With Great Essential Oils Comes Great Responsibility
Beautiful Reflections with Maya Adivi
With great power, comes great responsibility. This is true for superheroes, dictators, and also anyone using essential oils. An essential oil is the very distilled essence of a plant. It holds an extremely concentrated amount of the chemicals that naturally occur in the plant from which it has been extracted. This is great, because it means that whatever antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and regenerative capabilities the plant has are exponentially more powerful in an essential oil. It is also dangerous because the effects of what would otherwise be mild allergens or toxins increase exponentially.
The key to successfully benefitting from essential oils is education. I will focus on the cosmetic benefits and safety of essential oils in this article. One mandatory safety step one should always take before applying any new topical product, regardless of whether it contains essential oils or not, is to patch test . This means that before you slather anything all over your face, first apply a small amount to your wrist (to test for sensitivity) and behind the ear (to test for allergy).
The best way to improve the skin with essential oils is by applying them topically. Some essential oils, like those derived from chamomile or lavender, are anti-inflammatory, which means they reduce puffiness and swelling. This makes them excellent for sensitive and acne-prone skin types! However, those with ragweed allergies should be careful using chamomile, while some people show sensitivity when using lavender oil. The key to avoiding potential harm is to dilute these essential oils in a carrier oil, like jojoba or apricot kernel. Just a single drop of lavender oil is equivalent to a cup of petals, so the positive effects will still be pronounced, while the carrier oils themselves also have a fantastic effect on the skin.
Those dealing with acne will especially benefit from essential oils with antibacterial properties, such as Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), Lemon basil (Ocimum x citriodorum) or Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), and many more. Diluting these essential oils does not reduce their efficacy, and blending them with anti-inflammatory oils and moisturizing ingredients makes for comprehensive anti-acne skin care.
The list of essential oils beneficial for mature skin types is nearly endless, but some of my favourites are Cloves (Eugenia caryophyllata), Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha), and Coriander (Coriandrum sativum). These concentrated substances contain large amounts of many different antioxidants, which provide intense anti-aging protection. When the skin comes in contact with free radicals (especially due to sun exposure or pollution), it immediately starts to deteriorate. This process is called oxidation, and it causes skin sagging, pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles. Antioxidants stop this process in its track, and keep the skin young and healthy for much longer.
Equally impressively, some essential oils including Frankincense (Boswellia carterii), Neroli (Citrus aurantium var amara), and Rose (Rosa damascena) have cell regenerative properties. They help create new skin cells, which is especially beneficial after free radical damage; this process helps heal scarring and minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also makes the skin stronger, healthier, and better able to protect us from further damage.
When looking at new skin care, it’s always good to be smart. Look for the powerful essential oils, make sure they are well diluted, and always always do a patch test. Come back to our blog in the future to learn about some non-skin care benefits of essential oils!
* Maya Adivi is a makeup artist trained in Toronto, Canada, with years of experience working with different skin care and make up lines. She is excited to be in Yerevan as a volunteer with Armenian Volunteer Corps. She is passionate about skin health, and is always looking for products that value scientific research over marketing buzzwords.