6 Skin-Enhancing Essential Oils

Essential oils have long been known for their therapeutic effects and powerful natural fragrance. I hope more skincare companies will switch over to essential oils and eliminate synthetic fragrances containing toxic ingredients.

There are six essential oils that are my absolute favorites. There are many more that are fantastic for skin and overall health, but I’m going to focus on some of my top picks.

First, it’s important to know how to use essential oils safely. Essential oils are powerful and healing when used properly. There are a few things to keep in mind so you obtain the benefits without concern.

Tips for Safely Using Essential Oils

  • Check for purity. The purity of essential oils ranges greatly, so be sure to only use essential oils with the absolute highest standards. Some essential oils are extracted with harmful practices. Ask questions about the extraction process, purity and concentration.
  • Do a patch test. Some people are sensitive to essential oils and may develop contact dermatitis or skin irritation. If you tend to react easily, it’s best to do a patch test by applying the skin care product with essential oils to a small area of your inner forearm and place a band-aid over it. If you have a rash, redness or itchiness within 24 hours, then you may have a sensitivity and should reconsider using the product elsewhere on your body.
  • Start small and simple. Generally, it’s best to start with 2 – 3 drops per application. I like to use a carrier oil such as coconut oil, almond oil or jojoba oil and mix 1 or 2 drops essential oils in 2 – 5 Tablespoons of oil to start. I don’t generally recommend people apply straight essential oils (without diluting) when they’re first trying it out. Some oils are stronger than others, so you’ll want to dilute them even more.
  • Use caution in the sun when using citrus essential oils. Furanocoumarin is a chemical component in citrus peel that is responsible for sun sensitivity (easy burning or excess pigmentation) and potentially serious damage to the skin when it’s on skin that is exposed to sunlight. In The Spa Dr. skincare products (Daily Essentials Steps 2 and 3), we use furanocoumarin-free oil so that it’s safe for use with sun exposure. If you’re using skin care products with citrus essential oils, it’s important to make sure that they’re furanocoumarin-free.
  • Use caution when using straight (undiluted) essential oils therapeutically. This is particularly important if you are pregnant, nursing or wanting to use essentials on your baby or child. Certain components of essential oils such as ketones can be great for healing but can be neurotoxic to sensitive patients such as people with seizure disorders, pregnant women and babies.
  • Work with a specialist. If you have specific health or skin issues, it’s best to work with a qualified health care provider to help ensure you’re getting the best care possible and your condition can be safely monitored. If you want to use essential oils therapeutically, consider working with someone well trained in essential oils. 

Here are 6 of my favorite essential oils for skin:

1. Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties and is well known to help reduce acne breakouts in patients with mild-to-moderate acne. In addition to helping acne, the research shows tea tree oil to be effective at addressing seborrheic dermatitis and chronic gingivitis (gum disease) as well as speeding the wound healing process. Because of its antifungal and antiviral effects, tea tree oil may also help with warts and fungal infections (such as athlete’s foot and nail fungus). It even has been shown to have antibacterial activity against MRSA and may be helpful as an adjunct therapy.

2. Ylang Ylang Flower Oil

This beautiful essential oil has an exotic sweet smell and has a euphoric, sedative effect on the nervous system so it often helps relieve tension and stress. Topically, ylang-ylang oil helps with sebum-balance for both overly dry and overly oily complexions. It has an amazing ability to help maintain proper moisture levels by preventing our skin’s water loss which, in turn, makes the skin appear resilient and smooth. It also has a soothing effect. It is one of the star oils in The Spa Dr.’s Daily Essentials proprietary 100% organic, natural essential oil blend.

3. Bergamot Fruit Oil

This oil has a lovely natural fragrance as well as antiseptic and antibacterial properties. It can help regulate sebum secretion, and it has been known to even out skin tone and promote wound healing. Blemishes of all types benefit from its topical application. Since this is a citrus oil, it’s important to be careful of sun exposure after using this oil. You can use it in the evenings in small amounts, but some people continue to have sun sensitivity effects 24 hours after use. So, that’s why, with The Spa Dr. skincare, we use Fuorocoumarin-Free, also referred to as Bergaptene-Free, bergamot oil.

4. May Chang Peel Oil

This oil is widely used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for its anti-congestive, antiseptic and calming benefits. In skincare, it helps address oily skin and breakouts thanks to its astringent, antimicrobial anti-inflammatory action. May Chang Peel oil is known for its deeply cleansing and pore-reducing effects without irritating or drying out the skin. It’s soothing and healing to the skin and its amazing smell makes it the perfect natural fragrance, which is why we also include this in The Spa Dr.’s Daily Essentials proprietary 100% organic, natural fragrance.

5. Clary Sage

Clary sage oil contains natural antimicrobial agents so it can be helpful in addressing wounds and skin infections. Research shows it can help fight certain Staphylococcus infections, which are common bacterial causes of skin infections. (Postepy Dermatol Alergol) Skin infections are common, but it is important to see your doctor if your infection is serious or continues for more than a few days without improvement.

6. Lavender

This popular essential oil is known for its stress-reducing, soothing and calming properties as well as its antimicrobial activities against bacteria, fungi, and yeasts. Research shows it also has anti-inflammatory and immune boosting effects. These benefits plus pain-reducing and wound-healing properties make lavender one of my favorites in skincare and skin healing treatments.

As I mentioned before, there are many more essential oils with therapeutic and naturally fragrant properties. For example, peppermint oil, lemon balm, lemongrass, jasmine, and frankincense have skin-enhancing and healing benefits. I could go on, but I want to keep it simple and give you a place to start using essential oils in your skincare today. Enjoy!