Shopping for the Best Face Oil for Acne? Read this Guide First

Jan 11, 2023by Heather Smith


Are you looking for information in your search for the best face oil for acne? What about the best facial oil for oily skin?

When searching for a skincare solution for something bothersome like acne or oily skin, finding unbiased information is challenging and knowing what to trust is even more complicated.

When I ran the search for "best face oil for acne," I was bombarded with a large number of "top 10 lists," but looking at the actual products showed some surprising results. There were quite a few with ingredients that are known to be more likely to clog pores (algae extract, marula oil, coconut oil), and there was a fair bit of tea tree oil being used, which is quite an irritant.

The most disappointing thing was that there was an overabundance of facial oils made from only carrier oils. There's nothing wrong with carrier oils, as they are incredibly nourishing and can help with both acne and oily skin.

However, it was disappointing to see so many oils marketed towards a specific skin concern, all while missing the boat to use more active ingredients.

The potential benefits of using a face oil when you suffer from acne and/or oily skin include:

  • sebum regulation
  • anti-inflammatory effects
  • anti-microbial and anti-fungal effects
  • antioxidant
  • repair and restoration of your skin barrier and protective acid mantle

While using oil for oily skin might seem counter-intuitive, here is some important information to learn if you're looking to give it a try.

Best face oils for acne - infographic by bareLUXE Skincare

Traditional Approaches to Acne and Oily Skin

One line of thinking regarding oily skin is that you need to control the oil by cleansing, avoiding oil-containing products, and using medicated treatments like peroxides, retinoids, salicylic acid, and other medications.

Of course, there is truth to some of this, but overdoing it (or trying it all at once) often makes your skin so much worse than it was before you started. Imagine washing your face with soap, using an astringent toner, putting on some benzoyl peroxide or retinol, and topping it off with an oil-free moisturizer... your skin is going to be very sad and begging for some squalane!

For many people, variations in the above approach just worsen acne. This is likely due to a combination of overtreatment and barrier damage which creates a relentless cycle.

If you've been on the oil-free, medicated treatment, wash-wash-wash bandwagon and nothing is helping, it is probably time to try a face oil.

Regardless, be sure to start out with a visit to your doctor before trying at home remedies. Especially if your acne is deeply cystic, inflamed, scaring, or emotionally destructive for you. 

Sebum Regulation

Sebum is an oily substance produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin. It helps to moisturize and protect the skin, as well as maintain the skin's acidity, which can help to prevent infection. Overproduction of sebum can lead to acne, as the excess oil can clog pores and trap bacteria. The underproduction of sebum can lead to dry, itchy skin and a damaged barrier (which can then also increase acne).

Factors that can contribute to the overproduction of sebum include hormones, such as during puberty, medications, genetics, and certain skin conditions.

The use of face oils can be beneficial for some people with acne as long as they are used correctly and with the appropriate products. Many oils have anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, which can help to reduce redness and inflammation associated with acne. Many oils also function in a manner that regulates your own production of sebum and helps your skin barrier heal and reset the conditions of your acid mantle needed for a healthy microbiome, resulting in unclogged pores and improved radiance.

Hydration and Barrier Repair

Maintaining proper skin hydration is very important. Oily skin can be dehydrated. The two concepts are separate from one another. We have comprehensive articles and a step-by-step guide for a healthy skin barrier that's focused on drug-store/affordable and effective products.

The bottom line, having acne doesn't mean you can't have dry skin. All skin types, especially sensitive skin, require an individualized approach.

If your skin barrier is damaged and your hydration is poor, acne will worsen. Even though face oils don't directly hydrate your skin, using them improves hydration because they prevent transepidermal water loss - especially once your barrier is repaired.

How Should People With Oily Skin Use Face Oils

For those of us with dry skin that aren't prone to break-outs or allergies, we can often go to bed looking like an oil-slicked-up glazed donut and not get into too much trouble.

However, if you're new to face oils and have oily skin, to begin with, then taking a conservative approach is best.

Start once a day, after cleansing, and before bed. Be sure to put your hydrating lotion or serum on first and then the face oil on top after. Use just 2 or 3 tiny drops. During the daytime, just stick with your regular routine.

Best Face Oils for Acne

Oily Skin Types

The same gentle, non-comedogenic oils suitable for sensitive skin are also the best face oils for oily skin. If you're overwhelmed and don't know where to start, pick a single oil and begin by using it daily.

For beginners new to this world, you really cannot go wrong with any of these options:

Normal, Dry, or Mature Skin Types

The oils listed above are fantastic and can be used by all skin types. However, if your skin isn't excessively oily, you have a few more options that are still highly unlikely to clog your pores and work great to reduce inflammation and act as antioxidants, antimicrobials, and sebum regulators.

Think about adding or trying the following oils to your list:

How to Shop for a Facial Oil for Acne or Oily Skin

One of the main things most of the above oils have in common are high levels of linoleic acid. This makes them fast absorbing, light-feeling, and good at helping your skin barrier strengthen. This fatty acid profile is a hallmark of non-comedogenic oils for the face. 

It is entirely reasonable to buy one or two (or more) of the above oils and make a DIY mixture to try at home. Getting extra fancy or exotic may not make anything better and could potentially complicate the chances of a skin sensitivity. This is why patch testing is essential before using anything new.

With that said, shopping for a solution that promises more active or dramatic results is probably what brought you to this article in the first place.

There are plenty of essential oils, exotic carrier oils, and specialized oils that are touted as having skin-clarifying and acne-fighting properties. Some of them have scientific evidence backing their claims. Others just have centuries of use in traditional or herbal medicinal practices.

The ones you're most likely to come across in your search are linked to fighting acne, inflammation, and hormone imbalances:

You might also see active oil-soluble ingredients as a component of these face oil serums. Be on the lookout for bakuchiol, bisabolol, mastic resin, sesame seed extract, and blue tansy. The bareLUXE Bakuchiol Oil Serum is worth checking out. 

Finally, salicylic acid (a beta hydroxy acid) is oil-soluble, as is its precursor - willow bark. This will make a great addition to many acne-targeting face oil serums; however, it can be drying and irritating to some people. That's why knowing how to read ingredient labels is so important.

Many of the best oils for acne have made it onto our list of Top 20 Natural Acne Remedies. Individualizing your search for the best face oil for acne is important. Face oils for oily skin might overlap and they might not because tailoring to your skin type is critical to finding success. 



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About the Author

Dr. Heather Smith developed her love for skinimalism and clean beauty years ago when she began making home remedies for her newborn's eczema. She is an expert in natural ingredients and active botanicals and has now launched bareLUXE Skincare - a full line of effective oil serums. She dedicates this blog to consumers who are researching ingredients and working to make their beauty ritual more natural and sustainable.


This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Smith nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content should consult their physicians about their skincare concerns and routines.