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January 03, 2018

Guide to Essential and Botanical Oils

Guide to Essential and Botanical Oils

Image: Kevin Johnston/Flickr

What can natural skin care do for you?

Our skin is the largest and most versatile organ in the body and we need to ensure the products we use benefit it. Skin care products should protect, nourish, and repair your skin. Using natural products in your skin care routine will help provide different amounts of minerals, vitamins, and essential fatty acids that are vital for your skins health.

So how do essential oils work?

Essential oils are extracted from plants, fruits, shrubs and trees. Natural essence has been used for millennia in many diverse cultures in many ways. They formed part of medicines, cosmetics and perfumes in the olden days and are becoming increasingly popular again today for their healing and therapeutic qualities.

Walk through a rose garden, pick a sprig of rosemary or peel an orange and you’ll be aware of the special scent associated with that plant. It is the essential oils that give flowers and fruit their perfume, and herbs and spices their specific scent and flavour. Aromatic oils can be found in various parts of the plant—from the bark, seeds, root, leaves, flowers, wood and even resin.

A single essential oil is typically made up of hundreds of different chemical components, each one bringing its own set of properties, resulting in a complex substance.

How do essential oils enter the body?

The quickest way an essential oil enters the body is though inhalation through the nose. However there are also many ways in which you can apply essential oils to the skin. Each essential oil molecule is minute and can penetrate the skin through the sweat glands and hair follicles. Once in the dermis layer they can enter the blood, which then transports them around the rest of the body through the circulatory systems.

Most essential oils should be diluted before applying them to the skin, although there are a few exceptions; lavender and tea tree can be applied neat to insect bites, to disinfect wounds and for minor burns.

Botanical oils—what are the benefits to the skin?

Botanical oils (oils derived from vegetables and plants) are an essential part of all good skin care products. They are sometimes known as 'carrier' or 'base' oils but this implies they have little value to add. Vegetable and plant-based oils are full of skin nourishing properties, they contain vitamins, minerals and omegas in various quantities, and when combined with essential oils can make a power-house of beneficial skin care.

Top 10 oils recommended for skin care

Botanical oils

Calendula is a macerated oil containing marigold flowers steeped in sunflower oil. It has excellent healing and anti-inflammatory properties and is suitable for any dry or damaged skin by making it suppler.

Baobab has a softening effect on the skin and improves its elasticity whilst improving cell regeneration.

Rosehip seed oil is full of vitamins, essential fatty acids and antioxidants that are known to hydrate dry or itchy skin, reducing scars and fine lines.

Tamanu oil has a curry fragrance to it, and is excellent at encouraging wound repair. It is also a great oil for nappy rash, eczema and blemished skin. It is also anti-inflammatory and hypoallergenic (non-irritant).

Safflower oil helps to reduce large pores and sinks into the skin easily.

Essential oils

These should be diluted in botanical oils—therapeutic massage will usually contain one to three percent of essential oil to botanical oil and a maximum of one percent is advised for pregnant people.

Lavender is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and calming on the skin.

Roman chamomile is profoundly soothing and calming and great for allergic skin conditions.

Geranium has a regulating effect on the secretion of sebum which makes it suitable for dry or oily skin and is antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.

Neroli has a very low toxicity and is rejuvenating and therefore useful for dry or mature skin, broken capillaries and wrinkles.

Tea tree is a powerful immune stimulant, effective against bacteria and viruses.

When purchasing skin care products it is always better to buy products that are labelled organic or natural ingredients so you are getting the full effects of the essential and botanical oils. Never apply essential oils direct to the skin except those you know to be non-toxic. Do not take essential oils internally without supervision from a qualified practitioner.

Written by Jen Feltham, Director, Mia & Dom Organic Botanicals.

Jen Feltham is the founder of Mia & Dom Organic Botanicals who specialise in skin care for pregnancy, babies and sensitive skin. The product range combines skin-loving botanical oils, butters and essential oils to provide natural skin care that you can trust. Their ethos is, and always will be to use the very best ingredients and provide customers with beautiful, organic, safe and natural skin care for all the family.

www.miadomskincare.com

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