Plant Power: A Beginner's Guide to Essential Oils

Plant Power: A Beginner's Guide to Essential Oils

Image: Getty Images


Plant Power: A Beginner's Guide to Essential Oils

We’re always on the hunt for well-rounded products that can make us look great on the outside, while nurturing us on the inside, and many essential oils can do just that. Whether you suffer from eczema or acne or want to improve the health of your hair and nails, you can benefit from the endless virtues of essential oils.

Essential oils that have been used for centuries are now becom­ing well known and widely used for their health benefits. They’re commonly used in aro­matherapy—the treatment of ailments using scent—and can be deployed in three ways: by diffusing, inhaling or topical application. “The preferred method depends on the objective of the treatment,” explains Jean Colas, former premier vice­-president of marketing and sales at Lotus Aroma.

If you want to strengthen your brittle nails or soothe a sunburn, apply the oil directly on the affected area. If your nose is stuffed, diffusing or inhaling something like eucalyptus oil or peppermint oil is the way to go. Though there’s a myriad of uses for essen­tial oils, there are precautions that need to be taken. “In general, follow the dosages and administrative instructions on the packaging diligently,” cautions Isabelle Pacchioni, co­-founder of natural health­-care and beauty company Puressentiel.

It’s important to know that not all essential oils are suited for every­one (or all age groups), and many should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women. If you have any doubts, ask a health­-care specialist to advise you.



Image: Getty Images


To Each Their Oil

Incorporate specific essential oils into your daily skin­ or body­-care regimen if you have the following concerns:


Regulating combination or oily skin

Mix ylang­-ylang oil into your skin­care product or to a base oil, such as jojoba oil or coconut oil, for smooth, bright skin. See the first signs of a pimple? Opt for tea tree oil as its dis­infectant properties can help to reduce the inflammation and keep the pimple from erupting. Use a very small amount on a cotton swab and apply sparingly to the problem area as a spot treatment.


Nourishing dry skin

Does your skin need a hit of moisture? Add geranium oil to a base oil to help your skin cells regenerate. To prepare an effective homemade treatment, put 12 drops of the essential oil into 30 ml of argan oil, and apply a small amount to skin daily.


Treating sensitive skin

Lavender essential oil can be very soothing on sensitive skin because of its anti­inflammatory properties—dilute a few drops in about 30 ml of jojoba oil.


Fighting wrinkles

Mix a couple drops of helichrysum (a.k.a. immortal flower) oil with some argan oil for the perfect anti-­aging cocktail!


Preventing dull hair

Ylang­-ylang essential oil revitalizes the hairs’ capillary fibres, stimulates the scalp’s sebum production and brings a softness and shine to your locks. The formula: Add one to three drops of ylang­-ylang essential oil to your shampoo, or apply it in mask form, diluted in argan oil (which nourishes dry, damaged hair) or jojoba oil (which regulates oily hair).


Reinforcing brittle nails

Lemon essential oil is key to help solidify, whiten, and eliminate spots. Massage the nail and the cuticle with two drops lemon oil mixed with four drops argan oil. (Tip: do this before bed for an intensely hydrating overnight treatment).


Firming your figure

Geranium essential oil restores firmness and elasticity to the skin, while cypress oil helps remove toxins, activates blood circulation and facilitates drainage, which means it can reduce the appearance of cellulite.


Precautions Before Use

Before integrating essential oils into your beauty routine, here are some questions to ask.


Does the essential oil have to be pure?

It’s a mark of quality, so it’s important to read the full list of ingredients to know exactly what you’re using. Some oils, such as pure lavender, are often diluted with another oil or synthetic materials. In those cases, say hello to allergies and adverse reactions or reduced efficacy!


Can you put it directly on your skin?

“Yes, if you have a sunburn, you can apply pure lavender oil, or for a minor cut or scrape, tea tree oil,” says Pacchioni. “But it’s only good to do it if the area to be treated is small, and the treatment time doesn’t last more than a couple of days.” In fact, certain essential oils can irritate—or even burn—our epidermis. To avoid any bad reactions, dilute them in a base oil. Our favourite base oils are apricot, jojoba, grape-seed, or sweet almond oil, which are not strongly scented.


Can you mix essential oils?

As Colas explained, there surely exists a singular oil that corresponds to your needs, so why make it more complicated? “Inform yourself as to which oils are appropriate, then choose one among those that appeals to your olfactory senses,” he suggests. “If there are several options, pick the one with the most benefits.”


Can you consume essential oils?

Be warned! Consuming these oils can be dangerous, as some of them have hallucinogenic properties, while others can cause serious complications to the liver or stomach. “Unless you’re an expert, absolutely avoid swallowing these products,” says Colas. Using the oils in the three ways that they are meant to be administered—diffusion, inhalation or topically applied—will give you their maximum benefits.”


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Plant Power: A Beginner's Guide to Essential Oils