Hello everyone, it is great to be back and in such an exceptional company. Today I’ll be discussing why we use essential oils in natural cosmetics and how.
Natural cosmetics do not need to include essential oils but formulators frequently reach out to them to make natural cosmetics smell more appealing to the costumers. If you give it some thought, this will already tell you about how powerful these little drops are. Just think about it – we use (usually) less than 1% of essential oils to cover up the unwanted odour of the 99% of other material in the formula – now that’s powerful!
Unfortunately, this is where it usually ends for a lot of homemade products – making an appealing scent. Essential oils offer a vast variety of benefits for skin, for example;
- essential oils and their components may promote the renewal of cells or stimulate the metabolic processes,
- act as antioxidants,
- nurture and nourish skin and more.
As we will discuss in the upcoming lessons essential oils may cleanse the skin, fight infections as well as tone the skin tissue. When essential oils are applied to the skin, they may help stimulate local blood circulation, fight free radicals or soften fine lines and wrinkles.
Isn’t that great news?
Let’s check out some essential oils with these benefits 🙂 Melani has prepared a short video to introduce you to some cool tips and tricks.
As cosmetically active ingredients in cosmetic formulations, essential oils may be the key ingredient for the desired benefit or go the other way and, for example, irritate the skin if you’re not careful. You know what they say “Most powerful potions are kept in small bottles” and in this case – it is true.
It is highly important to know which essential oils are safe for use in cosmetics and at which concentration they may be used. The quality of essential oils is vital when they are being used for homemade, and in my opinion, any cosmetics. Nevertheless, in skin care, essential oils should never be used in their undiluted state when being applied to the skin. Additionally, make sure to avoid essential oils coming into contact with mucous membranes or the eyes. Essential oils are the source of potential allergens and we must keep this in mind.
We will not discuss safety guidelines in detail in this email course, but Dropsmith does provide safety guidelines for all individual essential oils and I encourage you to always triple check before you create a product for a client. Also, I invite you to learn more about essential oils and formulating with them in our first email course ‘EOs with the Pros’.
FRA (International Fragrance Association) was founded in 1973 in Geneva to represent the collective interests of the fragrance industry. Its main purpose is to promote the safe enjoyment of fragrances worldwide. Experts have compiled complicated but very practical guidelines: which essential oils and which molecules in essential oils represent a potential risk, and which concentration should be used. Click here to learn more about it.
There is quite a difference in the approach as well as dosage when we use essential oils for therapy or cosmetics. Therapeutic dosages may be quite higher than recommended by IFRA so please note that when you are making natural cosmetics. Dropsmith’s safety provides both – safety guidelines for aromatherapists and IFRA standards.
Furthermore, the same risk does not apply to leave on cosmetics which remain on the skin such as oil serums and facial creams, and those that are rinse off like shower gels and shampoos. The risk also varies depending on where the product is applied. For example, we have to be much more cautious with the products that are applied around the eyes or on the lips. While in the case of a body product, we may tolerate a higher concentration of essential oils, up to 4%, depending on the desired effects and, of course, essential oil chemistry.
Within essential oils, we always search for limiting or critical compounds that represent the greatest risk to use. For all of you new to aromatherapy, essential oils are made up of many different chemical components and we will clear that up later on in the lesson. In Dropsmith, they are represented in the ‘Detailed report’ where you will also find their beneficial properties (look at the picture below).
Once we’ve established the most limiting and risky compound(s), we have to observe the maximum possible proportion of this compound in the essential oil and set a limit on that compound for the product. Here is where Dropsmith will save you countless hours of searching and calculating. This is where it really shines and makes it worth every penny – at least for me.
What are essential oils?
Before we bite into blending, let’s take a step back and remind ourselves what essential oils actually are. As Dr. Petra Ratajc and Dr. Katja Žmitek have explained very nicely in our first ‘EOs with the Pros’ (if you haven’t enrolled yet you can catch the next one here), essential oils are a complex mixture of volatile constituents biosynthesised by plants. A single oil may contain hundreds of chemical components belonging to a variety of chemical classes according to their size and functional groups.
In aromatherapy, we use size and functional groups to help us determine the possible use and safety precautions. In Dropsmith you will find that the chemical composition of essential oils is neatly categorised in the Detailed report. Furthermore, the useful properties of the chemical components are summed up for your convenience and better blending.
Each component of an essential oil has unique biochemical properties that determine their volatility, reactivity as well as entry into the body, therapeutic and toxic effects. Therefore by looking into the essential oils’ chemical profile, we can predict some of its properties and possible implications. This knowledge may be very valuable when choosing the right oil for you or your client.
To view all the essential oils that contain any amount of a certain chemical component, leave the percentages from 0 to 100%.
How to incorporate and benefit from this feature?
Well, for example, some studies show that linalool and linalyl acetate work great in synergy for pain and inflammation – this can come in handy for your massage blends. Just for fun, type in linalool and linalyl acetate in the filter, leave the percentages from 0 to 100% and look at how many oils we’ve found with that synergy. Are you surprised how many oils popped up?
Don’t forget to clear the filter for the next search.
Now that you’ve found the essential oils with this intriguing synergy, you may want to look up a single essential oil, compare different oils or blend them.
What characterises an essential oil?
From our first email course, we’ve learned that essential oils are complex mixtures made up of many components that can be present at different concentrations depending on the oil. According to Bakkali et al. (2008), essential oils are characterized by components of the highest concentrations. Usually, we find two or three main components in a single essential oil as opposed to many components in trace amounts. Major components of the oils determine the biological activity of the oils, however, the rest of the components produce an additive effect. It is possible that the activity of the main components is modulated by other minor molecules. For biological purposes, the study of the entire essential oil is more informative in contrast to concentrating on just a few main components because it is aligned with the concept of synergism. Synergy appears to be more relevant and meaningful when aiming to understand and effectively use essential oils.
Why blend oils and which one to choose?
To create an effective essential oil blend we take the individual qualities of essential oil and build from there to make the final blend superior. Essential oils are blended for a variety of reasons:
- their cosmetic effects,
- for specific therapeutic purposes,
- or to create a perfume.
Safety precautions should be followed for any type of blending! Get to know the safety issues for each of the oils you are working with.
This blog is generously written by:
Marija Kolarović, Mr. Ph.
Pharmacist, Clinical Aromatherapist, Phytotherapist and educator
With almost 20 years of experience working with patients in a clinical setting, Marija has taken her passion for nature and phytotherapy to the next level by providing quality aromatherapy remedies for her patients at the apothecary as well as sharing her knowledge through aromatherapy education. Her formulations include a vast variety of aroma cosmetics, as well as suppositories and vaginalettes (with which she has great success treating patients with HPV infections). She’s founded a non-profit organization Verbena through which she organizes and provides aromatherapy and natural cosmetics education. She believes education is the key to unlock the mystery of formulating.