Many essential oils possess anti-ageing properties that can work wonders on skin. Naturopath Amina Eastham-Hillier has the scoop.
Carrot seed High in antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, which protect skin from environmental stressors, this oil revitalises dull, lifeless skin. Scientists believe this is due to carotol, the oil’s primary compound. Carrot seed oil helps with sensitive skin, and is effective on both oily and dry skin, being able to balance both and provide sufficient moisture without clogging pores.
Chamomile This essential oil is extremely soothing as a vulnerary (for healing external wounds or sore rashes). As an anti-inflammatory and analgesic, chamomile is useful for pain reduction and swellings. A 2012 animal study demonstrated chamomile’s antioxidant properties when used internally. I use chamomile essential oil for easing anxiety, stress and insomnia, all of which need to be minimised for healthy ageing.
Clove bud Renowned for their anti-inflammatory properties, evidenced by their ability to soothe toothache, cloves have been described as “the best antioxidant spice” due to their high levels of phenolic compounds, as discovered in a 2010 Spanish study. Clove oil possesses antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, and anticancer properties. Few studies have focused on its topical use, but a 2017 study provided important evidence of the essential oil’s anti-inflammatory and tissue remodelling activity in human dermal fibroblasts.
Frankincense This promotes regeneration of healthy cells while protecting existing cells and keeping them healthy. It restores skin elasticity and tightens loose skin, notably in the eye area.
Geranium This essential oil regulates the skin’s oil production and reduces acne breakouts. It improves skin elasticity and tightens skin, thereby reducing the appearance of wrinkles, and boosts blood circulation to areas where it’s applied, so helping to heal broken capillaries, cuts and bruises, and easing dermatitis, eczema, ringworm, and other skin conditions.
Jasmine This aphrodisiac oil, a common ingredient in perfumes, increases skin elasticity and is often used to reduce scarring. It smooths and softens skin, and benefits most skin types: dry, oily, sensitive, and irritated.
Myrrh The ancient Egyptians used myrrh essential oil to prevent sunburn, and this vulnerary (wound healing) oil, which is also antibacterial, heals sun-damaged skin, rashes and eczema as well as helping skin to recover from abrasions. It may reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. An animal study showed myrrh extract to have significant anti-inflammatory effects. Myrrh is not to be used during pregnancy.
Pomegranate seed This oil’s exceptionally high concentrations of antioxidants guard against free radical damage and slow the ageing process. Its punicic and ellagic acids nourish skin, improve elasticity, and promote cell regeneration. It also protects and heals dry, irritated, burned, or damaged skin.
Rosehip seed This oil may be used as an essential oil and a carrier oil. It is renowned for having the highest concentration of any pure botanical oil of all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA), or natural vitamin A. ATRA boasts a potent ability to reduce wrinkle depth, minimise fine lines, lighten age spots, and promote overall healing of damaged skin by boosting the growth rate of new cells and increasing collagen production. Its omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids improve skin’s elasticity, texture, and appearance.
Rosemary History tells us the ancient Greeks used rosemary for memory and wore it in wreaths when studying. This herb can also work wonders for tension headaches. Rosemary essential oil eases congestion and puffiness by improving circulation. It benefits eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis and, thanks to its antiseptic and antibacterial properties, acne. The high level of antioxidants strengthens capillaries, while cell-regenerating properties reduce the appearance of scars.
Sea buckthorn seed This antioxidant, regenerative, skin-strengthening oil contains a high percentage of linoleic, linolenic and oleic fatty acids, all of which maintain the skin’s natural barrier function. It reverses and prevents signs of ageing, moisturises dry skin, treats acne, and reduces hyperpigmentation and eczema.
Ylang ylang This moisturises and nourishes dry, flaky skin. In Victorian times, it was used to promote hair growth. A little oil massaged into hair follicles boosts hair development and acts as a natural treatment for thinning hair and alopecia. A few drops added to a natural moisturising cream and applied to the face and hands before bed does double duty by inducing sleep.
D-I-Y: Anti-wrinkle serum
In a brown glass dropper bottle, combine 100ml of jojoba oil with three drops of frankincense oil and four drops of carrot seed oil. Store away from light, and apply to face, including the under-eye areas, morning and night for 10 days. Thereafter, use serum once every second day to stimulate collagen production and ward off wrinkles.
Why you need carrier oils
Essential oils are applied topically to skin, either mixed into a natural moisturising cream or vitamin E-based cream, or added to a cold-pressed carrier oil. Because essential oils are so highly concentrated, only a few drops are needed.
Sweet almond This light, odourless oil is a natural UV blocker, which means some added protection for those often in the sun. It’s rich in vitamins E and K, which help regenerate skin, maintain elasticity, and promote better circulation.
Apricot kernel This absorbs into skin relatively quickly and, being non-greasy, can be used on all skin types, but is particularly beneficial for very dry skin.
Argan The approximately 80 percent hydrating fatty acid content in this oil restores skin elasticity and fades fine lines and wrinkles.
Avocado One of the most beneficial carrier oils, this thick oil is rich in vitamins A and E and collagen-boosting sterolins. Unfortunately, the downside is that used at night, it will stain bed linen.
Coconut Another natural sunscreen, coconut’s high vitamin E levels make it an excellent base for anti-ageing mixtures. Its main component, the medium-chain triglyceride lauric acid, is one of the healthiest oils for skin and body. Coconut oil reduces signs of ageing, fades stretch marks, and eliminates keratosis pilaris.
Jojoba Technically a wax ester rather than an oil, jojoba is usually blended in a 10 percent solution with other carrier oils. Very stable and with a long shelf life, it has absorption properties similar to human skin, and so tends not to block pores.