For many teens, maintaining clear skin on the face, shoulders, back, and chest can be a challenge. The body begins producing many different hormones during puberty, and while these hormones are necessary for development, some of them can have undesirable side effects. Hormones called androgens are steroid molecules that play a key part in the development of the reproductive organs and other bodily structures that change during puberty. Androgens also have another target: the sebaceous glands in the skin. These glands are found in every pore of the body, and they produce oil to keep skin soft. During puberty, androgens reach the skin and trigger the sebaceous glands, increasing oil production. This is one of the main challenges to maintaining the clear, healthy-looking skin that teenagers want.
Keep Skin Clean
The real key to maintaining a clear complexion is keeping the skin clean. When pores get plugged because of excess oil production, other matter that normally inhabits the surface of the skin often manages to infiltrate the clogged pore. This irritates the skin surrounding the pore, giving it a red, bumpy appearance. Cleaning up the dirt and impurities that get into the pores is the most important thing you can do to keep that from happening.
Because oil and water don’t mix, it is difficult to find a water-based product that can be absorbed by oily skin, mix with the oil in the plugged pores, and then neutralize the environmental irritants. However, there is good news. Research suggests that the chemical compounds in essential oils are quite effective against irritants that inhabit the skin. Because essential oils are oil-soluble, this makes them effective at dissolving and diffusing through the skin’s oily surface, entering compromised pores, neutralizing environmental irritants, and ultimately reducing the appearance of blemishes. Basil, Sandalwood, Camphor, Chamomile, Geranium, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Melaleuca, and Clove oils are just a few examples of the many essential oils documented in the scientific literature for their ability to reduce the appearance of blemishes.1
Among the oils known for their skin-purifying properties, Melaleuca oil, also known as Tea Tree oil, is the most studied. For instance, clinical studies show that a gel containing 5 percent Melaleuca is just as effective as other products commonly used to reduce the appearance of blemishes.2 Studies show that specific environmental irritants found in the skin are neutralized by the compounds in Melaleuca oil: alpha-pinene, alpha-terpineol, and terpinene-4-ol.3,4 Clinical trials comparing a 5 percent Melaleuca oil gel to a placebo found that it was 3.55 times more effective at reducing the total number of blemishes and 5.75 times more effective than the placebo at reducing the severity of blemishes.5
A growing body of human research suggests that essential oils are excellent for managing skin health. When properly administered, they are safe, highly effective, and easy to use. Teenagers (and adults) struggling to manage persistent skin blemishes should consider using essential oils for their skin-purifying benefits.