Fact: oregano makes everything better. From pasta sauce and pizza to baked chicken breast, almost any savory dish can benefit from a pinch of oregano. The pungent flavor suits meats well and is a staple in almost every Italian dish imaginable.
It is pretty safe to say that the green herb is a bit of a culinary jack of all trades but what if it could actually also be the answer to your acne woes? Let’s discuss the pros and cons of using oregano as a topical skin care additive.
Why Use It?
So, when using oregano for skin care purposes, you do not use the dried herb itself. Instead, you opt for oregano oil. Sometimes labelled as oregano extract or oregano essence, oregano oil is made from the leaves of oregano and is quite strong.
Medicinally, oregano leaves and oil have been used for centuries to treat a variety of health issues ranging from coughs to intestinal parasites. Many people actually used to keep a little bottle of the thick oil in their medicine cabinets for emergency purposes.
When treating acne, one of the most important things to do is keep bacteria away from your face. Many scrubs and cleansers do this with the help of harsh soap based ingredients; with oregano oil, you can kick bacteria naturally.
Oregano oil is an incredibly potent antibacterial agent that also has antimicrobial properties, as well. Applying it topically can rapidly kill any surface dwelling germs with ease, leaving your skin free to heal. Also, oregano oil contains a type of antioxidant called rosmarinic acid that helps prevent damage caused by free radicals that would otherwise allow bacteria to spread more easily.
Once the bacteria has been cleared from your skin and pores, the acne bumps will begin to heal. Oregano oil absorbs easily into the skin, meaning it can get deep down inside infected pimples, papules, and pustules to kill off the bacteria living inside.
As the bacteria dies, the bump will begin to shrink and fade, eventually fully healing. Since oregano oil has antibacterial properties that also affect the non-inflamed skin surrounding your breakout, bacteria will not be able to regrow or reenter the healing area, preventing new breakouts, too!
How to Use Oregano Oil for Acne
The most common way to use it is to topically apply it as a spot treatment. You cannot use oregano oil undiluted; much like tea tree oil, it is too strong for direct contact with your skin and can cause serious burns and irritation.
It can be tempting to apply it directly to treat the bump faster but this will only serve to further inflame your skin, opening you up to even more acne breakouts due to the skin being damaged. To prevent damage to your skin, a carrier oil is necessary; just mix the oregano oil into the carrier at a two to one ratio favoring the carrier.
All carrier oils are not created equally; some actually pose some very real skincare benefits that can be utilized in tandem with your oregano oil treatment.
Coconut oil is one of the most popularly used carrier oils due to it being full of antioxidants and having antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties; this would mesh quite well with the oregano oil’s similar capabilities.
Olive oil is also quite effective as a secondary treatment since it will not block your pores and is also anti-inflammatory. Rich in fatty acids, jojoba oil has been a mainstay in natural skincare treatments due to its deeply moisturizing properties and sebum like texture that allows for easy absorption.
Lastly, sweet almond oil is rich in vitamin E and is fantastic for those with dryer skin who suffer from acne since it treats while adding non-greasy moisture. There are other carrier oils as well that will work beautifully so do a bit of research to help you decide which will best suit your unique skin care needs.
Once you have your oils mixed, simply apply a small amount to your individual bumps with a q-tip or other application tool. Let it soak into the bump and do not rinse it off; repeat twice daily for as long as it takes to heal your acne, everyone’s reaction time will vary but generally it takes a couple of weeks to fully heal severe breakouts and around seven to ten days for more mild ones.
Depending on your skin it can take up to eight weeks or more to fully see results; oregano oil generally works quickly but the severity and sensitivity of your skin and your body’s unique biochemistry will impact the results you recieve.
Side Effects and Risks
As with any acne treatment, there are some side effects and risks associated with oregano oil usage. For starters, always avoid the eye area when applying the oil, as an ingredient in oregano oil called thymol can be an irritant.
It is rather strong and can actually be corrosive so do not apply it to any bumps that may have formed near your eyes. Also, do not use oregano oil over your entire face; it should be utilized as a spot treatment due to the harsh nature of its cleansing.
Additionally, always patch test on a small area of skin on your arm or leg to ensure you are not allergic to the oil. If you are allergic to oregano as an herb, you will likely be allergic to the extracted oil, as well. People who experience reactions to the other plants within the Lamiaceae family will also possibly be allergic to oregano oil.
These plants include basil, hyssop, lavender, marjoram, mint, and sage. If you are allergic to any of these, use the oil with extreme caution and test it thoroughly for twenty four hours before applying it to your face or avoid it all together and opt for a different treatment.
Lastly, pregnant and breastfeeding women should check with their doctors before using oregano oil. Orally, it is deemed likely unsafe due to its ability to cause gastrointestinal distress that can spark early labor.
Topically, more information is needed before an official verdict on its safety can be delivered but for now, always check with a doctor or other medical professional before using any new medications or treatments, especially if you are unsure if you have an allergy or sensitivity.