I love all those little bottles of essential oils you see at health food stores, don't you? So many lovely smells, so many possibilities! If only I knew what the heck to do with them. I mean, there's the idea of essential oils, and then there's the reality of what happens when you bring home that little bottle of Jasmine oil (because it smelled so good!) and let it sit around, waiting for you to figure out a use for it.
So I decided to tap an expert to help me figure out what to do with these natural treasures I keep collecting. Which oils do what? How much should I use? And can they be harmful? Here are a few ways to use essential oils for some of your most common beauty problems:
"A dab of undiluted Tea Tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) directly on a pimple or infected spot of acne will help to clear it up," says Cary Caster, owner and founder of aromatherapy company 21 Drops. "Be careful not to get it on surrounding skin as it is very concentrated." Cedarwood oil (Juniperus virginiana) is also helpful to acne, Caster says, thanks to its antiseptic and astringent properties.
2. Too dry/too oily scalp
Caster says that adding one drop of Geranium (Pelargonium roseum X asperum) to a small handful of shampoo before washing your hair is known to "balance the production of sebum" -- for those of you with excessively oily or excessively dry hair or skin (including flaky skin or scalp). Lavender oil can help eliminate dandruff.
3. Dry skin on your arms, legs, and everywhere else
You can use Rose absolute (Rose damascena) as a daily facial moisturizer by diluting about 3 percent to a neutral carrier or lotion, Caster says. An example of a neutral carrier is something like almond oil. You can also boost your moisturizer by adding a few drops of a relative, Rose Hip Seed oil (Rosa rubiginosa).
4. Dry skin everywhere else
"Traditionally used to restore skin, the essential oils and botanical extracts of Jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum) increase skin’s elasticity and help balance moisture in the skin to naturally reduce dryness," according to Women's Health. It's antibacterial, bolsters your skin's immunity, and helps heals scars as well. Oh yes, and a recent study shows the scent can relieve anxiety, which could mean fewer worry lines on your face.
5. Eczema, psoriasis, and scars
Patchouli (Pogostemom cablin) can help heal "dryness, inflammation, scars, sores, eczema, and wounds," Caster says. She recommends using 5 percent for extreme cases, less for milder treatments. Patchouli also moisturizes and cools skin. Lavender oil (Lavandula angustifolia) can help dry, chapped skin and lips.
Palmarosa oil (Cymbopogon martini or motia) can address many skin issues, Caster says, "including dry skin, swellings, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, skin infections, and fungus." She uses it at 5 percent for more extreme conditions. "It helps to balance sebum production and stimulate cell regeneration," she says. And in case you're wondering what this lesser-known oil smells like, Caster describes it as having a light, rosy-citrus aroma.
6. Brittle, flyaway hair
Cedarwood oil nourishes the hair. "Add to unscented lotions and shampoos at 3 percent," Caster recommends. I've also been adding a few drops of Jasmine and Geranium oils to Argan oil to give my hair a little more softness post-blow dry -- but that's just me, your regular ol' lifestyle writer experimenting at home.
When it comes to using essential oils, "more is not always better," Caster cautions. Use the recommended dilutions for best results. "There are, however, many essential oils that are very irritating to the skin and should always be properly diluted before contact with the skin," she adds. If, even after dilution, your skin becomes irritated, stop using it immediately.
Otherwise, enjoy using essential oils to enhance your natural beauty!
Do you use any essential oils? How do you use them?