The best base oils for acne prone skin
When switching to a greener beauty regime, the one thing that may terrify you more than anything else is the idea of oil cleansing – especially if you suffer with oily, acne-prone skin.
It’s ok! I’ve been there too.
I used to run in the opposite direction at just a mention of the word oil! I’d avoid oil-based products at all costs, opting for oil-free cleansers and moisturisers (how can you even have an oil-free moisturiser…it doesn’t even make sense!!) that would strip my skin and leave it feeling tight and dry and surprise, surprise – my acne never went away! Now I know how the skin works and I’ve learnt the very best tips and tricks for beautiful skin I’m completely obsessed with putting oils on my skin. In fact. It’s pretty much all I use when it comes to skincare and I recommend you give it a go too!
The best thing about the oil-cleansing method (OCM) is that there are so many different types of oils – there’s something suitable for everyone – whether you have dry, oily, combination, acne-prone skin there’s an oil for right for you!
Have you tried the OCM in the past, only to find yourself breakout worse than ever!? If this is you, then you probably used the wrong oil for your skin type. When it comes to acne-prone skin, we need to be extra careful about the oils we put on our skin. Many people swear by coconut oil and olive oil for the OCM, and as these oils are now readily available in most supermarkets – it’s a hassle-free choice when first attempting the OCM.
Coconut and Olive oil are not a great idea for those of us with problematic skin as they can sometimes lead to crazy, crazy breakouts. Some people swear by them, but they can sometimes cause reactions so if you’re new to oils, then it’s best to avoid these two to start with. The reasons these two oils may not work for those struggling with acne is because coconut oil contains a fatty acid called caprylic triglyceride, which can be a major acne trigger for certain people. Luckily, this fatty acid is unique to coconut and palm oils so check your labels and avoid these where possible! And olive oil? No one quite knows why some people have such a bad reaction with Olive oil when used for oil-cleansing – but studies have shown that up to 69% of extra virgin olive oils on the market aren’t actually extra virgin…meaning you could be using fake Olive oil on your skin! Anyway, if you’re starting out on your oil cleansing journey, it’s best to avoid these two oils (and some others which I’ll mention later on) if you suffer with problematic skin.
If you’ve got this far in the article and you’re still not sure what the hell I’m going on about, the OCM is a natural make-up remover and cleansing solution that (if using the correct oil!) can leave you with clearer, glowing skin – by just simply rubbing oil all over your face. I’m not going to bore everyone with the do’s, don’t and how’s but if you’d like more information – head over to this post for the nitty gritty.
The best base oils for acne prone skin
We all know the importance of getting the right balance of fatty acids in our diet in the form of omega 3, 6 and 9, but did you know it’s equally important to get the omega balance right in your skin care routine too, especially if you’re acne prone!
Oils contain loads of fatty acids but studies have shown that the use of two particular fatty acids may have significant impact on our skin – these fatty acids are linoleic and oleic acid. For those of us with acne-prone skin, it may be beneficial for us to ditch the high oleic oils and increase our use of high linoeic oils as a study showed “acne patients have been shown to have low levels of linoleic acid in their skin surface lipids.” (source)
Oleic acid is a fatty acid which is part of the omega-9 fatty acid family. Oleic acid is the compound which gives certain oils a rich, heavy feel that’s excellent for dry, ageing skin as it really helps to lock in the skin’s moisture.
However, us folk with problematic skin should avoid oils high in oleic acid as they’re likely to break us out if we suffer from acne and those with eczema, psoriasis or rosacea may find oils high in oleic acid may make the condition worse.
Oils high in oleic acid (% may vary slightly brand to brand):
- Olive Oil: 55-85%
- Macadamia Nut Oil: 85%
- Avocado Oil: 75%
- Almond Oil: 68%
- Hazelnut Oil: 66%
- Canola Oil: 55-61%
- Argan Oil: 43%
Oils such as Safflower oil and Sunflower oil can be confusing oils as they are produced in different ways where the end result could be higher in linoleic acid or higher in oleic acid. The ratio of oleic-linoleic acid in these oils depends on how refined the oil is. Naturally, in it’s organic form, both Safflower and Sunflower should be higher in linoleic acid – so make sure you’re reading your labels and purchasing your oils from a reputable source – or if you’re unsure, just avoid them altogether!
Linoleic acid is a unsaturated fatty acid which is part of the omega-6 family and it’s high linoleic oils that we need to seek out if we suffer from problematic skin including; acne, eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis and rosacea as they’re powerful anti-inflammatories and can calm the skin. Oils high in linoleic acid can range from moisturising oils such as Maracuja oil and Rosehip oil to more drying, astringent oils such as Grapeseed oil and Castor oil. These oils are all ideal for the oily, congested skin types as (I’m unable to find the source for this statistic) studies have shown that linoleic acid has been proven to reduce clogged pores by over 25% in just a few weeks!
Oils high in linoleic acid (% may vary slightly brand to brand):
- Maracuja Oil (Passion Fruit Seed): 77%
- Evening Primrose Oil: 73%
- Grapeseed Oil: 66%
- Hemp Seed Oil: 60%
- Pumpkin Seed Oil: 57.2%
- Hemp Seed Oil: 52%
- Apricot Kernel Oil: 50.3%
After tirelessly searching, and failing for a cream foundation that fit my ever expanding list of non-negotiables – I decided to opt for the original natural make-up staple: the loose mineral powder foundation! I remember purchasing my first loose mineral powder at about 14 and secretly love the simplicity and ease of applying. Although I’m constantly searching for that holy-grail foundation – the loose mineral powder will always hold its place as a pretty good foundation (seemingly more so now we have this new found knowledge of linoleic and oleic acids!) for those with acne-prone skin. The two brands that fit the bill (they don’t contain any oils, just minerals!) are Inika and Honeypie Minerals! Luckily, I already had a barely-used pot of Honey Pie Minerals which I immediately dug out and popped in my make-up bag. It’s ok – but I much prefer the dewiness and coverage of a creamy foundation and concealer – so if you have any recommendations, please let me know!
In terms of my skincare routine, I’ve been using a combination of Hemp Seed oil and Grapeseed oil for as long as I can remember, but sometimes I feel like my skin needs a bit more moisture so I’ve just purchased a bottle of organic Maracuja oil, which promises to be super nourishing whilst still being light and high in linoleic acid.
I hope this post get your brain going and helps you decide which oil is right for you – as I’ve said time and time again, we’re all different and what works for you, may not work for the rest of us! I’ve found that Hemp Seed oil is the perfect place to start if you’re wanting to give the OCM a go without the fear of breaking out! From there, you can blend in some other oils and play around with what works for you and your skin!
Have you noticed an improvement in your skin since switching to a specific base oil for acne prone skin? What’s your favourite acne friendly oil to cleanse with?
Peace, Love & Clear Skin,