Friday, April 27, 2012

Should You Consider Using Jojoba Oil For Your Acne?

Rumor has it that jojoba oil can solve all your beauty dilemmas.  It can be used on the hair, body, and the face.  Many people even believe it can cure acne.  Is this true?

Before I answer that question, let me explain the theory that's circulating behind this claim.  Many jojoba oil advocates believe that because jojoba oil is so similar to human sebum, it can actually trick the skin into producing less oil.  When you produce less oil, you don’t break out as much… Therefore it can cure acne.

I have no clue where this notion got started, but there is no sensor in the skin that determines whether or not you have produced enough sebum.  If there were, no one would have oily skin. 

Oily skin is determined by genetics and hormones. 

The only other reason we may produce more oil is irritation.  The nerve endings in our skin can trigger excess oil production, but avoiding irritating products that agitate these nerve endings to begin with should make this a non-issue.

What if you have irritated your skin?  In that case, jojoba oil may not be a terrible idea.

Many experts theorize that one of the underlying causes for acne—especially adult acne—is an impaired barrier function.  When this critical component of healthy skin is damaged, bacteria can easily multiply and get out of control.  It is also more prone to reactions from traditional moisturizers.  Applying something like jojoba oil to the skin can soften dry, easily irritated skin without occluding it, which could trigger more breakouts. 

If you are experiencing dry skin and sensitivity in addition to your acne, you may see results from the right source of jojoba oil.  (Dr. Fulton’s study on comedogenicity found that not all sources of jojoba oil are non-comedogenic, so shop carefully.)  Flaky skin can fall off and into pores, which makes clogging worse.  By using something like jojoba oil to moisturize the skin, the flakiness becomes less of an issue.

Jojoba oil may also soften the existing clogs in dry skin with acne because it can penetrate the pore.  Some have speculated that jojoba oil even has antibacterial properties, which would certainly help. 

If you choose to use jojoba oil, use it sparingly, and be sure to purchase a high quality, cold-pressed variety. 

The science simply is not there to support any claims that jojoba oil will help your acne though.  It could even make it worse.  Jojoba oil is not a stand-alone treatment for acne.  It’s only a potential moisturizer that you could consider if you’re struggling with both acne and dryness.  However, you might also want to check out the other non-comedogenic plant oils like safflower oil before deciding if jojoba oil is the best choice for you.

This post reflects the views of the author and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice.


  1. Another interesting post! I haven't seen many products out there with safflower oil in them, and the Clinique one is pretty expensive. I currently use Jojoba oil to remove my makeup and cleanse skin afterwards... but wondering if I should re-think that oil choice. Perhaps a trip to the health food store will show me some options. Many people rave about cocnut oil - is that noncomedogenic?

    1. Hey JennyB77!

      Coconut oil is extremely comedogenic. It's basically nature's Vaseline. However, I too have heard good things about it as a makeup remover, which may be because it's so occlusive. A lot of oils will sink into the skin while you're spreading them, and that's really not what you want in a makeup remover. However, I personally would be nervous to try it because coconut oil has wrecked havoc on my skin in the past, and it's very, very hard to get rid of those breakouts.

      The jojoba oil should be fine to remove your makeup if you don't feel like it's absorbing into your skin as you're trying to get your makeup off. I would also avoid too much massaging. Just keep it on the skin as briefly as possible.

      Hope this helps! Thank you so much for commenting!

      Fondly, Elizabeth

  2. I cleanse with jojoba oil which started when I used to use mineral powder and only oils could fully remove it. I do wonder about the need of it as I have dehydrated and very sensitive skin which actually does not need that much oil. I only remove the oil with a bit of thermal water as a toner or a splash of water. But I have no clue how to cleanse my skin other than that since it just never tolerated any just a tiny bit harsh cleansers or a bit drying (like clay to remove makeup). Do you have any idea?

    Other than that: I would like to ask you if you can write a bit about the skin barrier. I wrote my story at another post, I do think that I "destroyed" the barrier quiet a lot. My skin simply does not tolerate anything and at worst times it even hurts badly to use plain cotton pads. I read that one should just leave it alone. There are some products but I stopped using anything except rose water and aloe vera gel. Even just applying something to my face makes it turn red. Maybe you have done some research there or some good information - people have so many information on those things but I would love to hear a scientific point of view. :)

    Lots of love and thanks so much for reading! I always talk to much.. even in real life ;)


    1. Hey Dora,

      That is a brilliant idea! I recorded a video forever ago that was supposed to be a follow up to my Retin-A post, and when I was trying to edit it, I noticed I was rambling about the barrier function without any kind of introduction. I haven't posted it because I thought everything would be really confusing. I will definitely do a post about it! It's actually a subject I'm really passionate about, so the research is already done.

      I've been so bad about posting lately because I've been travelling so much, but I'm excited to write about this.

      If you don't mind my asking, what triggered all of this? I mean, how long has your skin been chemically intolerant? I read that you were using a lot of drugstore products. Did you ever see a dermatologist?

      It sounds like you're a fan of natural remedies. I would try using cold compresses for about ten minutes that you can make by mixing equal amounts of skim milk and cold water and soaking some soft (cotton, if possible) rags. If you continue to do this when your skin is stressed, it really will lessen the irritation. I would also suggest being careful with the rose water because it's quite fragrant. Despite its healing properties, it can become an allergen over time--even if you love it now. If you can start incorporating a water-soluble cleanser like Cera Ve Hydrating Cleanser into your routine at your own comfort level and using a zinc oxide sunscreen (which you can find at the health food store) to protect your skin from UV damage and other environmental aggressors, you can aid in the healing process. I'll elaborate on this more when I start writing, but if you have any more details you'd like to share, perhaps I can be more helpful. =)

      I loved reading your comments! Thank you so much for your support! It means so much.

      Fondly, Elizabeth

  3. Thank you so much for your answer! I didnt know you do videos - was this a one time thing or am I missing out on something? :)

    Until I was about 19 I used a lot of things, mostly everything that was cheap and from the drugstore. Nothing ever worked and I really never could leave my hands out of my face. To this point I had only been at a derm in my teens.
    Then I got more and more into natural stuff (my "hippie - time" ;) ). My skin got better until it just stopped and stayed the same. Thats where I went to a derm who then prescribed me (Skinoren, I think) but I in my opinion any acne treatment cannot be gentle on my skin (which I feel my skin really needs). I never bought it.
    During this time I used all natural things already, mostly only jojoba oil, sometimes nothing, or oatmeal to cleanse my skin.

    Then after my sister asked why my skin was _still_ so bad I in a way just got overboard and bought an acne cleanser and a hydrating cream with perfume and I just used it and thats when my skin started to get really really bad. I was always very sensitive to perfume and my skin always felt very tight and a bit like leather. But at that time just touching my skin hurt.
    There I was again trying out products, a cleanser which was supposed to be mild and a BHA gel for my clogged pores, some pharmacy products, some expensive french companies (all samples) and came to the conclusion that really any kind of perfume or acid or sulfate and especially alcohol was just too much for my skin. Thats when I went back to all natural products because I just feel like I have no other choice. The gentlest of cleanser do good but they cannot properly remove my makeup which in the end means a lot of rubbing and a lot of cleansing to remove it. Oil is very comfortable to use and since we have very hard water I like to avoid regular cleansers. But I am def. not sure if this is an excellent way to remove my makeup. I cant remember when but there where times where I tried out soap (whoa, harsh) and other different things. I actually cannot remember ever staying with one skin care regimen longer than a week maximum.

    Hard to say what exactly caused it but I guess just jumping from one to another thing, never staying with something, using fragrances to further irritate my skin. The derm acutally told me that I have atopic skin but I never had any dry patches - but I think atopic skin has a bit of a skin barrier problem?

    Oh, I love milk. I use quark (I hope its called that..I am no native speaker) as a mask. My skin adores it. I will def. try that out! Also black tea is a great soother for my skin if it gets red =)

    Oh yes the sunscreen. I am too scared of sunscreens but I am going to start trying one out tomorrow. I do know how important it is but just the thought of breaking out is quiet fearful. I have a sample of one here (also zinc based) and tomorrow is a good day to try it out.
    But I really didnt know about the rose water! I thought about it as being very safe and hydrating. I will do some research on that and if necessary just use it in my hair :)

    Looking back I now remember that I used only simple ingredients before (like the jojoba) and noticed no difference at all. I wonder if this was because oil alone wasnt hydrating enough or because I always messed with my skin. Maybe it needs more time and patience. Or maybe I am doing wrong.

    Now I am really looking forward to your post!

    Thank you so much for your help =)

    Lots of love

    1. I did skip the rose water (I prefer it in my hair anyway ;) ) and start using a sun screen (very carefully at first). I will look for a cleanser but that is not that easy. I am looking for one without any alcohol, sulfates (and no foaming) or acids or any acne treatments. But still cleansing good enough that I can remove my makeup without having to go over it 5 times (which was the case with most mild cleansers). I can live with the "using water" part.
      I am really picky on not even a tiny bit stripping my skin. Using too much water already makes it feel a bit dry. But I think that the oils did clog my pores a bit as well (although it is high quality jojoba oil). And just as with the rose water - I prefer jojoba oil a lot more in my hair ;)

      I actually have a cream which I am not using at the moment although I should because my skin needs it but I once used too much and my skin reacted with clogged pores. I am so scared of using too much on my skin. I love everything simple. And if I wouldnt wear making I would probably just leave my skin where it is. Ah, I wish.
      Thank you so much =)

    2. Hey Dora,

      Sigh... I have the atopic skin too. Yeah, I understand what you're going through. I had to do a skin vacation for a bit when my skin was getting overprocessed, and it was hard to get it back under control. Are you taking evening primrose oil?

      For me, I found that my skin cannot function very efficiently if I don't properly cleanse it...but for so long, cleansing was such a nightmare on my skin that I didn't know how to find the right balance.

      Have you every tried Bioderma Sensibio H2O? It's a cleansing water that has a cult following because it doesn't irritate anyone's skin. You have to wipe it across your skin, so you may have to invest in some higher end cotton like the ones Shiseido sells if the wiping motion is too much for you. But seriously, it works very, very well. I recommend it all the time to people who are forced to deal with hard water because it's way easier on your skin.

      Also if your skin is super miserable, you may want to use a cortisone to clear the flare up. You don't want to use it any longer than two weeks, but there are times when it really is necessary to break the cycle of inflammation. You can talk to your doctor or pharmacist about it, but when used correctly, cortisone creams are very, very effective at calming the skin. It's when people get addicted to them that they run into trouble.

      Hooray for using the sunscreen! Keep me posted. I've started working on the post, so it should be up soon. Lots of love!

      Fondly, Elizabeth

  4. Thanks for the answer! I started cleansing with clay actually, which for me is the next thing I have in my hose (since I cannot buy anything new at the moment). It works really well, the most drying is the water I have to use with it. I mix it with milk. Surprisingly it is way less drying than a lot of other things I tried before. So that is good. :)

    I used Bioderma before, funny you ask, because everyone recommends it to me. It made my skin super red, super painful and it huuuurt like crazy. For some reason it was just too much. One of the reasons I just dont trust anything thats supposed to be "sensitive".

    I was thinking quiet often about evening primrose oil. I think once I finish the jojoba oil I will purchase either this or the calendula oil (supposed to be good for the skin barrier). Maybe some mini samples. I am really looking forward as I have heard good things about it.

    Today I found out my skin is acutally dry as well. I never knew what I have on my skin are flakes. Haha, I was so surprised when I found out ;) I did some research on my skin type (not sure what it is in english.. in German it is like dry oily skin) and I was just like whoaaa thats my skin! Very clogged, very thick layer on top, the sebum is to hard to break through (and thereby clogges the skin) because there isnt enough water to mix with it. So I think I am good by staying with my hydrating cream for hydration and protection, sunscreen (because this type seems to be very prone to weather changes) and regular exfoliation. The last one I do like to avoid because I always spread bacteria by physical exfoliation. I do need to get an enzyme exfoliant (hope its called that).

    Goodness, skin care really is rocket science, isnt it ;)

    Oh, I am so looking forward to that post! Skin barrier is very interesting as it is just soo complicated!

    Thank you so much for answering and sharing you knowledge and experience with me and us :)

    Lots of love
    Dora =)

    1. It sounds like you have some serious eczema going on. If the Bioderma bothered you, then it sounds like your skin is really low in Natural Moisturizing Factors (NMFs), which are water-soluble. Removing these if your skin is already low in them would certainly make your skin angry.

      You're very smart not to trust products labelled "sensitive skin." The term isn't regulated, and there are four different types of sensitive skin. They all have different causes, triggers, and require different treatment.

      Enzymes are my absolute favorite treatment product, but they're not very stable. Many of the ones available to the public aren't the real product. Be careful when you're shopping for them because a lot of them are loaded with irritants that "feel like they're working." These can be quite damaging.

      When I mentioned evening primrose oil earlier, I should've specified that I meant the oral supplement--not the topical treatment. Studies have found that because evening primrose oil is high in gamma-linolenic acid, which atopic skin is deficient in. It can also help balance hormone levels, which may improve acne. It also reduces inflammation. It's ridiculous how much of a difference I notice in my skin when I stop taking it. If you choose to get it, you'll want to purchase only those in dark containers that protect the pills from light. But it really does help. You can ask your pharmacist about it to see if it's a good choice for you.

      I am so glad you started commenting. Chatting with you is so interesting! Keep me posted on the clay!

      Fondly, Elizabeth

  5. Oh, that is so interesting! You said, there are 4 types? Is there an article on your site or can you tell what those are? Then I could follow up with some research. My skin is very painful even by touching it, maybe there actually is some eczema going on but my skin looks pretty normal (except for dead skin cells in the t-zone area oddly enough and some flakes around my nose). I guess I cannot do anything wrong with being as careful as possible :)

    I didnt know anything about enzymes before I was recommended using those as an exfoliation. I tried Paulas Choice BHA before but using it every day burned my skin and I am not sure if I am about to purchase the 1% lotion (and use it every 2 to 3 days) or the enzymes one. Is the second one more sensitive?

    Thats so interesting about evening primrose! I will for sure have a look into this! I am taking chia seeds which have an incredible amount on omega 3, which is supposed to be good for hydrating from the inside. So the oil might just fit into this perfectly. Uh, thats exciting :)
    For hormonal acne I was trying out some red clover tea (although everyone is so happy about it there actually can be some side effects in very rare cases which made me always a bit insecure about it). Its especially for menopause. Taking it did help a bit but I never took it long enough since I would have to dring 2 to 3 cups every day and it is not the best tasting tea (not bad though). But since I cannot buy anything before next month I might just use it up for the next 2 weeks and see if I see some results.

    So if my skin is low in NMF´s... does this mean that water can actually be irritating?

    I am learning so much! Thank you! =)

    Lots of love

    1. Hey Dora,

      I have not done an article on the sensitive skin types, but since I'm a bit stuck on how much to include in the barrier function post (which was getting long), I've decided to divide that post up, which will introduce the subject in a way that's easier to read on a computer and covers more information. I'm going to discuss the following:
      -How not to damage your skin (and how to learn from your skin care mistakes)
      -Product penetration
      -The abnormalities in our skin on a cellular level that make a big difference
      -Sensitive skin

      I'm sure I'll cover some other things, but that post is just all over the place right now.

      You said your doctor said you had atopic skin, which is what we call skin that is genetically sensitive and prone to eczema (atopic dermatitis.) I wonder if it means the same thing when translated into German. You guys have more words than we do, which makes it the best language for science. English isn't nearly as specific.

      Now I'm wondering if what you're experiencing is actually seborrheic dermatitis, which is also an inflammtory skin condition... But it's triggered by the oil glands instead of being an immune response. I don't know why I'm even trying, since it's impossible to diagnose someone over the internet. But I'm just wondering which one it is...

      Anyway, the evening primrose oil would help many kinds of skin disorders, but it's more effective against eczema than anything else. And, yes, if your skin is low in NMFs, then you would find water irritating.

      The BHA products and enzymes do different things, so it's difficult to compare them. The BHA is anti-inflammatory, which the enzymes aren't. However, the BHA exfoliates within the pore, and the enzymes only eat away the dead skin cells and nothing more, which occurs on the skin's surface. The enzymes can be irritating because of the acidity and because some people are allergic to fruit. I really think you might want to take a break from exfoliation for a bit and pay attention to your skin's changes before deciding on one. If it is sebborheic dermatitis, then you're best off treating it with a zinc pyrithione cleanser, which will deal with the flakiness you're talking about.

      Did I answer everything? No idea. Let me know your thoughts because I'm dying to know now whether or not I'm making any sense here. Talk to you soon!

      Fondly, Elizabeth

  6. I took some time to try to remember what my doctor said. I came to him because I has a rash around my eyes (which happens to my mostly in the winter). I could actually conclude from this that my skin indeed is prone to eczema but only got it around the eyes which probably is the most sensitive skin area. So I might just be happen it never got my on my facial skin. I dont know if I would go that far to say I have eczema since my skin only flakes in the t-zone area (which I find really odd.. shouldnt it flake on my cheeks?) and is very rough. Right now after I use my cream it only sothens my skin for half an hour, then it gets back to being rough. Very confusing. I cannot remember if my skin has always been like that but I think it was.. not sure though.
    What exactly makes you think of eczema? I was looking at pictures and I do understand the flaking and itching part.. but shouldnt there be any rashes as well?
    But the way you define atopic dermatitis sounds very familiar, it seems to be the same :)
    Could this be because the cream isnt enough for my skin and the sebum clogges so fast again? Couldnt those flakes just be from the hardened skin (is it called "cornificated")?

    The clay is working great. My skin takes it great! And it does get off my makeup. I am very happy with it. Its just a bit messy .. well to be honest it is very messy ;)

    Wow, that is so confusing.

    The articles sound awesome! Its probably a good idea to split it and I am so looking forward to read them :) Thanks for all the work!

    Lots of love

  7. Oh... well I was just looking at some pictures with my fiance and I was like "Nooo, thats not my skin" and he was like "Look at those! They totally look like your skin!" I am kind of shocked. I think those were the more mild cases (I guess google always gave me some hardcore rashes). I red a bit about seborrheic dermatitis and how it also flakes at the head.. I just have that! It just started again when I stopped using my shampoo for ...haha, atopic skin. ;)

    Mhhh, I guess here it is just time to go to a derm to get a diagnose.

    I will do some more research.

    A big hug for you
    Dora =)

  8. Hi Elizabeth,
    Just found your blog. What a lifesaver you are!
    My skin has gone downhill since having my son two years ago. I am still breastfeeding him, so maybe it is a hormonal thing? I have constant clogged pores, blackheads and some acne. I've switched cleansers a few times since nothing was working but I'm currently using Boscia Clear Complexion, as recommended by the SA at Sephora. My skin is dry though, and even using the Boscia oil-free night moisturizer twice a day doesn't seem enough. I pat on some jojoba oil (Auracacia brand) that seems to help with the dryness but certainly doesn't clear anything up.
    Can I take Evening Primrose Oil for clogged pores/dryness/blackheads? Would a different skincare system work better? I've tried everything. It's quite bad.

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  10. Wow great post! Yes, this is true jojoba oil can solve all your beauty dilemmas. You can use a mix of honey and jojoba oil as a skin cleanser. For healthy skin we should use jojoba oil. We should also wash our face twice a day to remove skin impurities.