Mirror, mirror on the wall, if I use evening primrose oil, will I get 💯 skin? The health-food store staple, which is typically sold in capsule-form, packs tons of nutrients that are supposedly good ~natural~ acne treatments...but I wanted to see the receipts. Enter: Noelani Gonzalez, MD, director of cosmetic dermatology at Mount Sinai West.
Thanks to evening primrose oil’s primary active ingredient-gamolenic acid-it’s 100% anti-inflammatory and super-hydrating, says Noelani Gonzalez, MD, director of cosmetic dermatology at Mount Sinai West. These benefits are especially clutch since acne is caused by inflamed pores clogged with oil, and the hydration boost helps improve the skin’s protective barrier from pollutants and dirt.
The caveat? There's not a ton of comprehensive research proving evening primrose oil can help treat acne. “There have a been a few studies that have shown good results, but, these are just a few studies and the number of patients enrolled in these studies was very small,” Dr. Gonzalez explains. “So, essentially more clinical studies are needed for us to say that it actually is a good acne treatment.”
While she wouldn’t necessarily recommend evening primrose oil on its own, Dr. Gonzalez says it could be an add-on to a proven treatment like Accutane, which can lead to dryness. Thanks to primrose oil’s hydrating properties, it’s been shown (in a small study) to work well in combination with those types of acne medications.
Are there any side effects?
Sorry to break it to you, but...in addition to the benefits evening primrose oil boasts, it’s got some side effects that you should know about. “It can interact with blood thinners, high-blood pressure medications, and anti-depressants,” Dr. Gonzalez says. So while you can load up on primrose oil capsules at most any vitamin or supplement stores, you should definitely discuss using it with your doc so they can let you know whether or not the oil might negatively affect your health or derail your meds routine.
Noted. How do I use evening primrose oil?
Since research on evening primrose oil as an acne treatment is pretty limited, dosage and most effective ways to use it are still up for discussion. However, one study with promising results had participants take up to three 450 mg capsules per day. Dr. Gonzalez says breaking open a capsule and mixing it with other essential oils, such as tea tree oil or rose hip oil, can also be an effective spot treatment for some patients.
Once you get the go-ahead from your doctor, your derm will probably recommend testing it before making it your go-to, Dr. Gonzalez says. Start with a tiny amount before moving on to your doctor's recommended dosage. And if you’re using it topically, applying it to a small section of your skin to see how it reacts before using it everywhere.
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