essential oils plants
Photo: Raphaelle Gagnon, Collage: MOCHNI.COM

The topical use of essential oils is an interesting topic because there are different schools of thought revolving around the subject. Some believe essential oils should not be used at all let alone as part of a skincare regime and others highly cherish these oils for their prized therapeutic values.

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are volatile oils generally steamed distilled from plants. The oil is extracted from stems, leaves, flowers, roots, resins or bark but does not act like a regular oil. Because they do not contain essential fatty acids, essential oils aren’t like the oil we are used to. They are highly evaporative, leaving no greasy feeling or oily mark behind. It also takes an exuberant number of botanicals to create a single drop of essential oil which is why they are very precious and expensive. If you happen to fall upon a cheap bottle of essential oil, be wary because it may have been adulted with synthetic fragrances or fillers.

How To Use?

When using essential oils, it is extremely important to exercise caution. These oils are very concentrated and potent so understanding just how powerful they can be- is crucial. If used properly, they can bring amazing benefits to any skincare ritual as well as add endless therapeutic values to our health. I believe that if essential oils are used properly, minimally and according to dermal limits they can be great for the skin. After all, the distillation of botanicals has been around for over 4000 years and many cultures have used these extracted plant waters and oils in their beauty regimes for thousands of years already.

Most Common Essential Oils

Many essential oils have great skin honing properties from plumping micro-wrinkles, to slowing down the aging process to repairing skin cells to fighting acne with antibacterial values – they can truly work wonders. There is a lot of information readily available about which oils to use for what on the internet and published books.

Here are a few of the most common essential oils to use for skin care:

Lavender: gentle for all skin types. Treats skin irritations, burns, bites, acne. One of the most versatile oils.
Chamomile: antibacterial, helps dry, irritated skin as well as eczema and psoriasis. One of the few essential oils that can be used on children and the most sensitive skin.
Palmarosa: antifungal, antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Great for acne, scar tissue and wrinkles.
Ylang ylang: aids oily skin types by balancing sebum production, treats acne and helps plump up micro-wrinkles.
Rosemary: antiseptic, astringent and stimulant. Great for treating dry flaky scalps, acne and dull skin.
Peppermint: nourishes mature skin types and helps balance oil production in oily skin types.
Juniper: helps unblock pores, detoxifies the skin, treats acne, eczema and psoriasis. Contains astringent and anti-inflammatory properties.

How Not To Use Essential Oils

It is important to know when using essential oils to never apply them directly to the skin. Because they are so highly concentrated they must be diluted in carrier oils. These carrier oils may be for example olive oil, sweet almond oil, coconut oil, castor oil, hempseed oil or jojoba oil. They act as the main oil which will carry the diluted essential oil. If you are making a product at home and are unsure of how many drops of essential oil to use, always err on the side of caution and put less drops than you think.

Word of caution, essential oils should be used sparingly by children, babies and pregnant women. Certain types of citrus oils (lime, lemon, orange, grapefruit, bergamot etc.) are considered photosensitizing and may irritate your skin when exposed to UV rays. It is important to be aware of all the precautions when using essential oils in order to benefit from their therapeutic values.

Alternatives To Essential Oils

Hydrosols on the other hand are a much safer alternative to essential oils and are a very luxurious addition to all skincare regimes. Hydrosols- also known as herbal waters, aromatic waters, floral waters or hydrolats are also extracted during the distillation process. They are the hydrophilic compounds extracted from botanical matter during the process of steam distillation. They are making a big appearance in the beauty industry (as well as cocktail industry). They are therapeutic plant waters that can be used topically as well as internally.

They are among the safest and gentlest aromatics for your complexion. A hydrosol may be used as a toner, misted onto the face, or dabbed with a cotton ball to remove impurities. They are soothing to the skin and have calming anti-inflammatory values to ease redness, burns, skin ailments, as well as anti-microbial properties to calm troubled skin types or acne.

It is without a doubt that a well-informed consumer of essential oils can add many therapeutic qualities to their skincare rituals, as long as they are properly utilized. Once the basic knowledge behind the oils is understood, there is an expanding world of essential oils and hydrosols waiting to be used!

Which type of essenital oil is your favorite one? And how do you use it? Let us know in a comment below.