All About The Safe + Proper Use Of Essential Oils
We love essential oils and believe they provide a range of benefits for your skin and overall wellness. However they are also very powerful and must be used properly to avoid negative effects. Whether you use them for skincare or aromatherapy, it’s important to treat these beautiful plant ingredients with respect and care.
What is an essential oil?
Essential oils are the stems, leaves, flowers, barks, resins or roots from the vast botanical world that are generally steam distilled to generate an aromatic oil. It takes a large amount of botanicals to produce a single drop of essential oil, which is why they are precious and expensive ingredients and highly concentrated.
It is important to choose quality over quantity when it comes to essential oils. Using less of a high-quality product will provide more benefits than a higher volume of lesser product. If you come across a cheap bottle of essential oil, be wary of the quality as it may contain fillers or synthetics, and be harmful to your overall wellbeing. Only use pure essential oils, organic if possible. Buy your oils from a trustworthy source and be wary of cheap prices - as most quality essential oils aren't inexpensive, although prices can fluctuate from batch to batch. A well-stocked health food store will offer a variety of choices, or we recommend: Mountain Rose Herbs or Divine Essence
Are essential oils good for all skin types?
Generally, even sensitive skin can handle essential oils in low dilutions better than synthetic ingredients. However, allergies and sensitivities to essential oils do exist and it is possible to have a negative reaction.
What should you look for in essential oil skin care, and what should you avoid?
We use a 1% or lower dilution of essential oils in our line of skincare products to maintain safe daily use of aromatherapy skin care products. Low dilutions of essential oils in our products are still extremely powerful and beneficial to the skin. In some cases, high dilutions of essential oils can negate the powerful healing abilities of the oil.
When used topically on the skin, it’s best to follow a 1% dilution rate to avoid over-exposure and sensitivities. If you are using a spot treatment concentrate intended for localized areas and usage over a short period of time (like our Clear Skin Advanced Spot Treatment) the dilution can be raised to 3-5%. If you have sensitive or reactive skin, we recommend doing a small patch test of any product containing essential oils to make sure it is safe for your skin. As a general rule of thumb, people experiencing eczema, rosacea, psoriasis or any similar inflammatory skin concerns should be cautious about the use of essential oils and always perform a spot test, as there is a chance they can be sensitizing and over stimulating on your delicate skin. Organic carrier oils pose many amazing skin healing benefits as well, so don’t worry if your skin can’t handle essential oils - as there are many other wonderful botanical oils you can enjoy.
If you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding, take a look at our previous blog post on Everything You Need to Know About Essential Oils and Pregnancies.
Using essential oils in your bath
We love using essential oils in our bath but this also has to be done carefully. Never add a pure essential oil directly to your bath water because when you get into the bath the essential oil will coat your skin and mucous membrane and could cause a negative reaction (rash, burning sensation) or sensitivity. Always add your essentials oil to a carrier oil and mix thoroughly before adding to your bath water. We recommend diluting 6 drops of essential oils in 30 ml of carrier oil.
Using essential oils in your environment
Diffusing essential oils is now a very popular practice and we encourage you to use your essential oils in your diffuser responsibly. It is easy to become sensitive to essential oils when you diffuse them daily for long periods of times. We recommend diffusing 3-6 drops of essential oils in your diffuser, twice a day for 20 minutes or 30-45 mins once a day. Remember, less is more.
The potential hazards of essential oils
The potential hazards of an essential oil depend on its unique composition, the dosage and frequency used, and method of application. If you've been over-exposed to essential oils, either through inhalation or on the skin, you may experience nausea, headaches, itchiness, or skin irritation. If you have an immediate negative reaction, get some fresh air, or apply a carrier oil to the area (coconut or olive) to calm down the area and reduce the irritation and burning. Don’t use water to treat the area - water will absorb the essential oil further into the skin and can increase the sensitivity. Use only a pure carrier oil, such as coconut, olive, sunflower or avocado.
It is also possible to develop a sensitivity over time when your skin is exposed to high concentrations on a regular basis, as it can lead to toxicity build-up in the body. This is why skincare must always be blended according to safe dilution ratios, and products should be used according to their recommended use. Used properly, you will enjoy the benefits of the plant, and your body will be able to process and eliminate the essential oil easily. Keep in mind that it takes several pounds of plant material to make 1oz of essential oil - so a little goes a long way!
Photo sensitizing effect of essential oils
We recommend avoiding citrus essential oils in skin care products, as they can have a photo sensitizing effect - meaning you should avoid sun exposure when using them, up to 24hrs after application.
There are a few cases when it’s safe use citrus oils. For instance, the Bergamot we use is non- phototoxic. It is called Bergamot FCF and it doesn’t contain the naturally occurring chemical bergapten (a furanocoumarin), which is the phototoxic agent that produces dark pigmentation and reddening of the surrounding skin after UV exposure.
Essential oils have been used for centuries to promote wellness, and adding them to your everyday life can improve your skin and overall health. Enjoy them safely and you’ll reap the benefits!
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