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Peppermint essential oil to combat acne?

Peppermint essential oil to combat acne?

Acne is a skin condition characterised by the emergence of spots and blackheads. There are several solutions available to combat the proliferation of acne. While some are invasive, others are gentle and natural. Is this the case with peppermint essential oil? The answer is in this article.

Published February 9, 2024, by Manon, Head of Scientific Communication — 4 min read

Acne, what is it?

Primarily located on the face and back, acne is a non-contagious skin condition non-contagious, characterised by the appearance of spots and blackheads at the level of the pilosebaceous follicles. Three factors are involved and cause a person to develop acne: excessive production of sebum (hyperseborrhoea) or a sebum that is too thick (dyseborrhoea), the obstruction of pores by the accumulation of dead cells (hyperkeratosis) and the proliferation of the bacterium Propionibacterium acnes within the follicle.

Indeed, when this bacterium is present in very large quantities, it creates an oxygen-free environment conducive to its proliferation. It secretes enzymes into the hair follicle that hydrolyse the sebum's triglycerides into free fatty acids. These are irritating and pro-inflammatory, causing an inflammatory reaction. Hormones, particularly androgens, are the main cause of sebum overproduction by the sebaceous glands, which are responsible for facial seborrhoea.

In the battle against acne, an increasing number of individuals are seeking "natural remedies" to limit the use of products that may not necessarily be kind to the epidermis. Shea butter has often been suggested as an alternative to combat acne, but its effects on acne-prone skin are often not well understood.

Combating acne with peppermint essential oil

Thepeppermint essential oil is a natural oil extracted from the variety of mint known as mentha x piperita. It is obtained from the leaves of the plant through steam distillation, allowing for the production of a pure oil highly concentrated in active compounds. Already used in antiquity for its medicinal virtues and pleasant fragrance, this oil emits a fresh and herbaceous scent reminiscent of mint. Its composition gives it beneficial properties for acne.

  • The essential oil of peppermint reduces inflammation.

The menthol present in this essential oil inhibits the production of inflammatory molecules such as prostaglandin PGE-2, interleukin-IL-1-β, and leukotriene LTB-4. It can also block calcium channels involved in the production of cytokines and the transmission of pain signals. This has the effect of reducing the sensation of heat and the pain that can be generated by the inflammatory response. Menthone, another compound in peppermint essential oil, has significantly inhibited the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, including TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, the essential oil is beneficial for soothing itching and irritations associated with acne.

  • The essential oil of peppermint combats bacteria.

A study has highlighted the significant antibacterial activity of menthol against both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. However, to date, no research has confirmed its specific antibacterial power against Propionibacterium acnes, the bacteria responsible for acne. Although this antibacterial property could be promising in the fight against acne, it still requires further studies for confirmation.

Consequently, peppermint essential oil is beneficial for soothing the skin by relieving itching and irritation due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Moreover, its antibacterial potential is interesting for combating acne, however, its specific effectiveness against the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes remains to be proven.


SAEED S. & al. In Vitro antibacterial activity of peppermint. Pakistan Journal of Botany (2006).

ALANKAR S. A Review on peppermint oil. Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research (2009).

KEHILI S. & al. Peppermint (Mentha piperita L.) essential oil as a potent anti-inflammatory, wound healing and anti-nociceptive drug. European Journal of Biological Research (2020).

CHEN X. & al. A Natural Plant Ingredient, Menthone, Regulates T Cell Subtypes and Lowers Pro-inflammatory Cytokines of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Journal of Natural Products (2022).


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