Pesky Breakouts? I Trialled Clove Essential Oil For A Week, Here’s What Happened

Words by Emma Rosenhain

This story is for any and all that suffer from the ongoing scrutiny and unpredictability of that pesky little ‘b’ word - breakouts. For as long as I can remember, these nasty little (unwanted) eruptions have been taking residence on my face - at the most unwanted of times to say the least. If there’s a remedy - I’ve tried it. From creams, serums, medical grade skincare and hardcore pharmaceuticals (with serious side effects, note to all: stay away from that nasty Roaccitane stuff), to juice cleanses and dairy-free living - It’s safe to say I really did think I’d tried it ALL.

Que being introduced to Clove essential oil. I must say, skeptical at first, I wondered what effect something that was 100% natural would have on my skin, and more specifically, be able to target and limit my seemingly impossible-to-combat congestion and breakouts. Clove is one of the strongest oils for antibacterial properties and has been found to be toxic to a wide range of bacteria. Its analgesic and antiseptic properties make it super ideal for fighting skin infection and - you guessed it - acne! Extracted from the clove plant, the pure essential oil claims to draw out skin impurities and reduce the pain the pain of cystic acne. Safe to say I was super intrigued (and yes, legitimately excited) to put this one to the test.

Tuesday - Day One

The worst of my breakouts tend to pop out along my jawline and cheeks, right before my period starts. Time to put it to the test. Amongst a cluster of existing small, under-the-skin breakouts - this particular day sees the rise of a larger, prominent red bump. One of those bumps under the skin that (really) hurts to touch, that you think is undoubtedly going to become cystic in 24 hours. Jumping on it straight away, I applied doTERRA Clove essential oil directly to the congested area before bed (would usually suggest using a carrier oil for this, but given that my skin is so used to essential oils it can generally handle a drop without). The area experienced tingling for about 15 minutes, before calming down. Safe to say, I was hoping to get as much ‘beauty’ sleep as possible.

Wednesday - Day Two

Waking up - the prominent red bump is looking somewhat similar, but what I thought would have broken through as white cysts, is still laying low, below the surface. Phew. As I’m hyper-aware that my period is going to start any day now, I decide to take serious action. Why not put it to the ultimate test, and infuse clove oil with my trusty weekly face mask? I pulled out my Mukti Deep Cleanse Antioxidant Masque (certified organic for all skin types), dropped in 1-2 drops of Clove essential oil and smeared it all across my face and neck, with special attention on the congested areas. I was super eager to have this treatment across my entire face to disinfect all my pores and (hopefully) prevent any future breakouts, as my period fast approaches. After a momentary light burn and a full 20-minute application, my skin is feeling smooth and fresh afterward, with minimal redness. The good news? A cystic pimple is fully under the surface! I also added another smear of the Clove oil direct to my big red spot, morning and night - just in case the mask wasn’t enough. If you’re going to do it, you might as well do it properly.

Thursday - Day Three

Legitimately amazed the next morning as the top layer of all my congested “bits” are drying off. One thing I did notice is they aren’t hopelessly dry and flakey like some blemish remedies have (like those available in chemists and beauty stores). Great result. My big red pimple is 80% less painful and now hardly sticking above the surface. Even better result. To give my skin a boost of moisture from the dryness, and continue to attack the future breakouts (and existing other little blemishes) - I decide to add one drop of the Clove oil into my daily morning facial moisturiser, to really get those antibacterial properties breaking down the bumps, and my skin fully hydrated and rejuvenated. Slight burn on the face again? Yes. But not as bad as the mask yesterday! My skin must be working up a tolerance to the analgesic properties.

Friday and Saturday - Day Four and Five

The biggest battle is today. Despite all my efforts - I am breakout town! Desperate to see some action, I decide to swap all my efforts into Tea Tree essential oil. After all, the world has been raving about its acne fighting properties for YEARS so there must be something in it.

Sunday - Day Six

Okay, finally some relief. Tea Tree is working. In a much more roundabout and the fast-tracked way to Clove. I’m opting to put all my rituals I was doing with Clove into Tea Tree, and it’s breaking down my congestion much faster. HOORAY!

In Conclusion

Trial - Test both Clove and Tea Tree essential oils. See which one works better for you (for me personally, Tea Tree saw superior results). After all the research pointing to both Clove and Tea Tree, there is so much evidentiary support for both oils, and their ability to fight acne and congestion. I guess my learnings are that each person’s skin is unique and different, so you have to find what works for you. In my personal case, although Clove was great - it was Tea Tree that had the long-lasting effect, and a much faster response than Clove. I’ve now found my new that-time-of-the-month buddy (thank you, Tea Tree oil).

Breakouts - Smear Tea Tree and/or Clove essential oil direct to blemishes and congested areas (dilute with a carrier oil if the oil on its own is too powerful for your skin)

Prevent Breakouts - Add 1-2 drops of Tea Tree or Clove essential oil to moisturiser, weekly face masks, and even foundation to prevent congestion and serious breakouts, particularly around that-time-of-the-month.

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Mark Sheppard