a MLM marketing set-up to have access therapeutic grade, high-quality essential oils. If you are, and it works for you, great! Personally, I appreciate the freedom to shop wherever I like, and not to be tied down to a certain company.
I like the essential oils and carrier oils by Now Foods and Aura Cacia, and usually get them through Amazon, if I can wait a few days for them to come in, because of the better prices & larger selection compared to the local store. Both Now Foods and Aura Cacia offer certain oils in organic quality, as well as in non-organic. The difference is always clearly indicated on the bottle.
From Nature With Love is another good place to find carrier oils and many essential oils online.
Some Other Natural Remedies for Blackheads
Witch hazel is a well known plant with astringent qualities, refining and tightening the pores. It is one of the principal ingredients in Weleda’s One Step Cleanser & Toner and many other natural and organic skin care products. Witch hazel usually contains alcohol, which is subject to some controversy. Read more about alcohol in skin care here.
Another old natural remedy to tighten pores and get rid of blackheads is egg white. I’ve tried using egg white as a facial mask, but it was a long time ago and I can’t remember much details, except that my skin felt a bit strange afterwards. I didn’t really like the ‘pulling’ sensation and all in all it was a bit messy. The same thing went for rubbing a slice of lemon all over my face – it was messy, and my skin didn’t seem to enjoy it a whole lot.
I guess I never went back to egg whites and lemons since, because I enjoy using actual beauty products too much. You know, something that comes in bottle, smells lovely and makes you feel pretty when using it.
The most direct way to get rid of blackheads naturally: remove them (with care!)
As much as skin care products can do when it comes to toning and refining the skin and decreasing pore size in general, the larger, more noticeable blackheads will not simply dissolve back into your skin. If you want to get rid of one or more blackheads the drastic way, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands, use only clean towels and wash your face with a gentle cleanser. Then, to open the pores, use a little steam or warm water.
You can either cover your head with a towel, while hanging over a bucket of hot water – hot meaning enough to cause steam, but not so hot as to burn your face. Use the towel to capture the steam and enjoy a Turkish ‘hammam’ sensation. You can even add a few drops of essential oil to the water. After fifteen minutes (or a bit more if you really enjoy it), you’re ready to carefully pop out blackheads with some clean tissue wrapped around your fingers. If you don’t have time for a facial steam, a small towel can be drenched in hot water. While the towel is as hot as your hands and face can bare, squeeze most of the water out of it and press to the face. Repeat this step a few times.
Do not push the blackhead deeper into the skin, where it may cause an infection. Start from a good distance from the obstructed pore and apply light pressure. If nothing happens, move a little closer. Imagine the blackhead having a little root somewhere under the surface – you don’t want to get only the ‘top’.
After getting rid of the targeted blackheads, use a toner to freshen up and close the pores. A cooled off herbal infusion, or some diluted apple cider vinegar can make a nice toner. With some toner on a cotton pad, wipe the affected area’s, and then the entire face.
Always dilute essential oils properly – for more information, please refer to Precautions for the use of Essential Oils.
Remember to always try a tiny bit of diluted oil to make sure you are not allergic to any of its components. Even though essential oils for blackheads are natural, a personal sensitivity is always possible. Consult a certified aromatherapist and a medical practitioner before using essential oils, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. The same goes for the use of essential oils for children and older people. Everything on this website is a personal opinion, and not meant to treat or consult in any way. Basically – do your research, be smart, and know when to ask for advice from a professional.
Natural, Organic Skin Care with Essential Oils for Oily Skin/Acne
If you like aromatherapy skin care, made with essential oils, there are many skin care products formulated by professionals with essential oils for blackheads, and ingredients beneficial to oily skin and/or acne.
Tempted to try some truly natural organic skincare?
The sample pack for oily skin from Annmarie Gianni organic skin care is a great place to start.
All products are full of wild-crafted & organic ingredients. You choose the sample pack best suited to your skin type for $10. It comes with a coupon for $10 off any full-size product. If you fall in love with one or more of the products, the samples are basically free. Just in case that’s not enough organic goodness crammed into one little sample pack already – did I mention the free worldwide shipping? [Read more.]
Have you used any of the essential oils for blackheads mentioned above, and have they improved your skin?
I’d love to hear about your experiences, remarks, or random chit-chat. Don’t be shy, and share your thoughts below.
Image credit: Stuart Miles (junk food) Keakguru (brush) Boulemonademoon (lemon) / freedigitalphotos.net