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What makes essential oils so special?

Slowly and steadily, they have become a hot-selling product for skincare and personal wellness

Essential oils are actually distillates of aromatic compounds of plants.
Essential oils are actually distillates of aromatic compounds of plants. (Unsplash)

In a market that seems almost oversaturated with personal healthcare and beauty wellness products, essential oils always seem to pop up in conversations. Whether as a solo offering or as a part of other (and most) personal care and wellness products, essential oils have almost taken over the market space with force. But what is it so irresistible about them?

Well, despite the popularity of essential oils, thanks in no small part to the heavy marketing it receives, one might be surprised to know that essential oils are actually distillates of aromatic compounds of plants. Most of the oils are obtained by the steam distillation extraction process, while some citrus essential oils are also produced by mechanical pressing. This means that each one of these oils have a distinctive constitution of chemical composition and when used correctly, they offer a wide range of solutions for daily skincare and wellness needs.

Also read: How to hydrate your skin, inside out

What exactly are those benefits? From aromatherapy to the cosmetic industry, essential oils are used extensively in each of these spaces. However, one thing to keep in mind is that essential oils must be used in small quantities since they can be quite potent. They are generally mixed with carrier oils and then used. It is best to carefully check the quality of an essential oil before starting to use it as a regular part of your personal care routine.

Another important thing to remember is the kind of effect one must expect from essential oils. While they are arguably the most hot-selling ingredient when it comes to personal wellness and beauty products and offer a seemingly endless variety of benefits, they also need to be used with other elements to have a complete and wholesome beauty and wellness regimen. Even if being used alone, one must always try and use therapeutic grade essential oils for desired effects.

Here’s a compact list of some of their most popular uses:

Healing massages (use peppermint oil for headaches)

Anxiety/stress/insomnia (use lavender oil)

Skincare (acne: tea tree oil; radiance: lavender oil)

Haircare (dandruff, itchiness: tea tree oil)

Homecare (lemongrass oil to clean surfaces)

Insect, lice and mosquito repellent (eucalyptus oil)

Toothache (clove oil)

Antiseptic and medicinal baths (eucalyptus oil)

Nasal decongestant (peppermint, tea tree, eucalyptus)

However, as with all good things in the world, there are some things one needs to be careful about when it comes to essential oils. Here are some tips to avoid getting any harm from the use of essential oils as part of the daily regime: always buy therapeutic grade essential oils that are free from any residual solvents or are extracted via steam distillation; always do a patch test before applying essential oils on to your skin; dilute the essential oil (sensitive ones) with a carrier oil as per the instructions of the manufacturer before applying on your skin; if you have pets, read about their sensitivities to essential oils before buying one; and most importantly, anything in excess is always harmful, so use judiciously and as recommended.

The writer is the co-founder of Speaking Herbs.

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