Naturally occurring volatile compounds, essential oils can be found in the bark, flower, root and stem of a plant. Quite simply, they are the purest, most powerful healing components of a plant, and are called 'volatile' because of the potency with which they react to air and skin. Intrigued?
I've been using essential oils via aromatherapy for a while now - a fact my third diffuser will attest to (I keep breaking them). Some of my favorites are Lavender, which works beautifully for calming the mind and body. A few drops on your pillow will ensure a restful sleep. Another one for inducing a different kind of calm is Frankincense, I like this one for meditation. Peppermint oil helps focus the mind and is also an energizer, perfect before a workout.
Lately, in an effort to use more natural products on my skin, I've been experimenting with using essential oils topically. And while I'll never give up my serums and moisturizers, I've discovered that adding a few drops of different oils actually enhances products and makes my skin feel and look better.
A few things to know:
- Because essential oils are pure, some skin sensitivity might occur so always do a skin test
- Most essential oils have multiple benefits so whether you inhale or apply them, you will see some changes.
- They have a low chemical weight so are easily absorbed in the bloodstream. They are most potent when applied on areas where the skin is thin - the face, temples, behind the ears and between toes.
- Most essential oils will need a fatty carrier oil for application - this doesn't reduce effectiveness. Almond, avocado, coconut, olive and jojoba oils are all good options, and I use a ratio of 1 drop essential oil to 3 drops carrier oil.
For a while, my bathroom looked like an apothecary littered with amber bottles, and I thoroughly recommend you experiment too for what works best for your skin, meanwhile, here are a few of my staples to get you started - Grapefruit oil combined with Coconut oil for cellulite; Rosemary oil mixed with your shampoo for stimulating hair growth; and my two favorites for the face, Rosehip Seed and Frankincense for anti-ageing, sun spots, and a jolt of Vitamin C. I use them alternately for 3 months at a time, mixing them with my serum or night cream. Both of these can also be used without a carrier oil and applied directly on your face.
Not all essential oils are created equal so look for those that are certified organic, steam-extracted or cold pressed, and packaged in dark bottles to protect from sunlight.