Nanoemulsion & combination of essential oils effective against acne, researchers determine

A study published in Cosmetics​ found that both a single nanoemulsion essential oil and a combination of essential oils were useful in treating acne. A tea tree nanoemulsion and combination of four essential oils benefitted adult men with noninflammatory acne.

“According to the results presented in this study, it appears to be important for an anti-acne cosmetic formulation to contain a melaleuca essential oil, which provides terpinen-4-ol,” the authors write.

Noninflammatory Acne and Essential Oils

Factors that contribute to acne lesions include abnormal keratinization, altered sebum production, colonization of hair follicles and the release of inflammatory mediators into the skin. Diet, genetics and insulin resistance are also at play. 

Essential oils have been shown to benefit cosmetic formulations in recent research. Terpenes — secondary metabolites with biological properties — within essential oils can benefit skin health. One of the most extensively studied EO for skin health is tea tree oil. It has been shown to improve acne, photoaging and oral candidiasis. Other EOs including lavender, eucalyptus and citrus oils are used in cosmetics, medicine and the food industry.

One challenge to incorporating EOs into pharmaceutical or cosmetic products is their low water solubility and high volatility. However, nanoemulsions can offset these characteristics, hence the inclusion of a nanoemulsion EO in this study.

Study methods

This randomized placebo-controlled double-blind clinical in-vivo study included 53 male participants. Participants were between 18 and 28 years of age and had non-inflammatory acne. Four groups were created: a mixture of lavender, eucalyptus, tangerine and tea tree; nanoemulsion of tea tree; pure tea tree essential oil and placebo. The formulations were applied for 90 days, and skin imaging was done before and after the study. Participants also used an SPF 50 sunscreen for 15 days prior to the study and throughout.

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