Blackheads and other forms of acne affect teenagers and adults alike. Contributing factors include bacteria, inflammation, clogged pores and an excess of an oil known as sebum, notes the American Academy of Dermatology. Whiteheads and blackheads represent the type of acne in which a sebum block occurs close to the skin’s surface. Topical applications containing essential oils can help treat the factors contributing to blackheads and other acne on the face, chest, neck and shoulders.
Tea Tree Oil
Apply essential oil from the Australian tea tree, Melaleuca alternafolia, directly onto blackheads, advises the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). The university cites a study in which tea tree oil worked as well as benzoyl peroxide lotion to treat mild to moderate acne. Additionally, tea tree oil use resulted in fewer incidences of skin irritation than benzoyl peroxide.
UMMC lists classes lavender essential oil with tea tree oil, as an additional blackhead-fighting treatment that won’t irritate the skin if applied “neat.” Either dab directly onto the affected area, or apply 1 to 4 drops to a tsp. of sweet almond or olive oil and gently rub the oil on the parts of your face or torso afflicted with blackheads.
Extracted from the grass native to India known as lemongrass, or Cymbopogon citrates, lemongrass essential oil works well to balance oily skin and treat acne, according to aromatherapist Jeanne Rose. She recommends adding 20 to 25 drops lemongrass or lemongrass plus additional blackhead-fighting essential herbs, for every ounce of your favorite skin cream or to a homemade carrier oil blend.
Look for juniper berry--rather than simply juniper--essential oil, advises Rose. Both come from the common juniper shrub Juniperus communis, but the berries contain more powerful antiseptic qualities. As with lemongrass, add it to a commercial skin preparation, or make your own blend, perhaps using juniper berry, lemongrass and other blackhead-busting essential oils. Use 20 to 25 drops of essential oils for every ounce of store-bought or homemade oil, cream or lotion.
The flowering herb Salvia sclarea yields a pale, sweet-smelling odor prized by perfumers for its softness and by aromatherapists for its calming and healing properties. Among its therapeutic charms is its ability to gently treat clogged-pore problems like blackheads and boils. Add a few drops to a face cream or body lotion and gently apply wherever blackheads are problematic.
Like tea tree oil, eucalyptus essential oil makes a strong enemy against bacteria, including the kind that lead to blackheads. Add eucalyptus essential oil to your preferred cleansing or moisturizing cream, or consider a few alternative therapies. “Herb Companion” magazine anti-acne facial scrub blends oatmeal, white clay, raw almonds and equal parts lavender and eucalyptus essential oils. The magazine recommends using this cleansing, exfoliating facial scrub two or three times a week. Jeanne Rose recommends using eucalyptus to fight blackheads by mixing equal parts eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil and white vinegar, putting the liquid mixture in a spray bottle, and spritzing blackhead-prone areas at least once a day.
- "The Aromatherapy Book;" Jeanne Rose; 1992
With a focus on food, nutrition, cocktails and the latest dining trends, Melissa J. has been a freelance writer for more than 15 years. Her specialties include articles for such publications as SF Chronicle and National Geographic Green Living, as well as blog posts for the hospitality industry. Her previous positions include newspaper staff reporter and communications specialist for a nonprofit agency.