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Last updated March 27, 2020. 5 minute read

Essential oils for wrinkles: are they proven to work?

There are a variety of essential oils used in skincare products, but there’s little to no research to prove their effectiveness in preventing or reducing wrinkles.

17632058 10105404686002753 3934324734988674732 O Written by Michelle Konstantinovsky
Reviewed by Dr. Mike Bohl, MD, MPH

What are essential oils?

Otherwise known as concentrated plant extracts, essential oils are obtained through mechanical pressing or distillation, and they retain the natural smell and flavor of their original source. Because each oil has a unique chemical composition, different types of oils have different aromas, rates of absorption, and effects on the body. Even a single plant species can produce a variety of essential oil types (NIH, 2019).

Essential oils are among some of the most popular natural products, often used in forms of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). In some cases, they’re used for aromatherapy, which uses the inhalation of aromas to promote relaxation, a sense of well-being, and healing (NIH, 2019). They’re also sometimes applied topically for dermatological purposes such as dermatitis and eczema. In some cases, essential oils are used for general skin maintenance and to address concerns like scars, scabs, and wrinkles (Orchard, 2017). 

Vitals

  • Essential oils are among some of the most popular natural products, often used in forms of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).
  • There are a variety of essential oils used in skincare products, but there’s little to no research to prove their effectiveness in preventing or reducing wrinkles.
  • There are a number of scientifically-backed methods for wrinkle reduction and prevention, including topical products and in-office treatments.

Essential oils for wrinkles

While there isn’t a ton of research on the effectiveness of these ingredients in treating wrinkles, these are some of the most common essential oils you may find in skincare products:

Frankincense oil. Frankincense essential oil is used in a variety of cosmetic products, but there’s no evidence to suggest that it’s an effective remedy for wrinkles. Some studies, however, have indicated that it may effectively help with stretch marks and scars (Mikhaeil, 2014).

Lemon oil. Lemon essential oil contains a high concentration of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), an antioxidant that’s been shown to treat and prevent changes associated with photoaging (Ichi, 2010; Telang, 2013).

Sandalwood. Mouse studies indicate sandalwood oil has significant anti-inflammatory properties (Dwivedi, 1997). The main component of sandalwood oil has also been shown to help in hydrating the skin and improve skin elasticity (Kapoor, 2010).

Lavender oil. The soothing scent of lavender makes lavender essential oil a popular choice for cosmetic products, but there’s no evidence to suggest it’s effective for wrinkle treatment. It has, however, been shown to have antibacterial and antifungal properties (Ali, 2015).

Clary sage. Research has shown that clary sage is rich in antioxidants that may help prevent DNA and protein damage that affects skin cells. The oil also has antimicrobial properties (Pop, 2016).

Wild carrot seed. One study suggests wild carrot seed oil effectively contributed to the reduction of oxidative stress in rats (Rezaei-Moghadam, 2012). Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body and is known to contribute to skin aging (Betteridge, 2000).

Geranium. Geranium oil has been shown to be effective in addressing an array of skin conditions, including oily skin, eczema, and dermatitis. It’s known as a potent anti-inflammatory oil, but there is no research to demonstrate its effectiveness on wrinkles (Boukhatem, 2013).

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How to use essential oils

Essential oils can be used in several different ways, including inhalation for aromatherapy or in bath salts and lotions for topical application. If you’re applying essential oils to your skin, you’ll want to dilute them with a carrier oil. A carrier oil is an oil that has little to no scent and works to dilute the essential oil into your skin. Some popular options include olive, grape seed, and coconut oils (NIH, n.d.).

Considerations for using essential oils

While essential oils are generally considered safe for aromatherapy and topical application, some people may experience adverse effects, including skin reactions. Diluting the essential oil in a carrier oil can help reduce its concentration and may reduce the risk of side effects. If you have a health condition or are pregnant, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional before starting any kind of treatment (NAHA, n.d.).

Other ways to reduce wrinkles

While some people may see results from essential oils, there is little to no evidence that any type of essential oil will significantly improve the appearance of wrinkles. There are, however, a number of medically-backed methods for reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Preventative anti-aging measures that are part of a regular skincare routine may help reduce wrinkles. Moisturizer helps prevent dry skin, sunscreen helps block or reduce sun exposure and sun damage, and retinol (vitamin A) helps promote collagen production. Topical antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E can also help reduce and neutralize free radicals, which can contribute to aging. There are also a variety of in-office procedures that can offer more intense prevention treatments or tackle more intense wrinkles. These include chemical peels and lasers to resurface the top layer of skin, injectable products, and dermal fillers to plump the skin, botulinum toxin (Botox) injections to slow the development of wrinkles and autologous platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to promote collagen production and rejuvenate skin (Ganceviciene, 2012).