7 Oils You Shouldn’t Use if You Have Clogged Pores

oils for acne prone skin

Just because something is natural doesn't mean it's good for your skin.

Natural ingredients are often healthier for your skin than synthetic, but not all natural ingredients work for all skin types. Those with sensitive skin still need to be selective about the products they use. If your skin is prone to excess oil, you want to stay away from things that are likely to clog your pores, and that includes some natural ingredients.

The thing is that some oils are great for oily skin, because of their unique ratio of essential fatty acids, while others, for the same reason, are occlusive and can block pores. This is why grapeseed oil, which is naturally high in linoleic acid, is helpful for those with clogged pores and oily skin.


What this means that as we look at natural ingredients in skin care—which are mostly oils and butters—we have to consider how the essential fatty acids in these oils will interact and potentially affect oily skin. (Read more about essential fatty acids here.)

Here are 7 oils you shouldn't use if you have oily skin and clogged pores:

1. Unfractionated coconut oil

We talked about the difference between fractionated and unfractionated coconut oil in this post. Briefly, fractionated coconut oil is a form of the oil that has had the long-chain fatty acids removed via hydrolysis and steam distillation. Just this one change makes the oil liquid at room temperature and extends the product’s shelf life. It also makes it a lighter oil that is less likely to clog pores. Heavier oils rich in fatty acids are wonderful moisturizers, but they can be irritating for sensitive skin.

2. Cocoa butter

This is another very moisturizing ingredient that has skin-protecting antioxidants as well as plumping fatty acids, but it can be too occlusive for oily skin, especially on the face.

3. Sesame oil

This one is more balanced then some, with only slightly more oleic than linoleic, but it’s one to watch out for. If you want to use it, try on a small area first, to see how it affects you. Even if you can’t use it on your face, you may be fine enjoying it on the rest of the body.

4. Wheat germ oil

On the natural ingredient list, wheat germ oil is often listed as one of the most comedogenic. If you have clogged pores, it’s probably best to avoid this oil and restrict its use for hair care.

5. Shea butter

This butter, though super beneficial for dry skin, may be too much for oily prone skin because of its high level of oleic fatty acids. There are varying levels of shea butter in different products, and the formula matters too—what the shea butter is mixed in with. You don’t necessarily need to stay away from this one, but just be cautious when you see it, and watch your skin carefully for any reactions.

6. Sea buckthorn oil

This oils is full of protective antioxidants, but it’s low in linoleic acid, too. It’s not particularly high in oleic, so if you combine it with some other oils that are higher in linoleic acid, it’s likely you could still enjoy the anti-aging benefits without having to worry about clogged pores.

7. Other oils

Several oils are high in “oleic” fatty acids, which are believed to cause more clogged pores than those high in “linoleic” fatty acids. Since oily skin is believed to be low in linoleic fatty acids, oils with more of these typically work well, while those with more “oleic” acid may cause more issues. Based on this theory, some to avoid include olive, avocado, apricot kernel, and sweet almond oil.

Meanwhile, some oils that are great for oily skin include grapeseed, rosehip, evening primrose, hemp, and pumpkin seed oil.

Which oils do you find work for your skin type? Let us know in the comments below!


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  1. c g says

    I have skin that is prone to clogged pores, but Coconut oil seems to work great for me. I only use as a makeup remover. Although, I don’t use it everyday. My other 2 favorites are Hempseed and Pumpkinseed Oil. They are non-comedogenic. I use them as a moisturizer and I don’t have a problem with clogged pores.

  2. Deb says

    Organic sunflower seed oil is great for oily skin . I use it as a carrier oil or if my skin is irritated, as a basic nighttime moisturizer after spraying my face with an herb infused, probiotic water…. My uber oily skin loves it…

  3. KR says

    Its weird to sesame oil on this list. Sesame seed oil is mixed but higher in linoleic acid. I use it for myself on my face and I have very oily skin. It shrinks my pores, improves my complexion, really helps with oil control throughout the day, and i feel like my breakouts (and scarring) go away quicker vs when I wasn’t using it.

    • Annmarie Skin Care says

      That’s awesome that sesame oil works for you! Thanks for sharing 🙂 We put it on the list because it can be troublesome for certain people, and super beneficial for others (like yourself!).

  4. Claudia says

    What would be the best oil for combination skin: skin that is both oil and dry. My daughter is having such a hard time lately. she is 14 and was having some issues with clogged pores and acne. We’ve tried fighting it with different natural masks, essential oils, and carrier oils. We discovered coconut oil didn’t work for her. Recently, in desperation we tried castor oil and jojoba oil mixed but heavier on the castor oil and it dried her skin making it red, itchy, dry, and painful and flaky, but she still has the acne. Ugh. Purchased grapeseed oil and rosehip oil, using those now with a drop of lavendar and frankincense and no tea tree oil for now (she thinks it’s drying, but i’m not sure). It’s also bitter cold right now so I think the cold air (and heat) is also contributing to the problem. I feel so bad for her!

  5. KB says

    i LOVE grapeseed oil!! It is one of the only things that has been able to calm my sensitive, dry, and acne-prone skin. It has been a lifesaver!!

  6. Jibs says

    I tried reship oil just about a mont ago and my face has broken out in so much acne and whitehead since then:-(

    Currently I am trying to just moisturize with honey each evening. Is that a good idea?

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