Cruelty-Free Beauty and Skin Care

Oils for Oily/Acne Prone Skin? (a.k.a why oil isn’t always your enemy)

If you suffer from oily skin like I do, chances are the going narrative you’ve encountered is to STAY AWAY from products containing oil at all cost. For years, I refused to put anything on my face that did not say ‘oil free’, since I thought I had more than enough natural oil than I knew what to do with. I was so convinced that any extra oil would only further clog my pore and promote more acne that I even frequently skipped on sunscreen (which is bad, DON’T DO IT).

It’s only over the past few years that I came to realize I was wrong. Often, a lot of products that cater to oily skin or acne treatment will dry out your skin–which is exactly what you DON’T want to happen. After all, if your body detects that your skin is too dry, what do you think it’s natural response will be? That’s right; it will increase its sebum output, contradicting what you were trying to do in the first place. My skin, in particular, has this awful habit where at times (especially in the winter) it might feel a little greasy on top, when beneath that layer of sebum, it is actually dehydrated, and it is during these times when I came to realize my acne is at its worst.

That said, if you had told me just a few years ago that adding oil to my skin could actually HELP it and improve my acne, I would have thought you were bananas, and it’s only over the past year that I decided to incorporate more oil and hydration into my skin care regime. The result? My skin looks and feels the healthiest that it has ever been!

To make a long story very, very short, there are two things that you need to consider before testing out the benefits of an oil for your skin type, and those are:

  1. Whether the oil’s chemical composition is higher in oleic or linoelic fatty acids, and
  2. The oil’s comedogenic rating

Oleic vs. Linoleic Fatty Acids

The main difference between these two fatty acids that comprise the composition of all oil can be felt in the oil’s physical consistency: does it feel heavy and greasy, or relatively light and absorbent? Heavy oils that leave your skin feeling slippery tend to be higher in oleic fatty acids, meaning that the particles are a little bit bigger, and are more likely to sit on top of your pores than to absorb into your skin. These types of oils tend to be more beneficial for drier skin types, since they form something of a barrier to hold all of the skin’s moisture in. However, they are less ideal for oily skin types, as these are the types of oils more likely to result in clogged pores. Oils higher in linoelic fatty acids tend to be those lighter in consistency that sink into the skin, instead of leaving a greasy film. Because the particles tend to be smaller, they can actually provide the right type of hydration for oily skin, without clogging pores. Specialists have actually found that people with acne prone skin are actually naturally deficient in linoleic acids, so by adding them, you’re actually helping to balance your own natural oils.

Comedogenic rating

The comedogenic rating of an oil determines how likely an oil is to clog your pores. On a scale of 0 to 5, an oil that has a comedogenic rating of 0 will very seldom clog your pores, whereas an oil with a comedogenic rating of 5 is pretty much guaranteed to clog your pores. Bear in mind that all skin is different, and depending on your genetic makeup, and the consistency of your own, natural sebum, some people might be highly prone to breaking out with oils that have a comedogenic rating rating of 3, whereas other people can use oils with a comedogenic rating of 4 on their faces and experience no problems. Sometimes it takes trial and error to determine what your skin can tolerate, but the comedogenic rating can at least provide a ballpark probability:

Any oil with a comedogenic rating of 0-2 is highly unlikely to clog your pores

Any oil with a comedogenic rating of 3 is still unlikely to clog pores, but greatly depends on personal tolerance

Any oil with a comedogenic rating of 4 or 5 is very likely to clog pores, and not recommended for acne prone skin types

But what about an oil’s ‘unique’ properties?

While bearing in mind oleic/linoelic balance and comedogenic rating is beneficial, don’t forget that every oil has its purpose and benefits, regardless of what the numbers say. As a result, I encourage you to see what else an oil has to offer before deciding to give it a try!

As a reference point, I’ve made a list of some oils below, with their comedogenic rating and some of the known properties.

Oils Beneficial for Dry Skin (MUCH more oleic acid than linoleic acid):

  • Apricot Kernel oil- 2
    • Anti-inflammatory
    • Anti-aging
    • Potent in antioxidants
  • Date seed oil- 3
    • Protects against UVB rays
    • Maintains elasticity
    • Reduces redness and irritation
  • Carrot seed oil- 3-4
    • Improves tone and elasticity
    • Calms irritated skin
    • Not recommended for acne-prone skin
  • Sandalwood seed oil- 2
    • Soothes joint pain, bruises, wounds, sores, burns, and cystic acne
    • Extremely anti-inflammatory
  • Shea nut oil- 0-2
    • Creates a barrier for skin against drying and scarring
    • Prevents water loss
    • Heals chapped, damaged skin
  • Macadamia nut oil- 2-3
    • Protects skin from free-radical damage
    • Nourishes and softens skin
    • Best for dry skin
  • Mango seed oil- 2
    • Reduces redness and inflammation
    • Relieves dry skin
    • Moisturizing
  • Plum kernel oil- 1-2
    • Highly moisturizing
    • Improves elasticity, and fine lines and wrinkles
  • Avocado oil- 3
    • Hydration and skin tone renewal
    • Diminish pore size
    • Removes impurities from skin over time
  • Olive oil- 2
    • Potent in antioxidants
    • Reduces signs of aging
    • Smooths skin texture
    • Reduces redness and inflammation
  • Peach kernel oil- 2
    • Rich in vitamin E
    • Nourishes and revitalizes skin
  • Sweet Almond oil- 2
    • Hydrating
    • Promotes skin regeneration
  • Palm kernel oil- 4
    • Deeply moisturizing
    • Great for conditioning cracked skin and dry cuticles
    • May cause breakouts if used on face
  • Hazelbut oil- 1
    • Great for fighting acne
    • Tightens and smooths skin’s texture
    • Kills bacteria
    • Reduces blackheads and whiteheads
    • UV protection
    • Antioxidant properties
  • Pecan oil- 2
    • Works great as a cleansing oil
    • Good for dry, chapped skin
  • Red palm oil- 4
    • Can be used to heal and fade old scars and stretch marks
    • Very moisturizing
    • Better for application to the body than to the face
  • Papaya seed oil- 2-3
    • Strong in antioxidants
    • Improves elasticity, fine lines, and wrinkles
    • Moisturizing
    • Promotes skin regeneration
    • Slightly exfoliating and brightening
    • Shrinks pores, evens skin tone, soothes dry, inflamed skin
  • Marula oil- 3-4
    • Potent in antioxidants
    • Reverses sun damage
    • Reduces signs of aging


Oils with SLIGHTLY more oleic acid than linoleic acid:

  • Baobab seed oil- 2
    • Smooths rough/dry skin
    • Good for treating unruly hair
  • Cherry kernel oil- 2
    • Reduces inflammation, irritation, and redness
  • Peanut oil- 2
    • Very hydrating
    • Protects from free-radical damage and premature aging
    • Cleanses and moisturizing congested, acne prone skin
    • Best kept refrigerated
  • Rice bran oil- 2
    • Great for sun protection
  • Brazil nut oil- 2
    • Detoxification properties
    • Soothes hyperpigmentation
    • Softens dry skin
    • Best for dry, mature skin
  • Broccoli seed oil- 1
    • Not ideal for skin, but good to use in hair
  • Jojoba oil- 2
    • Mimics natural sebum
    • Can help unclog pores over time
    • Help balance oil production
  • Tamanu oil- 2
    • Great for healing and fading acne scars
    • Useful as a spot treatment
  • Flaxseed oil- 4
    • High in omega 3, vitamins, and minerals
    • Great for moisturizing dry skin
    • Must be refrigerated after opening
  • Argan oil- 0
    • Can repair damaged skin
    • Treats and fades acne and acne scars
    • High vitamin E content
    • Regulates the production of sebum
  • Coconut oil- 4
    • Skin smoothing properties
    • A heavy oil, best used as a night treatment
    • Most suitable for very dry skin


Oils Beneficial for Oily Skin (MUCH more linoleic acid than oleic acid):

  • Goji seed oil- 0-1
    • Detoxifies skin
    • Unclogs pores
    • Tightens skin around the eyes
  • Tomato seed oil- 0-2
    • Potent in vitamin E and antioxidants
    • Protects skin from free radicals
    • Protects against sun damage
    • Increases production of elastin and prevents loss of collagen
    • Best used as a spot treatment for acne and wrinkles
  • Pine nut oil- 2
    • Promotes circulation
    • Good remedy for itching, eczema, psoriasis, and acne
    • Revitalizes dehydrated skin
    • Improves tone, texture, and elasticity
  • Sunflower seed oil- 0-2
    • Keeps skin balanced and moisturized
    • Fights acne bacteria
    • Fights signs of aging
  • Sacha inchi oil- 0-1
    • High in antioxidants
    • Reduces redness, irritation, and inflammation
    • Strengthens and moisturizes skin
    • Great for healing acne
  • Red raspberry seed oil- 0-1
    • Great for protection against sun; natural SPF of 28
    • Moisturizing
    • High in antioxidants
  • Guava seed oil- 1-2
    • Reduces pore size
    • Tones and tightens skin
    • Reduces signs of aging, scars, and stretch marks
    • Prevents moisture loss
  • Kukui nut oil- 2
    • Revitalizes tired skin
    • Suited for drier skin types
    • Great as a massage oil
    • Can be used as a scalp conditioner
  • Black Cumin seed oil- 2
    • High in antioxidants
    • Anti-aging
    • Calms inflammation and accelerates healing
    • Softens, strengthens, and smooths skin
    • Treats acne scars
  • Grape seed oil- 1
    • Rich in vitamin E
    • Reduces inflammation and redness
    • Accelerates healing of acne
  • Elderberry seed oil- 1-2
    • High in antioxidants
    • Promotes elasticity
    • Purges skin of impurities
  • Cucumber seed oil- 1
    • Maintains skin moisture balance
    • Restores elasticity
    • Encourage skin regeneration
    • Nourishing
    • Treats inflammations, redness, and rough patches
  • Black Currant seed oil- 0-1
    • Good for dry, damaged skin
    • Regenerates and calms inflammatory skin conditions
  • Black Raspberry seed oil- 0-1
    • Nourishing
    • Keeps skin smooth and plump
  • Blackberry seed oil- 0-1
    • Contains antioxidants
    • Combats aging skin, blotchiness, large pores, and blemishes
    • Mikes well with other oils
  • Safflower oil- 0
    • Highly moisturizing
    • Breaks up impurities in the skin
    • No greasy residue
  • Hemp seed oil- 0
    • Reduces redness and inflammation
    • Treats eczema, psoriasis, and dry, itchy skin
    • Balances skin’s oil production
    • Should be refrigerated
  • Evening Primrose oil- 2-3
    • Balances hormones
    • Reduces inflammation
    • Promotes elasticity
  • Rosehip oil- 2
    • Reverses hyperpigmentation, sun damage, scars, and visible signs of aging.
    • High in antioxidants
    • Improves texture and revitalizes skin
  • Strawberry seed oil- 1
    • Moisturizing
    • Soothes, hydrates, and protects skin
    • Regenerates elasticity
  • Pumpkin seed oil- 2
    • Hydrates and renews skin
    • Increases firmness
    • Fights acne bacteria
    • Prevents scars
  • Soybean oil- 4-5
    • Potent in antioxidants
    • Sun protection
    • Improves skin tone
    • Not generally recommended for acne-prone skin
  • Maracuja oil- 1-2
    • Can help ease stress and promote a more restful sleep
    • Good for dry, itchy skin
  • Poppy seed oil- 0-1
    • Helps balance sebum production in oily skin types
  • Watermelon seed oil- 0-1
    • Dissolves sebum
    • Helps get rid of blackheads and skin impurities
    • Restores elasticity
  • Tea tree oil- 0
    • Anti-bacterial properties
    • Can be used on cuts to disinfect
    • Great for treating acne without over-drying skin


Oils with SLIGHTLY more linoleic acid than oleic acid:

  • Babassu oil- 1-2
    • Soothes inflamed/distressed skin
    • Calms itchiness and redness
    • Suitable for oily skin over time/purges impurities
  • Kiwi seed oil- 1
    • Promotes skin cell regeneration
    • Good for moisturizing very dry skin
    • Treats split-ends
    • Can be used as a spot treatment
  • Cranberry seed oil- 2
    • Moisturizing
    • Protects skin structure and texture
    • Best for extremely dry skin
  • Blueberry seed oil- 2
    • Excellent anti-aging properties
    • High in antioxidants
    • Good for spot treatments, wrinkles, rough skin, and redness
    • Eases inflammation
    • Repairs skin
  • Walnut oil- 1-2
    • Fights dry, aging, sagging skin
    • Source of antioxidants
    • Anti-bacterial and anti-fungal
    • Soothes redness and inflammation
    • Regenerates tired skin cells
  • Borage oil- 2
    • Smooths complexion
    • Moisturizes skin
    • Reduces inflammation
  • Castor oil- 1
    • Strong detoxification properties
    • Increases cell turnover
    • Very drying; dilute before applying to skin
  • Pomegranate seed oil- 1
    • Nourishing for the skin
    • Encourages new cell regeneration
    • Reduces signs of aging
  • Sesame oil- 3
    • Anti-bacterial properties
    • Great for healing wounds
    • Sun protection


Are there any oils that you swear by in your skin care regime? Let me know what you find most useful!


One thought on “Oils for Oily/Acne Prone Skin? (a.k.a why oil isn’t always your enemy)

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