Essential Oils To Take Beauty Products Back To Their Roots
From a young age and through my teenage years, following a well-trodden rite of passage, I found my way into beauty products and makeup of all varieties. Caking on creams, cleansers, toners, masks and makeup at every opportunity, foundation, blusher, mascara, totally clueless, and embarrassingly often appearing with my face a shade or two darker than the colour of my neck. I would read teenage magazines for girls, learning about every new wonder product that entered the market and incorporating all sorts of rituals into my life.
Like many women, this love grew and developed well into adulthood, and after a spell of acne, late teenage chickenpox, adult acne, and a few scars later, my skin was far from perfect. This all led to me gaining a complex, seeking medication given by my doctor, referrals to a dermatologist and the purchasing of many different products all promising the world to improve my skin imperfections. Having bad skin for many years was something I loathed and was always trying to improve or hide. Then, as my income grew, I tried new brands including some high-end brands, and these products all became necessities, not luxuries, but every day, regular purchases, like food, I could not live without them!
But in recent years as my interest in natural living and holistic health has grown, I have learnt that health comprises of so many different things. It is not just nutrition and exercise, the most obvious two factors people focus on to improve their health, it is so much more. Disease and illness can set in for a variety of reasons but the toxic and chemical load within the body is key, and whilst people may think it is only the food and drink we consume that contributes, that is very wrong.
We are living in an overly toxic world, and the list of things that are toxic to the body are endless: chemicals in our water, air and soil, processed food, cleaning and beauty products all play a part. As the combination of all these things we are exposed to can grow, and over time start to damage the health of our cells and toxicity levels in our body. So, the ways in which we can proactively reduce our exposure and consequently how much our bodies have to detox from is so important. I became aware of how many different products I used within my beauty routine (the average women uses 16 products per day) and when I began to read the labels and learn about the ingredients I quickly realised how much I needed to change given the endless list of unpronounceable ingredients that could impact my health.
CHECKLIST FOR YOUR BEAUTY CABINET – 7 MOST HARMFUL INGREDIENTS TO AVOID
(Check out your hair and skin products as well as makeup bag now)!
Parabens: Parabens and their whole family (methylparabens, propylparabens, butylparabens and ethyl parabens) are found in many beauty products as they help preserve shelf-life of. Parabens can mimic oestrogen in the body and therefore have the ability to disrupt our delicate hormonal balance. They have been linked to breast cancer, and since they act as a hormone disruptor they can also lead to reproductive and fertility issues.
Phthalates: Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastics in cosmetics. This helps products stick to our skin. Phthalates can be dangerous to children, can be serious endocrine disruptors and even cause birth defects.
Fragrance: “Fragrance” is an umbrella term used which scarily means that companies do not have to disclose what ingredients are included. It’s in so many products and can consist of anything. Often, the ingredients include tons of chemicals that can cause allergies, hormone disruption and lead to bigger health problems. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and/or Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are known to cause skin irritation and trigger different allergies.
BHT: These are synthetic antioxidants that are used to extend shelf life and are likely carcinogens and hormone disruptors that may cause liver damage.
Lead: A heavy metal and a neurotoxin. It can cause serious behavioural and learning problems, like lowered IQ. It has already been removed from many household products but not all beauty products.
Formaldehyde: Is a known carcinogen that is also linked to asthma, neurotoxicity, and developmental toxicity. Not to mention the damage these chemicals are causing to our planet! The beauty industry was worth a whopping £28 billion in 2019. But are all these complex, expensive products needed? Could getting back to nature, plant extracts and using essential oils be a way of reducing our toxic and chemical exposure? and be just as effective?
Essential oils continue to rise in popularity as people are becoming more familiar with their uses. They are natural compounds taken from tree roots, leaves, bark, seeds and citrus fruit rinds. The chemical constituents work with our body to help it heal, repair and regenerate from the inside out. These powerful little bottles are known to be beneficial for our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, but a little less well known is the powerful support they can provide to our skin. Certain essential oils can be cleansing, healing, nourishing and soothing to complex skin issues, they can reduce scarring, promote vitality and help to delay signs of wrinkles and ageing. Essential oils can provide a highly effective way to strip back and simplify the many different beauty products we may rely on and subject ourselves to today.
7 TOP ESSENTIAL OILS TO SIMPLIFY YOUR BEAUTY CABINET:
#1 LAVENDER: Good for all skin types – Soothing, antibacterial and regenerative
An oil no one should be without, when used for the skin it contains calming and soothing properties and is a great anti-inflammatory. It helps increase the production of collagen so promotes cellular renewal aiding the healing of scars, a great aftersun remedy, good for bites, hives blisters and rashes.
#2 ROMAN CHAMOMILE: All skin types, especially sensitive skin – Anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic
A gentle and soothing oil, great for irritated skin, calming for redness, rashes, and eczema.
#3 FRANKINCENSE: All skin types, especially mature/aging skin – Anti-inflammatory, restorative, revitalising
Good for problem skin, large pores, and age spots. Its regenerating ability can reduce the appearance of blemishes, scarring and stretch marks. It provides natural anti-ageing support to strengthen, tighten and tone the skin so it is good for eye area and fine lines. This king of oils promotes cellular health and renewal.
#4 GERANIUM: All skin types, especially mature, sensitive and combination – Regenerative, detoxifier, balancing and regulating, anti-inflammatory
Can be used to moisturise normal skin, as well as having the capability for both dry or acne-prone oily skin, to ensure skin regains and maintains balance. It can provide nourishing hydration to aid dry skin conditions including dermatitis, psoriasis and eczema. It increases blood circulation just below the surface of skin to enable a clear glowing complexion, and due to this quality is also great to help with bruising.
#5 MELALEUCA (Tea Tree): Acne and blemish-prone skin – Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, antiseptic
One of the most popular essential oils used for skincare, due to its ability to treat skin problems. Many studies have shown tea tree oil to be effective in treating mild to moderate acne as its naturally anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial, decreasing skin surface bacteria, fungus, and viruses. (Can be drying if overused).
#6 BERGAMOT: Normal and oily skin – Antiseptic, balancing
Bergamot is a particularly useful skincare oil with its antiseptic and natural cleansing properties, and can help unblock pores gently. Milder than melaleuca to treat spots or oily skin by still being hydrating and balancing without being greasy and high in antioxidants to brighten complexion. Especially useful in the treatment of eczema. However, citrus oils make the skin more photosensitive; sun exposure should be avoided for 24 hours after using any of the citrus oil family so not a great one for the summer.
#7 ROSE: All skin types, especially ageing – Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory
Rose, the queen of oils, is maybe one of the best-kept skin secrets, taking hundreds of pounds of rose petals in order to extract the oil makes it one of the most precious essential oils with enormous benefits. It is high in skin-nourishing vitamin C and E, making it great at moisturizing the skin and the high levels of antioxidants (has actually been a key ingredient in many high-end beauty products). Its properties are particularly good for refining skin texture and tone. It is full of wrinkle-fighting fatty acids and boosts elasticity to provide a powerful natural anti-ageing product.
A FEW SIMPLE WAYS TO INCORPORATE ESSENTIAL OILS INTO YOUR BEAUTY ROUTINE:
- Always remember essential oils need to be diluted before applying to skin. Add the oils to a carrier oil to dilute: Popular carrier oils include fractionated coconut oil, jojoba oil and almond oil, some also enjoy adding to something lighter like aloe vera gel. (You can test if your skin is sensitive to an oil by applying to the inside of your elbow, tingling will occur if sensitive to that particular oil).
- Add a few drops of desired essential oil to your natural moisturiser or cleanser
- Add a few drops of desired essential oil to your carrier oil to replace your face moisturiser, or apply all over body for some aromatic dressing
- Add a few drops to distilled water in a spray bottle to use in place of your toner, or use on your body and face to hydrate.
As well as these skin benefits, inhaling essential oils has an impact on our limbic emotional system (as discussed in my previous article so can work also alter and shift your mood when we use them on our skin. Uplifting, energising, relaxing or soothing making that double the bang for your buck in the health improvements they can bring to your life when incorporated into our skincare.
Not all essential oils are created equal, I have done a lot of research, and you must be careful not to purchase essential oils that do not include 100% pure oils. Many essential oil brands adulterate their oils, adding synthetic chemicals or fillers in order to make them more affordable. From my research I found the quality of doTERRA oils to be the most superior, not only because of their purity but also due to their ethics and co-impact sourcing methods.
Just as we are more aware than ever of the ingredients of the many food products we are consuming, in an industry where organic, clean and whole food standards are rising in both popularity and understanding, many of us don’t give a second thought to how harmful some of our beauty products may be to our health. With a surface area averaging eighteen square feet, the skin is the largest organ of the body. The skin is a line of defence, protects our internal organs, guards against infection, can transport chemicals directly into our bloodstream, and within 26 seconds toxins can enter via the skin, so isn’t it time to have a think about what you are putting into it?
I hope this has given you some idea as to how you might adapt your beauty routine, incorporate the natural resources in essential oils and how the chemicals are really not needed. As well as the checklist above, there are so many apps out now (Thinkdirty is one) that can easily provide an insight into how safe the products you are currently using are, listing out all included ingredients of many top brands. The organic natural beauty market is growing rapidly, as people demand clean labels and awareness grows of how toxic products can be. We need to get smarter about the less obvious ways in which we may be subjecting ourselves to the ingestion of man-made synthetic chemicals and toxins. Essential oils are one of the ways we can do this. Essential oils are nature’s medicine and beauty cabinet, not only contributing to our overall health, but providing therapeutic benefits to gain radiant, healthy and youthful skin, naturally, and who wouldn’t want that.
You can try a facial that incorporates essential oils at the Derma Health clinic in Harley Street, they offer their aromaesthetic signature facial where you can enjoy tailored aromatherapy blends as part of your pampering treatment.
Nicola Burnett is a Natural Living and Essential Oil Guru, and working Mum, inspiring and empowering people to try a more natural way of living, through the use of pure therapeutic grade essential oils. Holistic health solutions for physical, mental and emotional support. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook.