There are countless ways to incorporate essential oils in your skin care routine. In this blog we will unpack which ones are the best to use for glowing skin!
Essential oils are truly amazing little miracle workers. I use them in my beauty routine all the time and consider them one of nature’s best gifts to humankind. In addition to filling our world with aromatic joy plant essences have the ability to enrich our lives in countless other ways. You’re probably most familiar with the application of essential oils is in skincare, used for their healing, soothing and skin-regenerative benefits.
To understand the complex world of essential oils is to be amazed. Their tiny molecules can easily cross the skin barrier and exert subtle yet profound therapeutic effects on our bodies. Some essential oils are well-known for calming redness, inflammation and irritation. Others are stimulating and cause blood vessels to dilate, making them excellent in anti-aging skincare where increased circulation and vibrancy is desired. For individuals like me who have struggled with acne skin infections, the anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory qualities of essential oils can offer an alternative treatment to harsh chemicals.
Essential oils are aromatic plant essences used for aromatherapy. The term is derived from the French word “aromatherapie” which means “treating disease or injury with the unique biochemical properties of aromatic plants.” For thousands of years before the advent of modern medicine, essential oils were used by our ancestors to beautify their bodies, purify the air and heal many health ailments. I’m happy to see this tradition continue to this day.
Steam distillation is the most common method for extracting the volatile and non-volatile components of plants. During the distillation process only precious aromatic molecules are collected, leaving behind the water and debris from plants in the still. Although less popular, other methods are occasionally used to extract essential oils when steam is not suitable, such as expeller press extraction, solvent extraction, enfleurage and CO2 critical extraction.
Have you ever wondered why some essential oils are very affordable and others are wildly expensive (such as Rose or Jasmine)? That’s because massive quantities of raw materials are needed to make certain oils. For instance, it takes five tonnes of rose petals to obtain just one kilogram of rose essential oil. Adulteration is a very common problem in essential oil commerce as supply often outstrips demand for high quality product.
The best and most valued essential oils are grown organically or are wild-crafted. Since plant essences are so highly concentrated it’s very likely that conventionally grown oils contain high levels of pesticides and chemical residues left over from agricultural production. It would be counterproductive, dangerous even, to use contaminated essential oils when trying to heal a particular skin condition or improve your skin’s health and appearance. Herbana only does business with reputable brands that understand the importance clean and pure essential oils.
First, a little bit of background. “Essential” refers to a plant’s essence (or aromatic molecules mentioned previously) which are collected during the extraction process. The term is not to be confused with edible oils like Omega which is called “essential” because our bodies cannot produce them, thus requiring us to have them in our diet.
The general classification system for all essential oils includes the following chemical constituents: hydrocarbons (monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and diterpenes), and the oxygenated compounds (esters, aldehydes, ketones, alcohols, phenols, and oxides). Each one of these chemical constituents has a therapeutic effect on the body and more than in a particular oil can have powerful synergistic effects.
For example, citrus oils contain the monoterpenes linalool, limonene and linalyl acetate – responsible for their anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. These compounds are beneficial in aromatherapy as a topical treatment for acne, eczema, dermatitis and to relieve minor skin irritation (caution: some citrus oils can be photo-toxic). Other essential oils used in aromatherapy (such as Lavender and Clary Sage) are rich in sesquiterpenes. This class of compounds offer wide-spectrum anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effects. These are particularly useful when treating acne breakouts and other skin infections.
In my personal journey of discovering essential oils I’ve come across some that I absolutely love and want to share with you. Below is a list of my favourite botanicals and what makes them so unique:
This lesser known essential oil is one of my favourites because of it powerful anti-aging properties. The botanical name is Daucus carota, and it’s actually distilled from wild carrot flowers and not the variety you find in your grocery store. It has a very deep, grounding aroma which is beautiful when blended in a face cream or lotion.
Carrot Seed essential oil has so many skin benefits I don’t know where to start. For one thing, it contains high levels of vitamins A and E, which are antioxidants that help your skin neutralise free radicals. In fact, it’s a great essential oil to add to post-sun repair products because it can help offset some of the aging effects of UV exposure.
Additionally, its rich vitamin C content is excellent for skin rejuvenation. It boosts collagen, repairs and regenerates damaged skin, improves scars and prevents fine lines and wrinkles. In addition to these amazing revitalising effects, Carrot seed is very effective essential oil for balancing oily or combination skin. You’ll find this ingredient in many skincare and hair preparations to moisturise and regulate oil production.
Perhaps one of the most widely studied and documented in literature for its medicinal properties is Chamomile essential oil. It’s used in everything from teas to help calm anxiety and stress to soothing eczema or other skin irritations. There are two varieties that are best known in skincare applications. These are Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) and German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla).
The active component of German chamomile is chamazulene, which is famous for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial effects. If you suffer from acne breakouts then this essential oil can be helpful in killing acne-causing microbes and reducing the redness and inflammation. Once you have your acne under control, German chamomile can help your skin heal to minimise the formation of dark spots and acne scarring.
Roman chamomile contains less chamazulene but higher ester and alpha pinene content, which makes it suitable in cases where calming and soothing properties are needed. You’ll find Roman chamomile in beauty formulations targeting skin trauma, infections, bruising, bug bites and to relieve pain.
Both chamomiles have mild vasoconstricting properties, meaning they temporarily narrow dilated capillaries under the skin. An eye cream containing German or Roman chamomile oil can temporarily reduce the appearance of dark circles and puffiness. Tip: if you don’t have any of the oil on hand then using chamomile tea bags can give you similar result.
If you’re looking for an essential oil that’s versatile and smells heavenly then Geranium should be the first on your list. I personally adore Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) and find the scent uplifting and grounding. Rooted in deep history, this oil has been used in skincare since the time of ancient Egyptians to promote smooth, healthy and radiant skin. They were obviously onto something great because to this day Geranium continues to be widely cultivated and used in beauty and skincare products.
Chemically, Geranium has powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Many natural beauty brands revere Geranium essential oil for dry skin and anti-aging, using it in rejuvenating creams and lotions for improving skin tone and to promote cellular regeneration and repair. All skin types can benefit from Geranium essential oil. Whether you’re dry, oily or combination, Geranium can balance your skin’s PH and help improve your complexion.
If you find yourself with a serious sunburn (or any other type of burn for that matter), make sure to reach for Lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia). That’s because Lavender’s skin-regenerative properties are well documented. Anecdotal evidence is plentiful. Here’s an interesting story: A French cosmetic chemist named Rene-Maurice Gattefosse first discovered Lavender’s healing prowess after he suffered a horrific burn in a lab accident. Not having cold water on hand he quickly immersed his hands in bucket of Lavender essential oil sitting nearby. Later he was astounded by how quickly his skin healed without even so much as a scar.
Remarkably, Lavender’s therapeutic mechanism has been pin-pointed by science. Even before we had scientific proof, however, we fell in love with Lavender’s fresh, beautiful scent. Now that we know what Lavender can do it’s added to countless beauty products to fight acne, soothe dry skin and eczema, heal injured skin and even for detoxification purposes. Lavender essential oil can even promote deeper sleep. Dispense a few drops on into your nightly bath or on your pillow and awake well-rested and refreshed.
If you’ve never smelled Neroli essential oil then you’re in for a beautiful surprise. It’s an exotic fusion of floral and citrus notes that are unbelievably uplifting. Catching even a small whiff of Neroli fills my heart with happiness. I’m not the only one who finds the aroma pleasing. This beautifully fragrant oil is used in quite often in perfumery and therapeutically to treat a multitude of conditions such as depression, anxiety, high blood pressure and even seizures.
Neroli (Citrus aurantium) oil is steam distilled from the orange blossom flower. Having well-documented anti-inflammatory and anti-aging benefits, Neroli is excellent for treating a number of skin conditions. It’s a powerful bacteria zapper so it’s used to fight acne blemishes. Its regenerative constituents assist with skin regeneration and scar healing. Another sought after property of Neroli is as a skin moisturiser. It’s perfect for dry, dehydrated, prematurely aged or mature skin, restoring hydration levels and promoting a radiant glow.
Rose-scented products are everywhere. Candles, skincare and even household cleaning products claim to smell “fresh as roses.” The truth is most people have never smelled the breathtakingly beautiful aroma of pure Rose essential oil. Steam distilled from the petals of Rosa damascene, this rare and precious oil is widely used for treating a number of health concerns, including depression, respiratory spasms, sexual dysfunction and more.
Rose is a powerful vasodilator, which is why it’s valuable in skincare to improve blood circulation and rejuvenate the complexion. It’s also highly regenerative, helping scars and stretch marks fade quicker. Rose’s healing properties can be attributed to its rich antioxidant activity which promotes healing and cellular repair. Keep in mind that if you suffer from rosacea or broken capillaries then Rose may be too stimulating for you. Instead choose beauty products containing Chamomile or Neroli to strengthen the skin’s vascular network and calm redness.
You’re probably most familiar with Rosemary as a culinary herb. Sprinkle some on your potatoes and you’ve elevated your dish into a Mediterranean masterpiece. But Rosemary essential oil (Rosmarinus officinalis) has some pretty amazing therapeutic properties too. Its main constituents are α-pinene, borneol, β-pinene, camphor, bornyl acetate, camphene, 1, 8-cineole and limonene – a beneficial chemical cocktail with anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, analgesic effects on the skin and body.
Topical application of Rosemary combats acne breakouts and other skin minor infections. It also helps to improve circulation, giving your skin a beautiful glow. Hair products often contain Rosemary essential oil because of its earthy scent and ability to stimulate hair follicles, improving hair growth, strength, volume and luster.
Sandalwood essential oil (Santalum album) has been used medicinally for at least 3000 years. Due to its popularity in health and wellness applications Sandalwood is being vigorously overharvested, causing sustainability concerns. Currently most Sandalwood essential oil comes from India. If you’re an avid Sandalwood enthusiast I encourage you to do your research and choose skincare brands that respect the environment and sustainable cultivation of this precious essential oil.
Scientifically shown to be anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial, Sandalwood is useful for treating acne, psoriasis, eczema and even common warts. It’s often included in skincare products for mature and prematurely aged skin. Sandalwood has a high content of sesquiterpenoids (compounds that deliver oxygen molecules to skin cells) making it one of the top tissue-stimulating and anti-aging ingredients.
Tea tree essential oil is derived by steam distillation of the Melaleuca alternifolia tree originating right here in Australia. Because of its high safely profile, many Australians (myself included) consider this oil as the go-to over-the-counter remedy minor wounds, irritations and infections and to control psoriasis, oily and combination skin.
If acne breakouts are your biggest complexion concern then you’ve probably already heard about tea tree oil as a potent blemish fighter. In can confirm this. In fact, this miraculous anti-microbial essential oil has saved my skin on many occasions. But don’t take my word for it. Tea tree oil has been proven by studies to be highly anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory. That’s why in addition to treating acne and acne scars, Tea tree helps to calm redness, swelling, and inflammation.
Sweet and delicately floral, Ylang Ylang essential oil is steam distilled from the blossoms of Cananga odorata. If you’re looking to purchase Ylang Ylang essential oil you may be surprised to learn that it comes in five in classifications or “distillation fractions.” These are: Ylang Ylang Extra, Ylang Ylang I, II III, and Ylang Ylang Complete. “Extra” is the most coveted because it has the most potent and vibrant scent.
Ylang Ylang’s fresh floral, fruity notes make it a popular ingredient in natural perfumery and to add fragrance to beauty products. But scent isn’t the oil’s only claim to fame. Its unique chemical structure makes it extremely useful in a number of skin and hair formulations. It you have oily or combination skin or scalp, you’ll appreciate Ylang Ylang for its oil/sebum balancing properties. It also helps to promote cellular repair and fight skin infections and acne breakouts.
These are just some of the essential oils we feature in Herbana’s extensive collection of natural skincare brands. I invite you to visit our online store to peruse the unique personal care items that I’ve personally curated for you and your family. I know you’ll love them as much as I do.
DISCLAIMER: This blog is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment or medical advice. Content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. Please consult with a physician or other healthcare professional regarding any medical or health related diagnosis or treatment options. Information on this blog should not be considered as a substitute for advice from a healthcare professional. The claims made about specific products throughout this blog are not approved to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.