At Desavery, we love essential oils. When I started Desavery it was the scientific research, as well as the amazing aromas that got me so excited to work with some of these ingredients. Inhaling essential oils can have a measurable impact on your brain chemistry: they can make you feel sleepy, lower cortisol levels, energise you and even improve focus.
It was the impact on a person's brain chemistry after inhaling essential oils that was one of the reasons I started Desavery. My next challenge was to make sure that whatever ingredients were there for the 'mind changing' part, also had to contribute to the 'beauty' part. A recent New York Times article highlighted some of the great things about essential oils but also the dangers of misusing them in skincare. So here's the lowdown on essential oils and skincare:
Essential Oils for Skincare
In the right amounts and within the right formula, essential oils can be very effective for skincare. The compounds that are produced from distilling medicinal plants into oil make for some great natural active ingredients and because they are not processed with any chemicals, they are easily absorbed into skin. For cleansing frankincense is great, for an astringent that tightens pores geranium is wonderful and for inflamed skin, rose and chamomile are calming and soothing.
Whichever essential oils are used, they need to be part of a well thought out and ideally, regulated formula. Desavery products are regulated by the EU body that oversees cosmetics and skincare in Europe. All of our products had to be submitted, evaluated, accepted and then officially registered with this body. Sadly the rules in Canada and the US are much less strict and that means it’s possible to sell products with overly strong formulas and/or include some ingredients that might be harmful to skin which might explain some of the stories cited in the NYT's article.
As essential oils become more popular and readily available online, there’s been an increase in counterfeit product. This can involve anything from falsely labelling a product organic, substituting a cheap product for an expensive one or adding a synthetic ‘fragrance' and passing it off as an essential oil. This happens a lot with the very expensive oils such as rose or neroli. If you are buying online stick with established brands like Tisserand or Neal’s Yard.
Doing It Yourself
Obviously I love playing around with ingredients and combinations and it’s wonderful to combine ingredients for a bath oil or body oil but be aware there are some pitfalls. Here are just a few examples:
Bergamot – is phototoxic (your skin will react in the sun after applying) so you need to make sure you are using one that is free from bergaptene (it's what we use). There are other phototoxic essential oils that should steer clear from (lemongrass, orange).
Dilution. Always dilute every essential oil with a carrier oil. Applying essential oil directly to skin could give you a nasty reaction or worse, break down your skin’s ability to process ingredients so that you develop ‘reactive’ or ‘sensitive’ skin with whatever you apply (if that happens give yourself a total break from any skincare for 2-3 weeks!).
Enough of the scare stories! Essential oils have been used for thousands of years, smell beautiful and are nature's 'gift' to us. We are always discovering new ingredients and new producers and will always keep our customers safety and efficacy of the product as our top priority.