There are many essential oils that are useful skin-care agents: oils such as sandalwood, geranium, palmarosa, bergamot (which should be bergapten-free), myrrh, and frankincense. These are all very valuable additions to the beauty therapist’s list of ingredients, or an aromatherapist’s collection of massage oils. There are also many essential oils which make excellent conditioning treatments for the hair and scalp due to their pleasing scent, gentle action, and powerful antiseptic properties. These include rosemary, West Indian bay, and sage, which can help to regulate the activity of the sebaceous glands, cleanse the scalp of bacterial infection, and disperse dead skin cells. Lavender oil is also said to smooth knots and tangles and encourage hair growth.
However, there are five essential oils that stand out as being especially valuable for general skin and hair care because of their skin compatibility. They are all mild on the skin (non-irritant, non-phototoxic and generally non-sensitizing), yet they possess powerful medicinal properties, being bactericidal, antiseptic, cytophylactic (healing), or anti-inflammatory, and all have a long history of use as cosmetic aids. These five oils are indispensable for all who wish to take an interest in the overall health and beauty of their skin.
Valuable oils for the skin
Rose has long been used as a favorite perfume ingredient and cosmetic oil. It is one of the most useful skin-care oils because, apart from its rich, feminine scent, it has good wound-healing properties which help in the daily process of skin repair. Rose oil and rose water have been used as ingredients in cosmetics for centuries, and their effects have been well tried and tested. Rose oil can help to keep the skin healthy, lubricated, and elastic, making it less prone to wrinkles. For general skin care, it is suited to all types of complexion, particularly dry, sensitive, and aging or mature skin.
Lavender is perhaps the most versatile skin-care oil of all because, although it has excellent antiseptic properties, it is very mild on the skin. It is also an excellent cicatrizant or wound-healing oil, which promotes tissue regeneration in everyday use and prevents scarring when used to treat damaged or injured skin. It is a valuable oil for all types of skin injury, but also for the treatment of a wide range of specific skin conditions. It is suited to all types of complexion, particularly oily and blemished skin. This gentle oil can safely be used neat if required.
Chamomile oil is a well-known soothing remedy, and particularly well suited to children. Because of its sedative and relaxant properties it is especially good for all types of skin complaints that have a nervous or stress-related element, such as the many types of dermatitis or eczema. It is also the best anti-inflammatory herb. Like rose oil it is good for sensitive skin, but it is especially indicated for all types of swelling, irritation, rashes, red or sore skin, including allergic skin conditions. Both Roman and German chamomile can be used in skin care.
Neroli (derived from orange blossom) and the similar petitgrain (from the leaves of the bitter orange tree) are powerful bactericidal and antiseptic agents with excellent cytophylactic properties (encouraging the formation of new skin cells). Like rose and lavender, they have a most beautiful, classic scent, which is uplifting, fresh, and citrus-like. Orange flower water is traditionally used to soften the skin and it also has a gentle toning and astringent action. Neroli, petitgrain, and orange flower water are beneficial for all skin types, including normal or combination skin.
- Tea tree
Tea tree is a valuable skin-care agent because it has excellent antiseptic, fungicidal, and antiviral properties, yet is very mild on the skin. It can be used for a wide range of specific skin conditions and for more general disinfectant purposes. In a theoretical comparison between tea tree and other antiseptics used for skin care, tea tree oil came closest to having all the properties of an ideal skin disinfectant. Although this oil is generally used medicinally, it is a useful addition to a collection of oils for cosmetic use.