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How Effective is Evening Primrose Oil for Acne?

By Debi Fields
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The use of evening primrose oil for acne treatment has become an all-natural alternative for those suffering from this annoying and often painful skin condition. According to many people in the skin care industry, evening primrose oil can be highly effective in the treatment of acne as well as other skin problems, such as rosacea or eczema. The use of evening primrose oil for acne treatment can be accomplished both externally and internally. Evening primrose oil as an acne treatment is desirable because the oil has few side effects and is relatively inexpensive compared to prescription medications. Evening primrose oil could be a very easy and viable option for those with acne flare-ups.

Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is an essential fatty acid produced by the evening primrose flower. It is thought to have medicinal and healing properties that reduce inflammation. The high concentration of GLA in evening primrose oil is somewhere between 7 and 10 percent of the different fatty acids contained in the product — one of the highest levels contained in any food source. Taken internally, GLA encourages the production of prostaglandins, which promotes the contraction of blood vessels that tend to lead to inflammation. It is believed that evening primrose oil helps to dilute sebum, which is the thick and oily substance secreted by the skin, usually in an exaggerated form for most who suffer from acne.

Topically, using evening primrose oil for acne can be done easily by simply applying the oil directed to the acne pustules. It is advised to begin treatment with evening primrose oil slowly, perhaps every other night for the first week, and then nightly thereafter. Applying the product at night to allow it to work during sleeping hours probably is the most effective and common manner of application. In the morning, washing the face with a mild foaming cleanser should be enough to remove any excess oil that has not been absorbed. Positive results of using evening primrose oil should be seen in about 90 days with regular treatment.

Available without a prescription, evening primrose oil comes in either liquid or encapsulated form. The liquid usually is available only through health-food stores or other natural remedy retailers, but the capsules can be found in almost any drugstore or other large general retailer. The recommended dosage for acne treatment is from 0.1 to 0.2 ounces (3,000 to 6,000 mg) daily, taken internally. The oil can go rancid very quickly, so keeping any liquid product refrigerated is a must. For this reason, the capsule form is much easier to keep for longer periods of time and is very handy for applying small amounts directly to the skin.

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Discussion Comments

By anon946770 — On Apr 22, 2014

I have been using EPO now for 40 days and it is a miracle.I have had acne for almost three years and used all sorts of medications,ointments and cream.I will definitely continue with the EPO.

By anon329065 — On Apr 07, 2013

It has side effects too. Be aware of it before you start taking it. Read about Omega 6 side effects.

By anon279328 — On Jul 12, 2012

Can you take the EPO internally and externally?

By anon178565 — On May 21, 2011

I have taken the softgels, 100mg three times daily for three years because they stopped the horrible cystic acne I developed after stopping the birth control pill. It is the only thing I found that worked. I do feel it's improved my skin all around and has totally cured my menstrual cramps.

By anon146963 — On Jan 27, 2011

I've used EPO off and on in the last year and have great results. I have never tried the topical form, I use the softgels. It has helped with my rosacea, acne, cellulite, and has stopped my hair from falling out. When I'm taking it regularly it helps me personally with all of the above. Love it!

By musicshaman — On Jan 11, 2011

Hi -- I have to say, I have tried evening primrose oil for acne, and I didn't get the best results. In fact, it just seemed to make my acne worse.

I know that everyone has different skin, so you may have awesome results with EPO or evening primrose oil or whatever you want to call it, but for me, it was utter disaster.

Here's how it went down -- my skin is combination, so I try to keep it as oil free as possible while still moisturizing it. I got this free sample of EPO from a health food store and they swore that it would clear up my face ASAP.

So I went through my normal routine, then slathered the EPO on with high hopes. I woke up the next morning to the worst breakout I have ever had -- and I've had some bad ones.

So that's just some food for thought -- although EPO may be amazing for you, for me, it was disaster.

By FirstViolin — On Jan 10, 2011

Hi -- I had a quick question about using EPO, or evening primrose oil.

I have really been wanting to try this on my acne for a very long time, but I find that it is actually cheaper to buy a bunch of the capsules rather then the little bottles of oil that you get in the health food stores.

My question is, can I just break open the capsules and then put the oil on my face, or do I need to just shell out the money for the little bottle of oil?

Is there some kind of difference between the type of EPO in the bottles and the one in the capsules that are intended for ingestion, or is it essentially the same thing in a different package?

Does anybody know, can you clue me in? I just want to be really careful before I put anything on my face, you know?

By zenmaster — On Jan 08, 2011

I always recommend my clients with acne to try either flax seed oil capsules or EPO (evening primrose oil) capsules.

Not only are both of these oils very, very good for your skin, they are also extremely beneficial to your health.

Both flax oil and EPO are great natural fats that your body can utilize like you wouldn't believe. A lot of people shy away from taking something that is essentially completely made of fat, thinking that it can't be good for their body, but that is such a misconception!

It's not the idea of fat per se that is bad for your body; rather it's the kind of fats that are good or bad for your body. Things like hydrogenated oils -- not so much. Things like avocados, fish oil, organic flax seed oil and EPO are great for your body!

And besides, what with all the new studies about evening primrose oil for fertility, you could just be welcoming a new addition into your happy, acne-free family as well ;)

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