For centuries, people have been using essential oils to maintain health and treat various ailments and conditions. These botanical extracts can be used in a variety of ways, but because they’re so concentrated and powerful, they’ll always need to be diluted in a carrier oil or a butter like shea or cocoa butter. As an esthetician, I’ve spent a lot of time researching the most beneficial essential oils for skin and these are the ones I use most with my clients.
17 Essential Oils for Skin
These are my favorite oils for every type of skin along with recipes to use them in your own homemade beauty recipes.
Keep in mind that the topical application of anything has the potential to cause an allergic reaction. Essential oils should always be used with a carrier oil or in a blend to avoid a skin reaction. You should do a patch test with any oil before applying to a larger area of skin. And, while it is rare, if you develop any adverse reaction, such as a rash, itching, or burning at the site of application, discontinue the oil and bring this to the attention of your doctor.
Essential oils for all skin types or sensitive skin
Essential oils: Geranium, helichrysum, lavender, neroli, Roman chamomile, rose
Carrier oil: Jojoba oil, sunflower seed
Geranium is a versatile oil that balances oil production, conditions skin, and is great for all skin types. Geranium can be added to moisturizers to help with over and under production of oil.
Geranium is antibacterial and has a delightful floral aroma that has hints of rose in it. Not only can it boost the oil-balancing effects of any moisturizer, it can also boost your mood at the same time!
Recipe to try: Add geranium to mineral water for a moisturizing face mist.
A tiny bottle of helichrysum is an investment. The nicknames for this healing oil with a honey-like scent are ‘everlasting’ and ‘immortelle.’ Which is perfect because helichrysum is a go-to oil for restoring the skin.
This essential oil helps heal skin irritations and because it is so versatile, it can be used for all skin types. It can cleanse cuts, scrapes, burns, and irritations and can also calm down stressed skin.
It’s considered beneficial for acne and redness and is often used in DIY body products. It can be especially helpful for sensitive or problem skin but can be used for any skin type, including mature skin.
Recipe to try: Soothe and cool skin with a lavender lemonade body spray.
Neroli is a wonderful essential oil used to treat devitalized, mature, aging, and sensitive skin types. Due to its regenerative properties, you can also use neroli as a skin toner to tighten aging skin. It has antibacterial properties and is considered useful for acne, scarring, and stretch marks. As you can see, it would be a fantastic addition to your natural skincare routine.
Recipe to try: Make an anti-stretch mark oil with avocado oil and neroli.
Chamomile can treat a variety of skin conditions which include cracked skin, burns, acne, eczema, inflammation, sensitive skin and rosacea—just to name a few. It’s naturally anti-inflammatory and calming, making it a great choice for sensitive and allergic skin.
Recipe to try: Relax in a bath with calming bath oil that won’t irritate your skin.
Intensely hydrating and naturally anti-inflammatory, rose oil plumps and moisturizes your skin without any potential chemical side effects. Rose oil can be used as a natural substitute for hyaluronic acid, a common ingredient in anti-aging beauty products.
Essential Oils for Oily or Acne-Prone Skin
Essential oils: Basil, cedarwood, clary sage, cypress, geranium, grapefruit, juniper, lemon, tea tree
Carrier oil: Tamanu oil, apricot kernel, grapeseed
Basil contains anti-inflammatory properties that make it a great option for many inflammatory issues. It is wonderful for soothing insect bites and irritation and is ideal for sensitive skin when properly diluted. It’s also great for overworked muscles and even headaches and migraines. Please note that basil should be avoided if pregnant.
Recipe to try: Add a couple of drops to a carrier oil and apply directly to an insect bite or sting. If you are feeling sore from an extra hard workout, add a few drops into a massage oil to massage tired muscles.
Cedarwood has the highest level of the anti-inflammatory substance, known as sesquiterpenes, of any essential oil, according to Essential Oils. That’s why it works so well on inflamed and acne-prone skin. Cedarwood is an effective toner on oily skin and hair.
Citrus oils like lemon and grapefruit are natural astringents that work to cleanse oil-prone skin while toning and tightening. Their antiseptic properties also help protect against acne-causing bacteria. Grapefruit oil is especially helpful in breaking down cellulite.
Cypress oil can not only help repair capillary vein damage often found around the nose area, but it also shrinks swollen blood vessels. It’s considered beneficial for varicose veins, according to the Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. This essential oil is also a good choice to use as an astringent on the skin or to tackle cellulite.
Juniper is a cleansing oil and when diluted (as is always necessary) and applied to wounds it can speed healing time and help prevent infections. It’s a great choice for many different skin issues including oily skin and acne. The Art of Aromatherapy considers it beneficial for toning the skin and for use with skin disorders associated with irritation.
Recipe to try: Attack lumps and bumps with a DIY anti-cellulite oil that uses juniper oil to clear waste from the body and increase circulation.
12. Tea Tree (Melaleuca)
The uses for tea tree oil are countless. A few of them include its antifungal and antibacterial properties. This means it’s a first choice for acne and oily skin. Tea tree oil can also treat minor cuts, scrapes, and just about any other skin condition you may experience. As a bonus, it’s safe to use around most individuals.
Recipe to try: Make your own make-up remover wipes.
Essential Oils for Dry Skin
Essential oils: Clary sage, lavender, sandalwood, ylang ylang
Carrier oil: Avocado, Sweet almond, Argan
13. Clary sage
Various benefits to skin health can be observed when using clary sage. It not only can fight the visible signs of aging and reduce puffiness, but it also regulates production of oil for both dry and oily skin. This makes it useful for all skin types. And due to its antibacterial properties, it’s considered useful for treating acne as well.
Recipe to try: Try a DIY deep hair conditioner to strengthen and repair hair.
This restorative oil effectively soothes the inflammation caused by dry skin. And it’s an antiseptic that can reduce hyper-pigmentation and the appearance of scars.
Recipe to try: Add 6-10 drops of sandalwood oil to one tablespoon of almond oil (or make this cooling body splash) and use as an post-shaving body oil to reduce irritation. To fight age spots or other skin discoloration, dab the oil onto the skin each night before going to bed and leave on overnight.
15. Ylang ylang
Ylang ylang is great for treating oily or dry prone skin while still helping stimulate cell growth to fight the effects of aging. It’s a wonderful oil to add to any skin care routine. And with its exotic aroma it’s also great at boosting your mood.
However, a little goes a LONG way with ylang ylang’s powerful aroma, so only a very little amount is needed. If too much of it is used it can even cause headaches or nausea. I like to combine it with other essential oils beneficial for skin health to create a luxurious and effective product.
Recipe to try: Add ylang ylang to almond oil for a moisturizing face oil.
Essential Oils for Aging/Mature Skin
Essential oils: Clary sage, frankincense, helichrysum, myrrh, neroli, rose
Carrier oil: Rosehip seed, pomegranate
Frankincense is an incredibly popular essential oil and it’s no wonder. If you are treating aging skin, have elasticity issues, or need to regenerate skin cells, frankincense is your ideal oil. It can even help with pigmentation, as well as tone and tighten skin.
It’s also useful for treating cuts, wounds, and infections since it has powerful antiseptic properties. Since it has a distinct woody aroma, I like to combine it with other essential oils that support skin health.
Recipe to try: Make your own hand sanitizer + antiseptic spray.
Myrrh has long been added to skincare products to heal chapped skin and restore sun-damaged skin. Its skin-toning ability is especially helpful in fighting fine lines and other signs of aging. It is non-irritating so it can be applied neat to the skin.
Recipe to try: Add myrrh to a simple homemade Aztec clay mask for dry skin.230