Olive Oil For Acne Scars: Does It Actually Work?

Understand how this lightweight oil may support your skin as it heals from acne scars.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Suchana MarahattaDr. Suchana Marahatta, MBBS, MD (Dermatology)
By Shaheen NaserShaheen Naser  • 

Acne develops when your pores get clogged with dirt, bacteria, makeup, and sebumi  XAn oily substance produced by sebaceous glands in the body that creates a protective layer over the skin. , resulting in acne breakouts all over your skin. Sometimes, the acne pores swell, and a breakdown in the pore walls results in acne scars forming. Some people strongly believe that olive oil is good for acne scars. In this article, we find out what research says about this and how to use olive oil for treating acne scars.

Can Olive Oil Treat Acne Scars?

Woman with acne scars may benefit from olive oil

Image: Shutterstock

While some people endorse the virtues of olive oil for acne treatment and acne scar healing, there’s very little scientific evidence to prove these effects. Most experiments involving olive oil are conducted on mice. There is no concrete evidence to prove its effectiveness in treating human skin conditions.

However, besides cooking, the general population uses olive oil on a large basis as a remedy for treating various skin conditions. It is also used in a number of cosmetics. But does it actually work for acne scars? Here’s what science says.

  • An animal study found that oleic acid, a fatty acid that makes up to 83% of olive oil, triggered acne (1).
  • Another study found that olive oil reduced skin integrity and caused mild erythemai  XA skin condition that occurs due to a mild allergic reaction to a medication or infection, causing symptoms like inflamed skin. in adults. The experiment also showed that olive oil might damage the skin barrier and promote the development of and worsen atopic dermatitisi  XA chronic skin condition that causes inflammation, redness, and itchiness on the skin. Also commonly known as eczema. (2).
  • The oleic acid in olive oil can aid the breeding of acne-causing bacteria (P. acnes) on the skin. It helped the bacteria attach themselves to the follicles (3).
  • Olive oil has a comedogenici  XThe potential of a substance to clog pores, leading to the formation of whiteheads and blackheads on the skin. rating of 2, which means it may clog the skin pores (4).

These studies clearly indicate that olive oil cannot treat acne or acne scars. However, if you have acne-free skin and want to use olive oil to moisturize it and protect it against UV damage, here’s how you can use it.

Olive Oil For The Skin

Olive oil may improve your overall skin health

Image: Shutterstock

  1. A mice study showed that the phenolic compounds in olive oil could prevent oxidative stress (the process of damaging skin cells) (5). Another mice study shows that olive oil may help fight sun damage, prevent photoagingi  XPremature aging due to continued exposure to UV light that can also lead to other conditions like pigmentation. , and reduce skin tumors (6). However, more studies are needed to establish this effect on human skin.
  2. Olive oil possesses antibacterial properties (7). But more scientific studies are needed to prove its effectiveness in treating bacteria on the skin.
  3. Other potential benefits of using olive oil on the skin due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects are its ability to delay skin aging, promote wound healing (dermal reconstruction), and prevent skin cancer. However, these effects were seen in mice, and more studies are needed on humans (5).
  4. Olive oil contains vitamin E, vitamin K and beta-carotene (precursor for vitamin A) (8). These nutrients may help keep your skin healthy.
  5. Some anecdotal evidence suggests that olive oil can help moisturize and soften the skin.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Avoid using olive oil on sensitive and eczema-prone skin. It can further damage the skin barrier and may irritate the skin.

How To Use Olive Oil On The Skin

Woman applying olive oil on her face

Image: Shutterstock

  1. Apply the oil on your face in circular motions with your fingertips. Gently massage your nose, cheeks, and forehead.
  2. Dip a cloth in hot water and hold it against your face until it cools down to room temperature.
  3. Remove the cloth and rinse it with hot water. Press the damp cloth and rub it all over your face gently to remove the remaining oil on your skin.
  4. Pat your face dry with a soft towel.

protip_icon Quick Tip
You can mix olive oil with other ingredients like rose hip oil and tea tree oil and use it for acne and scar management.

Olive oil doesn’t treat acne scars. However, there are other treatment options available that can improve their appearance. Take a look.

Other Treatments For Acne Scars

Woman getting laser treatment for acne scars

Image: Shutterstock

  1. Topical Retinoids – Over-the-counter medications that contain glycolic acid may help treat acne scars.
  2. Dermal Fillers – Plumping depressed contours caused by acne pits.
  3. Microdermabrasion – Remodelling skin’s structure (removing the skin’s outer layer).
  4. Laser treatmentUsing intense light to stimulate dermal fibroblasts.
  5. Needling – Puncturing the outer layer of the skin with sharp needles to boost collagen.
  6. Natural Remedies Botanicals or essential oils that may lighten the acne scars.

The Final Word

Olive oil may hydrate and soften your skin

Image: IStock

Though anecdotal evidence suggests that olive oil has some skin benefits, research suggests otherwise. Olive oil can clog skin pores, aggravate conditions like atopic dermatitis, and cause acne in healthy skin. Hence, consult your dermatologist before using olive oil on your face. Remember to do a patch test on a small portion on your inner arm or elbow and check for a reaction within 24 hours.

If you want to use olive oil on your skin for other purposes, there is no harm. However, if you have oily or acne-prone skin, olive oil can worsen the condition.

If you want to get rid of acne scars permanently, consult a dermatologist for the best treatment option based on your skin type and extent of scarring.

Olive oil, like other natural oils, has many benefits, but you may want to refrain from using it for removing acne scars as there is no scientific evidence suggesting its efficacy. On the contrary, olive oil has been shown to promote bacterial growth on the surface of the skin and increase the likelihood of acne formation. So, instead of using olive oil for acne scars, you may choose alternatives like topical retinoids, needling, essential oils or botanicals, and microdermabrasion, which are safer and more effective. However, individuals with skin not prone to the adverse effects of olive oil may benefit from using it in their skincare regime, especially as a moisturizer.

Frequently Asked Questions

What oil is best to treat acne scars?

Tea tree oil possesses antimicrobial properties that can help reduce mild acne (9).

Is olive oil bad for acne?

Yes, it can breed the bacteria that cause acne. Hence, it is not recommended for treating acne.

Is it OK to apply olive oil to the face every day?

Yes, it is safe to add olive oil to your daily skin care regimen, especially if you have dry skin. Adding this oil to your beauty routine will not only moisturize your skin but also help reduce the signs of aging and wrinkles.

Does olive oil lighten dark spots?

Some believe olive oil has a skin lightening effect thanks to its monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. However, research is limited in this regard.

Can I leave olive oil on my face overnight?

This depends on your skin type. While those with dry skin can leave the oil on their face overnight, it may not be a good idea for those with oily or acne-prone skin (as it may aggravate breakouts).

Key Takeaways

  • Olive oil helps in inflammation reduction and has anti-oxidants to heal wounds.
  • Olive oil moisturizes, hydrates, fights signs of aging, and fights skin cancer.
  • Olive oil massage increases blood circulation, promotes cell regeneration, and exfoliates the skin.
  • Olive oil can clog pores and cause acne and atopic dermatitis. Thus, perform a patch test before applying.


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