Using natural botanical skin care is a wonderful experience. With uplifting aromatic essential oils and other natural carrier ingredients, it is easy to nourish the skin in a very special way. While dramatic effects can sometimes be had using synthetically created products, natural botanical blends can bring about a lasting healthy glow free from the possibility of side-effects.
Simple-to-make essential oil mixtures will use some formula of aromatic oils from plants and flowers, based in a carrier oil, usually cold pressed from seeds or nuts. Balanced aromatherapy blends offer the therapeutic healing effects of essential oils and the nutritive essential fatty acids of the carriers. Creating your own mixtures is a fun, rewarding and money-saving endeavor; you need only a bottle or two for the mixing, and an eye-dropper to dispense the essential oils.
Several essential oils and carriers are held in high-esteem for their regenerative and nutritive properties. With only a small collection of oils, you can make highly-effective recipes applicable to particular skin conditions such as premature aging, UV and other damage, acne-prone skin and more.
Some of the more important aromatherapy oils used in beauty and skin formulas for both men and women include: Helichrysum italicum – a potent skin metabolism stimulator and strong anti-inflammate (inflammation at a cellular level is associated with nearly all skin damage and premature aging). Rosemary essential oil of the Verbenone chemotype – this serves a similar function to the oil of the Helichrysum flowers, increasing skin metabolism and enhancing the removal of cellular waste material. True Lavender, or Lavendula angustifolia, is also a strong anti-inflammatory and skin re-generator with a lovely relaxing aroma – it lowers tension in addition to directly treating the skin cells, furthering natural beauty. The oil distilled from the Wild Carrot seed (also known as Queen Anne’s Lace) is very regenerating, bringing life to tired, lifeless skin resulting from high-stress and toxic environments. Palmarosa is considered a ‘wonder oil’ because of it’s brilliant aroma and strong yet gentle antiseptic properties; Niaouli is another essential oil commonly recommended for the same reasons, in addition to it’s ability to tighten and firm the skin.
This is only a few of the many essential oils included in skin formulas, though these are considered among the most important for their broad range of effects. Almost any essential oil can be added to a blend in balanced quantities. In many cases, oils are added as much for their lovely aroma as their direct therapeutic benefits to skin tissue. Many aromatherapists, and natural health professionals for that matter, consider the overall mental and emotional condition to be of primary importance in creating an appearance of fitness and beauty. Many citrus and floral oils are used for this reason – Neroli, distilled from the flowers of the bitter orange tree, is an often used example. Others are Jasmine, Sandalwood (very popular in Men’s skin care), Geranium and Ylang Ylang.
Essential oils, be they for direct effects on skin metabolism, or for the overall state of wellness of the user, will be diluted in a carrier oil, sometimes known as a base oil. It is important to note that diluting the oils will often actually enhance their effects; essential oils are often too strong to be used directly, and many studies have shown increased efficacy in dilutions down to 1% or less of the total formula. The carrier oils serve several other functions as well; they “carry” the essential oils into the skin, increasing their total absorption. They also nourish the middle and lower layers of the skin with essential fatty acids or EFA’s – compounds now considered critical to the health of all living tissues. Further, some carrier oils have vitamin analogs which assist in skin regeneration and repair.
Some of the carrier oils often found in skin formulations include Hazelnut, Rosehip seed, and Evening Primrose. Hazelnut is a very gentle oil with little aroma of it’s own, and being suitable for virtually all skin types, it use used in a vast number of blends as the primary carrier. To this, Rosehip seed oil is added for it’s concentration of triple-unsaturated fatty acids, and it’s natural trans-retinoic acid; a vitamin-A compound similar in effects to Retin-A without drying side effects. Evening Primrose is often also included in lower concentrations for it’s high levels of GLA or gamma-linolenic acid, and is considered important in cases of eczema and skin showing signs of premature aging.
Making your own blends with these ingredients is truly a fun and rewarding experience – you only need a bottle to mix them in, and some means of counting out drops of essential oil. An eye dropper works wonderfully, and graduated plastic pipettes are readily available. A basic blend to begin with, which is designed for overall health of the skin, is made thusly: to one ounce of Hazelnut Oil, add fifteen drops Thyme Linalool, fifteen drops Rosemary Verbenone, fifteen drops Neroli (or a high-quality Petitgrain if you prefer – it is much less expensive with many of the same properties), and fifteen drops Spike Lavender (a Lavender with strong antiseptic qualities – a little more ‘medicinal’ than the sweeter True lavender). This blend was originally formulated to clear up oily skin, but is now used to support normal skin in daily application.
If your skin has been chemically damaged, is overly-sensitive, or otherwise ‘weakened’ with broken capillaries, try this mixture, applying frequently: For each ounce of base oil, use three parts Hazelnut, one part Rosehip Seed, and one part Evening Primrose. Add the following essential oils: fifteen drops Moroccan Chamomile, fifteen drops Helichrysum, fifteen drops true Lavender, and fifteen drops Roman Chamomile. The Helichrysum, Lavender and Rosehip seed will enhance the skin’s own natural metabolism, and the addition of the Chamomiles will greatly reduce inflammation that is found with almost all damage and/or aging.
If your skin is prone to acne, or has over-active sebaceous glands, the following blend can be of great assistance. It contains regenerative, antiseptic, and cleansing oils. Simply use Hazelnut as the base, and to each ounce include fifteen drops of Green Myrtle or Inula graveolens, fifteen drops Eucalyptus dives (because of the ketones in this oil, it should not be used if pregnant – or under 10 years of age – but is otherwise considered safe), fifteen drops Spike Lavender, and fifteen drops Rosemary verbenone.
If your skin doesn’t have particular damage to it, but appears lifeless due to exhaustion and/or exposure to significant amounts of pollution or environmental toxins, this is the blend for you. Use one part Rosehip Seed and 4 parts Hazelnut as the base. To each ounce, include fifteen drops Carrot Seed (also known as Wild Carrot or Queen Anne’s Lace – a well known skin restorative), fifteen drops Lemon verbena (which enhances the removal of toxins from skin tissues), fifteen drops Niaouli (an all-around brilliant antiseptic oil with firming effects), and fifteen drops Rosemary verbenone (again, for it’s regenerative and stimulating effects). If you are wishing to strengthen, tighten, and firm your skin, try this dilute mixture (the concentration of essential oils is relatively low here for use near the eyes) five ounces of Hazelnut oil and one ounce of Rosehip seed oil, fifteen drops of Green Myrtle, fifteen drops of Rock Rose (a plant grown in very sun-drenched areas, excellent for gently tightening the skin). If you like, add fifteen drops of Rosemary verbenone for it’s regenerative properties, but omit if this causes sensitivity used near the eyes.
These are only a few aromatherapy skin care recipes for a woman’s natural beauty medicine chest. There are many texts available to help you create more complex blends, or one’s with your favorite aromatics. Blending your own facial and skin formulas is easy, rewarding, and in the long run, cost-effective. Using natural botanicals in a consistent, mindful manner can lead to long-lasting, noticeable natural health of your skin. Just remember with aromatherapy, essential oil concentrations should be kept low for best results – pay attention to how your own body reacts and you’re sure to find the ingredients and measures most effective for you!
Misty Cech, ND is a degreed naturopath and owner of the Ananda Apothecary, offering pure aromatherapy essential oils and flower essences. http://www.anandaapothecary.com