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Essential Oil Suggestions for Skincare

Deciding to use essential oils in your homemade skincare can seem overwhelming, confusing, and expensive. When you are deciding which oils to invest in, it’s important to think about how much you’ll need and which brand(s) you’ll trust to use on your body. I don’t want to push you toward any brands in this post, but I did price several companies I believe to be ethical and sustainable to get the price ranges. I chose easily accessible brands like Aura Cacia, Mountain Rose Herbs, and Eden’s Garden but you should shop wherever you feel best. My one request is please do not purchase things like essential oils, carrier oils, or other items where adulteration could be an issue, from a third party seller online. Please go straight to the source or purchase at a local store.

On to dilution! A very important step is using the proper amount. Overusing essential oils is common, and can cause irritation. Even if you do not have a reaction issue, overuse is wasteful. Your body will only take in so much and the rest is left for your liver to filter out. Keep your liver and your wallet happy by carefully measuring and not following the ‘more is better’ philosophy with essential oils.

To calculate proper dilution, it’s easiest to convert ounces to milliliters. There are 30 ml in 1 oz, so just multiply the number of ounces by 30. For example, if you want to make a half ounce serum, multiply 30 x 0.5 to get 15. A half ounce of oil is 15 milliliters. 

Next, choose your dilution level and multiply the number of milliliters by your chosen percentage. For example, to make 15 ml of serum at a 1.5% dilution, you would multiply 15 x 0.015 to get 0.225. You’ll add 0.225 ml of essential oil to your 15 ml of carrier oil(s). A rule of thumb is that there are 20 drops in 1 ml of essential oil, so this would equate to about 5 drops. This isn’t a perfect way to measure since thick oils, like sandalwood, will have slow, consistent drops – but thin oils, like lavender, will drop quickly and inconsistently. Unfortunately, unless you are making larger batches, this is the easiest and most convenient way to formulate.

Dilutions between 0.5% to 2% are appropriate for skincare. Some oils, like rose otto (not the same as solvent extracted rose concrete or absolute), should be used at 0.5% (or less), but most are just what you prefer within these guidelines. Sensitive skin should start low and work up if desired. Please note that if you plan to use multiple essential oils, your dilution amount should be the total amount of essential oil you add. Do not add 1.5% (or whatever you choose) of each essential oil.

Picking which essential oil to use is up to you and your skin. The oils most recommended in skincare all share very similar abilities – anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, regenerative, these are all common characteristics across the board. What will matter is how you like it, how your skin likes it, and how drawn to it you are. I often recommend trusting your intuition. Using an oil you like and are drawn to, even if it’s not as potent as another option, is the better choice. An oil you aren’t interested in, no matter the benefits, does nothing for you if it sits in a drawer unused because you just don’t like it.

Let’s dive into my personal favorites:

Blue Tansy (Tanacetum Annuum) - $4 - $10/ml - Aside from its benefits as an antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-histaminic, and antiviral, blue tansy is ultra-calming. This calming effect makes blue tansy an excellent choice in your self care routine. Please note: while blue tansy is anti-histaminic, ironically it can be an unwanted ingredient if you are allergic to ragweed or other chamomiles.

Carrot Seed (Daucus Carota) - $0.80 - $1.75/ml - Made from the seeds of the ornate Queen Anne’s Lace (not from the orange garden carrot we most likely think of), carrot seed essential oil is used for toning, tightening, and brightening.

Frankincense (Boswellia Carterii) - $1.00 - $3.00/ml - One of the best choices for reducing the appearance of scars. Frankincense has astringent qualities which can smooth the look of skin and stimulate new cell growth. The aroma of frankincense can also promote a feeling of relaxation and calm.

Geranium (Pelargonium Graveolens) - $0.70 - $2.80/ml - Possibly the most underrated essential oil in the beauty industry, geranium is a powerful ally against skin blemishes and scarring. Geranium is an excellent pick for battling broken capillaries and congested skin.

German Chamomile (Matricaria Chamomilla/Recutita) - $3.00 - $6.00/ml - Wonderful for dry or inflamed skin in need of soothing. It’s widely regarded as a ‘cure all’ plant with outstanding anti-inflammatory benefits.

Immortelle (Helichrysum Italicum) - $5 - $12/ml - This dainty flower, also known as Everlasting, has a history of use in fighting the perils of aging, particularly sagging skin. Its anti-inflammatory, anti-histaminic, and astringent qualities make it great for any skin type, but is most popular for mature skin.

Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia) - $0.65 - $0.80/ml -  Highly aromatic, versatile, and popular, lavender is used to reduce stress and calm a litany of skin ailments. Wonderful for acne, allergies, and even keeping mosquitoes away, this wallet friendly oil is one to have around. There are many varieties, some more medicinal in scent than others. Be sure to try it before you buy it.

Manuka (Leptospermum Scoparium) - $1.25 -  $2.50/ml - Related to tea tree, manuka has many of the same benefits without the strong medicinal scent. This oil is a good pick for problem skin due to how highly antibacterial it is.

Neroli (Citrus Aurantium) - $6 - $12/ml - Rejuvenating, regenerative, and soothing to all skin types, neroli is a lovely citrus smelling oil good for any skin type. Because it’s not made from citrus rinds, but from the flower, there is no worry of phototoxicity with neroli.

Rose Otto (Rosa Damascena) - $15 - $30/ml (use at 0.5% or less) - Aside from the scarcity of these flowers, rose otto (steam distilled) is also a treasure for your skin. Rose otto is incredible for dry or mature skin and very, very little is needed for results. This oil is intoxicatingly aromatic and although very expensive, should be cherished as an investment in natural skincare.

Sandalwood, Hawaiian (Santalum Paniculatum) - $4 - $7/ml - Although most known for its benefits in meditation and aromatherapy, sandalwood is amazing for skin as well. Its antiseptic properties make it a wonderful choice for problem skin, plus its soothing nature keeps all skin types glowing.

(Price examples are based on 30 ml bottles)

Here’s a quick dilution guide to keep for your reference (I have this taped inside my kitchen cabinet for quick access):

Dilution

Milliliters

Drops

0.5 %

0.15

3

1%

0.3

6

1.5%

0.45

9

2%

0.6

12

Per 1 oz of carrier oil


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