The Ancient Art Of Herbal Skincare
Herbs and other botanicals have been used for their healing and soothing properties for centuries and are a popular choice for those who like to maintain their health naturally.
Essential oils are plant-based oils that utilize the powerful healing properties of volatile oils found in plants, herbs and flowers.
Essential oils are named so because they are made from the distilled essence of a plant. They can be found and extracted from many different parts of a plant including the:
Once you know a bit about essential oils and their therapeutic properties it’s possibly to combine and tailor them to make unique products that will work for your skin type.
Before we look at the best essential oils for skin here’s why essential oils are so useful when it comes to making natural skincare products.
The Properties Of Skin-Friendly Essential Oils Can Be:
With the exception of lavender and tea-tree oils, essential oils cannot be put directly onto the skin and may cause harm if applied undiluted.
Essential oils need to be blended and diluted into a carrier oil or base oil. Carrier oils are natural vegetable oils that contain no added preservatives or fragrance, this means that they have a short shelf life and are likely to spoil if exposed to light and heat.
Where at all possible choose the best quality carrier oils and buy them in small bottles to prevent spoilage and therefore wastage. Store carrier oils and essential oils in a cool, dark place.
Which Carrier Oil To Use?
There are several different carrier oils that work well with essential oils. These oils all have in common the ability to penetrate the skin efficiently unlike commercial baby oils that remain on the surface of the skin. High quality carrier oils include:
Apricot Kernel Oil – This is a good base oil to use for mature, dry and sensitive skin.
Avocado Oil – This vitamin rich oil is good for dry skin that is prone to flaking. It is a good choice of base oil to use if you are regularly exposed to indoor heating or air-conditioning.
Evening Primrose Oil – A good base oil for dry skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema.
Grape Seed Oil – This popular carrier oil is good for all skin types including oily skin because it is light and easily absorbed.
Jojoba Oil – Another oil that is rich and suitable for all skin types including oily, dry and sensitive skin.
Peach Kernel Oil – A good choice of base oil for mature skin as it helps to improve skin elasticity and suppleness.
Sweet Almond Oil – Another favorite base oil because it is light and easily absorbed.
Wheat Germ Oil – Rich in vitamin E this oils is good for healing scars including acne scars.
Getting The Best From Your Carrier And Essential Oils
When purchasing either carrier or essential oils you need to be sure you are getting the real thing and not scented oils that do not have the same therapeutic qualities as 100% pure essential oils.
Quality oils are sold in dark bottles to maintain the active properties and should be fitted with a good screw cap. If essential oils are exposed to air and light the therapeutic properties of oils will be compromised so store your oils in a cool, dark place and always replace the caps firmly.
Once opened most essential oils have a shelf life of around 18 months however the citrus oils like lemon, orange and grapefruit have a shorter shelf life of around six months. Essential oils should not be stored near to homeopathic remedies.
Essential Oils And Safety
a. With the exception of lavender and tea tree oils never apply essential oils directly onto the skin.
b. If you are pregnant or planning to conceive seek professional advice from a qualified practitioner before using essential oils. Some oils can be harmful if used during pregnancy.
c. Don’t use citrus oils including Bergamot before going out in the sun. They can cause photosensitivity and permanently darken your skin.
d. Never take essential oils internally.
e. Treat essential oils as you would medication and keep them away from children and family pets.
f. Don’t apply essential oils to the eyes.
g. Avoid lavender, chamomile, clary sage or frankincense oils if you plan to drive or operate machinery. These oils can have a sedative effect.
Top 10 Essential Oils For Skin
Lavender oil is probably the best known and most versatile of the essential oils.
It can help to soothe the skin and your emotions and is good for anyone who feels stressed or is suffering from insomnia.
Blended into a carrier oil lavender has antiseptic properties making it a good choice for oily skin, it is also good for mature skin as it contains rejuvenating properties.
Lavender can also be used to clean out cuts and grazes and to treat minor burns. A homemade balm can be created with lavender oil to help soothe sunburn.
Finally this incredibly useful oil is safe to use on the skin of babies and children when blended into carrier oils.
2. Tea Tree Oil
This oil has a very strong antiseptic, almost medicinal fragrance so it will come as no surprise to find out that it has powerful anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
It has been used as a healing agent by Australian Aborigines for centuries.
Tea tree oil’s antiseptic properties make it an excellent choice of facial oil when blended into a carrier oil for anyone who has oily skin or skin that is prone to spots, pimples and acne.
3. Geranium Oil
Geranium is a beautifully scented essential oil that has cleansing and refreshing properties for the skin.
It can also help to regulate sebum production making it a good oil for all skin types from oily to excessively dry. It must not be used during pregnancy.
4. Roman Chamomile
This gentle and beautifully scented oil has powerful properties for the skin.
It is anti-inflammatory making it suitable for sensitive skin or skin that is easily irritated. It is also a useful oil for treating acne, helping to soothe areas of inflammation.
If you find the scent of tea tree overpowering Roman chamomile oil is an excellent alternative as it also has anti-bacterial qualities but a much more gentle fragrance.
Neroli is one of the best essential oils for dry skin as it encourages the healthy renewal of skin cells and improves skin elasticity.
Neroli oil can also help where there is redness and irritation of the skin.
This is also a good oil to use in homemade preparations if you have scarring, stretch marks or thread veins on your skin.
Frankincense is another one of the best oils for mature or dry skin and is considered to be the best anti-aging essential oil.
Use it in your preparations to help prevent and combat wrinkles and rejuvenate the facial skin.
7. Ylang Ylang
Ylang Ylang oil (pronounced eelang eelang) means flower of flowers.
This incredibly fragrant oil is suitable for oily skin as it balances the sebum glands.
It is also an excellent choice of essential oil for combination skin because the sebum balancing properties enable it to control areas of oiliness while helping to balance dry areas.
Grapefruit oil has cleansing and toning properties that are suitable for oily skin; it is a good skin decongestant and can help to reduce open pores.
Grapefruit oil also stimulates the lymphatic system and has diuretic properties, this makes it an excellent choice of oil for skin that is prone to puffiness as it has a tightening effect, although it should not be used around the eye area.
Grapefruit oil like other citrus oils should not be used before going out into sunlight as it is photosensitive and may darken the skin permanently.
Sandalwood is a good oil to use for mature, dry and dehydrated skin as it can increase moisture levels within the dermis of the skin. It can also be used for sensitive skin and conditions such as cracked skin and itchy skin.
10. Rose Oil
Rose oil is one of the best essential oils there is for the skin but it can be expensive.
It’s properties are numerous and it can be used for moisturizing, soothing, firming the skin and also has antiseptic properties.
It has a positive effect on broken capillaries and is an excellent oil for mature, dry or sensitive skin.