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Beautiful Naturally: Effective Essential Oils for Mature Skin

Jul 12, 2008
Therapeutic essential oils are found in the highest quality beauty care products designed for mature skin. Natural oils have many beneficial properties including the stimulation of cellular metabolism, the regeneration of tissues, reduction of oxidative stress, anti-inflammatory effects, as well as various hormone-like activities. These known benefits are the therapeutic fundamentals for topical support of the health and beauty of aging skin. Not only are true essential oils kinder to the planet than synthetic mixtures, their health-giving effects can be dramatic. Beyond the obvious benefits, the natural health enthusiast can make a skin care blend precisely suited to their skin's personal needs, at a fraction of the cost of the high-end laboratory-made blends. Many of the ingredients are available locally at your health food store. The more esoteric items found either on the internet or through mail order from providers of therapeutic-grade aromatherapy and apothecary supplies.

What makes essential oils and their accompanying carrier oils so effective for natural skin care? It happens that their chemical structures are highly-compatible with that of our skin cells. Essential oils are easily absorbed through the dermal layers and even through the skin's individual cell walls. This makes them extremely simple to create and use your own formulas. Just mix each chosen essential oil into one or more carrier oils (which have their own therapeutic effects as well) at the recommended concentrations, then apply regularly for best results. The carrier oils will do just as the name implies - 'carry' the essential oils more deeply into the skin, and prevent them from being quickly evaporated into the air (as a perfume might be).

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. There are several to choose from that support the health and beauty of mature skin. 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. For example, a four-ounce base formula specific for dry-to-normal skin may be one ounce Avocado, one ounce Rosehip seed and two ounces of Apricot Kernel - other oils should be substituted according to your skin type.

On to the essential oils - the magic active ingredients. These are in no particular order; they all have unique properties, and selecting one or more depends on your personal skin's condition. 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.

Clary Sage essential oil is noted as being particularly suited to natural beauty care. It contains sclareol, which mimics the effects of estrogen; this is noted by one expert author as the primary reason it helps with skin aging. It may also be the reason Clary Sage is said to regulate the skin's secretions, bringing balance to both over-dry and over-oily skin. Elsewhere, it is noted as relaxing - even mildly euphoric - which may also contribute to its positive effects for wrinkles. Sweet Fennel is another 'estrogenic' essential oil, called for by Valerie Worwood in 'The Complete Book of Essential Oils' as an ingredient in wrinkle-preventative blends for all ages.

Sea Buckthorn Berry CO2 (a cold-processed essential oil) is a gentle oil with a pleasingly sweet aroma. Sea Buckthorn contains significant amounts of essential fatty acids along with antioxidant vitamins A, C and E. This specialty skin care essential oil is rich in carotenes, which likely impart its rejuvenative effects. It is noted as a particularly effective anti-wrinkle and skin softening agent. Another specialty oil for mature skin care is Cistus, also known as Rock Rose. The oil is distilled from a plant grown in hot, sun-drenched regions, and can be added to blends for its particular effect of firming the skin. It also has astringent properties which can support clearing of oily skin; further, it is mentioned in blends for firming around the eyes - when used near the eyes, any blend should contain no more than .5% essential oils as to not be irritating in this sensitive area.

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. Finally, perhaps the most rare, yet most effective overall essential oil is Rose Otto; just a little goes a long way - so despite it's high cost, even one-half of a percent in your formulas can make your skin really glow.

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. So for example, if using five essential oils, use a maximum of six drops of each per ounce of carrier oil. Almost all essential oils work best at these seemingly low concentrations - more is not better. You can, however, adjust the essential oil ratios to suit the needs of your skin and/or your aromatic preferences.

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. If you have any uncertainty about a particular oil, there are many quality resources regarding essential oil safety available both on the internet and in print.

Blending a personal formula may seem overwhelming at first, but in fact it is quite a natural and pleasant experience. Once the formula is decided upon, one simply needs to mix each selected essential oil into the one or more base oils at the recommended concentrations and apply to clean skin on a regular basis. The creation of synergistic therapeutic blends for mature skin is enjoyable, easy-to-do, and a wise choice for the skin, the planet, and the pocket-book. By using therapeutic-grade oils and carriers, you'll be creating an effective, beautiful smelling formula that is designed precisely for your own skin condition. Moreover, you can adjust the recipe over time as your needs change, or make different formulas with various aromas to double as natural perfumes. As always with aromatherapy, start slowly, pay attention to your body, enjoy the process!
About the Author
The author is a consultant for Ananda Aromatherapy, found at www.anandaapothecary.com. Find more resources are available on aromatherapy and essential oil blends through the website.
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