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The Best Essential Oils for Brightening Skin

October 25, 2021


Essential oils abound both as individual products and in skincare, and they hav e numerous studied benefits for wellness. But, it's important to use them with care and select the right ones for your needs.

Botanical-focused skincare is gaining respect in the industry as more consumers seek out natural alternatives to harsh chemicals. The straightforward ingredients and a "back-to-basics" ease of use make essential oils worthy of inclusion in your  skincare routine --  especially if you're seeking a natural way to brighten up your skin! Read on to learn about the ideal oils to look for in your skincare products.


Essential oils come from a variety of plant parts like leaves, flowers, roots, seeds, bark, stems, and wood. They are obtained through the process of hydro-distillation or steam distillation. Extraction of the oils from the plants is a long and tedious process. This is why the oils are considered precious and are often very expensive.

These concentrated oils contain very high proportions of active ingredients that have a host of effects, from antiaging to aromatherapy. It's important to know how to use them correctly.


Skincare products often contain essential oils in professionally formulated bases, in amounts that are designed to be effective and safe. For products with essential oils, follow manufacturer directions and listen to your skin!

When you use essential oils on their own, you need to use great care since these potent oils can be irritating or sensitizing if not diluted properly. They should be handled with care so you can enjoy the numerous benefits they have to offer.

Below are the general guidelines for using essential oils. However, this is not a comprehensive list of what to follow or do under specific circumstances. If you have any skin conditions, you should seek the guidance of an dermatologist or aromatherapy practitioner. 

  • As a general rule, essential oils should be diluted before applying to the skin. It is usually recommended to use 1-3 drops of essential oil to a teaspoon of carrier oil. While some say that there are oils that can be used undiluted like tea tree and lavender, this is still discouraged as doing so can cause skin irritation.
  • Always do a skin patch test to check for sensitivity or allergic reactions to the oil. You can do this by applying a drop or two of the diluted oil mixture on a small part of the skin and then cover it with a bandage. If any irritation develops, you can wash the test area with water and mild soap. If no reaction takes place within 48 hours, then you can continue using the oil.
  • There are oils that need to be avoided if you have medical conditions like epilepsy, asthma, or pregnancy. Consult a professional in these cases. 
  • A small drop goes a long way for essential oils. Always follow the recommended amount of oil as they are very concentrated. Less is definitely more here!
  • Essential oils should always be kept away from children. Their sweet scents might be appealing to children (who have a tendency to put everything in their mouths). Ingesting the oils can have dangerous side effects.
  • Some oils are flammable, so you should keep all essential oils away from fire hazards!

Essential Oils for Brightening Skin

When used properly, essential oils can offer great skincare benefits including brightened, glowing skin. Here are some of the oils that will give you the best brightening results:

Lemon Essential Oil

You might already know that lemon juice can have a lightening effect. Lemon essential oil is much more powerful --  a metric ton of fresh fruit will yield 6 pounds of essential oil, which is rich in limonene and citric acid.

These compounds will not only lighten the skin, but can also damaging oxidation and stimulate cell renewal to improve the skin tone. And though it sounds counterintuitive, this oil can also reduce oiliness as it has astringent properties.

Lemon essential oil is very strong so it must be used diluted. In your mixture of lemon oil and carrier oil, the lemon oil cannot be more than 5% of the total solution!

Considering that citrus essential oils can increase skin sensitivity to UV light (which can result in blistering, quickness to sunburn, and hyperpigmentation) it is best to apply products with an active amount of lemon essential oil only at night and to wear sunscreen during the day.

Carrot Seed Oil

Another essential oil that has brightening properties is carrot seed oil. This oil has been used for a long time due to its natural healing properties. Apart from working as a lightening agent, it can also cure skin ailments like dermatitis, acne, psoriasis, rashes, age spots, and even wounds.

It is a rich source of beta-carotene and vitamin A, which makes it one of the best anti-aging solutions. This is why you find carrot seed oil as an ingredient in many beauty and cosmetic products.

It has properties that allow it to act as an antioxidant, antiseptic, disinfectant, and detox. So kiss dry, mature, sun-damaged, or wrinkled skin away with carrot seed oil. Just add a few drops of this to a teaspoon of carrier oil, like rosehip seed oil, and then apply to face and body.

A great time to apply oils is at the end of a shower. Applying your mixture in the shower (make sure not to drop any onto tile!) is great as you can use the water on your skin to help spread the oil easily. You can then do a quick rinse after applying or get out and use your towel to help pat off excess. 

Lemongrass oil

Lemongrass is not only great in making Asian culinary masterpieces, its oil is also beneficial for skin because it contains therapeutic components. It has folate, iron, protein, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B6.

This is another great choice for brightening the complexion due to its regenerative and detoxifying qualities. Apart from being an antioxidant, it also works as an anti-inflammatory, fungicidal, antiseptic, and astringent -- helping to minimize the pores.

Lavender Oil

Perhaps the most popular among essential oils is lavender as it is well-known by its inclusion in a lot of products on the market today. This is a versatile oil that can be used for dry and aging skin, as well as oily and sensitive skin types.

It is loaded with many nutrients perfect for brightening the skin, improving the complexion, and reducing the darkness of age spots. An application of lavender oil can rid the skin of impurities and dirt. Additionally, it improves blood circulation so more nutrients and oxygen are delivered in the blood to the skin.

Given its properties, it is a go-to product among aromatherapists and dermatologists. In fact, it is also widely used to treat acne as it battles the bacteria that cause infection in pores.

Tea Tree Oil

For those with sensitive and oily skin, tea tree oil is a reliable essential oil. This oil, also known as Melaleuca oil, is as effective as benzoyl peroxide but without the painful, harmful side effects. It contains antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral, antiseptic, and cicatrisant properties, so it helps in natural skin repair. As such, it can be used to treat scrapes, minor cuts, and burns.

Geranium Essential Oil

If you are looking for an essential oil that will balance your skin’s pH level, geranium essential oil is the answer. This floral oil offers amazing effects on your skin such as lightning, preventing wrinkles, tightening skin sagging, removing under eye puffiness, and clearing acne.

It can also renew blemished tissues so your skin appears more youthful and radiant. Two drops of this oil diluted in one teaspoon of a carrier oil, like sweet almond oil, is all you need to lessen fine lines, eliminate dark circles, and help get rid of acne breakouts.

The use of this essential oil can be traced back all the way to ancient Egypt where it was utilized to maintain skin health and beauty.

Bergamot Oil

This is an essential oil that is many aromatherapists’ favorite considering its refreshing, uplifting, and delicious citrus scent. It comes from a wrinkled citrus fruit about the size and shape of a pear, but it is lime green with very wrinkled, lumpy skin. Inhalation of the oil has calming benefits perfect for those who want to clear their minds.

As for skin benefits, citrus is a natural cleanser. It can also unclog pores, and just like geranium, it contains properties that help to balance the pH level of your skin.

Bergamot oil is similar to lemon oil in that it increases photosensitivity. Thus, it is best to use during nighttime.

The Best Botanicals for Brightening - In Conclusion

Essential oils are powerfully concentrated presentations of literally pounds and pounds of natural plants so you must be careful with them and treat them with respect. Properly diluted into carrier oils, they can work magic on your skin, helping to discard dullness, wipe out acne, and brighten the complexion to a state of pure radiance that others will surely notice!