Essential oils are highly potent, steam-distilled plant extracts. Though completely natural, they must be handled and used with care.
Essential oils are used medicinally by aromatherapists. Like any medicine, these natural chemicals can be harmful if used improperly. It’s important to research any essential oil before using it in your routine. You’ll need to determine its recommended dilution, and check to see if the oil has any restrictions for use. Certain essential oils can be disruptive to medical conditions like pregnancy, high blood pressure, or epilepsy.
As a rule, any essential oil you are working with should be diluted to around 1–3% for use in skin care. That means that the oil needs to be blended with a carrier oil to be used directly, or used in very small proportions in recipes and formulations.
It's important to note that essential oils should be used with extreme care on children and babies. Kids and babies can't process the chemicals in essential oils as easily as adults. If you're, I recommend consulting a doctor or aromatherapist before using or handling any essential oils.
While there are thousands of essential oils available, I tend to lean on a handful of favorites. Choose one or two that suit your skin type, and invest in small bottles of high quality oil.
Rose Essential Oil
The ultimate oil for mature skin care, rose essential oil is treasured for its ability to help soothe and soften. Rose essential oil is soothing to all skin types, and is an excellent addition to any of your most precious facial recipes.
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Geranium Essential Oil
Geranium essential oil makes a great alternative to rose essential oil and is far less expensive. It can still help balance skin pH, fight fine lines and wrinkles, and benefit facial recipes. Though any variety of geranium essential oil will do, my personal favorites are rose geranium and geranium bourbon.
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Neroli Essential Oil
Neroli essential oil is another great choice for facial care. Like rose essential oil and geranium essential oil, it helps to balance skin’s moisture. Which of the three you choose mostly depends on budget and personal preference.
Personally, I adore the smell of neroli essential oil. It is made from orange blossoms, giving it a delightfully sweet and floral scent.
For more on Neroli essential oil: Want A Healthy, Radiant Complexion? Try These 5 Essential Oils
Roman Chamomile Essential Oil
Yarrow Essential Oil
Another great essential oil for soothing inflamed skin, yarrow is also slightly astringent, making it a good choice for oily or combination skin.
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Helichrysum Essential Oil
Helichrysum essential oil is expensive, but a worthwhile investment for those fighting acne. It not only possesses potent antibacterial and antifungal properties, it can help reduce scarring. Helichrysum essential oil's restorative properties also make it a good choice for mature skin.
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Niaouli Essential Oil
Niaouli essential oil is a close relative to tea tree essential oil, an ingredient commonly used to combat acne. While both boast potent antibacterial properties and are excellent for acne-prone and combination skin, niaouli essential oil is more gentle on the nervous system and overall health. I recommend using niaouli essential oil in place of tea tree essential oil in recipes.
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Peppermint Essential Oil
I use peppermint essential oil in almost all of my lip balm recipes. The hint of cooling mint will make your lips tingle. That stimulating feeling can also benefit tired muscles in your feet, legs, and hands.
A word to the wise though: a little peppermint essential oil goes a long way, so go easy with this particular essential oil. By the way, do not use peppermint essential oil with babies or toddlers.
For more on peppermint essential oil: 13 Common Ailments You Can Treat With Peppermint Oil
Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary is a popular essential oil in haircare recipes because it encourages a healthy balance of oils in the scalp. It is believed to discourage dandruff, soothe inflammation, and may even stimulate hair growth.
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Excerpted from The Natural Beauty Solution by Mary Helen Leonard. Copyright (c) 2015 by Mary Helen Leonard and Spring House Press.Photos: iStock, Getty, Stocksy