The Importance of Essential Oils in Skin and Hair Products – Part 1 of 2
Before we start our series on Essential oils, I’d like to talk about the Essential Oils that we specifically use in our hair and skin care products. Some you may have heard of and some may be new to you. I strongly believe in transparency and education. As you read my articles, it is my hope that this information assists you in selecting the right products for you and your family.
Sweet Basil Oil
Sweet basil oil comes from basil (Ocimum basilicum), a plant with a thick foliage and small white flowers. Fresh basil leaves taste sweet and pungent and exudes a fresh and floral aroma, while the dried ones have a spicy and earthy scent.
The "dot-like" oil glands in fresh basil leaves produce the essential oil of the herb. Its dried leaves and stems are used in food flavorings and in the production of essential oil. However, it is believed that oil obtained from the flowers is superior in quality compared to the oil from the whole plant.
There are several types of basil oil such as European or sweet basil, reunion, methyl cinnamate and eugenol. (N. Board, Handbook on Spices, pp.272-275) The commonly used basil oils in aromatherapy are the sweet basil and the exotic types. Sweet basil oil is produced in the U.S., France, Italy and Spain, while the exotic type is from Comoro Islands or Seychelles. (J. Rose, The Aromatherapy Book: Applications and Inhalations, p.70)
Basil essential oil is one of several essential oils that can effectively kill skin pathogens that lead to acne breakouts.
Human research also demonstrates that basil essential oil can help to clear up acne lesions with little discomfort or side effects after application. If there was any burning or redness, it disappeared within a few minutes of application. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23235794)
Eucalyptus leaf Oil
Eucalyptus oil is the distilled oil that comes from the dried leaves of eucalyptus – a colorless liquid with a strong woody and sweet smell. There are more than 700 different species of eucalyptus in the world, of which at least 500 produce a type of essential oil.
As early as the 1880s, surgeons were already using eucalyptus oil as an antiseptic during operations. (Maiden, J.H., The Useful Native Plants of Australia, pp. 255, 1889) Toward the end of the century, the oil was used in most hospitals in England to clean urinary catheters. (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266580.php) In 1948, the United States also officially registered eucalyptus oil as an insecticide and miticide (one that kills mites and ticks).
Eucalyptus oil is also popularly used as a fragrance in perfumes and cosmetics. It is commonly mixed with other oils to make it more easily absorbed by your skin. This supports the moisturizing process, which explains the oil's presence in skin products like a natural sunscreen.
Eucalyptus oil has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties that make it great for helping clear up acne and prevent future breakouts.
One of the many beauty benefits of eucalyptus oil is that it stimulates follicles by promoting blood flow. This helps create the best conditions for hair growth on your scalp. In addition to promoting growth, eucalyptus oil also helps improve the health of your scalp while promoting overall shine. This makes for beautiful, healthy hair year-round.
Rosemary Leaf Oil
Related to mint and looking like lavender, rosemary has leaves like flat pine needles touched with silver. It boasts of a woodsy, citrus-like fragrance that has become a feature of many kitchens, gardens, and apothecaries worldwide. It derives its name from Latin words ros ("dew") and marinus ("sea"), or "dew of the sea."
The Virgin Mary is said to have spread her blue cloak over a rosemary bush as she rested, and the white flowers turned blue. The shrub came to be known as the "Rose of Mary."
Rosemary was considered sacred by the Egyptians, Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans, and was used in the Middle Ages to ward off evil spirits and protect against the plague. Rosemary oil has a clear, refreshing herbal smell, is clear in color, and is watery in viscosity. It is extracted from the fresh flowering tops through steam distillation, yielding 1 to 2 percent.
Rosemary increases the skin's elasticity therefore decreasing droopiness and age spots. The anti-inflammatory benefits are key to eliminating puffiness from age.
Rosemary contains iron, calcium, and phytonutrients. Over-exposure to sunlight is one of the leading causes of photodamage, the phytonutrients in rosemary are tough on sun crime. The nutrients of rosemary can help protect skin cells from damage often caused by the sun and free radicals. Since rosemary has natural antiseptic properties, it's a superior disinfectant for our skin and hair. In fact, this essential oil is known to promote a healthy, moisturized scalp and reverse premature graying.
History shows a wide range of uses for peppermint as an essential oil, which has been used for over 200 years in ancient Rome and Egypt. Various cultures have used this oil not only for its minty fragrance, but also to symbolize hospitality. Peppermint oil is also a popular oil in medicine due to its therapeutic benefits.
According to findings, peppermint oil exhibits antiviral, antimicrobial, antifungal, antioxidant, analgesic, radioprotective, and antiedema properties. (https://www.hindawi.com/journals/isrn/2012/718645/)
While peppermint oil may be known for some skin care benefits, it’s also good for your hair and scalp. It may help with dryness, itching, or other scalp problems.
Some people have used the oil as a remedy for hair loss. This may be because the menthol in peppermint essential oil is a vasodilator, and vasodilators improve blood flow (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031942213003063). In many instances (such as in female or male pattern baldness), hair loss occurs due to starved blood flow to hair follicles (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0026286216300401). Increasing circulation with a vasodilator like peppermint could potentially improve hair growth and prevent some hair loss.
Laurel Leaf Oil
Bay Laurel Leaf essential oil is derived from the Bay Laurel tree, which is also botanically known as Laurus Nobilis, through a process of steam distillation. This oil is commonly confused with Bay oil, which comes from Pimenta racemosa instead. Although these two oils share similar qualities and have similar properties, they come from two very different plants.
The Bay Laurel tree, an evergreen shrub, is indigenous to the Mediterranean and the Black Sea region but it is mostly cultivated in Europe nowadays. However, in ancient times, it was widely believed that the tree contained magical powers, thus making it capable of warding off evil and diseases.
Both the ancient Greeks and the Romans regarded the bay laurel leaves to be highly sacred and valuable, as they symbolized victory and high status. The Greeks also considered it to be a potent medicine that was capable of protecting them against plague and various diseases. Today, bay laurel leaf and its essential oil contains numerous medicinal properties that can be used to address a variety of health ailments.
Bay laurel leaf oil is thought to be a good tonic for the hair, as it boosts hair growth and prevents excessive hair loss. Because it is also an astringent, it helps to tighten the grip of the hair follicles and the hair roots, thus preventing loss of hair. It helps to moisturize the scalp too, thus preventing dandruff and flaky scalp. As such, your hair will look much healthier and your scalp’s health will be drastically improved.
Carrot Seed Oil
Carrot seed oil is far removed from the ubiquitous orange vegetable and should not be mistaken for the cheaper macerated carrot oil. This humble essential oil is packed with natural healing properties, which have been used since the times of ancient Greeks and Indians.
Carrot seed oil is derived from the dried seeds of the wild carrot plant (Daucus carota) of the Apiaceae or Umbelliferae family. Its plant source is an annual or biennial plant with hairy leaves and umbels of white lacy flowers and purple centers. Also, popularly called wild Queen Anne's lace, its native origins can be traced back to Egypt, France and India. Carrot seed oil has a viscous consistency, a yellowish-brown color and a distinct woody, earthy and root-like fragrance.
Carrot Seed Oil works as a supporting and protective agent that not only enhances skin health but that also repairs damage on skin that has been exposed to pollution and environmental stress, which leads to symptoms of aging. Furthermore, it stimulates the growth of new tissue and new skin, thus promoting a clearer, brighter, evenly toned complexion. By contributing moisture, it relieves skin from irritation associated with ailments such as acne, boils, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, and sores, leaving skin looking and feeling smooth, firm, nurtured, revitalized, and generally healthy. Regular use of Carrot Seed Essential Oil on the dry and cracked skin can result in the softening of calluses, the faster healing of scars, the calming of irritation, and the fading of redness and unwanted marks such as age spots.
When used in hair, Carrot Seed Oil is known to deeply condition the scalp and hair to repair split ends and contribute soothing relief from dehydration and irritation, such as itchiness caused by harmful bacteria, fungus, and dandruff. In the same way that it tones the skin it also works as a tonic for the strands. Applied to hair that appears or feels dull or damaged, it restores hair health and luster.
Wheat Germ Oil
Wheat germ oil is obtained from the kernel of the wheat grain. This kernel is located within the core of the plant and feeds the plant as it grows.
Emollient Properties - Dry hair can lead to splitting and breaking, not to mention frizziness and static. Your scalp secretes oils to moisturize your hair, but this oil tends to build up around the scalp. If you have long hair, the roots may be oily, but the rest of your hair can be dry and brittle. Wheat germ oil, which is comprised of long-chain fatty acids that give it emollient properties, to relieve dryness and add softness and moisture to your hair. It can be used in treatments and hair masks to condition and soften your hair, particularly if you frequently use heat or colorants.
Vitamin E - Wheat germ oil contains an array of vitamins, including vitamin E. Vitamin E, or tocopherol, is well-known for its skin benefits and is easily absorbed into the skin and hair. The site states that vitamin E can potentially help to promote skin cell formation. However, it is highly moisturizing, which makes it an ideal addition to shampoos and conditioners. The vitamin E content also keeps the oil from becoming rancid; thereby increasing a cosmetic or hair care product's shelf life.
Squalene - Wheat germ oil also contains a polyunsaturated fat called squalene. According to a January 2009 study in "Molecules," shark liver oil is the richest known source of squalene, but plant oils such as wheat germ have been found to contain it as well. Squalene is the main component of skin surface polyunsaturated lipids, making it close to the actual oil your own body produces. This type of oil is readily absorbed by skin cells and hair and is already being used in cosmetic products.
B Vitamins - Wheat germ oil also contains a host of B vitamins: B1, B2, B3 and B6. Although the oil will not be ingested, B vitamins are readily absorbed through the skin. They may help to increase circulation to your scalp; some companies use a B complex to help thicken hair. B vitamins are needed by the body for cell and tissue formation, particularly blood and nerve cells. Vitamin B6 also plays a role in the incorporation of L-cystine into hair cells.
The essential oil of Ravensara is extracted from a tree that is located in Madagascar, scientifically known as Ravensara aromatica. Specifically, it is extracted by the steam distillation of its leaves and it is widely revered and highly regarded in Madagascar, just like how the tea tree plant is accorded great value in Australia.
However, not many people know of the benefits and uses of Ravensara essential oil, as it is a largely obscure and rare essential oil. Yet, it is widely used in the traditional medicinal world in Madagascar as a form of tonic and for fighting infections.
Ravensara essential oil is also a potent antiseptic and antibacterial agent. It helps to cleanse wounds, cuts and scrapes and gets rid of bacteria, thus preventing infections from forming and preventing wounds from becoming septic.
In fact, Ravensara oil can also be used to treat shingles lesions and cold sores naturally. It facilitates healing of such skin conditions and provides pain relief. Yet, it is very good because it does not dry the skin out excessively nor does it produce any irritant reactions on sensitive or delicate skin.
Additionally, Ravensara is a good antifungal agent, which helps to get rid of skin fungal infections as it inhibits their growth and even kills their spores. Thus, it can greatly help in alleviating fungal problems and fungal infections in the ears, nose, skin, head and even nails.
We hope you enjoyed this article and are looking forward to Part 2! As always, we welcome your comments and questions.
Until next time, remember, “Your Skin Deserves Love Too!”