Essential Oils – An Overview
Essential Oils (EO), the oils extracted from a medicinal plant (i.e. rose, lavender, chamomile, cedar, grapefruit, etc.), are the most potent form of therapeutic power for skin care products. To use, EO’s are diluted with carrier oils like avocado, jojoba, sweet almond, apricot, olive or coconut. This protects the skin and allows for better absorption of the essential oil. (Using EO’s for aromatherapy is another realm altogether, which I’ll briefly touch upon in another post.)
How EO’s Are Made
The essential oils market is overflowing with brand options. Purchasing from a reputable company will ensure you’re getting a high-quality product without added ingredients (and not a synthetic).
Price is NOT what counts, although prices range greatly with pure EO’s because of how easy or difficult it is to produce the oil. While most essential oils are affordable and only a few dollars per bottle, it takes 180 lbs of rose petals to produce one ounce of pure rose essence. A typical bottle of .125 oz of Rose Otto EO, (its oils are extracted using a gentle steam distillation), can cost from $60.00 to $120.00 making a product containing Rose Otto more expensive than one with Rose Absolute EO, (its oils are extracted by agitating the petals in a solvent, giving it greater yield and a bottle might cost $8.00 to $20.00). Plants can also be more expensive depending on their country of origin. Lavender grown in Provence, France (Lx angustifolia) is more expensive than Lavender grown elsewhere (Lavandin, Lx intermedia) because of their chemical make ups. But that might not be a big deal to you if you’re just enjoying it as a floral essence. And organic essential oils will always cost more than those that are farmed conventionally.
Quality is what really counts and that often takes investigating and ingredient label reading. Companies do all sorts of things to make a profit. Oils are sold blended with synthetics or carrier oils like jojoba to reduce the price. Plants are often exported from their country of origin and then irradiated for potential pests or microorganisms before being used to produce oils. This could change the healing potential of the plant, while making it cheaper to produce. Other companies tout “certified” this and that. It’s all a bunch of baloney. This is why buying from a reputable company can give you peace of mind, knowing you have a pure oil.
Skin types and ailments demand different types of essential oils. Dry Skin, Sensitive Skin, Oily Skin, Mature Skin, Children’s Skin – there are many different types, with ailments abound. Choosing the right EO will make a huge difference in your self-care.
- Dry Skin requires EO’s that are sweet, soothing, and warming with carrier oils like avocado, almond, and olive.
- Sensitive Skin enjoys EO’s that are sweet, soothing, and cooling with carrier oils like almond, coconut, sunflower, apricot, and olive.
- Oily Skin needs EO’s that are pungent, stimulating, and warming with carrier oils like grapeseed, almond, and apricot.
Blending essential oils can be very specific for therapeutic purposes, but there’s an art to its desired potency for fragrance. To each her own on the latter. Read more about blending oils…
While many books and websites recommend taking essential oils internally, we at simple. pure. love. do not. Please do not take essential oils internally and always dilute all essential oils before applying topically. Most essential oils have warnings about not using during pregnancy. And many are not safe for children under the age of twelve. Pregnant women, and children under the age of 12 should not use essential oils unless directed to do so by a personal physician. Some essential oils are phototoxic when undiluted, which can cause severe skin damage after being exposed to the sun. Other oils are not safe if you have cancer, require certain medications, or have cardiac issues or epilepsy. Overuse can be harmful as well. Please be careful.