Essential oils are a precious gift from nature that can transform your skincare routine. They contain therapeutic properties that enhance the beauty of your skin.
Although they can be inhaled as aromatherapy, essential oils work best topically and should always be diluted in a nourishing carrier oil. This allows them to penetrate your skin, ensuring proper application and minimal irritation.
Antioxidants fight free radicals—those nasty reactive molecules that damage DNA and cause aging. Antioxidants in food and skincare products help reduce oxidative stress, which is why they are a great anti-aging ingredient.
You can get antioxidants in your diet by eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, or you can find them in many skincare products including vitamin C, resveratrol, ferulic acid, goji berry, and vitamin E. Using them topically helps to strengthen your skin’s moisture barrier, which means your complexion stays hydrated and healthy-looking longer.
Essential oils help soothe skin and reduce redness from breakouts. They also regulate sebum production to keep oily skin in check.
“Even better, some essential oils have anti-inflammatory properties that result in a reduction of fine lines and wrinkles,” says Dr. Schlessinger.
However, it’s important to note that these benefits are only realized when the oil is properly diluted and formulated in a skin-ready product. Otherwise, the potent oil can be a potential skin irritant.
Many essential oils have been shown to be antimicrobial, particularly those containing monoterpenes, like helichrysum, lavender, yarrow, and tea tree. Yarrow oil has been shown to be effective in microdilution against candida and other pathogens, while rose oil has been proven to help with skin damage, scarring, regeneration, and greasy/oily conditions.
However, Tisserand warns against phototoxic reactions to certain essential oils (like bergamot) when applied directly to the skin, and suggests dilution in vegetable oils first.
Antiseptics are used to cleanse and help prevent infection from harmful bacteria, fungi and viruses. They work by attacking and destroying the microorganism’s cellular structure.
Ingredients such as benzalkonium chloride, iodine admixtures, ethyl alcohol, povidone-iodine and chloroxylenol attack the cell walls of microorganisms by disrupting their internal proteins.
Often referred to as skin disinfectants, they reduce the risk of surgical site infections (SSIs). However, antiseptics should not be confused with antibiotics, which treat infections that already exist within the body’s tissues.
Essential oils can help soothe dry skin and reduce itchiness. This is especially helpful for those with sensitive or irritable skin.
However, it’s important to note that a properly-formulated product is key. Essential oils must be diluted in a carrier oil to minimize their potency and prevent possible irritation.
Proper dilution is also crucial to avoid phototoxic reactions that can occur when certain oils are exposed to sunlight. This includes essential oils like bergamot that should not be applied undiluted to skin exposed to the sun.
There is a wide range of anti-aging essential oils available. Ylang ylang is a great oil to reduce stress, promote relaxation and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Frankincense is another excellent oil for reducing the signs of aging and helps with cellular regeneration.
Most essential oils are very concentrated extracts and need to be diluted in a carrier oil before applying them to the skin. Using undiluted oils can cause skin irritation.
Oils such as lavender are known to be anti-inflammatory and can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Chamomile, meanwhile, contains azulene (A-ZOO-LEE-nin), which is known to increase moisture levels and reduce redness.
But a good rule of thumb when it comes to applying diluted essential oils is to err on the side of caution and avoid direct contact with the skin. Rather, apply the oils to a carrier oil.
Essential oils, when properly formulated and suited to an individual’s skincare needs can indeed offer a wide range of benefits. However, they should be used at precise concentrations in order to minimize sensitizing reactions.
Those with dry skin may benefit from neroli oil’s natural cleansing properties and ability to balance surface oils. Similarly, helichrysum essential oil can help support optimal hydration and restore a healthy-looking complexion. For those with sensitive skin, geranium and lavender essential oils are ideal as they possess gentle, non-irritating qualities.
While essential oils have their devoted camp of supporters and staunch league of naysayers, the truth is that they can be an effective addition to your skincare routine. It’s just important to read ingredient lists and choose reputable brands with a proven track record for safety.
Generally speaking, it is safer to use essential oils when they are mixed with a carrier oil and diluted before application. This also maximizes the skin-ready zone of the product you’re using.