Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of essential oil plant extracts for physical, mental & emotional benefit.
However, as natural plant extracts, there are safety considerations with essential oils and some even have contraindications for their use. That is why learning about an oil BEFORE you decide to incorporate it in your health regime is highly recommended.
Only 3 essential oils are deemed completely safe for direct application to the skin. These are Lavender, Tea Tree and Fragonia. All other essential oils need to be diluted by a carrier oil or mixed into creams or lotions. Sadly, many enthusiastic practitioners have applied suggested oils without a carrier and the result has been skin sensitization all the way to and including developing an allergy. Plant extracts, no matter how they are extracted are nature’s chemicals and need to be respected as such.
If we are peaking your interest in the use of essential oils and aromatherapy, let’s take the first step to understand what your choices are in terms of carriers and the pros and cons of each. This will help you decide what base oil or cream will be the best choice for your skin and your lifestyle as you explore essential oils.
Typically unscented vegetable oils are chosen to dilute essential oils. It they have the ability to lubricate and potentially have healing properties, all the better. We typically advise against corn, soybean and refined vegetable oil blends because the genetically modified content can be quite high. Some of the better choices are:
Pros: Unscented, reacts well with most skin types, and typically inexpensive
Cons: Short shelf-life of 3 months, can have a greasy feel and will stain fabric.
Pros: Tons of vitamins & minerals, softens skin, reduces age spots
Cons: 6 – 8 month shelf life – longer if refrigerated…..can be very expensive.
Pros: Good for most skin types and has a pleasant aroma
Cons: Expensive and cannot be used by anyone with a nut allergy
Pros: Long lasting 2 – 3 year shelf life, absorbable vitamin E, does not clog pores
Cons: Expensive, greasy feel, possible staining, lower grades contain additives
Pros: Good for all skin types, softens skin, 1 year shelf life
Cons: Can stain, somewhat expensive
Pros: Excellent massage oil, softens skin, very little is needed to moisturize
Cons: Solidifies at 76 degrees, too much prevents absorption of other oils
FRACTIONATED COCONUT OIL:
Pros: Very light scent, all natural, very long shelf life, contains anti-oxidants
Cons: Can stain, too much can be drying
Pros: Very long shelf life, penetrates well, does not go rancid, contains Vitamin E
Pros: Rich in Linoleic Acid, anti-inflammatory, does not clog pores, 1 year shelf life
Cons: Does not contain vitamin E
Picking the best oil may require some experimentation at to what works best with your skin type. As you choose the oil you prefer, remember the best oils are cold pressed and preferably sold in dark bottles. Keeping your oil in the dark and cool (under 70 degrees) will extend its shelf life whether you use it to cook with or just as a skin care supplement. Remember…..when it comes to oils and essential oils in particular….LESS IS MORE…..too much will negate the effect you are after.