How to use olive oil for acne treatment

How to use olive oil for acne treatment
February 16, 2016 8:47 PM

Olive oil does not clog skin pores and has some great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which make it a great home remedy to cure acne. There are countless ways how you can use olive oil in acne treatment and this post features some evidence based methods you may try at home.

What are the causes of acne?

Acne is a common skin condition that everyone suffers from at one point in their life. Acne starts with oily secretions from the sebaceous glands (sweat glands) that block the small opening of hair follicles (clogged pores). Whiteheads are formed when the small hair follicle openings are blocked and small pale bumps are formed.

Blackheads are formed when large hair follicles are clogged and form small flat spots with dark centre. Both whiteheads and blackheads can get swollen, inflamed and form pimples or even small lumps. In severe cases, acne nodules may form that have a tendency to get infected.

Acne is most common in individuals going through puberty yet the adults make up about 20% of the total acne cases. Acne is worse in people with oily skin. In teenagers, the acne most likely resolves by early 20s on its own. Although both sexes suffers from acne it is relatively more common in teenage boys. Acne is most common on face but it can also occur on the neck, shoulders and chest.

Man eating lemon

Antithetical to popular belief, poor personal hygiene isn’t the cause of acne. Acne is a multifactorial condition that is aggravated by stress whether physical or emotional. These are some of the most common causes of acne:

  • Hormones: The reason for the increase incidence of acne in teenagers is increased hormone production. Both females and males produce excess amount of androgens during puberty that can lead to acne. In males, during puberty, the male sex hormone called testosterone is formed in abundance and this hormone gives signals for the activation of the sebaceous glands. This leads to excess oil production by the gland, which is a common causative factor of acne.
  • Pregnancy: About half of all pregnant women develop acne. Pregnancy acne is due to marked increase in the levels of hormones during the first trimester. The high level of hormones activate the production of natural oils in the skin. While it is hard to predict who will suffer from pregnancy acne, the women with history of acne are more prone.
  • Contraceptives: Starting or stopping contraceptive pills can also cause acne due to hormonal changes that occurs in the body with their use.
  • Heredity: Genetics is one of the main causes of acne. There is significantly increased risk of acne in children whose parents suffered from or are suffering from acne.
  • Bacteria: Bacteria can accumulate in the clogged pores. The hair follicles can breakdown under the excessive pressure. The sebum and bacteria may leach into the surrounding tissues and cause papules or pustules. These are called inflammatory acne.
  • Smoking: Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen availability to the face. Smoking causes the breakdown of collagen and elastin that leads to formation of large skin pores that can easily get clogged. These clogged pores are prone to acne.

Why is olive oil helpful in the treatment of acne scars?

If you’re looking for a way to get rid of acne, then olive oil is the way to go. Why is that? Here is the reason for you. It has been scientifically proven that olive oil is one of the healthiest oils in the world. You can’t only use it for cooking purposes but can also use it to look good!

How amazing is that?

Olive oil helps fade away the acne scars and brighten the skin. Olive oil contains vitamins that accelerate the healing of acne and prevent scar formation. It is extremely rich in anti-oxidants. The most abundant anti-oxidants in olive oil are polyphenols. Think of anti-oxidants as your body’s own way to detoxify toxins and flush away chemicals. That’s very important when it comes to your skin! Polyphenols help keep the toxins away, promotes healing and help prevent infections.

Moreover, olive oil has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the inflammation caused by acne. Anti-bacterial activity is another way by which olive oil helps reduce acne scars. Olive oil also helps exfoliate the skin and acts as a de-clogger for the skin pores. While olive oil is not a definitive treatment for acne it still has significant uses in managing and preventing further breakouts.

What is the best olive oil for the treatment of acne?

While all of the different types of olive oil are great for treating acne, yet extra virgin olive oil has an extra edge over the other types (12). Extra virgin olive oil is all natural and all pure. It is nothing but the extracted juice of the olive fruit. During the extraction process of extra virgin olive oil no heat or chemicals are used. It contains no added chemicals or impurities that can irritate the skin or aggravate acne.

Olive oil in bowl

Extra virgin olive oil is the powerhouse of polyphenols that help reduce inflammation in acne scars and fight off infections. It is also full of vitamin E that helps improve the blood circulation, which in turn helps tissue regeneration that leads to faster healing of acne scars (3). Moreover, it has very small amount of acidic content as compared to other varieties of olive oil.

The acidic content of extra virgin olive oil is less than 1%, this low acidic content makes it great for healing acne scars. Due to the low acidic content, there is very little chance of skin irritation.

The main reason for using extra virgin olive oil for the treatment of acne scars is because the oil retains most of the vitamins and antioxidants that the olive fruits possessed. While in other varieties antioxidants and vitamins are unintentionally removed from the oil during the processing.

Where can you get extra virgin olive oil? You can get it in the beauty aisle of your grocery store or you can buy it from an online vendor. Do read the reviews of the customers before buying it online to make sure you’re investing into the right thing.

17 ways to use olive oil for treatment of acne!

You’ve got the virgin oil olive, but what now?

Don’t worry! Here we give you 17 practical ways to use this oil to fight off acne. Just follow the instructions given below as see your acne and its scars go away in no time! Let’s get to it! 

1. Olive oil and sea salt scrub

Olive oil is full of antioxidants and vitamins that help fight the free radicals and regenerate the tissues. Sea salt helps with the removal of dead skin cells and kills bacteria. Sea salt also helps normalize the pH of skin (4).

Olive oil and sea salt scrub is great for the treatment acne and its scars. This scrub helps moisturize the skin that in turn provides a favourable environment for the healing of acne. The scrub also helps in unclogging of the pores.

Here is the list of ingredients you need:

  • A quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • A quarter cup of sea salt

Here is what you need to do:

  • You can make this scrub by mixing a cup of extra virgin olive oil with a quarter cup of sea salt.
  • The way to use this scrub is to start by cleaning your face with a damp soft cloth.
  • While the face is moist apple the scrub and rub in gentle circular motions for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Now wash your face with lukewarm water and massage a little bit of olive oil on your face. 

2. Olive oil and lemon juice cleanser

Olive oil and lemon juice cleanser is one of the most used home remedy for treating acne and acne scars (5).

This cleanser acts as an antiseptic that helps kill the bacteria that might get entrapped within the skin pores. This mixture of olive oil and lemon juice helps reduce inflammation and unclogs the pores (6).

Here is what you need:

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Few drops of lemon juice

Here is what you need to do:

  • You can make this cleanser by adding a few drops of lemon juice in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  • First clean your face and apply this mixture and massage for a minute.
  • Now leave this on your face for about 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Then wash your face with lukewarm water.

3. Olive oil and baking soda mask

Olive oil and baking soda mask helps normalize the pH of the skin because baking soda is amphoteric.

This mixture has mild anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.

Baking soda

This also helps exfoliate the skin and remove excess oil (7, 8).

The vitamins in olive oil help fade away the acne scars.

Here is what you need:

  • A tablespoon of olive oil
  • A tablespoon of backing soda

Here is what you need to do:

  • You can make this mask adding a tablespoon of olive oil in a tablespoon of baking soda.
  • Washing your face first and tap it dry.
  • Then, apply this mixture and let it dry for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • When the mixture is dry, wipe your face with a warm damp cloth and then wash your face with water.

4. Olive oil and aloe vera mask

These two things are the best things for acne. Olive oil works great on itself but you can amplify its acne healing qualities further if you mix it with aloe vera (9).

Here is what you need:

  • 2 to 3 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of aloe vera jelly

Here is what you need to do:

  • Mix these ingredients in a bowl.
  • Wash your face with plain water and tap it dry.
  • Using a cotton ball, apply this mixture on your face in circular motion.
  • Keep it on for a couple of hours till it starts to dry.
  • Now wash this mask off with lukewarm water.

5. Olive oil and rosehip oil massage

A mixture of olive oil and rosehip oil helps rehydrate your skin, reduce inflammation and heal acne scars. Rosehip oil has the ability to penetrate deep into the skin and help moisturize it. This mixture helps remove the dead skin cells and remove the particles clogging the pores (10).

What you need:

  • A tablespoon of rosehip oil
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil

What you need to do:

  • Mix a tablespoon of rosehip oil with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Clean your face and tap it dry.
  • Massage this mixture on your face for about 5 minutes and wash it off afterwards.
  • Repeat this massage twice daily for better results.

6. Use more olive oil in your salads

If you’re too lazy to try anything then just go on and use more of this oil while you’re cooking.

It’ll cleanse your body from within and will help reduce acne eruptions and scar formation.

Just sprinkle olive oil over your salads or use it while making other dishes or soups.

7. Olive oil and tea tree oil massage

Tea tree oil and olive oil massage helps fight off bacteria and reduce inflammation. Tea tree oil penetrates deep into the skin and unblocks the pores and also disinfects the pores due to its anti-microbial properties (11, 12).

Here is what you need:

  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil

Here is what you need to do:

  • Olive oil and tea tree oil are mixed in a 2:1 ratio. The olive oil acts as the base oil.
  • Clean your face and then gently massage this oil concoction onto your skin in circular motion.
  • For the best results this mixture should be massaged on the face after exfoliation.

8. Steam with olive oil

Olive oil helps treat acne and heal acne scars. The antioxidants in olive oil help reduce inflammation and promote faster healing.

Steam helps open up the pores, which make it easier to unclog them.

Here is what you need to do:

  • Take a large bowl and fill it with hot water.
  • Now add a few drops of olive oil in the bowl.
  • Bend over the bowl and place a towel over your head while making sure you face is at least 18 inches away from the bowl so your face doesn’t get burned.
  • Now retain this position for about 10 to 12 minutes and then wipe your face and neck with the towel.
  • While your face is still moist massage a little bit of olive oil on your skin.
  • Keep it there for 10-15 minutes and rinse your face with water afterwards.

9. Olive oil and brown sugar scrub

Olive oil and brown sugar scrub helps remove dead skin cells and unclogs the pores. The anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of olive oil help reduce inflammation and prevent infection.

Half a tablespoon of brown sugar is mixed with a tablespoon of olive oil to get a paste like consistency.

Clean your face and gently apply this paste.

Massage the paste in circular motion for a few minutes.

Wash your face with cold water.

Do not use this scrub more than two or three times a month otherwise it might cause excess oil production in skin.

10. Olive oil and lemon juice massage

Lemon juice is one of the oldest known home remedies for treating acne and acne scars.

It exfoliates the skin.

Moreover, its vitamin C content is a blessing for your skin. It is a potent antioxidant and helps in the synthesis of collagen too. Collagen helps heal acne scars too.

Here is what you need:

  • 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice

Here what you need to do:

  • Mix olive oil and lemon juice in 2:1 ratio.
  • Wash your face with plain water and dry with a clean towel.
  • Now, apply the mixture all over your face using a cotton ball.
  • Let it dry for 30 minutes and wash it off afterwards.

11. Olive oil and organic turmeric powder

Olive oil and turmeric powder mixture is great for soothing acne because of the natural antiseptic action of turmeric (13, 14).

This mixture helps kill bacteria, promotes faster healing of skin and unclogging of the pores.

Here is what you need:

  • 2 teaspoons of turmeric powder
  • Few drops of olive oil, just to turn the turmeric powder into a paste

Here is what you need to do:

  • Add few drops of olive oil into turmeric powder, so that it gets a paste like consistency.
  • Apply this paste to your face and gently massage for a few seconds.
  • Now let it stand for 10 minutes.
  • Massage again with wet fingers for 2-3 minutes and wash with cold water.

12. Simple olive oil scrub

If you don’t like to do all the preparations, here is something for you.

  • Wash your face with plain water and tap it dry.
  • Now take a drop of olive oil on your finger tip and gently massage it over the area of acne scars.
  • It’s best if you leave it overnight.
  • In the morning, wake and wash off using lukewarm water.

13. Olive oil and honey mask

Olive oil and honey mask is great for unclogging the pores. Honey is a natural antibacterial that helps prevent infection (15).

The antioxidants in honey and olive oil help kill the free radicals and promote the healing of acne scars.

The consistency of honey helps remove dirt and dead skin cells from the pores.

Equal amount of honey and olive oil is mixed to make this mask.

Clean your face and apply this mask for 10- 20 minutes.

Wet your fingers and massage your face in gentle upward motion.

Wash your face with cold water to remove the remaining honey from your face.

14. Olive oil and lemon/orange peel scrub

The idea here is to combine vitamin C from orange or lemon peel with the amazing benefits of olive oil.

Here is what you need:

  • Fresh or dried orange/lemon peel. Next time don’t throw away these peels as they can do wonders for your skin.
  • 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil

Here is what you need to do:

  • Blend the orange peel or lemon peel in a blender.
  • Now take it out in a bowl and add in 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil in it to make it into a paste.
  • Wash your face with plain water and tap it dry.
  • Now apply this paste generously all over your face.
  • Wait for 30 minutes to one hour.
  • Now wash off the mask with plain water.

15. Olive oil and chick pea flour mask

Chick pea flour and olive oil mask helps remove excess oil from the skin without altering the pH of skin (16).

This mask helps unclog the pores and helps brighten the skin.

This mask also helps sooth irritated skin and helps fade away scars.

Here is what you need:

  • A tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of pea flour

Here is what you need to do:

  • Make this mask by adding a tablespoon of olive oil in 2 tablespoons of flour.
  • Now apply this paste on your skin and let it dry for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Gently massage your face with wet fingers and wash your face with cold water.

16. Olive oil and rose water wash

Add in some olive oil in a bowl of rose water. Use this mixture as a face wash once or twice daily (17).

17. Ingestion of olive oil

Ingestion of olive oil also helps fight against acne. Olive oil can be easily incorporated into your diet in form of cooking medium. Olive oil can be mixed with vinegar, salt and herbs for making vinaigrettes that can be used on any salad. Olive oil can even be ingested alone.

Drinking a spoon of olive oil a day is a great way to help rejuvenate your skin. Olive oil helps in healing of acne scars and prevention of formation of new pimples.

A word of warring when using olive oil as cure for acne

Olive oil is chock full of health and skin benefits but it should be used is moderation.

Acne is a serious skin condition with a multifactorial etiology. Acne can manifest as small painless pimples or extremely painful cystic lesions.

There are hundreds of home remedies for acne and some works better than others. 

Despite of the fact that olive oil is one of the most popular and safest home remedy for acne it should not be used without prior consent of your physician or dermatologist.

People with different skin types react differently to oils so if you are prone to allergies you should be cautious while using olive oil. Remnants of olive oil on face can cause faster and easier tanning of skin.

To sum up olive oil can be quite useful in acne treatment as it is non-comedonic and has some antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

You may just massage it gently on your skin areas affected with acne, use it as a scrub or mix it with various essential oils, sea salt, lemon juice, baking soda, etc.

However, you should know that acne is a serious medical issue and should be properly treated only by your physician.

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Written by: Michal Vilímovský (EN)
Education: Medical student, 3rd Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
Article resources:

See numbered references within the article

Image resources:

Pixabay.com

Published: February 16, 2016 8:47 PM
Last updated: July 20, 2016 8:55 PM
Next scheduled update: July 20, 2018 8:55 PM
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