INGREDIENTS – Essential Oils (A to Z)
Today, aromatherapy is widely known to enhance our well-being through various modalities. But it was the mainstream for practitioners to use as internal and external medicine only until the 19th century, when synthetic medicines started taking over. Indeed, essential oil is powerful enough to cure many ailments both physical and emotional. When applied to the skin, some particles of essential oils can enter the body through hair follicles or sweat glands and access blood vessels through the capillary network.
Each essential oil has many properties and a distinct character, providing an almost infinite variety to homemade products. Essential oils add scents and sometimes subtle colors that are not only safe but also beneficial for our health and well-being.
When blended, oils work together in harmony, creating synergy with chemical interactions making it more powerful in combination than they would on their own. Adding essential oils to your homemade products is one of the most practical ways to capture the best that nature has to offer!
Although essential oil is easy to use, be sure to follow the basics. Read blog “Essential Oils: What You Didn’t Know”
Essential Oils to Start With
Essential oils are expensive and you do not need a whole range to create skincare products. Here are 15 most versatile and easily accessible oils that you may wish to start with, but depending on your needs, you may start with even fewer. Remember, scent is very personal so do not use any oil you dislike. If the scent brings you a negative feeling or makes you uncomfortable physically, then the particular oil is not useful for you.
The anti-inflammatory properties of German chamomile oil are well documented when it is used topically,and it is beneficial for sensitive skin problems.
This is beneficial for oily skin as it regulates sebum production and is also known for its deodorant effect. It is useful for relieving stress and nervous tension as it has the ability to balance the mind.
This is helpful for acne, oily, and overly hydrated skin because of its antiseptic and astringent properties. It is very safe to use and known to clear energy.
It is beneficial for the regeneration of the skin. Therapeutic actions include excellent anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antiseptic properties. It is commonly used for detoxification as it is known to purify the blood.
It is recommended for dry and mature skin, and eases scars, wounds, and wrinkles.
This has not only a delightful scent but also the ability to balance the sebum production, which makes this oil popular in skincare products. It is beneficial for dry, oily, or combination skin, and is also known as a hormonal regulator and balancer. Although it is safe, it requires caution for hypersensitive skin.
It has similar properties to lemon, but is not phototoxic to humans. It is useful for oily skin and acne and has a tonic effect on the skin.
These fragrant flowers have been used for centuries in skincare products. It is beneficial for treating dry and irritated skin.
This is the ‘Mother of Essential Oils’ as it is the most versatile essential oil and is suitable for all skin types. It is a typical middle note, rounding out the top and bottom scents.
It tones ageing skin and has antibacterial properties that are beneficial for the treatment of acne. It also acts as an astringent, counteracting the overproduction of sebum.
It is an effective insect repellent. In addition, its astringent, antifungal and antibacterial properties make it useful for infections and open-pore skin. It may cause irritation to some sensitive skin types.
One of the oldest known aromatic substances, it is known to heal wounds and cuts, and is also useful in reducing wrinkles and improving the complexion. It is contraindicated during pregnancy.
This is beneficial for all skin types, but especially dry and sensitive skin. It is also known to have a rejuvenating effect to stimulate the growth of healthy new cells.
This is widely used in Asia for incense because of the sweet aroma which is soothing and calming. For skincare, it is best known for its ability to regenerate as well as moisturize and cool.
It is reputed to be useful for menopause as it regulates hormonal secretions. It also strengthens the body’s connective tissue. This means it is useful for revitalising and toning mature or tired skin.
Other oils to consider:
- Cedarwood: Astringent, for oily skin and acne. Also for dandruff, hair growth.
- Fennel (Sweet): For dull, oily and mature skin.
- Tea tree: Antibacterial, anti-irritant, a natural preservative, for oily and acne skin.
- Rose damask: Softening, hydrating, astringent, regenerating, purifying, for mature skin.
- Ylang ylang: Softening and balancing moisture in the skin; hair care; dry or oily skin.
Creating Your Own Scent
Creating your own scents and incorporating scent into your products can have a profound effect on holistic efficacies beyond the skin. One practical and effective way of creating scent is to use a synaesthesia effect by combining two senses, that is, smell and other senses such as hearing, touch and sight. Try to imagine colours, patterns, sounds, and feelings from a particular smell. What colour is lemon? What sound is vetiver? We are all equipped with this skill when we are born, though we learn to differentiate sensual experiences and compartmentalise each one into a definite single sensation as we age. What may appear difficult at the beginning can quickly become something that comes naturally with a little practice. Then think of the feeling you wish the product to spur, or simply think of your favourite colours and sounds. Experimenting with essential oils may be costly, but with this basic technique, you can blend the scents in your mind to come up with the recipes. Pure essential oils add delightful scents in homemade skincare products in a completely natural and safe way.
Levels of Notes
Scents have three levels of notes: Bottom, middle, and top. The top note is what your nose captures immediately but disperses quickly, while the bottom note holds the smells longer. In order to create a balanced scent, this is a guideline for each component:
- Top: 20%–30%
- Middle: 40%–80%
- Bottom: 10%–25%
Main Classification of Scents
Generally, essential oils can be classified into the following six different types of scents with typical characteristics, colours and notes:
- Herbal: Refreshing / Green / Middle note
- Citrus: Sour and sweet / Orange and yellow / Top note
- Woody: Earthy / Brown / Bottom note
- Spices: Punchy / Light brown / Middle to bottom note
- Floral: Sweet and narcotic / Pink or white / Top to middle note
- Exotic: Distinctive / Dark Red / Middle to bottom note
Download the Table (Download F5) for easy reference. Always remember that scent is personal. You can always use your own definition for each scent.