Does Oil Cause Acne?

Girl with acne holding microscope

One of the most common questions concerning acne-prone skin is, “Does oil cause acne?” Some oils are comedogenic – meaning that they clog pores – others are not and are safe to use on acne-prone skin. However, the best facial oils and other skincare products for you will depend on your Baumann Skin Type®. 

Some amount of natural sebum, or oil, on the skin is necessary for healthy skin because it helps the skin hold onto water. Most people with acne have oily skin. If you are an oily skin type, you already make enough oil naturally and do not need to apply more. 

Many people with acne have dry skin and have trouble tolerating acne medications because they are drying. If you have dry skin, even if you have acne, moisturizers or oils are necessary for proper skin barrier function. When you have acne with dry skin, stripping away fats that your skin naturally produces can actually make acne worse by allowing dry flakes of skin and dirt to become trapped inside pores. Facial oils are a good option for dry skin with acne.  But- which oils are safe in acne prone skin?

Which Oils Cause Acne?

Heavy oils such as coconut, olive, and mineral oils can clog pores and cause acne. Coconut oil clogs pores and is often found in hair products which is one reason people develop acne on their forehead.  Not all forms of coconut cause acne: coconut oil extract does not cause acne. Brands like VMV Hypoallergenics use a pure form of coconut oil that does not clog pores – so beware of coconut oil but understand that not all coconut oils cause acne.

Additionally, some oils might affect one person’s skin differently than other person’s. For example, studies show that safflower oil is not comedogenic and therefore does not contribute to acne. However, some patients have reported that safflower oil has contributed to acne breakouts. If you have acne- pay attention to what kind of oils break out your skin.

Which Oils Do Not Clog Pores?

Light, plant-based oils such as argan oil and jojoba oil do not clog pores and can be used on acne-prone skin. Pure argan oil possesses strong anti-inflammatory benefits, which may help to calm red, acne-prone skin and those with rosacea. Some studies have shown that argan oil may also help to reduce the amount of sebum on the skin, an important treatment step for oily skin types struggling with acne. 

How to Get Rid of Excess Oil on Skin

While some oils such as argan oil may be beneficial for acne-prone skin, acne treatment is better accomplished with an acne serum acne cream, or acne toner. Look for products that contain salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or antibiotics. 

You can also find some of these ingredients in an acne cleanser, which plays an important role in your skincare regimen. Choose an acne cleanser based on your Baumann Skin Type® to use in conjunction with prescribed acne treatment products. The right cleanser will “set the stage” for the treatment products to be as effective as possible with minimal side effects. 

Are Essential Oils Good for Acne?

Although some essential oils such as tea tree oil have anti-inflammatory benefits and are often suggested for acne, they can also be drying and irritating to sensitive skin. So this depends on your skin type and whether or not you have any allergies or sensitivities to essential oils. 

Some essential oils and synthetic fragrances can trigger inflammation, rather than calm it, so these ingredients may not be the best choices for acne-prone skin and other sensitive skin subtypes.

Essence oils do not provide any hydration benefits to the skin. Essential oils are mostly fragrance with all of the lipids taken out.  So understand that an essential oil and an oil are not the same thing at all.

Do Oily Foods Cause Acne?

No, oil in foods does not cause acne. However, “junk” foods like pizza, chips, and candy that are high in sugar and simple carbohydrates have been linked with acne. Dairy is another dietary culprit. Some studies show that skim milk contributes to acne more so than whole or other types of milk. 

Researchers are not yet sure why this is the case, although there are several theories. One is that people may tend to consume more skim milk than other fattier types of milk, thus causing a greater connection to acne breakouts. Another possibility is that growth factors and hormones added to skim milk could contribute to acne. 

If you are struggling with acne, it is best to reduce your intake of sugar and dairy. Eat anti-inflammatory foods such as walnuts, salmon, flax seeds, and aloe juice to help calm red, inflamed skin. 

Bottom Line

Not all oils are necessarily bad for acne-prone skin, but you do need to watch out for heavy oils that are known to clog pores. The best oils for acne-prone skin will also depend on your Baumann Skin Type®, as some dry skin types might tolerate facial oils for acne better than oily skin types. Work with your dermatologist to create a customized acne treatment regimen that is right for your skin. 

For more skincare tips and tricks from Dr. Baumann, don’t forget to follow Baumann Cosmetic on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube

©2020 Metabeauty, Inc.

January 31, 2021 Acne