Looking for that perfect skin product? One that will keep your skin looking great, smells great, is appealing to apply, has actual ‘therapeutic’ effects, and doesn't break the bank? Look no further than aromatherapy. Creating a wonderful blend just for your skin type with the magic of potent natural botanicals is fun and rewarding in more ways than one. Essential oils are widely used in natural medicine, and some are well-known for their skin rejuvenating effects.
While some of the most highly regarded therapeutic grade oils may seem expensive at first, they are effective in such small concentrations as to really make them worthwhile. And their efficacy is well-known; that's why so many laboratory-made preparations use components of essential oils in their formulas. With a one or two ounce bottle to mix in, and an eye dropper, you can easily mix your own blend with the aroma and actions you desire most.
There are a few essential oils and carriers that are highly regarded in natural beauty and skin care. With these, and perhaps one or two extra ingredients, you can make effective (and very pleasant smelling) recipes for a wide variety of skin conditions.
The short list of essential oils for skin care – Helichrysum (also known as Everlasting) is one of the strongest anti-inflammatory oils known in aromatherapy. It is also very high in regenerative ketones; compounds which stimulate the regeneration of skin cells. Rosemary Verbenone serves a similar function, being thought to enhance metabolic functioning in the dermis layer, increasing circulation and the elimination of waste products. Lavender has properties similar to Helichrysum, with a wonderful, relaxing aroma; it can bring synergy to a combination of oils and is thought to keep the skin in a balanced, healthy condition. Carrot Seed essential oil is also regenerating, bringing life to tired, pallid skin. Palmarosa essential oil can be included for it's pleasing aroma and anti-septic effects; Niaouli is also recommended for the same reasons, along with it's skin-firming properties.
This is only a few of the many essential oils included in skin formulas, though these are considered among the most important for their broad range of effects. Almost any essential oil can be added to a blend in balanced quantities. In many cases, oils are added as much for their lovely aroma as their direct therapeutic benefits to skin tissue. Many aromatherapists, and natural health professionals for that matter, consider the overall mental and emotional condition to be of primary importance in creating an appearance of fitness and beauty. Many citrus and floral oils are used for this reason – Neroli, distilled from the flowers of the bitter orange tree, is an often used example. Others are Jasmine, Sandalwood (very popular in Men's skin care), Geranium and Ylang Ylang.
Essential oils, be they for direct effects on skin metabolism, or for the overall state of wellness of the user, will be diluted in a carrier oil, sometimes known as a base oil. It is important to note that diluting the oils will often actually enhance their effects; essential oils are often too strong to be used directly, and many studies have shown increased efficacy in dilutions down to 1% or less of the total formula. The carrier oils serve several other functions as well; they “carry" the essential oils into the skin, increasing their total absorption. They also nourish the middle and lower layers of the skin with essential fatty acids or EFA's – compounds now considered critical to the health of all living tissues. Further, some carrier oils have vitamin analogs which assist in skin regeneration and repair.
A few of the most important carrier oils include the following: Rosehip Seed Oil is highly regarded for it's regenerating effects for skin which has been over-exposed to the sun or has other damage. It includes a variety of Vitamin A which acts to increase cellular turnover, similar to Retin-A without the over-drying side effects. Numerous scientific studies have validated this oil's positive effects on damaged or prematurely aged skin. Next is Evening Primrose Oil, which has a significant quantities of gamma-linolenic acid, an important essential fatty acid. Evening Primrose oil has been used to support skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, and may help premature skin aging. Finally, Hazelnut oil is possibly the most commonly used base oil for skin care; it is gentle, has little aroma, and is suitable for all skin types. Often, small amounts of Rosehip seed and/or Evening Primrose oil will be included in a blend, with Hazelnut oil comprising the majority of the carrier mixture.
Here are several blends categorized by skin type to get you started. For normal skin, used at any time: In each ounce of Hazelnut Oil, add 15 drops Thyme Linalool, 15 drops Rosemary Verbenone, 15 drops Neroli, and 15 drops Spike Lavender; this blend can work well for acne with it's antiseptic properties, but is an excellent tonic for all skin types.
If your skin has been chemically damaged, is overly-sensitive, or otherwise ‘weakened’ with broken capillaries, try this mixture, applying frequently: For each ounce of base oil, use three parts Hazelnut, one part Rosehip Seed, and one part Evening Primrose. Add the following essential oils: fifteen drops Moroccan Chamomile, fifteen drops Helichrysum, fifteen drops true Lavender, and fifteen drops Roman Chamomile. The Helichrysum, Lavender and Rosehip seed will enhance the skin's own natural metabolism, and the addition of the Chamomiles will greatly reduce inflammation that is found with almost all damage and/or aging.
If your skin is prone to acne, or has over-active sebaceous glands, the following blend can be of great assistance. It contains regenerative, antiseptic, and cleansing oils. Simply use Hazelnut as the base, and to each ounce include fifteen drops of Green Myrtle or Inula graveolens, fifteen drops Eucalyptus dives (because of the ketones in this oil, it should not be used if pregnant – or under 10 years of age – but is otherwise considered safe), fifteen drops Spike Lavender, and fifteen drops Rosemary verbenone.
If your skin has no particular ‘condition', but appears tired, lifeless, pallid, or ‘worn out', try mixing one-fifth ounce of Rosehip Seed and four-fifths ounce Hazelnut oil. Then add 15 drops each of Carrot Seed essential oil (also known as Queen Anne's Lace or Wild Carrot), Lemon verbena (which helps the skin detoxify), Niaouli (gently tightening the skin), and Rosemary verbenone – this creates an excellent restorative blend. For aging skin needing firming that can be used around the eyes – try this more gentle variety: Mix in five ounces of Hazelnut oil and one ounce of Rosehip seed oil, add fifteen drops of each of Myrtle essential oil (green), Cistus or Rock Rose and Rosemary.
So there are a few tried-and-true aromatherapy skin care blends to use in your natural beauty regime. You can easily mix and match the oils described to create your own blend, and add any oils you really like the aroma of (be aware that a FEW essential oils are VERY strong, and should not be used on the skin – the more common of these include Cinnamon, Clove, Oregano, and Red Thyme – consult with a knowledgeable practitioner if you are unsure about the safety of any oil). A word about purchasing oils for your blends – do NOT use anything labeled as a ‘fragrance oil’ – these are synthetic reproductions of essential oils that will likely cause an allergic reaction.
DO seek out a reputable source. And oils, like wine, do vary greatly from maker to maker. A higher price can mean a significantly nicer oil (though not always) – one that is sweeter, or more well-rounded – only a few oils should smell ‘medicinal’ – Spike Lavender is a little ‘camphorus’ in general – but a good Rosemary verbenone should have a very appealing scent . Despite the initial outlay, you are more likely to continue to use a blend that you really like the aroma of, and that has therapeutic effects. Though once you find the oils you adore, you're more than likely to continue the practice of making your own blends for some time to come.
This article has been written by Misty Cech, ND, a degreed naturopath with a professional practice developing natural wellness for individuals around the country. She strongly supports the use of natural botanicals whenever possible when making health and beauty choices. She is the owner of the Ananada Apothecary - providing vibrational medicine infomation and supplies such as organic essential oils and Bach flower essences and remedies.