Do You Think Essential Oils Can’t Heal The Skin? Maybe I Can Change Your Mind…
Posted Jun 29 2010 10:24pm
Oil is a bit of a dirty word for me. I steer clear of most oils out of fear of a breakout .. which is why I’ve been completely dismissive of essential oils in the past. It wasn’t until learning from my ex that lavender oil magically clears up a mosquito bite itch in a couple of minutes (yes I tried this with great success many, many times), then reading the real story about how essential oils were first discovered that I began to realize that hey, there’s something more to this than what I first though.
How Essential Oils Came To Be
“Aromatherapy is a phrase coined by Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, Ph.D., in 1920, who was a French cosmetic chemist. While working in his laboratory, he had an accident that resulted in a third degree thermal burn of his hand and forearm. He plunged his arm into a vat of lavender oil, thinking that it was water. To his surprise, the burning slowly decreased and then stopped within a few moments. Over a period of time, with the continual application of lavender oil, the burn healed completely without a trace of a scar. As a chemist, he analyzed the essential oil of lavender and discovered that it contained many substances referred to as chemical constituents or chemical properties. As a result of this, Dr. Gattefosse determined that essential oils contained tremendous healing properties.”
Huzzah! Who wouldn’t want to use essential oils after reading that!? Very exciting indeed. So as you can see, essential oils have tremendous healing properties when applied topically to the skin. But what exactly are they and why are they more special that “normal” oils?
What Are Essential Oils?
You can extract essential oils from just about any plant based material, which is a trippy thought considering we can get oil out of say, a flower. They don’t seem very oily at all do they.
The essence (or essential oil) of a plant can be extracted using several different methods, with the most common being distillation. In steam distillation, the plant matter is placed on a screen which steam passes through. This steam becomes “charged” with the plant essence as it passes through the screen. The oil and water is then collected. Obviously not a lot of oil comes out of most plant matter so a large amount of a particular plant is needed to make the essence. In fact, several kilograms of plant matter may be needed to make just one small gram of essential oil. That’s pretty special.
When buying essential oils, make sure you look for the very important word “essential” because it will be in the purest form. “Peppermint oil” for example will be a diluted and less pure version of “essential peppermint oil”. Of course it’s also preferable to buy organic if you can find it. I can just imagine the amount of chemical residues that get steamed up in the process of extraction of a non-organic plant material.
How We Can Use Essential Oils On The Skin
There are many, many different ways to use essential oils on the skin and even more types of oils that you can use. Here are just a few to get you started.
Spot treating acne and acne scars is one of the simplest ways to utilize essential oils. Tea tree oil is one of the most popular. I’ve been experimenting with manuka oil recently. Lavender oil is great on scars, and so is frankincense, geranium and neroli. The actual list of essential oils that are great for acne pone skin is extensive. It includes bergamot, camphor, chamomile, cedarwood, cypress, eucalyptus, grapefruit, juniper, lemon, lemongrass, myrrh, rosewood, sandalwood, yarrow and ylang-ylang.
To spot treat you can either use it neat (undiluted) or dilute it down to how much your skin can tolerate. Essential oils are very powerful so can bee too harsh used undiluted on the skin. I’ve personally found essential manuka oil used neat to be absolutely fine, but tea tree oil must be diluted. If in doubt, test your skin first.
Some believe that essential oils should never be used neat. My advice to you is if you are considering to use an oil neat, then do not apply it to broken skin because this is where you’ll likely run into problems.
Also use the very good advice – Less is more. Always begin with one drop because it’s usually enough. If not, then add just one more drop at a time. To stop the itch of a mosquito bite for example, one drop of lavender essential oil is absolutely enough.
The healing powers of essential oils make them wonderful additions to a facial mask. You can add the oils to any facial mask that you’re currently using. One of my favorite masks is clay mixed with cucumber. Simply mix your preferred clay with enough cucumber juice to make a paste. Then add in 5 drops of sandalwood essential oil, or any of the oils already mentioned in this article. If you don’t have a juicer you can add in grated cucumber.
Facial steaming is a real treat, I love it! In fact I may just do one tonight. Wash your face first then fill up a bowl with steaming water (I boil the kettle then pour the water in which is perfect). Make sure the water you use is either distilled or filtered. You don’t want to be steaming chlorine and fluoride into your skin.
Next add seven drops of essential oil to the water. Lavender, red clover blossoms or strawberry leaves are great for healing acne. Rosemary or elder flowers are great for blackheads. Now place your face about ten inches above the water and drape a towel over your head to trap in the steam and direct it to your skin.
While facial steaming is great and incredibly luxurious, it’s best not to do them every single day. And those with severe acne should avoid facial steaming because it can activate the oils glands a little too much.
Will Using Essential Oils On My Skin Break Me Out?
The thing is, you’ll never use enough essential oils in your skin care regime to cause a breakout. We’re talking one drop on a spot or 5 drops in an entire facial mask. These are very minimal amounts.
Also keep in mind that essential oils are not your typical oily oils like coconut or olive oil, because they really are just an essence that’s been extracted from a plant.
If in doubt, patch test first and see how your skin responds.
And of course, if you’ve been using essential oils on your skin with great success, then let us all know about it. We’d love to hear from you..