Have You Harnessed the Power of Plants?
Today I wanted to talk a little about 6 of my favourite essential oils and their uses and how these make an appearance in many of todays beauty products.
It’s fair to say that we currently have more choice than ever before in our skin care, makeup and body products and looking back through the past ten years of product launches, it may surprise you when you realise the level of innovation and advancement that has occurred in just over a decade.
How times have changed!
Since joining the industry myself over 15 years ago, the evolution from having to source organic, vegan or natural versions of mascaras, foundations or any other makeup products is unbelievable.
It has gone from researching and visiting health food shops and often being disappointed with the staying power of the formula (and frequently the price!) to being spoiled for choice in numerous supermarkets, drugstores and online stores where the formulation and pricing of these products is both accessible and effective.
It was rarely the case that you could easily discover a truly great natural brand and recommendations were essential in the quest for formulations that delivered while ticking the boxes you required from a non-commercial line.
That said, it’s also very important to read a products ingredients and really know what to look out for to avoid buying ‘Greenwashed’ products, when looking to buy 100% pure natural products.
When looking for natural products free of unnecessary chemicals and additives, my niche area of interest is essential oils and their uses.
As a trained clinical aromatherapist I am always keen to discover which oils have been blended into the product, the dilution, reasoning behind it and overall results.
Why? Because it tells me if they are using parfum (a single ingredient which, in itself, can sometimes have over 200 components!), informs me of the power of the plants from which the oils derive in relation to the promises of the product and quickly tells me if I am going to ‘get on’ with the blend.
What’s the first thing you do when you break a new product free from it’s packaging? You smell it and if you don’t like it, chances are you ain’t gonna use it!
You don’t need to have a qualification in plant botanicals to have a basic understanding of some of the most popular essential oils and their effectiveness in a blend for your own specific needs.
6 wonderful essential oils and their uses – found in many products…
Here are a few of the most popular choices of essential oils and their uses. You’ll frequently see these in your products, so keep an eye out next time you’re shopping and learn below what they’re inclusion in a product can do for you…
1. Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita)
There are many variations of Chamomile and you may be most familiar with it in tea form. As an oil, it is similar to lavender in it’s calming and soothing properties and variants can smell anywhere from floral, to woody to sweet.
Other products you may see chamomile in are anti-inflammatories, sensitive skin blends and sleep-inducing products.
An oil which can be incredibly effective when used correctly, look for it’s place in the ingredients mix of your chosen product and beware of cheaper products which may use ‘essence’ of this oil as you may not reap the benefits you require if it’s too low down the ingredients mix and not in the potency you require.
Chamomile Oil is also a fantastic oil to use for your yoga practice to make your session a little more calming.
2. Frankincense (Boswellia carter)
Some people are surprised to discover that Frankincense is an essential oil as they’ve only every heard it referenced in the story of Christmas and didn’t really know what it was. The answer is a very pleasant and very effective essential oil.
It’s sweet, woody scent lends it to mixing beautifully with a variety of oils in massage blends, facial products for it’s soothing and antibacterial properties and as a scar healing addition to many natural healing products.
You’ll often find it in the mix of Christmas candles or room sprays in winter blends and it’s also frequently found in relaxation blends due to it’s anti-depressant and calming properties.
3. Rose Absolute/Rose Otto (Rosa Centifolia)
Rose pops up in so many blends but you’re looking for Rose Absolute or Rose Otto if you want the essential oil extraction and not a weakened version.
The pure oil isn’t cheap and you should expect to pay accordingly for a product which includes either version of the oil, and the payoff for this is an effective result on inflamed skin, a wide selection of menstrual issues and stress or anxiety conditions.
As rose is a very floral scent, it’s not for everyone, but you will be surprised at how subtle it can become when blended in a mix to become a background note and not the leading fragrance.
4. Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)
Geranium oil is another sweet, woody and not too floral scent which is extremely effective at treating many conditions.
It’s versatility means that you’ll probably discover it in more blends than you would initially think and it’s sometimes referred to as the affordable rose oil due to the similarities of it’s properties while coming in at a lower cost (as it’s easier to extract).
It is often used in blends to balance the nervous system, induce calm and lift the spirits and may be referred to as the women’s oil because of it’s effectiveness on a wide range of menstrual issues.
Again, expect to see it in relaxation and anxiety calming blends.
5. Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
A known antibacterial astringent and often described as fresh and clinical, you’re not going to find Tea Tree Oil in a designer perfume anytime soon but you will find it in a selection of products designed for oily, breakout prone skin or deep cleansing, antibacterial products.
Tea tree, along with lavender, is one of the few oils which can be carefully and sparingly applied directly to the skin, without fear of burning, but care must still be taken as over-application could cause irritations.
In some countries, medical-grade tea tree oil is used within their hospital provisions and care should be taken when selecting a product with tea tree oil included, to insure that it is of the quality that will prove effective and not simply a low-dose additive.
It’s also a fantastic oil for using in homemade household cleaning products.
6. Lavender (Lavandula Anguvstifolia)
As many of us may already be aware, Lavender oil is skin-friendly and can be applied carefully to areas requiring treatment, such as minor burns (but beware of how to apply and do your research first!).
It is believed to be a relaxing oil, sleep-inducing and often included in blends to sooth, de-stress and calm.
The scent is not for everyone (I’m not a massive fan per se) but inclusion in a blend designed to tackle a specific issue can tone down the pungency for those who aren’t keen on it’s pure form scent and bring it beautifully into a blend where it sits perfectly in the mix.
Expect to see it in sensitive blends, sleep pillows, candles etc. and look for it’s natural form and not a synthetic replication.
This oil is also great for adding to a foot bath at home, to help relax whilst looking after your feet.
Explore essential oils yourself
This is just the tip of the iceberg of when it comes to essential oils that you can expect to see in your products of choice.
Don’t be afraid to do some research on the ingredients list, remember that the latin name is commonly used when detailing these and the higher up the list, the higher the concentration.
Test out anything new to your skin and if you’re looking for a visible improvement then take a before and after picture so that you can genuinely compare the differences rather than guess if you think it’s made a change.
Above all, enjoy discovering all those brilliant new, natural products launching every week!
Take it further…
If you enjoyed learning about Essential Oils and their uses, why not try using essential oils and other natural ingredients to make your own homemade beauty products?
If that interests you. you’ll find a fantastic guide with recipes in our article ’11 easy to make DIY Beauty products’