Megalist of Facial Oils That Worsen Acne, Eczema & Dry Skin

With everyone continuing to rave about a new "superstar" oil just about every year (sorry squalane and coconut oil lovers), It’s no wonder answers to simple issues like dry skin can’t even be properly resolved.

In a previous article, I talked about the oils that are good for skin conditions like acne.

Here, I'm going to cut through the nonsense floating around the internet and highlight all of the oils (there's a lot of them) that actually cause inflammation in the skin.

What to know about facial oils

Facial oils have become extremely popular in North America and different parts of Europe in recent years.

1. Their purpose

At a basic level, facial oils are used to moisturize the skin.

They're also used for anti-aging as well as oil cleansing  replacing traditional options.

2. Their skin care benefits come from fatty acids

Oils are mainly comprised of fatty acids, but It's crucial to know which kinds are good for our skin.

There is a simple rule of thumb that can make, or break, an oil.

The fatty acids that comprise and power facial oils

Most oils contain significant quantities of two different fatty acids

  • Oleic acid — monounsaturated omega-9
  • Linoleic acid — polyunsaturated omega-6

We’ve all heard by now that unsaturated fats (omega 3, 6, and 9) are healthy for us.

Um, no.. Well at least omega-3s and 6s are.

How oleic acid makes moisturizers ineffective

Monounsaturated omega-9 fats like the oleic acid listed above, are not healthy for our skin when applied topically.

The major characteristic of a high-oleic oil is that it takes forever to absorb. Well, something like that. Seriously, you will be a greasy mess for a long time waiting for the dang oil to absorb into your skin.

This is a sign that the oil you’re using is inflammatory, as oleic acid is detrimental to the skin's barrier function.

It has also been shown to worsen flakiness associated with eczema-related (dermatitis) conditions.

With continued topical use, high-oleic oils will negatively effect hydration, firmness, and inflammatory skin conditions.

Why linoleic acid is a critical skin nutrient

Linoleic acid plays a direct role in maintaining the skin's water permeability barrier.

In other non-scientific words, linoleic acid keeps the skin healthy and able to retain moisture by itself.

So here's the catch: acne-prone skin is unusually low in linoleic acid.

How does the skin compensate for this important nutritional deficit? It overproduces oleic acid, leading to enlarged sebum (clogged pores) and excess oily skin. 

The National Eczema Association suggests using oils that have a low amount of oleic, and high amount of linoleic acid.

This leads me to my point: It's critical to use oils that have balanced fatty acid ratios, and this is where my list comes in. 

Megalist of oils that worsen acne, eczema and dry skin

Facial oils that worsen acne & eczema

Some oils on this list might be a bit shocking, so refer to this list for anti-inflammatory oils.

Each ingredient is listed in order of its quantity of oleic acid, with #1 being the highest. 

Check the labels on moisturizing products to avoid these types of ingredients:

1. Sunflower Oil (High Oleic Variety)

Oleic acid: 70% 88%

Linoleic acid: 3% 20%


2. Shea Nut Oil

Oleic acid: 65% — 86%

Linoleic acid: 5% — 15%


3. Hazelnut Oil

Oleic acid: 63% — 83%

Linoleic acid: 8% — 29%


4. Olive Oil

Oleic acid: 55% — 83%

Linoleic acid: 3.5% — 21%


5. Sweet Almond Oil

Oleic acid: 50% — 83%

Linoleic acid: - 20% — 30%


6. Plum Kernel Oil

Oleic acid: 60% — 80%

Linoleic acid: 15% — 25%


7. Camellia Oil

Oleic acid: 79%

Linoleic acid: 7%


8. Marula Oil

Oleic acid: 78%

Linoleic acid: 7%


9. Ungurahua Oil

Oleic acid: 76.8%

Linoleic acid: 3.9%


10. Moringa Oil

Oleic acid: 70%

Linoleic acid: 0.9%


11. Apricot Kernel Oil

Oleic acid: 69%

Linoleic acid: 23%

* Also contains 22% omega-3.


12. Tucuma Seed Oil

Oleic acid: 65.6%

Linoleic acid: 3.6%


13. Buriti Oil

Oleic acid: 65.6%

Linoleic acid: 4.9%


14. Avocado Oil

Oleic acid: 65%

Linoleic acid: 14%


15. Peach Kernel Oil

Oleic acid: 64.1%

Linoleic acid: 25.2%


16. Canola Oil

Oleic acid: 61.8%

Linoleic acid: 18.6%


17. Pequi Oil

Oleic acid: 40% — 60%

Linoleic acid: 15% — 25%


18. Mango Seed Oil

Oleic acid: 34% — 55%

Linoleic acid: 1% — 4.5%


19. Acai Berry Oil

Oleic acid: 35% — 55%

Linoleic acid: 20% — 40%


20. Mangosteen Oil

Oleic acid: 54.5%

Linoleic acid: 5.6%


21. Macadamia Nut

Oleic acid: 53%

Linoleic acid: 2%


22. Pecan Nut Oil

Oleic acid: 52%

Linoleic acid: 36.6%


23. Karanja Oil

Oleic acid: 51.5%

Linoleic acid: 16%


24. Emu Oil

Oleic acid: 50.8%

Linoleic acid: 11%


25. Neem Oil

Oleic acid: 50%

Linoleic acid: 13%


26. Argan Oil

Oleic acid: 43% — 49%

Linoleic acid: 29% — 36%


27. Pracaxi Oil

Oleic acid: 42% — 47%

Linoleic acid: 1% — 3%


28. Tamanu Oil

Oleic acid: 41%

Linoleic acid: 29%


29. Palm Oil

Oleic acid: 40%

Linoleic acid: 9.1%


30. Baobab Oil

Oleic acid: 30% — 40%

Linoleic acid: 24% — 34%


31. Brazil Nut Oil

Oleic acid: 39.3%

Linoleic acid: 36.1%


32. Sea Buckthorn Fruit Oil

Oleic acid: 14% — 18%

Linoleic acid: 5% — 7%

* This is different than sea buckthorn seed oil.

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