In the beauty world, essential oils are often associated with uplifting, positive words like aroma and therapy, and that sounds like a good thing for your skin as well as your mood, right? However, like most ingredients or products, too much of anything can be bad. While essential oils are advertised as natural alternatives for relieving things like stress or headaches, it is important to consider the amount of pure, potent oils we are feeding our skin with each beauty product.
In skincare especially, many brands implement essential oils into products as a selling point, and often for the sole reasoning that scent sells. While I believe that an everyday skincare ritual should match the sensorial bliss of the very best spa facial, when it comes to scent, more may not be better, and here’s why: No matter how beautiful the scent, the stronger the fragrance, the more concentrated it is. When used at a high enough concentration, an essential oil can become a skin-irritant and may even trigger allergic reactions or inflammation like dermatitis or eczema. Many essential oils can sensitize your skin if not properly diluted, so it’s vital to check the percentage of essential oils in a product before you apply it. In this case, less is more – you can still see the beneficial results of essential oils without having a high concentration of them in a formula. In fact, the percentage of essential oils shouldn’t exceed 5% -- that’s how potent they are. When using an essential oil-infused product for the first time, it’s smart to spot test a dab of it inside your wrist or behind your ear for a few days to make sure your skin doesn’t act out before using it on your face.
While having a seemingly pleasant smell may seem like a good reason to buy a product, it could actually lessen the product’s claims of helping your skin. In my experience, I’ve found that fragrance-free products are the safest bet that the product won’t irritate your skin. That’s why I limit the use of essential oils to no more than two in my products. After all, the intent of buying a skincare product should always be for the benefit of your skin, not the aroma it has. As an example, my best-selling Soufflé Moisturizer is meant to be ultra-soothing and calming, which is why I decided to keep it fragrance-free.
There are many lines claiming to be formulated specifically for sensitive skin, but the reality is that anyone can experience sensitivity. My line is targeted not only for sensitive skin, but allskin types, because whether your skin is currently sensitive or has been sensitive in the past, no one is immune to becoming sensitive. Note that even if you’ve tried a product in the past, it’s possible for you to develop sensitivity to that same product, so, so if you haven’t changed your product lineup but are seeing breakouts or other new skin issues, be aware that your tried-and-true beauty secret may be the cause of a new problem. Try using one single product at a time for a few days to find the culprit, and be sure to double- check all expiration dates, since using an essential oil past its prime can cause your skin to misbehave. It’s also important to use extra sun protection – a minimum of SPF 30 everyday -- whenever you’re using products with essential oils, since your skin will be extra-sensitive to the sun’s rays.
Layering products can maximize their results, but be aware that using multiple products containing essential oils can not only compete with your other products – and potentially weaken their benefits – it also means that your skin is absorbing a greater total amount or concentration of the oils.
If you’re curious about using essential oils to improve your skin, here’s the bottom line: When used safely and in moderate amounts, the right essential oils can benefit your skin, mood, and overall well-being…but it’s important to research the effects of an essential oil before using it. Many popular essential oils can actually harm your skin, even when diluted properly, and should be avoided altogether. Just like the ingredients you feed your body, if you feed your skin the right ingredients, you have a better chance of getting the results you want.