Essential oils have been used from time immemorial. Judeo-Christian scriptures frequently refer to incense and expensive ointments that were applied to the head or to the body.
Their anti-microbial properties are the reasons they have been used therapeutically throughout the ages. Mostly known for their pleasant aroma, it’s really their therapeutic properties that make them so important. Still, the natural chemistry of essential oils remains a narrow and specialized field.
Just as a rose is not like every other rose, essential rose oil, for example, varies from rose to rose, depending not only on the species used but also on other factors such as origin, soil, climate and the year.
These oils are like wine. Not all Bordeaux wines are equal!
Essential oils are distillations from plants, flowers, roots, seeds, shrubs or tree parts. Their quality depends not only on the raw material but also on the extraction or distillation process.
It takes a large amount of raw material to make one drop of oil. For example:
• 2,500 pounds of rose petals (imagine the volume of petals that represents-about a small room full) are used to make one cup of essential oil of rose petals.
• 1,300 pounds of cinnamon (and that’s a lot of cinnamon bags) are needed to make a little more than half a cup (about 5 oz.).
These oils are made from the fluid that circulates within each plant to nourish, protect and heal it. This fluid contributes to keeping insects and microorganisms away.
Properties of the plant fluid can be lost in the extraction process through overheating. Integrity extraction processes are vital.
– Essential oils are not oily like cooking oils and do not get rancid as easily.
– They contain strong antioxidants that slow down, or prevent, their own oxidation. As a result, some essential oils are used as antioxidants, a great weapon in any anti-aging program as well as preservation of skincare products.
– They can play an important role in any detoxification program by stimulating blood and lymph circulation (as demonstrated by a number of medical studies).
As a result, these distilled plant essences can have these beneficial effects:
• improving oxygenation and delivering nutrients to cells (red blood functions);
• stimulating the elimination process within tissues (venous and lymphatic circulation functions).
All these properties are the reasons why an intelligent use of well selected, high quality, natural essential oils blended into natural skincare products makes them exceptionally useful and potent.
The following quote is one of the most exquisitely articulated passages I have found that makes the case very well for incorporating such plant extracts into your skincare product lineup.
“The most important argument for using essential oils in cosmetics has to do with their vital force and their naturalness. The life within us can be best cared for and healed with living things. We have a strong affinity for plants-particularly the flower oils-their blossoms are the “face” of the plant that are used for facial care in essential oil cosmetics. When the facial skin is treated with flower oils, it receives the entire stored solar energy and vital force of the essential oil. The flower’s oils are easily dissolved by the sebaceous fat, and their molecules are so small that they can actually penetrate the skin to reach the lowest level and even affect the deeper tissue and organs.” – Keller, Erich. Aromatherapy Handbook for Beauty, Hair, and Skin Care: A Guide to the Use of Essential Oils for Beauty and Healing. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts, 1991. Print.