Superstars of the natural skin-care world, essential oils offer many perks for the complexion—plus, they often smell amazing. Here’s what you need to know to get the most out of nature’s skin boosters.
What are essential oils?
Like their name suggests, essential oils are basically the essence of a plant. They’re made by distilling (via steam or water) or cold pressing flowers, bark, leaves, seeds or fruit to extract the plant’s essence. It often takes several pounds of raw material to make just one bottle of oil. If the oil is extracted through a chemical process, it’s not considered a true essential oil.
How do you get the most out of essential oils?
Commonly, essential oils are inhaled (either directly or when dispersed through the air by a diffuser) because their smell may have therapeutic benefits like boosting mood, reducing stress or improving sleep.
They can also provide benefits to the skin when used topically. For example, peppermint oil helps to soothe itchy skin and lavender oil helps to reduce redness, while geranium oil helps promote radiance.
The key to using essential oils is moderation. They should never be applied directly to the skin without a carrier oil (think coconut or jojoba). Of course, a ready-made serum, cream or mist that’s been carefully balanced is an easy way to get low doses of essential oils into your beauty routine. Opt for skin-care products by brands that have a good reputation for using pure, high-quality essential oils (rather than blends diluted with synthetic fragrances) in their formulas.
Will essential oils irritate your skin?
If you apply essential oils to your skin directly, they can be irritating. Instead, look for gentle natural skin-care products that have been tested. If you’re still concerned about potential reactions, do a small patch test before applying products to your entire face or body.
Top essential oils and their benefits
There are numerous essential oils available in skin care with a wide range of benefits. Here are a few of them:
- Peppermint to help soothe inflammation, irritation and itchiness
- Rosemary to help calm sensitive skin
- Tea tree to help soothe irritated skin and providing antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties
- Juniper to help reduce inflammation and combatting skin oxidation from external aggressors like UV light and pollution
- Lemon to help clarify and exfoliating dead skin cells
- Clary sage to help soothe and calm skin
- Grapefruit to help fight signs of aging
- Lavender to help reduce redness and soothe the skin
- Helichrysum to help in the healing of skin
- Basil to help improve firmness and elasticity
- Bitter orange to help cleanse the skin