The Beauty of Essential Oils by
A whiff of lavender before bed to make you drowsy is a popular way to use essential oils. But don’t stop there. The powerful elixirs have other benefits, including beautifying your skin. “Essential oils, which are distilled or extracted directly from plants, have the potential to boost your skin care routine,” says David Bank, M.D., a boardcertified dermatologist in Mount Kisco, New York, and author of Beautiful Skin: Every Woman’s Guide to Looking Her Best at Any Age. “They can correct a problem or add an additional benefit beyond what your current skincare products are imparting.” Despite their name, however, essential oils aren’t an oil (fat). Rather, “they’re concentrated constituents from plants that have anti-bacterial and antiinflammatory properties,” Dr. Banks says. They’re so potent, in fact, that essential oils are typically mixed with a nourishing carrier oil, such as argon, sweet almond, jojoba, coconut, rose hip or even olive oil before they’re applied to your skin. You can also apply essential oils to your skin as a mist, using one ounce of distilled water, two droppers of vodka (to help the oil and water mix), and 45 drops of any essential oil, single or in combination. By themselves, essential oils can cause chronic allergic contact dermatitis, an irritating skin condition. Lavender oil is an exception to the rule. “It’s one of the few essential oils that can be safely applied ‘neat,’” says Heather Tobin, a certified aromatherapist in Kingston, New Hampshire, which is aromatherapy-speak for straight up. Sarah Sherwood, a publicist from San Mateo, California, discovered the power of essential oils for her chronically parched skin. “My skin was so dry that if I scratched my arm with my fingernail, lots of white stuff would always flake off. My dermatologist told me it was sun damage and there was nothing I could do,” she 22 l Summer 2017
says. After trying several different over the counter moisturizers, Sherwood met with a registered aromatherapist who recommended a homemade facial moisturizer with rose essential oil and a lavender oilbased body butter for the rest of her body. “My skin is noticeably better,” Sherwood says. “Not only does it not flake anymore, I can even skip my morning moisturizer on some days because I just don’t need it,” she says. Beyond alleviating itchy skin, essential oils have broader applications. Here’s a rundown of the most beneficial essential oils, which are available at Whole Foods and health food stores, and the best ways to use them in your daily routine. All-Over Skincare: Lavender Lavender is a go-to essential oil that helps calm the skin and reduce the inflammation associated with acne blemishes, redness and sunspots. To apply: Dab lavender essential oil on a blemish or make your own day and night moisturizer by mixing 1 ounce of a carrier oil, such as argon oil (for mature skin) or jojoba oil (if you’re acne prone) with 10 drops of lavender essential oil in an amber glass bottle with roll-on applicator. Apply it in the morning and at night, after cleansing. In general, a 1-ounce bottle of any essential/carrier oil can last for one to two years and cover multiple applications.