Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What are Essential Oils?

A few years ago I found myself standing in the aisle of a store totally disappointed at a brands claim to having essential oils in their product that would make my hair stronger and more manageable. I remember going over bottle after bottle reading the ingredients that had only one or two oils (that by the way were vegetable, NOT essential) waaaaay down on the bottom of the list. Now, you remember my post on reading labels? Well then you remember an ingredient listed at the bottom means very little to no benefit. So you know my dollars stayed right in my pocket just as the product stayed right on the shelf. Fastforward, I had a conversation today which bought me back to that day. The conclusion drawn from the dialogue was: misclaims of brands is nothing new so we must aspire to be informed consumers to ensure that our dollars are spent wisely. I was inclined to go dig into my archives for a quick essential oil reference that I could share with you.
What are Essential oils?

*Essential oils are potent, volatile liquids extracted from plants, flowers, leaves,bark, stems, roots, and fruit.
*Essential oils are not greasy. They are more like water in texture, they evaporate quickly and penetrate the skin easily. They are made up of very small molecules, which enable the oil to work on a cellular level by passing through the skin layers and entering the blood and lymphatic systems.
*Essential oils provide both psychological and physical therapeutic benefits through methods of inhalation, skin absorption, and ingestion. Each essential oil has its own special effect of how it reacts internally, based upon its chemical makeup. The one common factor among all oils is that they enhance the immune system by encouraging the body to heal itself.
*3 common grades of essential oils: therapeutic(highest quality), food, and cosmetic/perfume
A few common Essential oils found in products:
Tea Tree Oil -anti bacterial, disinfectant, anti fungal
Lavender - calms, heals & relieves, great for oil control
Rosemary -controls oil, good for dandruff, aids relief in joints
Peppermint- relieves itching, stimulates
Lemon- astringent, disinfectant
Chamomile - anti inflammatory, great for dry itchy skin & acne

*Commonly, essential oils used topically on skin and hair are diluted with carrier oils, which guards against skin irritation.
Carrier oils are pure vegetable oils that “carry” the essential oils into the skin. Perfume and fragrance oils are not the same as essential oils. Perfume and fragrance oils are made of synthetic (artificial) substances and they have no healing benefits.
A few common carrier oils:
Coconut oil- soothes, moisturizes, and nourishes skin
Grapeseed Oil -antioxidant, mild astringent
Jojoba Oil- similar to the oil (sebum)produced in our bodies, soothing the only carrier oil that penetrates all 3layer of our skin
Olive Oil- antioxidant, moisturizes, helps retain moisture in the skin
Sweet Almond Oil -high in nutrients, soothes, nourishes and softens
So whether you are looking to make your own products or buying some I hope this little reference helps.

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