As animals (and human animals at that), we tend to think of ourselves as sitting at the top of the food chain. And yet, when it comes to beautifying ourselves, we could all take a lesson from plants. That’s exactly what we do when we use essential oils. They’re the life force, or some might say the very soul, of a plant. And as vital as that is to the plant, they can be an enormous help to us.
Most essential oils are high in antibacterial, anti fungal, and antiviral properties, making them great replacements for cleaners, and for treatments for cuts. They also have a small molecular size, which means they’re absorbed well by the skin. Adding them to your lotions and creams induces healing, softening, and nourishing. And in the massage and steam rooms (which they can help make your own bathroom into), they make for excellent aromatherapy.
They’re amazing in baths: Add between five and 10 drops of milder oil to the water before you hop in, and you’ve got yourself a bliss-inducing home spa. To create a compresses Good for bruises, wounds, muscular aches, and skin problems, add 10 drops into 4 ounces of hot water, soak a cloth in it, and wrap around the area you want to treat. Use them for facial steams that open sinuses, help headaches, and solve skin issues: Put one to five drops into hot water in a tub, cover your head with a towel, and steam your face. When getting (or giving) a massage, use pure oils; they’re about 70 times more concentrated than the whole plant, so dilute them anywhere from two to 10 percent.
Note that because essential oils are powerhouses, most should never be used undiluted on the skin. Instead, they should be combined with waxes, butters, alcohols, or other diluting measures. Because they’re so concentrated, if you don’t dilute, you may end up with skin irritation. The only essential oils that are widely acknowledged as safe to use undiluted (sparingly) are lavender, German chamomile, tea tree, sandalwood, and rose geranium.
Essential oils can be a bit pricey, thanks to the enormous number of plants that are needed to produce them. One of the most extreme cases is the Bulgarian rose, which takes 4,000 pounds of the plant to produce one pound of essential oil. Other plants like lavender only take 100 pounds of plant material to produce a pound.
But even with a hefty price tag, they’re actually fairly economical given that they last for at least 5 years. (The only exception to this rule is citrus oils, which will see a reduction in potency after a year or two.)So one bottle could last you half a decade. Since they’re incredibly concentrated, only a tiny amount is needed in anything you do. And if you keep your oils in dark glass bottles and out of direct sunlight, they’ll stay stronger for even longer.
At G Spa, we have a handful of skin-saving essential oils. (The brands we use, by the way, are NOW Essential Oils and Young Living Essential Oils). For starters, tea tree oil helps get rid of acne since it naturally kills bacteria, and also works to fight nail fungus, dandruff, and can take the itch out of bug bites. We also love argan oil, avocado oil, and castor oil: All three are amazing for moisturizing hair. To tighten aging skin and encourage skin cell turnover, geranium, patchouli and frankincense are miracle workers. And if you need a non-irritating way to get rid of dead skin cells, even out skin tone, and lighten dark spots caused by the sun, sweet almond oil is your go-to.