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Essential Oils

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Since ancient times, people have used the quintessence of plants to optimize their health, and they have done so with the help of essential oils, which are concentrated aromatic liquids extracted from various species of plants, flowers, leaves, grasses, fruits, roots, and trees.

Since ancient times, people have used the quintessence of plants to optimize their health, and they have done so with the help of essential oils, which are concentrated aromatic liquids extracted from various species of plants, flowers, leaves, grasses, fruits, roots, and trees.

The most common and oldest method of extraction is steam distillation. Other extraction methods are employed depending on the plant material. These are enfleurage (jasmine), solvent extraction (carnation), maceration (St. John's wort), and expression/scarification (citrus). Essential oils can contain up to 100 different chemical components (alcohols, terpenes, sesquiterpenes, terpene alcohols, phenols, esters, ketones), many of which are valuable in skin care.

Essential oils beautify and improve the skin's appearance while uplifting the spirit with their wonderfully pleasant scents. This is particularly true of flower oils such as lavender, geranium, rosewood, and rose, among others. These oils restore the skin's vitality by promoting the regeneration of healthy skin cells and by encouraging the elimination of dead cells.

Lavender is a mild and versatile first aid and general-purpose oil that is effective in treating acne, eczema, bruises, burns, sunburn, insect bites and stings, and lice. Geranium stimulates cell regeneration and is recommended for mature skin types, and for the healing of bruises, burns, and scars. Rosewood benefits sensitive, dry mature skin, as does rose oil, for those who can afford it. Palmarosa is a grass oil that re-establishes the physiological balance of the skin, moisturizes and refreshes the skin, and stimulates cellular regeneration. Australian tea tree oil's characteristic strong scent may not appeal to everyone, but this oil's powerful antiseptic, anti-infectious, and immune-stimulating actions make it effective against bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Use it to clear up acne, cold sores, athlete's foot, insect bites, and warts. All of the oils listed above can be added to facial creams, lotions, masks, and vegetable oils.

Buy the Best

When purchasing an oil for aromatherapy or skin care use, it is important to remember that not all essential oils are created equally. Buying quality essential oils that are 100-per-cent pure and natural is key. Look for essential oils carrying the HEBBD certification label created by the Scientific Institute of Aromatology. This certification guarantees the quality and defines the three fundamental criteria guaranteeing the origin and exact nature of an essential oil: the exact botanical species (e.g., the gender, the qualifying adjective, the variety), the producing organ (e.g., whole plant, flowers, leaves, zest) and the biochemical specificity (e.g., cineol, camphor). Another label to look for is the ?OCERT certification. This label guarantees that the essential oil was distilled from organically grown plants.

For more information on the HEBBD certification label or the use of essential oils for skin care purposes, pick up a copy of Discover What's Essential About Essential Oils by Dr. Georges-Victor Bego (Jakin Publishing, 1997). Your skin will thank you.

Anoint Yourself With Oil

Use essential oils as a base for:

Facials - Eight drops of oil in a bowl of hot water
Masks - Five drops of oil in a clay mask
Body massages - One drop of oil for every mL of vegetable oil
Baths - Five to ten drops of oil mixed into a dispersing agent like Emulcia
Cosmetic face oils, creams, and lotions - Add a few drops

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