Does Evening Primrose Oil Treat Or Prevent Acne?

There are a lot of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in evening primrose oil. These chemicals have strong anti-inflammatory properties that may help treat acne and keep it from coming back.
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Evening primrose oil for acne treatment
Evening primrose oil comes from the seeds of the Oenothera biennis plant, which grows in North America and some parts of Europe.

What is evening primrose oil?

The evening primrose is a yellow flower that grows in parts of the U.S. and Europe. In the past, the plant was used to heal wounds and keep hormones in balance.

It may help heal because it has a lot of gamma-linoleic acid (GLA). GLA is an omega-6 fatty acid that helps reduce inflammation very well. Based on what we know about GLA, it seems likely that EPO could be a very effective way to treat acne.

Read on to find out how EPO works, what kinds of acne it may help the most, how to add it to your skin care routine, and more.

How does it work?

EPO pills and creams work by bringing the ratio of fatty acids in your body back into balance. The omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acid chains your body needs are almost impossible to get from food alone.

GLA, an omega-6 fatty acid, is found in large amounts in the evening primrose plant. When your body breaks down GLA, it makes a chemical called dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA). And research shows that when the amount of DGLA in your body goes up, inflammation goes down.

This means that EPO may have a natural effect on inflammation, which can cause or make some acne symptoms worse.

We don’t know much about how well this works compared to acne medicine that you have to get from a doctor. More clinical trials are needed to find out how well EPO may work over time to fight different types of acne.

Does it help with acne-prone and oily skin?

When it comes to acne, especially hormonal acne, the GLA is really the hero. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is a powerful anti-inflammatory and does a great job of balancing hormones. Research shows that GLA helps keep hormone levels in check by controlling the production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormone-like chemical messengers that help keep hormone levels in check and affect how the body handles inflammation.

What does this have to do with skin? In one study, taking 3 500 mg soft gel capsules for 12 weeks made the participants’ skin look more elastic, moist, resistant to fatigue, and even firmer. Not only do these things make you look better overall, but they can also help with acne. Breakouts, oil, and inflammation are often caused by dry skin and a lack of moisture. Not to mention that more elasticity and firmness means better texture, which is something that people with acne often complain about.

Experts agree: “This is the one omega-6 fatty acid that could help your skin in a specific way.” The seeds of evening primrose are the main source of this fat. Topical and dietary GLA oils have been studied for inflammatory skin conditions. One study in healthy women found that both GLA-rich borage oil and flaxseed oil (which is high in omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid) had positive effects on skin health, such as less redness and better hydration. Molly Knudsen is a registered dietician nutritionist with a master’s degree. And, as you may know, hydration is important for oil production. In fact, skin that is too dry may produce too much oil to make up for the lack of water.

One reason why taking evening primrose oil is helpful is because our bodies can’t make GLA on their own. So the only way to get its benefits for your skin is to take it as a supplement.

How to use it

When EPO is used to treat acne, most people take supplements. Before adding a topical solution to your routine, you might want to start with supplements and see how they work.

People who shouldn’t take these supplements, like kids or women who are pregnant or nursing, might be able to use topical EPO instead.

Evening Primrose Oil Supplements

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t have any rules about supplements (FDA).

Only buy from companies you know and trust. Doing research on the brand and reading reviews can help you figure out if a product is worth trying or not.

You should also follow the directions on the label for how much to take. The typical amount of a supplement is 1,300 milligrams (mg), which is taken once a day.

Talk to your doctor before using a product with a dose that is much higher or lower than what is recommended. They can make sure that the recommended dose is the right one.

Possible risks and side effects

Some people who take EPO have mild side effects like a headache or an upset stomach.

You can lower your risk of side effects by starting with a low dose and slowly working your way up to the full amount. It might also help to take the supplement with food.

It’s not clear what the maximum amount of EPO a person can take can take. All of it depends on how much of the supplement’s active ingredient, GLA, is in it. Even though there isn’t a clear upper limit for GLA, the most that has been studied is 640 mg per day.

Before using it, you should talk to your doctor if:

  • You’re pregnant. 
  • You’re having a baby. 
  • You have had cancers that respond to hormones in the past. 
  • You take medicines to thin your blood, treat depression, or lower your blood pressure.

Also, talk to your child’s doctor before giving EPO supplements to your child.

Products

Before you start taking a supplement, you should always talk to your doctor. They can talk to you about your personal risk of side effects and how they might interact with other drugs you are taking.

Your doctor might also be able to suggest a good brand of supplement.

EPO supplements are usually sold at drug stores and natural food stores. They are also easy to find at many online stores.

Some popular choices are:

  • Evening primrose oil is made by Puritan’s Pride. 
  • Evening primrose oil made by Nature’s Bounty
  • GNC Evening Primrose Oil for Women 
  • Evening primrose oil is made by Blackmores.

Topical Evening Primrose Oil

EPO can be put on the skin. Just be sure to look for oil that is pure.

Before adding the product to your routine, you should also do a patch test. This lets you find out how your skin will react to the product and reduces the amount of irritation that could happen.

To test a patch:

Put a dime’s worth of the product on the inside of your forearm and rub it in. Put a bandage on the area.

After 24 hours, check the area again. If you don’t have any redness, swelling, or other pain, it should be safe to use the product elsewhere.

If your patch test goes well, you can add EPO to the other things you do to take care of your skin. You can use it however you want.

EPO can be used to:

  • A spot treatment for specific spots 
  • A serum for inflammation all over the body. part of a solution for cleaning oil 
  • part of a solution that keeps skin moist.

If you’re trying to treat a breakout that’s already happening, you may find that a spot treatment works best: You only need to put a drop or two on the affected area and rub it in. You can add a few more drops if you want to cover a larger area or if you need to.

You can also combine EPO with other ingredients that help fight acne for the best results. Rose and rosehip oils are great places to start if you don’t know where to begin. Find out about these and other face oils that help fight acne.

As a general rule, you should put on daytime oils after sunscreen and before makeup. On days when you use EPO, don’t put moisturizer on your skin. The oil and moisturizer could make your sunscreen less effective.

If you want to put oil on your face at night, you should do so before your moisturizer. You can even use EPO instead of your usual moisturizer or add a few drops to your moisturizer for extra benefits.

Possible risks and side effects

When using topical EPO, some people may feel a little bit of irritation. Before putting it all over your skin, you need to do a patch test to see how your skin will react.

Even though it is usually safe to use EPO as is, people with sensitive skin may find that pure EPO is too strong. When EPO is mixed with another oil, like jojoba oil, in a 1:1 ratio, it can help stop pain.

Some people may also get more acne when they add EPO to their routine. This is called “purging.” It can be annoying, but it can happen with any new product you add to your routine. Most cases of purging end in about six weeks, which is also about when you should start to see improvements from topical care.

If you are allergic to evening primrose or other plants in the Onagraceae family, you shouldn’t use EPO on the skin.

Even though topical EPO doesn’t usually have the same risks as oral EPO, you should still talk to your doctor before using it if any of the following applies:

  • You’re pregnant. 
  • You’re having a baby. 
  • You have had cancers that respond to hormones in the past. 
  • You take medicines to thin your blood, treat depression, or lower your blood pressure.

Again, talk to your child’s doctor to find out if a topical EPO product is safe for your child to use.

Products

Remember to do a patch test before you use a new product all over your skin.

If you only want to use pure EPO, some popular choices are:

  • Evening Primrose Oil by NOW Solutions
  • Evening primrose oil from Botanical Beauty

Some products combine EPO with other ingredients to get the most benefits. Some popular choices are:

  • Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Moisturizing Treatment Mask 
  • The Dermalogica Barrier Repair Moisturizer 
  • SkinCeuticals’ Renewal Overnight Dry Mask

In Conclusion

EPO is a common acne treatment with a low risk of side effects.

Pure EPO and products made with it can be bought at your local pharmacy, health food store, or online. Be sure to only buy from brands you know and trust, and read and follow all instructions on the package.

If acne home remedies or over-the-counter products aren’t working, talk to your doctor or dermatologist about trying proven acne medications that you can only get with a prescription.

If you do decide to try EPO, give it time. Even in studies that were successful, it took up to 12 weeks for the participants to start to see results.

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