Everyone loves essential oils and they are becoming even more popular all the time. New uses for essential oils are constantly being developed by beauty laboratories around the world.
I want to share my knowledge about essential oils now because of their growing popularity. This post is not intended to be an encompassing and completely statement about all aspects of essential oils. I will tell you about the use of essential oils in general and my views on the use of essential oils.
Essential oils are usually prepared by steam distillation
The word etheric means here that these oils are really ethereal. These products do not contain any actual oil at all, although the name indicates there is some oil. Essential oils are plant odours. They are usually obtained from the plant by steam distillation or by compression. Essential oils cannot be prepared at home unless steam distillation is possible, which is usually not the case.
Genuine essential oil
Genuine essential oil means that the product is pressed or steam-distilled from one plant and not mixed with other essential oils. The by-product of essential oils is hydrolats, that is, vegetable water, or flower water. Flowering waters are the water-soluble part of plant fluids and essential oils are the fat-soluble part.
What do the essential oils contain?
It is very difficult to give perfect answer. One essential oil contains dozens if not hundreds of different fragrant plant compounds.
Some of the most common, most used and most desirable are:
- Linalool (occurs in rose tree, roses and many other plants)
- Limonene (a compound found in citrus, very common in many plants)
- Menthol (found in mint)
- a-pinene (a compound found in conifers)
- Eucalyptol (a compound found in eucalyptus)
The composition of the substances in the essential oils and their ratio depends on many things. Of course, each plant has own specific fragrant compounds typical to its own species. In addition, the compounds are affected by the growing conditions of the plant, the variety and the process of making the essential oil.
Dangers of essential oils
Essential oils are very strong concentrates that should be used only with caution. The following text may look like an exaggeration of an emergency guard. However, I have found that essential oils are often used carelessly. Then they do much more harm than good.
Protect your brain against too strong scents
Essential oil can penetrate human skin and go everywhere in the body, including the brain. Essential oil reaches the brain through the nose. There is a direct connection to the brain through the nasal odour receptor cells. The blood brain barrier prevents harmful chemicals in the blood from reaching the brain. The purpose of the blood brain barrier is to protect sensitive brain tissue from toxic substances. Few substances can reach the brain through the blood vessels.
Essential oils in air
Essential oils do not need to use the blood vessels to reach the brain. Essential oil just floats in the nose and goes through the olfactory receptor cells to the nerve cells, then to the cortex and finally to the entire central nervous system. This is the only channel in the human body that does not have a blood brain barrier. This is the biggest concern and danger when using essential oils.
Fragrance compounds floating in the air
The problem applies not only to essential oils but to all fragrance compounds floating in the air. The brain can tolerate a certain number of fragrant compounds. However, there are differences in the scents. Fresh roses smell wonderful like the rose essential oil. The fragrance of a fresh rose is so much milder that it can in no way damage the brain.
Essential oils are solvents
Essential oils treat the brain like turpentine or paint thinner. Solvents are highly toxic to the brain when exposed continuously. Essential oils smell charming, but they are just as dangerous as all the notorious solvents. People who are exposed to vapor of essential oils on a daily basis will get symptoms sooner or later. There may be liver problems, persistent headaches, malaise and vomiting.
Essential oils damage the liver like alcohol. Aroma therapists are an example of people who are constantly working under the influence of essential oil vapour. As a result of years of exposure, many aromatherapists must change their profession.
Essential oils are highly flammable
The flammability of essential oils should be kept in mind when considering the use of them. In scent lamps, oil ignition is possible. At home, there is rarely any other situation where the essential oil burns.
Are essential oils safe for children?
You better consider carefully whether you’d like to use any essential oils in children’s products at all. In case you do, use only 1-3 drops of essential oil. Under the age of 3, I would not use any essential oils at all because such a small baby’s liver has not yet developed yet to handle toxins. I’ve heard that some mothers are using essential oils for their new-born babies. Never do this, it can be harmful to your baby.
Harmful substances in essential oils
Many essential oils also contain ingredients that are very toxic. I do not mean the solvents contained in the essential oils, but the actual toxic ingredients. However, the amount of essential oil to kill a human or animal is very big. Lethal amounts are somewhere as 5g / one body weight kilogram. So, this is more theoretical question but the toxic ingredients may be harmful to your body anyway.
Essential oil as food flavouring
There are essential oils that are also used as food flavourings. Such essential oils are non-toxic. These are so-called natural flavouring substances. There are about 100 different types of essential oils used as flavouring agents.
Pets and essential oils
Cats and dogs, on the other hand, are very sensitive to essential oils. The animals’ sense of smell is very sensitive. The animals’ body cannot handle very strong scents. It is said that some essential oil like lavender would be bad for a cat, but a rose would be fine. However, this is not the case. Both rose and lavender essential oils have the same ingredients but in different proportions. Also, tea tree oil is very problematic for the animals and causes symptoms like human hangover.
Pregnant ladies cannot tolerate essential oils like the rest of us. The whole body is heavily stressed during pregnancy and the liver and kidneys cannot handle any more toxins. It is advisable to avoid all heavily perfumed products during pregnancy.
Same goes with older people, they do not tolerate essential oils in the same way as younger people. People over 65 should not use any essential oils at all. When ageing, your liver and kidneys are not working effectively anymore. People with liver and kidney problems have the same problem. Essential oils are not suitable for them.
Epileptics and other people suffering of neurological diseases can get serious reactions from essential oils.
Citrus oils do sensitize the skin to light. Never use a product containing citrus oil for the whole day.
Tea tree oil and lavender oil have been studied as a cause of hormonal disorders. They affect the production of estrogen and testosterone. Research findings are controversial.
Essential oils and allergies
Many people are allergic to essential oils. The two most allergenic compounds in essential oils are linalool and limonene. These two compounds are very common in all essential oils. So, it doesn’t help if you switch to another essential oil. Limonene and linalool are also very popular in detergents and cleansers. They are usually chemically made.
Only eco-certified products must contain genuine plant-derived linalool and limonene. Chemically made fragrances are even more allergenic as they are pure linalool and limonene. Because of the risk of allergy, these two fragrance compounds must always be mentioned in all INCI lists, even in case the percentage of them is extremely low in the product.
How to Choose Safe Essential Oils |
Because the essential oil is a concentrate, it contains also all the plant’s pesticides as concentrated form. There could be plenty of residues of pesticides in poor quality essential oils. Pesticide residues are also one of the major causes of allergies caused by essential oils. An essential oil producer should always measure pesticide residues in the final product, whether the product is organic or non-organic. This is the only way that show to the customer whether the product is safe or not.
How do I use essential oils?
There are many uses for essential oils in homemade cosmetics. Be reasonable and know what you are doing, then you can add them to the products you want or use in baths.
Always dilute the essential oils. Never use any essential oil directly on the skin. There are many good oils for dilution like base oils such as sunflower oil or some other neutral oil. You can also dilute the essential oils with glycerol or alcohol. Do not dilute essential oils with water as they do not dissolve in water.
When using essential oils in homemade cosmetics, add the essential oil to the product already cooled down. Essential oils do not withstand any heat. Add a little essential oil first and then add carefully more if needed.
Each essential oil is unique
All essential oils have their own active ingredients. Many essential oils are used externally to heal minor skin ailments such as inflamed acne or warts. You can tune up a moisturizer that fades milium from the skin by adding some rosemary essential oil to your skin cream. There are so many different oils to created that it would be impossible to write about all of them. I will not even try, even shortly, to open the effects of them all.
Here’s how to make your own elegant scent combinations
You can choose the essential oils according to your own preferences. However, keep in mind that the scent may change when you add it to the final product. I’ve got the best results with the combination of citrus, floral and coniferous scents. Please bear in mind that genuine organic essential oils are very expensive.
If you want to get yourself an affordable selection of essential oils you will not get bored with, get two herbal or floral scents, two citrus scents and two conifer scents.
Make fragrance combinations of your own
This way you’ll get the variety of odours and you don’t have to buy a huge selection of expensive essential oils. You can complete the selection with your favourite scents.
Essential oils last longer if you use them carefully. Also, essential oils will not spoil unless you leave the bottle cap open or store them too warm place. Store the essential oils at room temperature away from light and out of the reach of children. You can use the essential oils you have purchased for years.
Make your own fragrant products from essential oils
- You can give a special scent to your day creams with essential oils. Use 1-10 drops / 60ml (2.03 us fl oz) of finished ointment
- Facial toners; use 1-10 drops / 200ml (6.7628 us fl oz) product
- Foot Creams; use mint or peppermint. Tea tree oil is also good. 1-10 drops / 60 ml (2.03 us fl oz) of finished ointment
- Perfumes; mix essential oils with neutral base oil such as sunflower oil. 2 tablespoons of base oil and 20 drops of essential oils.
- Bath oil for adults, 16-65 years old; use 5-10 drops of bathtub water. Mix the essential oil with 2 tablespoons of neutral base oil such as sunflower oil.
There are so may essential oils to be introduced. They are very interesting but also very demanding cosmetic raw materials. Successful use of essential oils requires a great deal of knowledge. We will explore their secrets in the future as well.
Do you consider essential oils safe or do you prefer non-perfumed products?