Does Safflower Oil Help Reduce Acne?

Those with acne-prone skin will know that we’re supposed to steer well clear of oils: however, we might be able to make an exception for safflower oil. Rich in linoleic acid and full of antioxidants, this natural oil might be the next addition to your anti-acne skincare routine.

What Is Safflower Oil?

Safflower oil is a non-comedogenic, plant-based oil used in many high-street beauty products. While it has commonly been used in medicine and as healthy cooking oil, many swear by its potent antioxidant benefits, including its ability to provide natural, plant-based hydration to the skin. If you have acne-prone skin, you’ll know that oils and acne don’t tend to mix; however, safflower oil and acne might be one of the exceptions. 

Benefits of Safflower Oil For Acne

There are many benefits to using safflower oil, especially when it comes to the skin:

Hydrating properties

Safflower oil packs a punch when it comes to its hydrating properties: the oil is packed with omegas 3, 6, and 9, as well as various fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid, oleic acid, and acne-busting linoleic acid. These hydrating, antioxidant powerhouses make safflower oil a great alternative to other hydrating oils such as hyaluronic acid

Antioxidant-Rich Vitamins

The unique flavonoids and Vitamin E in this oil make it great as an antioxidant: research has even found that safflower oil carries many anti-aging properties due to it being rich in polyphenols, chlorophylls, and carotenoids. Safflower oil can also neutralize UV damage to the skin, protecting its natural barrier against sun damage. 

A Natural Antimicrobial

Safflower oil can also be used to treat wounds and manage infections and contains potent antibacterial properties. In one study, Safflower oil proved capable of “inactivating bacterial strains” in those presenting mild skin wounds, with the paper concluding that safflower oil was to be recommended as a natural alternative in treating mild to moderate skin wounds and preventing infection. As we know, cystic acne is often susceptible to infection, so any antibacterials are welcome in our skincare routine.

Rich In Linoleic Acid

Safflower oil is also rich in one major acne-busting natural acid, with 70% of its composition made up of linoleic acid. Linoleic acid is great for fighting acne: not only does it provide essential moisture, but this essential fatty acid soothes inflammation, promotes skin healing, and even lightens hyperpigmentation – so if you’ve suffered from acne scars, this oil might even be able to help speed up the fading process.

How Does Safflower Oil Help Reduce Acne?

When incorporated correctly into an anti-acne skincare routine, safflower oil can help reduce acne when incorporated correctly. Here’s how:

Safflower Oil Does Not Clog Pores

Safflower oil is non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog your pores even with daily use. If you’re using a refined serum or skin oil that has been manufactured and enriched with various other ingredients, you might inadvertently be clogging your pores every time you wash your face. If you replace a store-bought skin serum with natural safflower oil, you’ll know that you’re using a non-comedogenic product. 

Safflower oil can promote natural hydration

We all know the link between dry skin and acne: when our skin is dry, it sends our oil production into overdrive and overproduces sebum, which becomes trapped under our skin and clogs our pores. Suppose you’ve struggled with acne-like me for a long time. In that case, you’ll know how difficult it can be to find the right moisturizer: finding a moisturizer that remains lightweight while still providing enough hydration often feels impossible. With safflower oil, its combination of essential fatty acids will keep any acne-prone skin plump and hydrated, especially the high concentration of linoleic acid. Keeping the skin hydrated, especially with natural oil, should help keep dehydration-related breakouts at bay. 

Safflower Oil Promotes Healing

As anyone who has struggled with consistent acne will know, treating pimples is only half of the problem. As acne-sufferers, we also have to deal with infected cystic acne, acne scars, scabbing, and redness. Many skincare products simply aggravate the healing process, leaving us dispirited and often sore. This is where safflower oil can be of use: not only does this oil provide natural hydration via fatty acids, it’s also a major antioxidant with lots of antibacterial properties. Not only can it help clear bacteria off the skin and help to prevent further breakouts, but it also helps speed up the healing process on any broken pimples or infected spots. Put simply, using high linoleic safflower oil for acne will keep bacteria at bay. 

Side Effects of Safflower Oil

As with any new product for the skin, you’ll want to be careful if you have any allergies or skin sensitivities, and look out if the following applies to you:

Safflower Oil & Pregnancy 

As safflower oil is often used to treat PMS, it’s best to avoid adding it to your skincare regime during pregnancy. When taken by mouth, Safflower oil can cause the uterus muscles to contract, so it’s not safe to expose your baby to it. 

Be Wary of Safflower Oil if you Have Clotting & Bleeding disorders

Due to the high volumes of Vitamin E in safflower oil, those with bleeding disorders might want to first consult their doctor before adding it to their skincare routine. 

Safflower Oil Allergies

If you have any allergies, make sure to perform a patch test on your wrist before using safflower oil on the face.

How To Use Safflower Oil To Reduce Acne

To use safflower oil optimally for treating acne, it’s best to use it natural and unrefined. While there are many skincare products on the market currently using safflower oil in their formulas, it’s best to use unprocessed safflower oil for optimal results and to avoid any adverse reactions from other ingredients. 

How To Apply Safflower Oil To Your face

1. Cleanse and tone the face

2. Squeeze a couple of drops of Safflower oil from the applicator, being careful not to let the applicator come into contact with the skin on the face (this spreads bacteria)

3. Apply safflower oil to the face and gently massage into the skin

Will Safflower Oil Get Rid of My Acne?

While safflower oil can be a handy ally in the fight against acne, it’s not going to magically clear up your skin overnight – nothing will! As someone who struggled with acne throughout my teens and early adult life, I was always on the lookout for miracle products that promised me a pimple-free complexion after its first use, and you never forget how the disappointment feels when it doesn’t perform miracles you’d hoped. 

The truth is, while certain skincare products can help you in your battle against acne, one single product isn’t going to revolutionize your skin. You need to overhaul your skincare and lifestyle if you want to fully be rid of acne:

Diet & Lifestyle For Acne

We’re familiar with the old adage: you are what you eat. If our diets are full of processed foods, our skin won’t improve no matter how many revolutionary serums and oils we slather on it. Even some so-called “healthy foods” contribute to acne inflammation: as I often explain, many foods marketed as healthy or “plant-based” can actually contribute to acne inflammation and breakouts. If you want a full breakdown of all acne-inflammatory foods and real alternatives, make sure to download my eBook, Unmasking Acne, where I rank over 170 foods according to their susceptibility in provoking breakouts. You’ll probably be surprised how many inflammation-causing foods are marketed as “healthy” or “healthy, plant-based alternatives.”

Underlying Health Conditions & Acne

If you’ve been struggling with acne all your life, no matter what lifestyle changes you make, you might want to investigate for any underlying health conditions. Medical conditions such as thrush, candida, and fungal acne symptoms can be cleared up with simple foods and medications.

Final Verdict

So, does safflower oil help reduce acne? While I can’t say that it will magically clear up your skin, the benefits of safflower oil for acne are certainly impressive. By reducing dryness, inflammation, and redness, the natural safflower oil antioxidants will benefit your skin and help the appearance of existing pimples. Nonetheless, a thorough, comprehensive skincare routine remains the best way to reduce acne and achieve glowing skin.

Originally Published: January 11, 2022

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I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their acne naturally. If you cannot easily find an answer to your question on the website, please reach out to me by email ([email protected]) or send me a message on Instagram or Twitter. I will reply within 24 hours.

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sam wood is GoodGlow's Chief Editor
Analyzed by Sam Wood
Hi I’m Sam Wood. I’m the chief editor, lead acne expert, and health coach behind GoodGlow. I’m also an author of one of the top selling acne books on Amazon, a husband, father of two, and a pretty good cook!

I’m so glad you found GoodGlow and hope the information I have spent the last 10 years cultivating will help you clear your skin and improve your overall health.

I began experiencing acne breakotus as a sophomore in high school, but unlike most of my friends, my acne actually got worse as I got into my 20s. I exercised regularly, ate healthy (or so I thought) and spent hundreds of dollars a month on high end skincare products and supplements to help clear my skin. Despite these measures my acne breakouts and scarring only got worse as the years wore on.

This greatly wore on my self confidence and mental health. Simple things like taking pictures or going out with a large group made me feel self conscious. So I avoided these situations whenever I could help it.

As a last ditch effort I decided to try an extremely restrictive diet recommended by a close friend with an autoimmune disease. After following this diet for about two months my skin started to clear for the first time in over 8 years. The good news is that this restrictive diet is not actually necessary for 99% of people to permanently clear their skin, and over the course of a few months I was able to add back about 90% of my “normal diet”.

After clearing my skin I spent the next 4 years self experimenting on myself with different diets, supplements, skincare products to try and find a pattern for what was triggering my acne breakouts. I even tried different meditation, ice baths, and accupuncture to try and isolate the root cause of the breakouts.

In the end I realized that an extremely restrictive diet was not necessary for clear skin. The most important thing to do is to avoid inflammatory foods in your diet. Some common examples of this are fried foods, alcohol, sugar, and dairy.

Most impoirtantly I stopped reading trendy websites for skincare advice and began reading medical journals authored by dermatologists and nutritionists. Although the information in the articles was great the information was not easily understandable to most readers (including me). I spent hours dissecting individual posts and looking up terms I did not understand. Over the next 6 months I gradually began to understand these journals and started self experiemting some of the research on myself.

After experiencing quite a bit of success personally, I started sharing my research on forums and with close friends struggling with acne. When I shared the research it was in easy to understand, plain English. Everyone I talked to loved what I had to say and kept asking more and more questions. So I decided to start a blog so I could just send someone a link when they asked a question instead of rewriting something I had sent 100 times before 😅

While the same directional principles apply to everyone, acne is very personal and should be treated on an individual basis. That’s ultimately why I created GoodGlow. To help everyone reverse engineer the root cause of their acne and clear their skin permanently.

To date I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their skin using a natural, holistic approach. If you are unable to find an answer to your question in any of the articles my team has written please reach out and I will do my best to guide you to the proper information and resources so you can make a thoughtful, informed decision. Read more of Sam's articles.

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