Clary Sage for Acne

Guide to Using Clary Sage Essential Oil for Acne (Face & Body Recipes)

Acne-prone skin is often very sensitive and fragile. Fortunately, essential oils can offer the right type of acne treatment: gentle and effective. From the wide range of aromatic essences, Clary Sage essential oil really stands out. This article focuses on how to use Clary Sage for acne and skin care in general.

As you start reading, you’ll learn more about:

  • The chemical profile of Clary Sage oil. It’ll help you know the essence better and how it can help your complexion.
  • The benefits of using Clary Sage oil for acne, with all its perks and action mechanisms.
  • The best ways to use the oil of Clary for skin problems (acne, scars, etc.). A few words on non-comedogenic carrier oils that make good combinations with Clary Sage. Plus a few cosmetic recipes to do yourself to enjoy the benefits of the aroma oil.
  • Helpful tips for an acne-free complexion.
  • Other Clary Sage oil uses and benefits for face and body, with Aromatherapy recipes.
  • Facts and details about the oil. How the oil is extracted, facts about the plant and safety tips. It’s important to have all the facts, to avoid unnecessary complications.


Clary Sage for Acne and Skin Care in General (Benefits & Recipes)


Botanical name: Salvia sclarea.

Aroma: musky; herbaceous with hay notes; with fruity and floral notes or earthy, woody and mossy.*

Viscosity: thin, watery liquid.

Color: colorless – yellow -yellow-brown.


* The scent of Clary Sage oil can be influenced by the crop, harvest method and geographical area.


Clary Sage could just as well be called “women’s essential oil”. It is mostly known for its hormone-like effects. This makes the oil great for intimate or hormonal problems.


PMS, irregular menstruation, menopause, vaginal dryness, low libido, you name it. In this post, I’ll be focusing mainly on its skin care benefits, particularly on acne and its scars.


Acne-prone skin is usually the most damaged type of skin. With acne, it really comes down to a vicious circle. The excess oil (sebum) and imperfections create the need to wash more often than normal.


Using commercial cleansing lotions can damage the already sensitive combination or oily skin. Teens and young adults with acne tend to exaggerate with their skin care routines.


Today, more and more natural cosmetics and skin care remedies are very sought after. Aromatherapy has a lot to add to the benefits of natural cosmetics.


Essential oils are gentler with the skin, nourishing and protective. They can also cause several beneficial physiological responses in the body.


In order to know what Clary Sage oil is good for, you need to know what makes it good in the first place.


Clary Sage essential oil chemical profile:

  • Linalyl acetate (40% – 78%) – Strong antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving and calming. It’s also the main aromatic molecule in lavender, thus they sometimes smell similar.
  • Linalool (6.5% – 30%) – Is the predecessor of linalyl acetate. It is pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, sedating, and antibacterial among others.
  • Germacrene (3% – 15%) – strong antifungal and antibacterial effects. Also: anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, calming and antioxidant.
  • Sclareol (traces: 0.01% per kilo of essential oil) – It’s an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, tumor and edema inhibitor.  It can also influence the secretion of hormones.


Clary sage essential oil is considered to have estrogen-like effects. Although present in extremely small amounts, sclareol influences the hormone production.


Clary Sage oil can also act on the hypophysis – the command center of endocrine glands. The endocrine glands produce hormones, regulate metabolism and growth, etc.


For this reason alone, you should always talk to a doctor before using Clary Sage oil. More about possible side effects in the last part of the article.


In skin care, you can use Clary Sage oil to:

  • Soothe local pain from acne cysts.
  • Reduce inflammation and prevent deep scars.
  • Kill the acne-causing bacteria and speed up healing.
  • Protect from further bacterial infections. This may also help to prevent the spreading of acne.
  • Tighten and minimize pores.
  • Regulate sebum production.
  • Mildly exfoliate the superficial layer of the skin (keratolytic properties). This leads to a softer skin and faster recovery.


These are all general skin and complexion benefits of Clary Sage. Next, I’ll be more specific and talk about the use of Clary oil for acne.


Clary Sage Oil for Acne


Clary Sage Oil for Acne

Acne (medical term acne vulgaris) is one of the most common skin conditions. Approximately 80% of teens and young adults, aged 11 – 30 years, are affected by it. A smaller percentage will have acne even later in life.


Acne “prefers” certain areas on the body, like the face, chest, and back. The main causes of acne are:


  • Excess sebum production.
  • Abnormal follicular keratinization.
  • Active colonization with P. acnes.
  • Inflammation.


The first two are usually caused by hormonal imbalance. This hormonal imbalance is thought to be at the root of most adult acne. That’s why you’ll often see people referring to it as hormonal acne.


Clary Sage essential oil influences hormones and mimics the effects of estrogen. That’s why it is recommended in treating hormonal acne.


Hormonal acne is usually concentrated on the jawlines and along the chin. Other areas populated by acne may be due to a bad gut flora and digestion problems.


There are many other causes of acne:

  • Oral contraceptives (stopping or switching them).
  • Stress is a big factor that makes existing acne worse.
  • Hormonal flare-ups like in the second half of the menstrual cycle. Now you know that if you break out a week or two before menstruation, it’s because hormones go crazy.
  • Abnormally high levels of insulin. They can also cause acne as it causes inflammation throughout the whole body.


Of course, there may be some more severe health problems at fault too. This is why, if you have stubborn and recurrent acne, you should always consult a dermatologist.


Acne-prone skin is very sensitive to environmental changes. It is also very sensitive to most anti-acne treatments, which are too aggressive. Here is where essential oils can make a difference.


Why use Clary Sage for acne? Here are several very good reasons to use Clary Sage oil for acne:


  • It’s a good anti-inflammatory. This means that once applied topically, Clary oil can diminish inflammation. Chronic long-term inflammation causes pigmentation and dark acne spots. Thus, Clary Sage can prevent such scarring.
  • High levels of estrogens can decrease sebum production. Since it’s thought that Clary oil mimics estrogens, it can help regulate sebum production. If that would not happen, it’ll still inhibit androgens activity and limit sebum production. Sclareol would be responsible for the latter effect. If you want to use Clary Sage oil for hormone balance, a doctor should be able to tell you how to do it safely.
  • Clary Sage for acne and oily skin can also stop bacteria from spreading and growing. It’s been proven that Clary oil can kill Staphylococcus aureus and Propionibacterium acnes ( acnes). These two are among the most common acne-causing bacteria.
  • The oil of Clary Sage is astringent and has keratolytic effects. This means that it can exfoliate the uppermost skin layer. This removes extra tissue formed around acne comedones and blackheads. Clary Sage is thus among the best essential oils for pimples and blackheads. Unfortunately, the bigger the acne cyst, the longer it’ll take to completely heal. Though, the healing time with Clary Sage oil is considerably less.
  • Salvia sclarea essential oil has antidepressant-like effects. In a study on rats, the oil was able to modulate dopamine activity. In humans, that would mean a better mood.  In the same category, chronic stress causes high levels of cortisol, a.k.a. the stress hormone. It may cause long-term inflammation and acne. Another study showed that inhaling Clary oil can lower the level of cortisol.


Clary Sage essential oil is non-comedogenic. That’s how most essential oils are. They are called oils simply because they don’t mix with water and float. This is possible because the oil molecules are heavier than water. They are not true oil molecules though.


True oils are also heavy and float, but that’s because they contain fatty acids. Essential oils are volatile substances. This means they evaporate and disperse throughout the air, unlike vegetable oils. The latter are very good carriers for essential oils.


If you apply pure and undiluted Clary Sage oil to your skin, it’ll absorb really fast. It won’t leave any greasy residue behind. Non-comedogenic means it doesn’t clog the pores.


Clary Sage oil penetrates the skin through the oil glands and hair follicles. It mixes well with our natural oil (sebum) and travels deep into the skin layers.


Clary Sage (Salvia Sclarea) flower
Clary sage is a very aromatic flower.


How to Use Clary Sage Essential Oil

Clary Sage essential oil works great as it is, but it also works well in various combinations. This means it can be mixed with other essential oils for a more potent effect.


For cosmetic face blends ,you should stick to mixing up to 3 – 4 essential oils per blend. Too many active molecules may not deliver the result you want, in the time frame you want.


Also, for topical use, Clary Sage just like any other aromatic oil should never be used undiluted. You must always mix it with the right carrier oil for your skin type.


Carrier oils are fatty. They nourish the skin, maintain it elastic and don’t let the water inside the cells evaporate. They are great as emollients and moisturizers. Carriers spread very well on large areas and can help the essential oil spread evenly.


They also diminish the potency of the oil a bit. That’s why they’re used in the first place, to prevent irritation or sensitization. If applied pure and undiluted, Clary Sage may do that to your skin.


Mix 1 – 2 drops of Clary sage per 10 ml of carrier oil, for more potent blends. You can always increase the amount, but try not to use more than 1% – 2% of the aromatic oil. The face is much more sensitive than the rest of the body.


Because of its hormone-like effects, Clary Sage should be used in no more than 1 or 2% concentration.


Note* Some carrier oils are non-comedogenic, while others aren’t. Oily and combination skin types need to use “dry” vegetable oils. These are very light and penetrate fast into the skin, preventing pore clogging.


However, some of them may cause your skin to purge; a process that can last even a month. Those oils, though good for combination and oily skin, are Argan, Jojoba and Sweet Almond.


Some of the best non-comedogenic carrier oils for acne are:

  • Argan
  • Sweet Almond
  • Jojoba
  • Tamanu
  • Macadamia
  • Hazelnut
  • Camellia
  • Rice bran
  • Etc.


You can find out more about the best non-comedogenic oils and how to use them, here.


So, you need to dilute the aroma oil before application. How else can you use Clary Sage?

  • Apply 2 – 4 times a day, with a cotton bud, directly to the affected area. The best time to be doing this is at night. Apply your Clary Sage blend on a clean, damp face, 1 -2 hours before going to bed. Otherwise, a big part of the blend will simply smear on the sheets.
  • You can also apply a natural cosmetic Aromatherapy recipe all over the face. You should avoid the eye area though. The oils may irritate the eyes and cause tears and fast blinking.
  • You can also add 1 – 2 drops of Clary Sage oil into your usual lotion or cream.
  • The oil can be used weekly or monthly, in face masks for blackheads.


As a general rule, no essential oil should be used continuously, for a long period of time. Switch the blend after 3 or 4 weeks, for safety measures. Otherwise, your skin could get used to the oil and stop responding.


To enjoy all the Clary Sage essential oil skin benefits, you can also:


  • Mix up to 10 drops with a cup of salt (pink, Epsom, etc.) and add it to hot bathwater. The salt will help disperse the oil evenly and avoid pooling.
  • Add a drop of Clary Sage for acne into a bowl of steaming water. Cover your head over the steam and remain there for at least 10 minutes. The heat will open up the pores to receive the beneficial oil molecules.
  • If you like its scent, you could also diffuse Clary Sage to disinfect the air. Actively, you can diffuse for 20 – 30 minutes tops. The room must be well-ventilated during diffusion. Otherwise, the oil will saturate the air and cause nausea and/or headaches.


I was telling you that Clary oil works great in synergy (combination) with other oils. Well, Clary Sage essential oil blends well with:

  • Petitgrain
  • Tea Tree
  • Bay Laurel
  • Bergamot
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Lemongrass
  • Mandarin
  • Sweet Orange
  • Black Spruce
  • Ginger
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Basil
  • Pine
  • Sandalwood
  • Vetiver
  • Nutmeg
  • Cedarwood
  • Lavandin
  • Black Pepper
  • Geranium
  • Rose Geranium
  • Frankincense
  • Myrrh
  • Helichrysum
  • Lavender
  • Amber
  • Etc.


How Long Till You See Results after Using Clary Sage for Acne?

It may take 2 to 3 weeks until you see your complexion improving. Although the acne itself may dry faster, it won’t go away overnight. Give it time. Your skin needs to shed many dead skin layers to get rid of acne scars and painful cysts. It usually takes between 20 – 28 days for your superior skin layer to renew.


Clary Sage for acne and carrier oils for acne


Clary Sage Oil Blends for Acne

Is Clary Sage essential oil good for acne? As you’ve seen, the oil of Clary has many beneficial effects. Not only does it disinfect the skin and affects the sebum production, but it also improves your mood.


It’s one of the essential oils that can help fade dark spots. Though, the top best at dealing with dark spots are Helichrysum and Cistus.


Clary Sage is good for many skin problems, but it’s especially helpful in hormonal acne. Here are a few aromatic recipes to try on your own and see how your skin feels.


Clary Sage Spot Treatment Recipe

You’ll need:

  • Clary Sage essential oil: 2 drops
  • Tea Tree essential oil: 3 drops
  • Black Spruce essential oil: 5 drops
  • Macadamia oil: 1 Oz (30ml)


Mix these oils together in a glass or plastic bottle. Keep it stored in a dark and cool place. Shake well before each use and apply very small amounts. This blend can be applied directly on the pimple, at night, on a clean, damp face. Black Spruce is there to help you with the day’s fatigue.

Emollient Serum Recipe for Acne-Prone Skin

You’ll need:

  • Clary Sage essential oil: 2 drops
  • Frankincense essential oil: 5 drops
  • Nigella (Black Seed) oil: 1 Oz (30ml)


Apply morning and night, or only at night, on a clean, damp face.


Toning Lotion for Acne

You’ll need:

  • Lavender hydrosol (floral water): 1 – 2 Oz (30 – 60ml)
  • Clary Sage essential oil: 3 – 6 drops
  • Spray bottle


Water and oil don’t mix, but if you give the mixture a good shake, the oil will break into microscopic droplets. Shake before each use and apply on a clean face. Gently, pat dry the face with a cotton pad to make sure the toning lotion enters the pores.


Essential Oil Blackheads Mask

You’ll need:

  • Clary Sage essential oil: 1 – 2 drops
  • Food grade gelatin: 1 teaspoon
  • Milk: 2 teaspoons


Mix the milk with the gelatin and the essential oil. Warm it for 20 – 30 seconds in the microwaves or a steam bath. Give it another stir and apply while warm (not hot!) on the blackheads.


You will be able to peel it off after a few minutes, when it’s dry. Make sure you don’t use it on the eyebrows, or it can pluck them. Clary Sage oil can be used for blackheads and pimples thanks to its keratolytic effects.


Light Makeup for Acne-Prone Skin


Tips for Acne-Free Complexion

Until your skin sheds all the dead skin cells and good results start showing, you can make sure you:


  • Drink plenty of water. Hydration comes from within and the body will first use the water for other organs. The skin is the last that gets water, which means you have to drink enough of it daily.
  • Keep your house/room well humidified. Extra dry air, especially during the cold season, dries the skin, cause it to flake, etc. You can also diffuse essential oils or even Clary Sage to purify the air.
  • Excess processed sugar causes severe inflammation in the body. It takes a long time for the body to get rid of it and the resulting toxins. If you like sweets, you could set up a day or two per week when you can eat them (baked or otherwise). You’ll notice how, in a few weeks- a month, your acne and skin will look a lot better.
  • Wash your face daily, but give up soaps or commercial cleansing lotions. They are very aggressive with the skin. They usually strip it of its natural oils. This causes the skin to produce an excess of oil to keep it protected and lubricated. Excessive washing can also make the skin more sensitive and dry. It disrupts the natural protective skin barrier. You can remove your makeup with a soft, non-comedogenic oil and then rinse with pure water or hydrosol.
  • Unfortunately, there is such thing as over moisturizing and almost all of the women do it. Combination and oily skin produce enough sebum to moisturize the skin, healthily. If you add even more oil when it doesn’t need it, you risk clogging the pores. Listen to your skin. If it’s dry, give it nourishment. If it’s not, let it breathe and restore on its own. It’s more than capable to do so. In fact, we often make it lazy with all the creams and serums we apply daily.
  • Avoid touching or picking at the pimples. You risk deepening the scars. This is also a sure way of ensuring bacteria growth and spread.
  • Use light makeup that won’t clog the pores.
  • Avoid using too many masks or scrubs. They can aggravate the acne. One mask per week may be enough or too much. Scrubbing should be very rare, as it is the more aggressive of the two.


Now you know how to use Clary Sage for acne, but the oil has many other skin benefits and uses.


Other Clary Sage Essential Oil Skin Benefits & Recipes

What is Clary Sage essential oil good for, other than acne? The answer is quite simple. You can use Clary Sage to:


  • Soothe scalp itching and dandruff formation. A gentle scalp massage with a few drops of Clary oil could also stimulate hair growth.
  • Speed up wound healing.
  • Soothe insect bites and itching.
  • Help treat and prevent other forms of acne on the body.
  • Deal with excessive sweating.
  • Relieve and improve skin mycosis.
  • Deal with boils and cysts.
  • Etc.


Aromatherapy Recipe for Body Acne

You’ll need:

  • Clary Sage oil: 3 drops
  • Lavender essential oil: 4 drops
  • Tea Tree essential oil: 4 drops
  • Carrier oil of your choice: 1 Oz (30ml)


Give the blend a good shake first. Apply small amounts all over the affected areas (chest, back, arms, etc.) after each shower.


Insect Bite Soothing Clary Sage Recipe

You’ll need:

  • Sweet Almond oil: 10 ml roll-on bottle
  • Clary Sage oil: 2 drops
  • Lavandin oil: 5 drops


Give it a good shake and apply on the itching and swollen area. You can repeat as many times as necessary until the bite looks better.


Clary Sage Essential Oil Facts and Safety Tips


Now, after learning about the many benefits and uses of Clary Sage oil, you can also learn about the plant. I’ll also be telling you more about the safety precautions needed when using Clary oil.


The Salvia sclarea plant:

  • Is closely related to regular sage (Salvia officinalis). Still, the differences between them (aspect & oil) are very noticeable.
  • Grows in Russia, South Europe and Western Asia.
  • In height, the plant can grow up to 5.25 feet (1.60 m).
  • The plant is very aromatic, with oval leaves.
  • Its flowers are rich in sclareol. They can be white, pink, light blue or violet and they look like a bell.
  • In sunny places, Salvia sclarea can also be used as a decorative plant.
  • The essential oil is extracted by steam distillation from the leaves and flowers. The distillation process plays a big role in the quality of the end product.
  • It takes about a hundred kilos (220 pounds) of plant material to produce 180 grams (6.34 ounces) of Clary Sage essential oil.


Salvia officinalis blossom is smaller than clary sage's.
Sage blossoms are smaller than those of clary sage.


Clary Sage Essential Oil Safety Tips

Essential oils seem harmless. They come in such a small recipient that’s really easy to overdose. You think that adding a few more drops can’t do any harm. I know, back in the days, I’ve had this impulse too.


But it’s not really that simple. As you’ve seen above, there’s literally a hundred kilos of the plant in 180 grams of the essence. In terms of potency, this is huge. A single drop of Clary Sage oil represents the concentration of tens of kilos of plant material.


And so, even though it’s natural and generally considered safe, Clary oil must still be used with caution:

  • Oral consumption of Clary oil can be done only with medical advice.
  • Long-term use of the oil should also be done after consulting with a doctor first.
  • If you suffer from asthma, you’ll need your doctor’s advice first.
  • It must always be diluted with a carrier oil for all topical applications.
  • Every new bottle of Clary Sage for acne should be tested for allergies first. Each new batch may have a slightly different chemical profile and may cause allergic reactions. The linalool it contains is known to have allergenic potential, especially if it’s been oxidized. This is especially true for very sensitive people.
  • The oil should not be used on children under 12 years old, pregnant and breastfeeding women.
  • Clary Sage should never be used in case of breast or genital cancer, fibroma and other cancerous pathologies.
  • It should also be avoided by people who depend on hormonal treatment. The advice of a doctor is mandatory in these cases.
  • Clary Sage oil should be avoided during the second half of the menstrual cycle. Unless, you’ve done your research and talked to a doctor in advance.
  • Avoid using clary sage tea or oil with plants that stimulate progesterone production (melissa/lemon balm, chaste berry, alchemilla plants, etc.).
  • Avoid diffusing or using Clary Sage essential oil around pregnant or nursing pets. Clary Sage oil doesn’t contain phenols or ketones. These substances are very dangerous for cats, as they lack the necessary liver enzymes to process them. Since Clary Sage doesn’t contain them, it should be safe to diffuse it around healthy, normal pets. Only in small amounts and small periods of time! I would still talk to a veterinarian first, to avoid harming them.



If you want to use Clary Sage for face, you’re making a good decision. Just take into account all the precautions and talk to your doctor about it, if you have doubts. The oil is easy to use and very effective for all sorts of skin problems.


Clary Sage for acne can improve the quality of your skin and lifestyle. A clear and radiant complexion helps with your self-esteem. A good self-esteem can influence all other personal aspects. You can try any of the recipes I gave you here and see how it all works out.

What is your acne skin care routine? Do you think that from now on, there’ll be room for Clary Sage oil too?


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4 thoughts on “Guide to Using Clary Sage Essential Oil for Acne (Face & Body Recipes)”

  1. If my daughter is on the birth control pill, is using the clary sage acne tx for her slight acne contraindicated?
    I have some brown age spots on my face and saw that you mentioned helichrysum & cistus. Would these be beneficial for me?

    1. Hi Amy,
      I have an in-depth article about age spots that I recommend reading. You’ll find details about Helichrysum and other great oils for skin depigmentation.

      As for your daughter’s acne and using Clary Sage oil, I think you should talk to a doctor first. Like I said in the article, Clary Sage has the potential to affect hormonal treatments. I hope this helps.

      1. Thank you Laura. I will have my daughter look into this. Will look at article on age spots. Also do you have an article on spider veins, either on the legs or the face? Mine are small & fine.

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