Ahhh, the calming, relaxing and soothing aroma of lavender. It's one of my favourite botanical(s) to infuse, bake with and when it comes to nightly diffusing, unless sick, you'll likely find a vague cloud of lavender, mint and basil, filling my bed room. Essential oils are not new to the playground, but recently, they have become an overwhelming tag line on beauty products. Companies are literally dumping them into every soap, lotion, body wash, salve and balm. So, why essential oils? Lets take a deeper look into these aromatically intoxicating gems-we'll focus on lavender essential oil, although each is created through the same process.
Lavender essential oil is created through steam distillation process in which lavender buds, leaves, steams and or root are heated with water and a cooling element to create condensation. This results in the accumulation of oil and liquid. The oil, which is very potent and highly concentrated, becomes essential oil and retains the aroma and attributes of lavender. The resulting liquid, more commonly referred to as floral waters or toners (rose water ring a bell?), also retains all the properties but is much more subtle in aroma and gentle on the skin. This is why essential oils should be diluted but rose water, can be applied directly to the skin.
Whilst I will absolutely agree that essential oils are wonderful powerhouses that can be both mind and skin beneficial, when applied to skin, it should be done so sparingly. Doing so in large quantities can and does increase skin irritation, sensitivity and can cause chemical burns. So whilst essential oils are a much safer alternative than fragrance oils, they too, can be concerning.
Ready for an experiment? take a product that you have that is unscented, preferably 16 oz or larger, add 5 calculated drops of your favourite essential oil, thoroughly mix and use it for several days. You will notice that the aroma is subtle and over the course of a few days, will become nearly extinct. Whilst still effective, the aroma has dissipated. It takes more than a few calculated drops of essential oil, and extracts (which usually contain a percentage of alcohol) to have a long lasting aroma in a larger sized bottle.
This post isn't to dissuade you, in the correct amounts, its perfectly okay to have an essential oil in your product. However, if you are experiencing skin irritation, it's likely one of your products could be responsible. Whilst the aroma can be amazing, be mindful of your skin care needs and select products accordingly. And if you're looking for an aromatically pleasing product to try, that does not contain essential oils, we have a variety of facial elixirs, which offer a subtly sweet aroma.
I'd like to leave you with one thought: essential oils can be great for the mind and good for the body, but they should always be added and used responsibly. And remember, your body requires nutrient rich food and so should your skin.
information is for educational purposes only and not to diagnose or treat conditions. If irritation occurs, discontinue use.