It’s no surprise several of the world’s finest formulas for beautifying mature skin contain natural essential oils. Therapeutic grade essential oils used in aromatherapy are each selected for their distinctive healing action; many oils are specifically indicated for skin healing and healthy skin maintenance. Of greatest interest here are the oils known for their tissue regenerative effects and support of the skin’s metabolic functions. An effective personal blend using premium therapeutic grade oils is easily made by choosing a few oils corresponding to the needs of your skin type, and blending with easy-to-follow formulas.
What is it about essential oils that make them so suitable to the task of making mature skin glow? The aromatic oils are nature’s liquid healing wonders. It is thought that plants produce them as their own healing potions, with variations that depend on the plant’s habitat; a plant needs to generate new cells, defend itself from oxidative radicals, and promote its own fitness as much as humans do. These aromatic oils are highly compatible with our own health and well-being. Countless essential oils have been examined over time, and a few stand out as extraordinary medicines for our skin. Creating a personal formula using them is a simple task: just mix a small amount of essential oils with the appropriate (and therapeutic) seed or nut oils at the right concentrations, and voila! Your own highly effective skin care blend.
Let’s have a look at the carrier oils, also aptly named ‘base’ oils. These are oils cold-pressed from seeds, nuts and fruit that will make up the foundation of any formula. These natural oils will form 95-98% of your blend, with the essential oils being added as the ‘active ingredients’. Avocado is first on the list, being included in many recipes for its hydrating and nutritive properties. Avocado is especially suited to dry skin, and should make up about one-fifth of the ‘base’ for dry-to-normal skin. Next is Apricot Kernel, also highly recommended for dry-to-normal skin, or for irritated and damaged skin. Apricot can make up the entire base if you so desire. Evening Primrose is a highly nutritive oil with a significant amount of essential fatty acids – important for building healthy tissues. Evening Primrose can make up to one quarter of the base. Hazelnut oil is very common in skin care blends, as it is well tolerated by all skin types. It can be especially useful for those with a tendency toward oily skin, as it has mildly astringent properties. Despite the seeming contradiction to applying ‘oil’ to an already ‘oily’ complexion, Hazelnut is recommended in the most advanced medical aromatherapy texts for this use – it can make up to 100% of the base. Perhaps the most important carrier oil to consider for mature skin is Rosehip seed – pressed from the seeds of a wild rose from South America, it contains research-validated vitamin A compounds that act like natural ‘Retin-A’, enhancing the skin’s natural regeneration, lessening the appearance of fine lines, supporting healthy skin that may have endured sun-damage, and unifying skin coloration. Rosehip seed can, and should, make up to one quarter of your base recipe.
On to the essential oils – the magic active ingredients. We’ll begin with Carrot Seed, a wonderful warm, smooth and earthy essential oil with a long history in skin care. It is particularly indicated for skin that has lost its glow from undue stress, whether from external environmental factors or other types of strain. Carrot seed is very gentle, inexpensive, and useful for all skin types. Next is Rosemary of the Verbenone chemotype – it’s distilled from common rosemary grown in particular regions of the world that lead to a higher fraction of regenerative ‘ketones’ in the oil. These molecules enhance regeneration and metabolism ‘ improving the use of nutrients and removal of toxins on a cellular level.
Essential oils that simulate the effects of estrogen have been found supportive of mature skin health. Perhaps as natural estrogen production lessens over time, these oils continue to give the skin a youthful hormonal environment. Two oils which can be considered are Clary Sage and Sweet Fennel. Each are noted by various authorities as exceptionally important for aging skin. Clary Sage is soft, sweet and herbaceous, with an aroma considered mildly euphoric to some. Sweet Fennel is a little stronger aromatically, and has been recommended for ‘anti-wrinkle’ formulas for every age. You may decide purely on the basis of your personal aromatic preference if you wish to include one of these estrogen mimicking oils.
A couple of lesser known yet highly effective skin care specialty oils are Cistus and Sea Buckthorn. Cistus is distilled from the Rock Rose flower, with astringent qualities used for firming the skin. Some Cistus varieties tend to have a rather medicinal aroma, but truly fine ones are sweet and alluring. Sea Buckthorn is pleasingly sweet, and should be considered for blends for all skin types. Found as a CO2 distillation (not to be confused with the cold-pressed Sea Buckthorn carrier oil) the essential oil is a deep red color, indicating the high concentration of carotenes, vitamin A precursors so important to skin health. The virtues of Sea Buckthorn have been hailed by users with a wide variety of skin conditions and types at every age – it is useful in very small amounts, and need only make up 1% of your recipe to enjoy its benefits.
Then there is the tried and true French Lavender – Lavendula angustifolia – the essential oil which began the modern aromatherapy revolution with the discovery of its nearly miraculous healing power. Lavender is balancing, gentle and regenerative. It may be added at any concentration to your blend. Its sweet and floral aroma is loved by many ‘ though if you find it too sweet, and are looking for a potent regenerative essential oil, try Helichrysum instead. Helichrysum contains regenerative molecules unique to this plant alone, with a warmer, slightly spicy and herbaceous aroma. Helichrysum need only be used in small amounts, and may otherwise overpower other oils aromatically ‘ otherwise, Helichrysum is very gentle, and is even called for being applied directly to the skin undiluted for acute healing needs.
Creating your own blend is a simple and enjoyable process. Simple, as you only need select the essential oils you wish to include, and can add them in equal amounts – 10 drops of each essential oil per ounce of base oil is a perfect start. Enjoyable as the essential oils smell so wonderful! One can’t help to keep inhaling their aroma while preparing a formula. The essential oils ARE potent; it’s best to limit your total essential oil concentration to less than five percent of the overall mixture. This works out to 30 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier. If using more than three essential oils (i.e. more than 10 drops each of three varieties) limit the amount of each essential oil so that the final volume per ounce is less than 30 drops.
Many of the oils mentioned here are found in blends for women, but there is no rule that prevents men from using them as well. For an aroma that a man may appreciate, deeper, earthier essential oils can be used – Sandalwood, Frankincense and Myrrh are all essential oils noted for their benefits to mature skin. Also, for any gender, including essential oils for their fragrance and not just their therapeutic properties is certainly an option. With one’s emotional health often clearly reflected in the condition of their skin, there’s more than likely to be a benefit beyond simply smelling nice! Just be aware that there are a few oils that should not be applied to the face; these are some of the spicier oils – Cinnamon, Oregano, Clove and Thyme varieties; cold-pressed citrus oils like lime, lemon, orange and bergamot should also be avoided for facial care, as these oils can cause the skin to be extra-sensitive to UV light.
Creating your own personal therapeutic skin care blend is a wonderful aromatherapy project for beginning and advanced practitioners alike. You’ll have an effective mixture made just for your skin type, and that you can adjust according to your needs in the future. Plus it’s fun to do, and easier on the pocket book than high-end commercial formulations. As always when starting out with these medicines from nature, be aware of you’re body’s responses to the oils, respect their potency, and most of all, have fun!
The author is a degreen naturopath, herbologist and iridologist trained at the Colorado School of Natural Medicine. She specializes in supporting women’s health through natural means. She is the owner of The Ananda Apothecary, an online resource for aromatherapy information and therapeutic grade essential oils. She may be contacted through http://www.anandaapothecary.com
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