For centuries, people around the world have enjoyed the aromatic pleasures and skin health benefits of the wonderful oils that come from Nature’s many plants.
I have worked as an aromatherapist for 15 years, and have witnessed first-hand the power of essential oils. More than just a pretty fragrance, the therapeutic effect of an essential oil can be up to 70 times stronger than the source plant – to give you an idea of their intensity, one kilo of rose petals yields around one drop of essential oil.
At around $5,000.00 a kilo, true rose essential oil doesn’t come cheap! The good news is, that you need very little to create a dramatic effect in skincare. Rose is associated with love, the heart, the feminie, and the colour red; it is often used for female hormonal imbalance, for supporting healing during bereavement or loss, and for any signs of redness and ageing in the skin, like broken capillaries and wrinkles. An interesting finding from a German research study is that rose oil is lipophilic, or fat-loving, explaining why it works well in creams and lotions because it is drawn to work on the skin’s cellular structure, enhancing the absorption of other nutrients in the product.
Try: Perfect Potion Pure Plant Hydrating Serum ($54.95, www.perfectpotion.com.au)
Vibrant, invigorating, and strengthening, rosemary activates the brain cortex and helps to stimulate memory and concentration, overcome sluggishness, and revive clarity, It has a powerful cleansing effect, and is often included in cold and flu massage or inhalation blends to rid the body of mucus and toxins. It has a tonic effect on the skin, and I often recommend it as a compress for clients with acne breakouts: simply add a couple of drops to warm water, swish well, soak a clean facecloth in the mixture and wring out before placing on the affected area for 20 seconds. Studies also show that antioxidants in rosemary prevent UV-induced skin pigmentation and have a lightening effect on existing age spots or discolouration.
Try: Vanessa Megan Lemon & Rosemary Exfoliating Cleanser ($54.95, www.vanessamegan.com)
It’s no coincidence that lavender oil appears in pretty much every natural skincare product, from baby balms to night creams. Soothing, calming, reassuring, non-irritating, and non-sensitising, it is safe for all skin types, and has remarkable healing, antiseptic, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties: countless studies attest to lavender’s therapeutic benefits in treating burns, skin ulcers, acne, eczema, swelling, sprains, the effects of radiation therapy, and more. It also encourages deep relaxation, calms emotional anxiety and eases insomnia, making it a must for massage and bath blends.
Try: Jurlique Clarifying Lavender Cleanser ($38.00, www.jurlique.com.au)
Immortelle oil brings a feeling of deep peace and spiritual connection, opening the heart to love and healing emotional wounds. Also known as ‘Everlasting’, this highly scented herb hails from the Mediterranean, where it has a long tradition of therapeutic use, especially for skin problems, including bruises, stretch marks, wound healing, eczema, and scarring, as well as emotional problems like anger. Its potent skin-healing effects are due to its high content of phenolic antioxidants, which stimulate skin cell turnover and renewal. For me, it is a stand-out oil for repairing, nourishing skin and preventing signs of ageing.
Try: Sodashi Samadara Age Defying Cream ($49.50, www.sodashi.com)
Gentle, nurturing, and comforting, this sweet-scented oil is derived from the flowers of the bitter orange tree. It is deeply sedative, so should be used sparingly; it is excellent in aromatherapy blends for insomnia, to soothe shock, and ease digestive upsets. Research has shown it to have particular benefits for patients post-heart surgery, significantly improving their relaxation and sleep patterns. In skincare, it is an excellent anti-ageing ingredient, helping to reduce broken capillaries and restore and strengthen at a cellular level, as well as being astringent and hydrating, so boosting skin tone and texture.
Try: La Mav Commiphora Extract Ultra Plumping Serum ($59.95, www.lamav.com)
One of the most important oils for treating skin problems, German chamomile contains azulene, an anti-inflammatory that gives the oil a deep blue colour. When inhaled, the scent has a powerful soothing and strengthening effect, and is excellent for easing emotional and mental stress and nervous tension. Used topically, it soothes itching, redness, eczema, psoriasis and burns, as well as inflammation caused by sprains or pulled muscles.
Try: Pai Chamomile & Rosehip Sensitive Skin Cream, ($60.00, www.iamnaturalstore.com.au)