Essential Oils and Your Skin
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are liquid extracts derived from various plants. They are highly concentrated and have extremely active components that produce a much stronger smell than the plants they come from. Manufacturers have two ways to produce essential oils, the first being steam distillation. Through this process, hot water passes through the plant, pulling the essential compounds from it. Cold pressing is another technique, which uses a machine to press or squeeze plant matter, releasing the oils. I like to correlate this method with pinching mint leaves between my fingers. After a quick squeeze, the scent of the mint is stronger!
How Can They Be Used?
There are numerous ways people use essential oils: adding them to food, drinks, cosmetics, body creams, aromatherapy, and in-air humidifiers. If combined with a carrier oil, some are suitable for massage. There are a great number of uses for essential oils, and many have been used for hundreds of years to relieve stress and anxiety, lessen depression, and reduce nausea and insomnia.
It is important to understand that there are dangers that come from using them as well. There are only a handful that can be applied directly to the skin, there aren’t any that are safe to use near mucus membranes, and they can be dangerous if ingested in full strength. The fact that essential oils are extremely concentrated makes them more likely to irritate sensitive cells inside the body.
I can speak from experience and cannot express enough just how important it is to understand all potential side effects of essential oils and to use a carrier oil if applying them topically. I have burned myself and can testify that the burning did not go away without applying a carrier oil.
I would advise anyone interested in using essential oils topically to thoroughly read about them and to do a spot test—and always remember diluting at 1 percent is equivalent to adding six drops of essential oil to 1 ounce of carrier oil.
As a mother, I know there are times that I have been desperate to help my children with natural remedies and have found myself looking into essential oils to relieve their discomfort. There was a time that I thought I was helping my son by applying tea tree oil to his skin, only to find that it did nothing to help his situation. In the end, I really needed to take him to a dermatologist—which I did, and his condition was resolved.
So, if in doubt, seek guidance from a healthcare provider before applying essential oils directly to your skin!
About the Author
Darcy is a proud mother of two children. She enjoys being in the mountains foraging for wild mushrooms in the spring. In the hot summer months, she can be found in her garden, and in the fall she keeps busy canning their bounty with her little helpers.